So, what exactly is Urban Architecture?

One could say urban architecture refers to any building type that establishes an appreciable relationship with its surrounding context, the built environment, and the community itself. It comprises buildings that are mostly located in urban areas, are accessible, and are meant to serve the public at large. Its purpose hence would be to make society better. Indeed, people are indeed strongly affected by building forms and facades. According to research, the main cause of ‘social stress’ in urban environments is often the absence of social bonding and interconnection in city landscapes. Design that stimulates social and urban cohesion is hence, very important for good community living. This is where urban architecture comes in; a holistic approach to the subject may result in projects like iconic skyscrapers or even residential developments. However, the focus revolves around enhancing the experience of people who are connected to the architecture.

When choosing to do a thesis project on the subject of urban architecture, one needs to understand the platitude of areas and scopes encompassed by the field. There are indeed endless possibilities and avenues to explore that intend to serve the interests of the public, and also make community life better.

Before you delve into the list of topics of urban architecture to choose from, make that:

  • You understand the subject thoroughly. Choose a topic relevantly and appealing to your interests, especially prospects, masters, or a job.
  • You discuss it with your thesis advisor so that he can comprehend your intent and help you through the course of the project.
  • The topic does not necessarily have to be unique. It also should not be something that has been tried and tested far too many is because your work is what would represent you. Make sure, it speaks of who you are and what you want to do.

Here are a few options for viable thesis topics that you could choose to look at.

1. Low-cost housing | Architecture Thesis

As more and more people are moving to dense urban cities like New York, in search of a better quality of living and opportunities, the city population is on the rise. As is the cost of living, making low-cost housing a dire need of societies, as low-income residents have limited choices for affordable living. When affordable housing complexes were being constructed ever since the mid-20th century, these projects were often seen as monumental solutions to provide economical living spaces to large groups of people. Hence, even with the best of intentions of the designers, the imposing towers often turned out to be negligent of human scale, and were often more inhospitable and discouraging for communities, leaving them feeling more isolated and unwelcome.

However, a rising interest in the area since recent years has seen a rise in alternative solutions to the outdated models. Low-cost, affordable housing is not seen as merely buildings creating decent spaces for living, but also using sustainable building features to reduce costs, maintenance and to help improve the quality of life and belongingness for residents, allowing them to feel more connected to not just the resources, but also to communities and the spaces outside.

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2. Art and Heritage museums

To design a building that is important not only for the preservation of the history of the community but to also integrate members of the community and to what they share. This topic uses a method that looks at the study not only qualitatively, but also based on a theoretical foundation, with the acute understanding that comes from familiarizing oneself with concepts and standards of museums, exhibition spaces, contextualism, and exhibit care and preservation.

The project should not only focus on respecting the importance of the historical context, but also ensure that it avoids the damage of pieces of its past. It should shed light on the concept of the museum itself, the types of functions and activities it would encourage, the form and physicality of the building, and the interconnectivity between different elements of the museum. The journey of a user and the enriching experience that the museum provides, concerning its displays but to communal spaces of social interaction and discussion should also be of high value when taking this topic.

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3. Airport of Urban Architecture

Many countries in the world, including the USA, are suffering from outdated aviation infrastructure, with most airports being more than 40 years old, and a lot of money being spent on the revamp, expansion or construction to meet the challenging new needs of today. Design-wise, architects need to not only provide solutions for the necessary functioning and program of the airport, but also to enhance the experience of travel for the visitors, which includes interesting features for wayfinding, atriums for nature incorporation and natural light, state-of-the-art visual elements, and huge spaces for sightseeing and rest, as well cultural experiences which encapsulate the context of the airport, gardens, and desert landscapes. The project area also has a lot of potential for experimentation with physical form and modelmaking, which could induce a sense of awe for the public at large.

The functional aspects, of course, include catering to huge parking spaces, checking and security posts, luggage management areas, lobby areas, airport maintenance spaces, airplane ramps, and cargos, and many others, as well as allowing for the potential for future expansion. Thus, airports not only present an interesting challenge for a thesis topic but are also one that provides extensive avenues to understand the flexibility of a space which is in fact the cardinal space a visitor comes into contact with when entering a new city or a country. Hence, holding great social importance. The change seen in recent airport designs does indeed seem like a promising area to work in.

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4. Cinema and theatre architecture

Cinemas and theatres are interesting places, where the anticipation to experience is just as important as the actual film or performance itself. This is why the design and nature of the building hold such great importance.  It should in some way, either reflect the magnitude of the experience that it would showcase, or subdue itself against the marvel of the performance. Either way, it should be taken as a work of art, as architectural icons as done so in the past, which communicate the spirit of the times through the design.

