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7 Urban Typology

7 Urban Typology

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Published by tanie
urban typology
urban typology

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Published by: tanie on May 26, 2010
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Sub. By:Monika Sharma,2k6/615 Neetika Mor,2k6/619 Amit Kumar,2k6/632

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Typology; is concerned with the basic structures which are perceived as a strong image. A settlement, a street, a village, a house, a space may become a strong image as a result of spatial totalities. The components of the typology are;  c.1. Type  c.2. Activity patterns  c.3. Circulation patterns.

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Urban patterns find their unique presence by the elements that repeat in various forms. The similarities of forms or patterns may be graped into common features which is called typologies. This grouping may be in the patterns of spaces-squares-buildings, streets urban blocks types, etc. These types may be universal or culturally defined.

Type is defined as the general form, structure or character distinguishing a particular kind, group, or class of being or objects -hence a model after which something is made. Urban typologies connote the forms of spatial organisations in the settlements. Culture is the prime force that develops settlement types by trials in long time periods reaching to solutions which become reference for evaluation of new types.

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Type is concerned with the particular type of room or building which is perceived as a strong image.In contrast to topology, typology analyses spatial totalities and functional aspects of the environment including activity patterns. Activity patterns: There is reciprocal relationship between function and activities that occur within a place. What happens in the environment in terms of social and cultural activities is of importance in urban design. From behavioural point of view activity types include dwelling, shopping, working, playing, meeting, etc.

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An emphasis on typology is characteristic of New Urbanism. New Urbanists believe it is important to match the physical development characteristcs of a place within the appropriate typology for that place, as determined by local preferences taken in context with urban patterns as evidenced throughout history. Modernists, in keeping with their general disinclination to keep within the constraints of tradition and hierarchies of patterns, are less likely to focus on identifying the correct typology of a site.


Planners use terms such as rural, urban, and suburban to characterize our environment. This “urban typology” is a common language we can use to describe our region. we’ve defined some of the most common terms below:  Urban typology(2000)  Urban typology(2007)


Urban Cluster (UC) is a classification used by the United States Census Bureau to define major metropolitan areas. It is used to measure the size of an urban area that extends across city, state, and/or county lines. Urban clusters by definition contain fewer than 50,000 people. An urban area containing 50,000 or more people is defined as an Urbanized Area.

An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets. The urban fringe generally consists of contiguous territory having a density of at least 1,000 persons per square mile.


The urban core is the dense center of an urban area. This is the area along our major freeways that extends from Onion Creek in the south to downtown Round Rock and Cedar Park in the north.

oA m et ropolit an area refers t o a labor m arket , or t he area from which t he urban area draws it s em ployees . The boundaries of t he Aust in-Round Rock m et ropolit an area fall wit hin t he Capit al Area.


oSuburban areas are commonly defined as residential areas on the outskirts of a city or large town. Residents of suburbs tend to live in single-family homes and commute by automobile to work. Suburbs tend to have some degree of political autonomy and lower population density than urban neighborhoods. This is the portion of the urban area outside the urban core. Great Hills, Forest Creek, and Plum Creek are examples of suburban areas.

oExurban areas refer to non-rural development that is within a metropolitan area, but outside the urban area. Exurban areas can simply be suburban areas separated by rural territory from the principal urban area, or large lot residential development that is not of sufficient density to be considered urban and is not agricultural.

A typology of urban open spaces

Types of open spaces and their characteristics:

q PUBLIC PARKS o Public/Central Park Publicly developed and managed open space as part of zoned open space system of city; open space of city-wide importance; often located near center of city; often larger than neighborhood park.

o Downtown Parks   Green parks with grass and trees located in downtown areas; can be traditional, historic parks or newly developed open spaces.


o Commons   A large green area de­veloped in older New England cities and towns; once pasture area for common use; now used for leisure activities. o Neighborhood Park   Open space developed in residential environments; publicly developed and managed as part of the zoned open space of cities, or as part of new private residential development; may include playgrounds, sport facilities, etc.

