Urban design refers to how public space is created and used in cities and towns. Urban designers work to create the best way of using city space for the usability and enjoyment of all residents. They plan designs for residential, business, industrial and recreation areas with present public needs as well as projected growth in mind. Urban design can make a big difference in how people use public space.
A public park, for example, is often included in urban design because it adds natural green space to an otherwise concrete, metal and glass array of buildings. Yet the amenities parks offer vary widely. While most public parks have playgrounds for children and room for field sports activities, some may include a skateboard area to provide youth with a place for skateboarding activity. Other parks may feature a pond with a circular path around it to provide walking or running space for a wide range of people. There are many ways to offer the public the use of park space and good urban design considers the needs and desires of the community.
For instance, if the space allows, an urban designer may include a dog park so that city dog owners have an area in which to exercise their dogs. In larger parks, an outdoor stage or band shell may be a part of the urban design to allow space for outdoor community concerts and plays. Urban design is not the same as urban planning. Urban planners decide where industrial, recreational and residential zones will be located, while urban designers take each zone and plan its design.
An important consideration in urban design is incorporating historic landmarks or buildings into modern structures. Informational plaques may be added to landscaped areas outside buildings in areas once noted as an important historical place. Modern buildings must blend well with the older ones to give the city a cohesive look, but the needs of all residents including children, the elderly and disabled persons must be taken into consideration. Everyone’s safety and ease of movement through the city’s amenities needs to be the focus when urban space is designed.
Urban designers must be creative when designing city space to serve multiple purposes. For instance, apartments located over business space are popular in city areas as more people get accommodation on the same amount of land. After the urban design planning is completed, architects plan individual buildings and engineers construct them.