The building requires a careful understanding of the program; it features their relationships with one another, the type of circulation from one space to another, and the allowance of gathering spaces with technical ones as well. The seating arrangement, sound buffering, technical knowledge must be handled as meticulously as possible, as close attention to the sound, visuals, and theatrics are what greatly enhance the experience of the performance. This is why this is also a very fascinating topic, for a building that integrates different groups of society and brings them together to experience a shared feature.

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5. Skyscraper design | Architecture Thesis

Living in a time when the competition to rise, to go higher, and to reach greater heights resonates with the fact that there is an ever-increasing desire to build very tall buildings. By definition, a skyscraper is a building that exceeds 330 feet in height. Yet the contemporary approach is not only to reach unattainable heights in construction, but it is also to rejuvenate thinking abilities, and present inventions with cutting-edge designs, that also meet the function of the building with elegance and pride. From encompassing different architectural movements like art deco and modernism, skyscraper designs also look at the intensive technical understanding of how high-rise work, the relationship of functionality between different floors, structural knowledge, and the municipalities that come with handling such delicate tasks.

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6. Suburban housing community

Suburban homes provide an avenue to understand a huge sector of society without directly destroying existing structures. They should be able to cater to the needs of the ever-changing dynamic of the public, to provide a potential for future expansion, and to provide an environment of ownership that allows for a comforting feeling of belongingness that leads to greater social integration.

The nature of the task often involves dealing with multiple stakeholders that are directly associated with such regions, including developers and the municipal government. Therefore, this subject involves a meticulous understanding of the way rules and regulations work, sizing, areas and appropriate zoning, transportation, and also a critical comprehension of the associated infrastructure required to cater to the needs of residential living, and of course, the quality of life.

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7. Marine park design of Urban Architecture

Projects paying attention to marine life can help bring new life into waterfront areas and can also provide a point of interest for the entire region itself. There exists in our society an absence of awareness regarding marine ecosystems, especially informal sectors, which has resulted in a lack of opportunities, care, and resources available for marine life. Thus, a thesis project on this topic would not be addressing the administrative concerns related to marine life, but could also cater to providing a recreational public space, where visitors can appreciate and interact with marine life along with exhibition spaces intended to create awareness for the general public.

Whilst taking the project a step ahead, a proper research institute could also be designed to further the knowledge available of the oceans and the organisms that inhabit them. These institutes with research facilities and equipment could provide areas for analysis, experimentation, and research for discovery. Thus, this project would not only help educate the public at large, but help generate revenue as a popular tourist attraction, and plant seeds for much-needed research of marine life.

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8. Convention center of Urban Architecture

A convention center is a public building of urban architecture meant to convey ideas and knowledge. It is also perceived to be more like the expansion of a town hall, where people having shared interests, goals, though, religion, or professions, could gather to interact, communicate, learn, and make decisions regarding the public realm. Hence, it is a space that caters to large groups of people, providing them with communal spaces that encourage different uses as well as appropriate exhibition spaces. 

Furthermore, since a convention center is meant to act as a medium for discourse, the first thing to consider is to develop a concept that would intend to attract people. It should have easy accessibility, be welcoming and fascinating and its spaces should be able to provide the necessary means for it to function efficiently and effectively. 

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9. Library of Urban Architecture

In the modern age of digitalization, the internet and technology have greatly transformed the manner in which we consume information. With this rapidly changing paradigm, the traditional function of a library is put on a pedestal and called to question. While it is true that the physical collection of books in a certain environment as compared to quick access to data using the internet does question the sustainability of a public library and the resources it offers, we must also keep in mind that a library also functions as a flexible space, that can be transformed to an active social space, agent for interaction and societal growth.

It must not only be considered to be a space that allows access to information, but also an environment that encourages discourse, communication, and exchange of meaningful ideas between people from different ages and social groups. With this in mind, a public library must be considered as one of the most democratic building types available, and one that has huge potential to add value to community development, growth, resource, and service. Therefore, with the sensitivity that comes with designing a library comes great responsibility, and this must be looked at as an area with the potential to be explored as a vital public asset.

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10. School of art and design

Projects that are practical solutions to community needs also have greater impacts on communities socially as well as economically. A thesis of urban architecture at a School for Art and Design could immensely help in this regard. It would only provide a platform for artists, architects, students, and citizens from various fields and social groups to gather and interact, share ideas and learn through conventional as well as modern ways and activities. This center would also enable these artists to share and exhibit their work and experiences through exhibition spaces, seminars, events, and conferences with members of their own community and the wider world through event halls, conference rooms, and libraries for research and learning.

