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Urban design redux: Redening a professional

practice of specialization
Abeer M. Elshater
Urban Planning and Design Dept., Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University, 1 Saryat Street, Abassyia, Cairo 11517, Egypt
Received 29 March 2014; revised 17 August 2014; accepted 18 August 2014
Urban design;
Paradigm shift;
Human settlements;
Ibn Khalduns theory;
Abstract Implicitly, Arabic literatures address the notions of Umran and urban design. In Egypt,
there are two terms used to describe the art of cities. This paper aims to disengage and delineate the
terminologies in the eld of building human settlements. The research starts with a thoroughly
inductive analysis of the concept of urban design theories and discourse. The exploratory-descrip-
tive approach follows some development projects that use urban design for several types of settle-
ments neither a city nor town. Finally, the paper proves that Umran Design is not opposite to
urban design. This gets a recommendation to make urban design works in cities/town as well as
provides experts who are aware of the national context with opportunities to follow the design pro-
cess other types of human settlements. The disengagement can give a room in applicable research
projects for the Arabic expression to work on communities hold a variety of types.
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1. Introduction
The motive of writing the current paper is based on a note con-
cerning the Arabic world. There are two terms used to describe
the art of building the cities and towns; Umran Design and
urban design in the level of professional practice community.
This motivation leads to study an ancient Arabic manuscript
[1]. It describes the Arabic word Umran which translated into
human development in some English literatures. Additionally,
this term engaged with the design process is used as same as
what urban design does. This problematic issue of terms also
related to the professional practice of building/developing
human settlements in Egypt. Historically, the literature traces
the issues for some of the most respected pioneers in the eld
of the art of cities and towns as a branch of learning in the aca-
demic eld, starting from the middle of the last century to the
present. The quandary in urban design as a scientic art for
building cities is primary whether urban design works in other
types of settlements that are not cities or towns. On the other
hand, although there are many types of human settlements in
Egypt, there is no explicit design process for the modern way
of life in those communities. The design process needs to be
addressed concisely for each human settlement.
1.1. Methodology
The primary objective of the current paper is to disengage
and delineate the terms in professional practices and academic
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scene in the eld of building human settlements. This disen-
gagement makes urban design focus on the city and the town
as well as provides design experts who are aware of the
national context with the opportunities to design other types
of human settlements or for citizens to build by themselves.
In addition, many metropolitan cities in developing countries
contain within their administrative boundaries other types of
human settlements, such as rural, Bedouin and informal settle-
ments, rather than urbanized. This phenomenon of mixed-type
settlements requires a new umbrella term for the professional
practice of designing these settlements. Thus, this paper sug-
gests a new term Umran for this professional practice. The
Arabic expression of Umran, which denotes human develop-
ment in English [2], needs to be adapted and developed by the
word design to agree with its literal meaning in the practical
eld. Furthermore, this manuscript uses the term Umran
Design to convey all of the types of human settlement as a
professional practice. The Arabic word Umran implies in
its meaning for urban, rural and Bedouin settlements. In addi-
tion, it has no counterpart in the English language.
This paper explores the issues described above through an
in-depth introduction to the history of thought in the eld of
urban design. This is followed by addressing the crucial ques-
tion of what is the historical sequence and development of
understanding in the urban design discipline. This review
may explore, as a proof, the need for new terminology that
is adapted to all types of human settlement. The change in
tasks keys of urban design is reviewed in comparison with
selected case study in Fayoum Governorate, Egypt. The
papers method follows the exploratory-descriptive approach
(Fig. 1) to investigate two evidences as a proof: the origin of
urban designs eld of work (historically) and the proper/
improper use of it in Egyptian context. In addition, the
researchs tool adapts the content analysis, literature review,
and questionnaire to verify the research justication.
