The Year's Biggest Ideas in Urban Design

From the "world’s first floating village" to the "world’s most audacious balconies," New York Magazine surveys "9 Experiments in Large" for their special feature on "Global Urban Design 2012."

In case you're wondering, the world's first floating village is planned for Glas­gow, Scotland, where 12 acres, "are slated to be transformed into the first planned floating village to include homes, office space, stores, restaurants, and a concert venue all bobbing around a U-shaped roadway," writes Barbara Eldredge.

And the crazy balconies? They're destined for Peru, where DCPP Arquitectos envision that, "every unit of Sky Condos, a 131,570-square-foot, twenty-floor luxury condo tower in Lima will feature its very own swimming pool situated on a private cantilevered terrace overlooking the ocean or a nearby golf course."

Where did construction recently begin on the biggest urban park in the world? You'll have to read the article to find out.  


Full Story: 9 Experiments in Large



Not urban design

Urban design is the shaping of the public realm. It is the confluence of architecture, planning, and landscape architecture. Urban design is about creating humane and enduring places that define a city or neighborhood's character and image. As a professional field, urban design emerged largely in response to the failures of civic design, the social consequences urban renewal, and a dissatisfaction with modernist architecture.

The ideas presented, while grand, are not exemplars of urban design but of massive architecture and infrastructure projects. In some cases, they are examples of ego --either of the architect or developer. The axonometric images shown underscore the disconnection of these projects from the street. What will these places feel like at ground level? Where is the rendering of the human-eye view of the Kingdom tower (can you even walk the sidewalk next to it without being blown down by the tremendous downdrafts?)? These are exactly the types of projects that urban design was created to prevent, dampen, and fix.

Before labeling such out-of-scale and over-the-top projects "urban design," please understand what the practice of urban design actually is.

Ms. Robinson is the new Urban Designer for Salt Lake City.

Urban Disdesign.




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