With a learning institute as part of the program, the center would also allow aspiring artists to develop skills through formal training as well as informal activities. Thus, this institute would help create inclusivity in society but integrating different groups of people with a shared interest throughout the day and hence, year. It would also act as a viable magnet for social interaction between professionals, beneficial for the community and the campus. This, in turn, would enhance and regenerate the urban fabric, add depth to the context of the city and help drive the society forward in a positive direction. A thesis conducted on this topic, therefore, would allow you to look at art as a potential field to a group and bring communities together to appreciate the marvel that is an art and its ability to create change in the contemporary world.

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11. Bus terminal cum commercial complex

Transit facilities are indeed one of the most important and vital functions of a city itself. They constitute some of the most important goals of the city and its government by inviting a large number of people to the city, merges different groups of crows, and bring in opportunities of work and living for the masses, thus building the scope of urban architecture. Therefore, smooth and better transit provides ground for future development and helps the urban fabric to grow incredibly. Transit not only improves the urban squares and nodes, and provides a push to less developed areas to allow them to be at par with the rest of the city.

Understanding the scope of development associated with a bus terminal with a commercial complex attached as an additional function thus presents itself as an interesting topic to pursue. It would not only group different travelers with one another but also with the locals, allowing them to appreciate and value local culture and tradition, as well as activities that integrate the urban living community.

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12. Sports stadium of Urban Architecture

A stadium is one of the building typologies that have the power to shape the city or town it is located in. it not only helps put the city on the maps but also establishes an identity for the community and provides a tourist attraction and a focal point in its landscape. It is thus, a huge actor of theatrics that represents the output of a sport, and has a significant role for the city with regards to politics, geography, as well as socio-economics.

Thus, a sports stadium should not be looked at as a revenue-generating machine, but a building type that should be sustainable, iconic in design, with strong structural understanding for it to be considered a marvel in civic urban architecture. It requires a comprehensive understanding of various issues related to planning and design, which also cater to increased interaction and ease of access to its activities, and the environment is contained and encouraged.


13. Resort design

A resort is a place that caters to accommodation, leisure, and recreation. It provides for a variety of activities and luxury in scenic areas and is able to house different groups of people together. Some facilities provided include rooms or huts, swimming pools, sports grounds, gyms, fine dining areas, halls for events, and many others.

Resort tourism is an area that is rapidly gaining popularity. It has a lot of municipalities involved that are often delicate in nature so as to provide high levels of comfort for its users. Therefore, it often talks about large scales, an attractive form that is meant to attract the general public, and advanced equipment and management strategies. It is indeed an interesting topic to consider when one wants to work on an area that not only deals with program efficiency but also the psychological impacts of effective design strategies. 


14. Religious buildings

An architecture thesis of urban architecture on religious buildings is a fascinating area to work on. It provides an avenue to create places with identity and an environment that awakens the senses and the emotions, enhances the experience, and provides a platform for spiritual practice. It should be kept in mind that the metaphysical concerns and experiences can largely be enhanced using effective space strategies that will come with a keen understanding of spatial and urban architecture.

Thus, space aims to heighten the experience of religion and spirituality and tends to cater to the tangible and intangible aspects of architecture, that involve senses. It is, therefore, a great challenge for architects to design spaces for religious activities, but also one that provides that greater amount of emotional appraisal. The modern religious building not only functions as only a religious center but also provides opportunities for people to come together and engage in communal activities. This is another aspect that architects need to consider when designing religious centers for contemporary times.


15. Educational Institute for rural children

With the understanding that urban architecture paves the way for enhancing the educational process with effective plan strategies and expression of detail, the topic provides an opportunity to explore this area with the development of an educational institute for rural children. This would not only emphasize the importance of education for all sectors of society but would allow meaningful involvement of the community for development projects meant to improve the quality of life for the rural sectors.

The planning involved would recognize the basic functions needed to run a school, especially in a rural setting with a standard of quality education kept in mind. There is an urgent need for developers to look at this area in society, as existing schools do not meet the typical standard, which in turn affects the educational lives of its students, making them unable to perform effectively to become important assets for their society. Thus, this topic for social responsibility helps to integrate schools and the community, with the building serving as a reflection of ideas of both its place and time through its design, concept, and function.


An Architect by profession, a writer, artist, and baker by interest, Amna Pervaiz sees Architecture and Urban Planning as a multifaceted avenue allowing her to explore a plethora of disciplinary elements. She sees the field as an untapped canvas; a journey she hopes would one day lead her towards social responsibility and welfare.

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