Urban Design


Urban design is both a specialised and an integrating profession. Urban designers are specially trained in the discipline, usually after qualifying as architects and sometimes as planners or landscape architects.

The unique focus of urban design lies in the understanding of three-dimensional form and space in cities and settlements, and the relationship of this form to land, context, society and history. This understanding is firmly rooted in an awareness of nature, landscape and urbanism and consideration of the needs and dynamics of society, economy and space. Urban design is as much process as product and the implementation of urban design proposals require knowledge and skill in decision-making techniques and structures. The art of urban design, then, lies in shaping the interaction between people and places, environment and urban form, nature and built fabric and influencing processes that lead to the development of successful cities, towns and villages. Integration with the complementary fields of city planning, architecture and civil engineering is essential for the practice of urban design. The role of urban design in synthesising various fields also requires strong connections with other specialist fields in the natural and built environment.


The urban designer operates across a wide range of scales, from regional and citywide to the level of individual buildings and can also specialise in many built and natural environment fields with activities ranging from research, analysis and policy to design and implementation.

Fields of research and analysis include:

Working across the scales, the urban designer will produce or support the development of:

Urban design is extensively involved in the preparation of a wide range of policy and guideline processes, producing:

On the basis of an integrating and holistic perspective, the urban designer is well-placed to guide the development of more detailed work, formulating:

Urban design is at it’s core an integrating activity and is involved with a various parts of the built environment sometimes focused upon a particular sector and at other times, the emphasis is on a holistic view of all sectors. The specialist areas of work include:

Without implementation, urban design cannot make a positive contribution to our settlements. Urban design is a key part of several different stages of implementation, such as:

The urban designer is trained to contribute to the various allied built and natural environment fields and to understand them well enough to formulate urban design products that take these areas into account.


In order to undertake this wide range of tasks, the urban designer must possess the following important competencies:


More information can be found below: