Urban architecture comprises buildings made for an urban setting, specifically for large or growing cities. With nearly half of the world's population currently living in urban cities, urban architecture has become a vital and thriving field of design. Special considerations of this area of design are concerned with the practicalities of city life, including high-capacity housing and workplaces, harmony of form and function, and, more recently, energy-efficient design.
High rise apartments and businesses are classic examples of urban design. In a rural or suburban setting there is no need to build a 20-story apartment complex that can house more than a thousand residents. Urban architecture provides the space and design principles to allow a lot of people to live and work in close proximity. Because of this, efficient use of space is a highly important factor in this kind of design.
One new form of urban architecture gaining popularity in some cities is the concept of multi-use buildings. In the age of telecommuting, these multi-functional buildings can provide both living space and private offices for those who work from home. Combining these types of buildings with ground-level commercial enterprises, such as boutiques, restaurants, and grocery stores, allows residents to live, work, and shop all in the same building. Multi-use buildings epitomize the efficiency of space, and the proximity of necessities can allow residents more down time from the fast-paced city life.
With recent publicity over the deteriorating natural resources of the planet, much of urban architecture is becoming devoted to sustainable, environmentally-friendly design and buildings. The use of recycled material as insulation, solar panels, rooftop gardens and pre-installed appliances that are energy-saving all represent innovative techniques used to make urban architecture more green. Because urban areas are typically high sources of pollution and smog, incorporating environmental advances into new buildings isn't just trendy, it can be beneficial to the health of a city's residents.
Although the practicality of urban architecture is paramount, style and artistry need not be neglected. Many of the most famous structures in the world are triumphs of urban design. The Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Empire State Building, and the Taipei 101 are all products of urban architecture. Far from austere and impersonal, urban architecture can be beacon of innovation and artistry.
This growing field of architectural design is constantly in need of new visionaries, particularly those versed in new technology that makes buildings safer and better for the environment. Many top universities offer degrees that allow students to specialize in urban development and design. With experts predicting the city population to continue throughout the 21st century, students choosing to pursue a career in urban architecture may have a bright and busy future ahead of them.