The role of architecture in urban planning

When we talk about urban transport systems and in its extent about urban planning, we usually discuss about utilities, pphpds,  density, living spaces etc. However, one aspect we often neglect due to its nature is architecture.

Architecture can, but not necessarily need to, play a crucial role in the success or failure of an urban planning project. But what is good architecture from a planning perspective?

  • Modular or adaptable: During the planning process, every project team member will get wiser. A good original design can also follow this path of project development, allow the project to shrink or expand. The same is of even larger importance when looking at the long term perspective of such buildings. It needs to be adaptable to changing needs of its inhabitants and tenants over the time.
  • Customizable but not tailor-made: The structure and architecture of a building will reflect best the initial intended tenants. As these will change over time, a building needs to be able to breathe with this changes – creating new living spaces, having communal zones which can become larger or smaller depending on demand.
  • Integrative: By taking the neighborhood, current and future, into consideration, excellent structures can become new inter urban centers that fulfill important socioeconomic roles. Connectors to the quarter need to be planned accordingly, but also the paths within the structure laid out in a way to enable and guide towards such a purpose.
  • Individual architecture: To give the inhabitants a better sense of belonging. Unique architecture should not be limited to the luxurious segment but also be done for public housing and public buildings. The marginal cost for such architecture and construction is getting ever smaller due to the technological development.
  • Mix of tenants: Design structures that allow a wide mix of different ethnic and socio-economic groups to build a true long-term design.

A few interesting example of successful and dense city planning can be found in this recent Economist article.

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