Many students during their bachelor’s in Architecture plans on what field of specialization they want to proceed in their Master’s. To explore their full potential and to work on the betterment of societies and individuals they see architecture through the lens of an urbanist. Architecture is not about a single space, it is linked closely with planning and making spaces that ultimately form functioning cities. These cities shape our functions and our responses in return. Architecture while designing towns, if kept in place with city planning and design promotes harmony and unity within the structure and results in producing cities that are progressive and help in enhancing the quality of life.

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Bidadari Estate (Singapore)_©Shoegnome Architects

Urban Design

Urban design and planning are associated with the use of space, its physical form, economic capabilities, potential ramifications, and its impact on an urban level. Urban planning is an extensive and in-depth field that is deeply associated with architecture and revolves around social, political, and public engagements. It includes strategic thinking regarding public participation in open spaces and regenerating the existing cities (Fainstein, 2016).

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Basing View “Place-making” Vision_©BDP- urbandesign group

Masters in Urban Design

Urban design is a post-graduate program, a five-year bachelor’s degree in architecture or its equivalent is required for enrolment in the program. The degree can be one or two years depending on the university structure. Some key institutions that offer the degree include Harvard  Graduate School of Design which is considered as one of the first institutes to introduce the master of architecture in urban design in its curriculum, Other significant universities include Columbia University, the University of California Berkeley, University of Texas Austin to mention a few.

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“Terra Fluxus”- Shizheng Geng and Youngju Kim (MAUD ’21)_©Harvard University Graduate school of design

A combination of an architecture degree, competitive examination results (state/national exams/GRE/TOEFL, as the case may be), résumé, portfolio, and statement of purpose are among the qualifying conditions to enroll in the program (Raghupathy, 2012).

What do Urban Designers do

Urban planners determine how areas and spaces in an urban context are shaped and utilized, taking into account the overall influence of growth on an area or region. They assess long-term issues including demographics and economic trends and provide recommendations for the degree of development in a given region. They predict the future trends of cities and what sorts of structures and infrastructure may be built to support the required growth. 

The analyses the past, present, and physical characteristics of space in order to make it functional (McGill.CA, 2012).

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The City Image and Its Elements by Kevin Lynch_©SEMANUR CAN – All About My Architectural Education

Need for Strategic Urban Designers

According to a report published by the world bank more than 50 percent of the world population lives in cities and with the increasing trends, better job opportunities, and quality lifestyle, cities face an ever-increasing need for land to accommodate their rising population, the report says that by 2050 7 out of 10 people will be living in cities, doubling the rate at which these cities are expanding. Due to the rapid increase in urbanization, the demand for urban architects has increased. With an inadequate amount of land left, strategic planning is crucial in order to save cities from suffocating and bringing sustainability into the environment. 

An urban designer affects the way people interact with the urban fabric, from designing traffic flows to controlling the city expansion and introducing greener zones within the cities to make them more breathable. 

In countries like Pakistan, there is an urgent need for interventions; a design strategy for the city to prevent it from the disasters that are further to come. The Scarcity of land, water, and resources are just a few to mention. If more cities or towns keep on appearing and the urban spread is not controlled it is only a matter of a few years before the entire country would come down. Even the states like the Gulf are the prey to poor and ill-considered town planning, when we think of Dubai we automatically shift our focus to futuristic developments and breathtaking skylines, but when we dig deep into the realities the vertical planning of Dubai has failed. whilst they are developing at an exceptional rate, the environmental problem they are facing is also emerging at the same rate. Keeping the air quality within the required guidelines has been one of the primary difficulties, The city’s population has multiplied, to more than 2.8 million. The number of cars on its roads has also been multiplied (KUNZIG, 2017).

Hafner Ring, Hafner district in Konstanz, Germany_©KCAP Architects&Planners – Ramboll

These are all the results of poor urban planning. The need for critical thinkers in the field of urban design is now required more than ever in pursuit of building ideal cities.

References:

  1. Fainstein, S.S. (2016). Urban planning. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/urban-planning.
  2. KUNZIG, R. (2017). The World’s Most Improbable Green City. [online] Environment. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/dubai-ecological-footprint-sustainable-urban-city#:~:text=Dubai%20originated%20as%20a%20trading [Accessed 27 Feb. 2022].
  3. McGill.CA (2012). McGill University. [online] Urban Design & Housing. Available at: https://www.mcgill.ca/urbandesign/what [Accessed 27 Feb. 2022].
  4. Raghupathy, S. (2012). Architecture and urban design. The Hindu. [online] 26 Jun. Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/architecture-and-urban-design/article3393364.ece [Accessed 27 Feb. 2022].
Author

Romaisa Tahir ( a student of architecture at the Institute for arts and culture, from Pakistan) enjoys writing and expresses her concerns via poetry and narrative writing. She believes that the passion for writing and admiration for the art of building can be blended; allowing the silence of buildings to speak through words and add meaning to their existence.

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