Mini/Vestpocket Park  Small urban park bounded by buildings; may include fountain or water feature.  
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q Squares and Plazas o Central Square  Square or plaza; often part of historic development of city center; may be formally planned or exist as a meeting places of streets; frequently publicly developed and managed.

q Memorials   Public place that memorializes people or events of local and national importance.

q Markets o Farmers Markets   Open space or streets used for Farmer's Markets or Flea Markets; often temporary or occur only during certain times in existing space such as parks, downtown streets or parking lots.
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q Streets o Pedestrian Sidewalks   Part of cities where people move on foot; most commonly along sidewalks and paths, planned or found which connect one destination with another. o Pedestrian Mall   Street closed to auto traffic; pedestrian amenities provided such as benches, planting; often located along main street in downtown area. o Transit Mall   Development of im­proved transit access to downtown areas; re­placement of traditional pedestrian malls with bus and "light rail" malls.

o Traffic Restricted Streets

Streets used as public open space; traffic and vehicle restriction can include pedestrian improvements and side­ walk widening, street tree planting.

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o Town Trails

Connect parts of cities through integrated urban trails; use of streets and open spaces planned as setting for environmental learning; some are designed and marked trails.


q Playgrounds o Playground  Play area located in neighborhood; frequently includes traditional play equipment such as slides and swings; sometimes include amenities for adults such as benches; can also include innovative designs such as Adventure Playgrounds   o Schoolyard    Schoolyard as play area; some developed as place for environmental learning or as community use spaces.

q Community Open Spaces o Community Garden/Park  Neighborhood spaces designed, developed or managed by local residents on vacant land; may include viewing gardens, play areas, and community gardens; often developed on private land; not officially viewed as part of open space system of cities; often vulnerable to displacement by other uses such as housing and commercial devel­opment.    o Greenways and Linear Parkways  Interconnected recreational and natural areas connected by pedestrian and bicycle paths.

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q Urban Wilderness   Undeveloped or wild natural areas in or near cities. Often popular for hiking, dog walking and recreation. Frequently involves conflicts between users and ecological preservation/restoration.

q Atrium/Indoor/Marketplaces o atrium   Interior private space developed as indoor atrium space; an indoor, lockable plaza or pedestrian street; counted by many cities as part of open space system; privately devel­oped and managed as part of new office or commercial develop­ment.

o Marketplace/Downtown Shopping Center


Interior, private shopping areas, usually freestanding or rehabilitation of older building(s); May include both interior and outdoor spaces; sometimes called “Festival marketplaces”; privately developed and managed as part of new office or commercial development.

q Found/Neighborhood Spaces o Everyday spaces   Everyday Spaces Publicly accessible open places such as street corners, steps to buildings, etc., which people claim and use.   o Neighborhood Spaces Publicly accessible open space such as street corners, lots, etc. near where people live; can also be vacant or undeveloped space located in neighborhood including vacant lots and future building sites; often used by children and teenagers, and local residents. q Waterfronts o  Waterfronts, Harbors, Beaches, Riverfronts, Piers,

Lakefronts    Open space along waterways in cities; increased public access to waterfront areas; development of waterfront parks.  

A critique of design review practice

Many planners instinctively understand, however, that the patterns of buildings and open spaces comprising an existing environment are fundamental to the creation and preservation of the context. In other words, the basis of the coherence they seek to restore (or preserve) with aesthetic controls is typological. Aesthetic control as commonly practiced fails to address the real reasons for the visual blight it is meant to remedy.

Facade control

The application of typology to urban control

The most common definitions are associated with generic building programme. These definition have these components: o A type is characterized by a certain morphological configuration governing its internal organization and its relationship to adjacent structures and spaces. For example whether a house has a porch, how it sits on its lot, and how much spaces exist between adjacent houses could be defining characteristics of a type.

o The elements of a given type usually have “global” functions associated with them such as circulation, entry, public space, private space and so on. Specific functions such as sales, reading, learning, etc. are not considered aspects of a type. A building designed for a specific use may change its function over time without undergoing a typological transformation. o Types exist at a variety of scales. Individual buildings (even rooms) may belong to a type; so may streets, blocks and entire urban districts, The typologies found at the urban scale are of course much different than those found at the scale of individual buildings.

o The typology at a given scale is partially determined by those at smaller scales which are present in the same environment. A given type of two- family house, for example, tends to create certain Street types which in turn tend to create certain block and district types. o There may be critical scale relationships among the elements of a given type which must be respected. This is sometimes necessary if the exemplars of the type are to insert themselves properly in the typological hierarchy of their urban environment. For example, the proportion between the solid base of a storefront and the glass above it cannot vary too much from building to building if a street type requiring a row of such storefronts is to be created.

