iBEE Workshop


Published on

Summary of workshop presented as "Urban Design for Non-Designers"

Published in: Education, Technology, Real Estate
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

iBEE Workshop

  1. 1. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background RECOGNISING URBAN FABRICS GETTING STARTED IN DESIGNING PARTS OF CITIES Designing parts of cities is not an easy task. There are many factors, parameters and variables involved in the final product. Nonetheless we cannot forget that we all - in one way or another- experience the city or at least urban areas. Furthermore most people have an opinion about the areas they use regularly or that they visit. Therefore these techniques take advantage of the personal experience we all have, by seeking to transfer knowledge acquired in an informal way to a formal learning environment. These techniques are for people who have an interest in cities or want to design parts of cities but have not previously been involved in design. This is just an introduction to some of the elementary issues related to the morphology of urban fabrics that any designer faces when designing parts of cities and when tackling the urban – medium - scale. These techniques have been designed to encourage the participants (future designers of urban fabrics) to become aware of their experiences in the city. We then use this as the basis of their study and the beginning of their design. These techniques allow an incremental understanding of urban forms starting with basic and moving to complex issues. Each technique introduces different ways of exploring a fragment of an urban fabric, and raises different issues. The student will start by understanding the basics and later developing a deeper understanding as each technique is used over and over again. Therefore these techniques are ideal for beginners though they can be adapted for participants with experience in designing or experience of certain aspects of the city. Also these techniques can be tailored to difference scenarios where for example the leader of the workshop wants to create a vivid debate about specific issues. Therefore this could be adapted to public consultations where lay people may not have ever reflected on their city from this specific point of view.
  2. 2. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background Workshop 1 Experiencing and learning from the urban environment MENTAL MAP TASK You are going to draw two maps to tell a friend how to go from one place to another. Therefore the maps need to be informative but they do not need to be pretty or a piece of art. Use symbols and key words when appropriate. Map 1: You are asked to draw a map of Sheffield showing the train station, the venue for this event and the main High Street and the restaurant where you went out for supper yesterday evening. Map 2: Your route from home to work if you walk or cycle. If you use a different transport mode to go to work you will draw a map from your house to the local High Street. Participants will have 15 minutes to draw the maps. After everybody has finalised the maps these will be laid out on the floor for comparison and a debate between participants will be guided by the leader. The role of the leader at this point is very important making sure that the relevant topics are discussed and the leader will introduce new terms like mental map, legibility, parts and the whole of a city, elements forming the urban fabric, experiencing the city moving through versus reading a map, the memory of a place… The discussion will start by comparing how different people may have represented similar elements or how some elements are repeated in all the maps. AIMS • Identify the specifics within an urban fabric based on a personal experience; • Illustrate a part of a city with a degree of abstraction helpful to understand the role of diagrams; • Reflect on and evaluate how the context of the city influences the experience of the city. OUTCOMES • The ability to grasp the concept of legibility and imageability; • The ability to identify basic urban elements; • Awareness that the city is experienced by moving through it. MATERIAL PROVIDED • A4 and A3 paper • Pens and pencils TRANSFERABILITY 1. This task can be introduced in a site visit or field trip. Once the group has been walking from one destination point to another the leader would ask the students to draw the route. After the maps are finalised the students will leave their sketch book on the floor and a constructive debate will take place. The students may have read already the book by Kevin Lynch and Gordon Cullen or they will be referred to at this point, encouraging participants to read them. Throughout a course about Urban Design you can repeat this exercise at different points changing the aims in relation to the students’ understanding of urban forms and its relation with its inhabitation. 2. This technique can be used as an ice-breaker when doing consultation with lay people who work or live in the same area. This time, the participants will be asked to draw a map showing the characteristic elements of their neighbourhood. This will encourage people to talk about their choices and be intrigued with other’s maps and choices, thereby enabling a conversation and interaction.
  3. 3. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background Workshop 2 Learning by comparing existing urban fabrics OVERLAPPING OS-MAPS on GOOGLE EARTH and viceversa TASK This task will or can be done at the very beginning of any project - even before the site visit. As part of this exercise, you have been introduced to a new project and given a copy of the site plan and a few pictures. You are going to take the OS map of the site given to you at scale and you are going to find precedents to conduct a first and quick assessment of the site. Specifically you will be asked to find precedents under two categories: A part of a city that you are familiar with and other precedents that you consider suitable for the site because of the size of the site, good practice or a common feature. Once you decided which precedents to use you will find Google-Earth images at scale of the chosen precedents. The precedents and the OS site map should be at the same scale. You will print out the OS site map on paper and the precedents on tracing paper and overlay them one by one. You first will overlay the familiar place on the site. The aim of overlaying an area that you know on the site is quickly get a sense of scale. You always can relate to the time it takes you to move from A to B and how many “things” happen along that journey. This will be a good reference for you when designing, making sure that your proposed layout is neither too intense nor too boring either. You will do the same with the other precedents which prompts questions: What is the capacity of this site? Is there a minimum, optimum or maximum density? How many accesses does the site need? How many open spaces does the site needs? How big a block structure can be related to the surrounding area?... For the purpose of this exercise we will give you the OS map and Google-Eath precedents printed out at the right scale and type of paper. This exercise could be done all on the computer and this is the way most students prefer.
