Urban spaces are public spaces in any developed or a developing city. Public spaces are nothing but spaces that are universally designed for everyone and anyone to use. These spaces fill the urban voids and hence complete a city from within. Urban spaces are the most vital organs of any city. These spaces reflect the liveliness of a city and ensure the smooth functioning of activities. The urban spaces come together to form the skeleton framework of the city hence designing a different unique identity and character for every different city. Streets, sidewalks, footpaths, shopfronts, gardens, parks, lakefronts, promenades, traffic signals, public parking, and chowks are just a few of the most common urban spaces impacting our lives daily in an urban environment.

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The Urban Anatomy_©Alexander Hirka

These urban spaces not only design the framework of the city but they stitch the urban fabric together, bind communities, initiate interaction, improve mental and physical health and wellbeing, break the built structures with interesting in-between unbuilt forms, improve health and sanitation, provides economic and financial opportunities, evolves nature and its environment, set an example for future growth and evolution of other cities. Urban spaces bridge the gap between nature – built- unbuilt and people of the city. (Erica Schlaikjer, 2010)

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Urban Living space

A city is healthy only when every corner of the city is optimally utilized to its full potential. As an architect, Urban Anatomy means to identify the organs of a city and operate them with utmost efficiency. Urban designing involves identifying the untouched, unexplored pockets within the urban fabric, analyzing their problems, and designing a solution for them that caters to the benefit of maximum users. Urban designing is a process of designing to evolve that never stops. The long-term process of designing also involves several challenges at every stage. For an architect, the challenges become a part of designing. (Barun, 2021)

Side effects of Urban Anatomy

A city is designed to first cater to its citizens then attract other populations. The city is beyond its buildings and structures, it is about holistic architecture that involves urban voids and gaps that eventually become the heart of the city. These urban spaces reflect the architecture, history, culture, social value, art, and image of the diverse communities of the city. These attributes combine to create an identity for the city. The urban spaces, by designing an identity, also help set an example for the other developing cities. The identity attracts the population from around the world and thus benefits the economy of the city as well as the country. As architects, the challenge faced while designing these urban spaces is to ensure economic outcomes along with functional outcomes. Cities like Paris, LA, Milan, have beautiful successful public urban spaces designed that increase the value of the country and also attract major tourism from the world. As an architect, the greatest challenge is to design a space that is not only useful but well accessed and accepted by people beyond political boundaries. (Madanipour, 2006)

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Champs Elysees public space in Paris

Universal Design

A challenge that architects face while designing an urban space is functionality and accessibility. How to design a universal space? Urban space must be designed keeping in mind all the communities and their diverse activities. Every public space only exists because of humans and their activities. The main purpose of an urban space must be to safeguard human activities today and tomorrow. And as an architect, the biggest challenge must be to secure that aim.

Since the target community using the urban space is always huge, catering to individual needs and requirements becomes impossible, hence, as a designer, the aim must be to try and achieve maximum efficiency in any design. (Madanipour, 2006)

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Urban Universal Space

Aim above Aesthetics

Anything attractive is most spoken about, but is it also the most useful? Any urban space when designed with a motive to attract more people may be the most populated space in the city but might not be beneficial to all. A space must be designed with the aim of holistic recovery. A simple design can also solve multiple problems. The aim is not only to design a universal space that is aesthetic but to design a space that fits its purpose. A space that accepts diversity and still brings communities together. As an architect, the challenge is to design a holistic approach to any urban space irrespective of its scale.

The public promenade at Carter’s Road, Bandra, Mumbai designed by PK Das & Associates is a 1.2km stretch of public urban space that serves multiple functions and caters to all communities. It is a simple yet successful design executed and accepted by people all around the city. The design brings out a social and cultural life to the city hence serving its purpose beyond aesthetics. (Madanipour, 2006)

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CarterRoad Master Plan

Maintenance equal to Investment

As an architect, what you design must look like it and stay like it even after 5 years. The amount of energy and planning invested in the development of a design should be equal to the number of resources put into maintaining it. Maintaining the space not only through health and sanitation standards but also technological standards will ensure consistency and regular engagement of people. Maintenance must also involve evolution. Any urban space should be designed for its future generations. It should evolve from time to time and must cater to the growing needs and requirements of its users. As an architect, one must be prepared to design a space that can be layered and still have efficient outcomes. One must design with a vision to evolve. (Madanipour, 2006).

Apart from design complications and data collection challenges, an architect might also face technical challenges like government-enforced laws and restrictions, political boundaries, sustainability standards, environmental threats, and digital glitches. The bigger the scale of the space, the bigger are the challenges. However, Urban spaces are the life of any city, they keep the city and the citizens alive.

Social life of an Urban Space
References: 
  1. Barun, N., 2021. Architecture & Design. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/features/comment/rediscovering-the-public-space
  2. Erica Schlaikjer, T. C. F., 2010. “Mumbai on Two Feet”: Open Public Spaces for a Healthier City. [Online]
    Available at: https://thecityfix.com/blog/mumbai-on-two-feet-open-public-spaces-for-a-healthier-city/
  3. Madanipour, A., 2006. Roles and challenges of urban design. Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 11. (No. 2,).
Author

An Architect aiming to redesign the idea of design. She believes that architecture is a story of built and unbuilt. The architecture we see is not the whole story, there are multiple layers to it. Pooja believes in unfolding these layers to the world and exploring architecture beyond perception.

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