Urban coherence depends m uch m ore on t ypological consist ency defined in t his way t han on uniform it y of archit ect ural st yle, signage, m at erials or colors. It is easy t o see why t his is so oft en overlooked. Hist orically, a cert ain t ype evolves in associat ion wit h part icular st yles and const ruct ion t echniques based on cert ain m at erials.

When people visit a well-preserved historic town, they see both typological and stylistic/material consistency. If a community’s goal is to create a coherent physical environment capable of adapting to changing conditions (rather than to recreate a “vintage” atmosphere), it is much better served to look at its typological structure than the details of its building architecture. By basing design controls on typology, the legitimate goals of design guidelines can be achieved while eliminating most of the problems with routine design guidelines practice. The result is a flexible and responsive system which respects the historical continuity of the city without embalming the architecture. Since typology reflects the complex, organic relationships among such urban factors as economics, function and social structure, basing design controls on typology tends to reflect ongoing processes of change and growth within the city.

Urban plan based on typology

The concept of type is different from style or use. For an example, look at the two commercial types. These buildings have a variety of appropriate uses and these uses may change over time. They may be detailed with different style characteristics: classical, modern, and so on. While these aspects of design are important for the individual building, in the context of the whole community it is the adherence to the type that builds consistency. Buildings of different styles and uses can sit very comfortably side by side if they have certain elements in common. Types help define fundamental relationships between a building and its neighbors; how it sits on its site and how it relates to the street and the sidewalk.

Advantages of typologically based design

The following summarizes the advantages of using typo morphological analyses as the bases for urban design guidelines: 1. Analysis helps establish why things look and operate the way they do. Simply observing a “hodge podge” is not definitive enough a diagnosis to begin treatment. In sorting out the aesthetic problems, for example, one of ten finds that the underlying typological order of the area is quite sound, while the aesthetic problems are really problems of maintenance, economic obsolescence, subtle transformations in progress, or (as in Fairborn) conditions of morphological change outside the study area.

2. Although the analysis and the subsequent urban design guidelines are unique and precisely developed for a particular area, many types are common to towns and cities through the region. It is valuable to have a store of comparative experience with typomorphology to aid the diagnosis of urban design problems. 3. Design guidelines or controls which use typology as a basis are relatively easy to translate into regulation, even with a typical zoning code. Zoning codes already regulate setbacks and height. By rethinking the code as describing typomorphologies rather than land uses, town planning may be implemented with a minimum of discretionary decision making.

4. Approaching the urban design problem from this perspective decreases the importance of specific building design or style and allows the planner to be effective without being dictatorial. In existing environments which are not valued historic districts, it is important to allow great flexibility in building design or redevelopment, for two reasons. One, it is not appropriate or beneficial to the public for local government planners to be specifying awning colors, sign typefaces, or even material choices. Second, urban areas need the chance to change, to transform over time. Original, even startling, interpretations of building types and the subtle transformations of these types over time is vital to the evolving relevance of city form.

5. Preparation of guidelines based on typomorphology is a way of imbedding planning and urban design decisions within the context of the existing city in a systematic and flexible way. Working within the existing typologies also makes the process of urban improvement work faster.

Disadvantage of using typology

There are some disadvantages of using typomorphology as well: 1. Using this method requires a high degree of specific area analyses that preparation of typical design guidelines and zoning maps do not require. For example, our project in Fairborn called out seven distinct sub-areas within a relatively small downtown. Each sub-area needed one or two pages of specific description and guidelines. 2. Restricting design review to the review of typological elements means a certain amount of “letting go”. For some design reviewers, this is especially difficult. They see poor design decisions about materials or signs or other non-type elements and do not understand the need to allow such flexibility. While we were concerned with minimizing controls, other planners may not share this concern or be able to defend it as an ideal.

3. Judgments about which elements are essential to the definition of a building or street type can be difficult to make. In our case, we had a running battle about whether the proportions of a storefront were “typological”. Other examples include whether traditional sign placement, or the use of materials in specific locations (e.g. the same material on upper and lower floors) could be considered important to the urban continuity.


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