  4. 4. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background AIMS • Develop a basis knowledge of urban form; • Become familiar with a selection of attributes/aspects/elements relevant to tissue analysis; • Develop skills in working in multidisciplinary teams; • Apply critical thinking. OUTCOMES • Produce and use mapping, diagramming and sketching to get to know a site and present data of a precedents; • Evaluate the capacity of a site; • Grasp some the basic terminology related to tissue analysis. MATERIAL PROVIDED • Os map of a site on tracing paper and at scale • Google Earth images of precedents on paper and at scale • Key images explaining the nature of the precedents • Table of densities TRANSFERABILITY This exercise can be used to assess an initial site as presented here and furthermore it can help to develop a feasibility study. 1. It can be used at different stages of the design process. a. It is used to decide and assess how big an open space should be. In this case the technique is used in a very similar way though it applies to a different scale. b. It also can be used to avoid the panic that many students feel when facing the blank sheet of empty white paper. When designing at the neighbourhood scale, students are asked to copy and paste onto their site a block that they think is appropriate. The second stage is to adapt the precedent to fit the physical and the cultural conditions of the study area considering also social and political, economic aspects. Therefore the precedent goes through a series of mutations from beginning to completion of the design affected by contextual factors. c. Students can overlay any precedent that helps them with their design. This way the student is forced to be specific about what is important about the chosen precedent for their design and to find a way how to use it. 2. This technique can be part of a much larger exercise where students are asked to assess the precedent by producing qualitative and quantitative data. This becomes a tissues analysis exercise and the student deepens his/her understanding of the morphologies of places. 3. The fact of using different precedents allows for a comparative study and in a natural way students need to become selective - identifying criteria in relation to their knowledge against urban fabrics. This helps students become critical thinkers. 4. When the overlay of places is used in a simple way, using very well known parts of cities, it can help lay people easily understand the size; “bigness” or “smallness” of a site.
  5. 5. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background Workshop3 Creating the environment CASUAL THREE DIMENSIONAL MODEL TASK The students will be asked to work in groups of 3 to 5 members. Each group is going to be given an OS map of an existing street at 1/200 and blocks representing building types at 1/200. This task has two parts: Firstly, all of the students will build a model of the street using the OS map as a base and the blocks provided. The leader will help the students to identify the different blocks and will introduce the basic differences between building types. Secondly, once stage one is finalised, the leader is going to modify the model by changing the use of a building and therefore its size. The students will need to modify the street however they think is appropriate, whilst acknowledging the changes made.
  6. 6. Urban Design for Students without a Design Background The idea is that the building heights can change in relation to the existing plan, thereby changing the section of the street. This will help students realise that the design cannot be developed just in plan that the section is very important (the relationship between width and height). Students will also start to know the dimensions of building and how relevant it is to learn about building types. Introducing a new use in the street will compel students to think about the influences of land uses besides the immediate surrounding, as well as the needs for the building and the activities that it creates. A further step will be to draw a sketch of the plan and a typical section of the new street. Students will need to get a good understanding of the measurements of buildings, car lanes, car parking bays and so on. This will help accurately test the proposal for the street, leading students to make new iterations of the initial proposals. Students will be encouraged to take pictures of the different possible options as a way of recording the process and this will also allow them to assess the different options later on. AIMS • To introduce the concept of urban form related to density; • To introduce basic measurements of the urban form and elements in it: From buildings to street, open spaces, trees, a person, cars… ; • To introduce the relevance of scales, size and the capacity of a site. OUTCOMES • To grasp some of the basic terminology related to tissue analysis; • To understand and be able to differentiate between urban forms; • Ability to identify building types. MATERIAL PROVIDED OS map of a street at 1/200 Blocks of different sizes at 1/200 TRANSFERABILITY This is a first contact with a three dimensional tool and it is very rudimentary. Nevertheless, students very soon move on to do the same exercise using Sketch Up. When presented as part of a student project, this exercise often forms part of the previous exercise “Learning by Comparing”. Students will take a precedent and model it in Sketch Up, and will then paste it in a location on the site. The uses, heights, housing types, overall size of the block or so on have to be modified mutating the initial precedents and forcing the student to consider a series of issues gradually. This can be used as an interactive tool used by lay people as part of workshops in consultations. Measurements are implicit and they do not become an issue. Games can be designed to explore basic urban form as well as the relationship between mass-void and densities. The most common and straightforward urban forms to explore will be perimeter blocks, lineal blocks, tower blocks and an urban form created with a combination of these building types.