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Methodology of Urban design

Methodology of Urban design

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Published by Mo'ein Izadi

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Published by: Mo'ein Izadi on Jul 04, 2012
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Methodology of Urban DesignRainer Mayerhofer
Methodology of Urban Design
Rainer Mayerhofer, Vienna
TU Wien - Örtliche Raumplanung, Department für Raumentwicklung,Infrastruktur- und Umweltplanung
email mayerhofer@arge-projekte.at 
 Phone/fax numbers (format: +43-1-5033647)
: Characteristic of areas; Quality of urban design, visual criteria; image; genius loci; priorities:maintain existing high quality vs. creating new qualities
In a 3-year research program "Characteristics of Urban Design – shown on the example of Vienna" (1) featuringa wide-spread typology including rural structures, the authors not only tried to transform the typology of KevinLynch for European cities but also attempted to develop the latter by defining those criteria allowing a more orless objective evaluation of aesthetics in urban design.As you will see, there is a combination of physical criteria and social criteria, as well as quantitative criteria andqualitative criteria.This method has since been used for the analysis of towns and parts of towns (2-5), as well as for a universitystudy program for planners (6) and in Austrian planning practice. There had been only minor changes in theoriginal concept by this testing over a period of nearly 20 years.
1 Demarcation of areas with typical structure
This definition is traditionally based on functional, political and statistical units.A definition of areas from the point of view of urban design has to take account of the fact that the inhabitant hasto identify with his/her surroundings in order to be able to take an active part in the design of this environment.
1.1 Types of area
For the demarcation of areas with typical structure, some basic general criteria with a strong influence on urbandesign were selected:Direct criteria:
pattern of the city (from the map)
periods of building development
prevailing land use
classes of building heightsIndirect criteria:
history (genius loci)
1.2 Borderlines of these areas
For the demarcation of these areas the following borderlines can be derived:
borders of areas with identical characteristics
barriers like railway lines, high-traffic roads, rivers, etc.
borders of built-up area against green areas, agriculture, etc.
transition zones towards other land uses
Methodology of Urban DesignRainer Mayerhofer
2 Characteristics of areas
with typical structure in accordance with the following structural indicators, which can be derived from currentmaps, historical maps and aerial views or by survey and analysis of the locality:
configuration of plots and proportion of buildings
land use of plot and building
green elements in public and private spaceThese characteristics are a summary of all these structural indicators within the respective borderlines.
3 Characteristics of streets
For each type of area with typical structure significant streets (as the essential public space) were selected from amore or less complete photo-documentation, to characterise their special type:
those with a cumulation of indicators and
those with representative features of this type.The essential elements shaping the appearance of the street to varying degrees of intensity were highlighted inthe selected photos. The following design factors were derived from this graphical analysis, leading to thedescription of the characteristics of streets.
4 Design factors
The shape of (urban) space is the overall term for all criteria and factors affecting forms of spatial importance.The multifariousness of these criteria reflects the variety of characteristics in urban design.Space is defined by its borders and qualified by the natural and built elements within the visual field of theinhabitant within the public zones.4.1 The
borders of space
sum up the totality of solid forms and surfaces which surround the visual field in alldimensions. Public streets/squares are characterised by the following built and natural elements:
Front-line (basic line of space-bordering surfaces – straight, curved, etc., which defines the widths of streets and squares);Fig. 1, 2: Front-line
Building typology (open, semi-detached or closed arrangement of buildings or groups of buildingsalong front-line);Fig. 3: Building typology Fig. 4: Building height
Methodology of Urban DesignRainer Mayerhofer
Building height (together with front-line defines the profile of treets and squares by number of storeys,building classes or absolute height);
Fences (can substitute buildings to varying degrees of intensity – walls, grids, etc.);Fig. 5: Fences Fig. 6: Relief 
Relief (of weak, medium or strong effect) where there are no built borders to the space;
Vegetation (forest borders, tree-lined avenues, rows or groups of trees, single trees, hedges, etc.)Fig. 7: Vegetation Fig. 8: Vegetation4.2 Markers of space and space differentiation in terms of rough structural elements - the following qualitieswere defined:
- Differentiation in terms of building height (weak, medium, strong) and
- Differentiation in terms of building depths (enlargement, narrowing, door position)
Position of building (eaves, gables, solitary or dominant position) and
Length of front-lineFig. 9: Differentiation Fig. 10: Position and length of building

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