The present paper provides a contemporary review of all of
the types of human settlement by deriving an Arabic phrase as
an umbrella term for all of the citys architecture. The article
begins with a thorough analysis of the concept of urban design
paradigms. It extends to a review of the general tasks of urban
design to ll in the gaps in its practices that occur for different
types of settlements. This paper contributes to discovering
whether the idea of deriving/redening a new term for modern
professional practice can appropriately address all types of
communities: city, town, countryside or Bedouin. Finally, the
research concludes with a new model for urban design and a
proposed Umran design. Both Umran and Urban, when
attached with design process perform comprehensive tasks.
1.2. On concept: the problematic issue of terms
Since the beginning of human life, human settlements have
taken various forms of the primitive communities, transform-
ing into the collective pattern of activities and living in small
settlements. Currently, it appears in the world in Bedouin,
rural, town, and city architecture. In the early start of these
human settlements, there was no science that encompassed
all types of human settlements. In addition, many countries
suffer from the phenomena of informal settlements.
The question is what paradigm and terminology of profes-
sional practice can address them. The following addresses the
basic concepts of terminologies and denitions in the eld of
human settlements; Umran, urban/rural, urban design, urban-
ism. As a fact of history, in the ancient Ibn Khalduns manu-
script, the world is a story of social relations where the
protability of the world exists [1]. As the Islamic world
declined in the 14th century, Ibn Khaldun wrote the Muqaddi-
mah, which literary as Introduction, a massive philosophical
work in which he sought scientic grounds for a universal
analysis of human beings and settlements [3]. The human set-
tlements, which is known as civilization/human development,
converges with a term known as Umran. Umran is coexis-
tence and residency in an intimate place with an intimate part-
ner and meets the needs and demands for the collaboration
temperament on the pension. Umran in Arabic language
means various types of human settlements, such as the Bedou-
ins in the suburbs, mountains, wilderness, deserts and sandy
areas. In addition, it represents the human community in the
regions, villages, towns and cities either it/they are planned
or not [4, pp. 6673]. Implicitly, the concept of the word
Umran carries the meaning of a multitude of people in any
place on earth doing any persons activity [5, pp. 282283].
At the same level, Wirth [6] denes Umran as a relatively
large and dense permanent localization of socially diverse
The denition of Umran indicates the practice of all of the
activities of life, such as agriculture, industry, business, and
any other of the activities of life (human settlement) [7]; [2,
p. 839]. In contrast, savagery, destruction, and chaos, if found
in any area, are incompatible with the meaning of Umran [1].
Ibn Khaldun put a theory in the eld of social science and eco-
nomics addressed as Umran theory. Based on his theory,
Umran is concerned with the planning and design of communi-
ties for both the physical and social settings [4]. Being a hidden
meaning, the word Umran carries the process of civilization
that concerns using civilian tools, but does not necessarily
implying the superiority of urbanization as a mental action
or a philosophical approach to individuals or communities
[2]. Therefore, Umran can be concerned with the meeting of
people in place; it carries connotations of the meanings of civ-
ilians and urbanization whether in urban or rural areas and
Bedouins in both humanitarian and structural terms. Ibn-
Khaldun discussed the issues of Umran and culture in an inte-
grated approach as humanities phenomena. That the concept
of Umran, in Ibn Khalduns theory, is not a concept purely
physically, but it is the effect of the power of science and values
and the depth of awareness of civilization [4]. Ibn Khaldun dis-
cussed in the theory of Umran or Human Development in gen-
eral, indicating the impact of the environment in the life and
behavior of human beings, which enters and currently known
in the science of Anthologies and Anthropology. He addressed
the types of population depending on the lifestyle of humans
and their tools and methods [6].
Traditionally, rural and urban are opposites. In urban
areas, the economy is dominant in the secondary and tertiary
sectors [8, pp. 46]. The word urban is apart from the fact
that it originates in the Latin word urbs, meaning city and
its characteristics [9, pp. 590596; [10, p. 649], has contained
signicant added value since Lewis Wirth rst wrote his
legendary paper, Urbanism as a way of life, in 1938 [11, p.
9]; [12]; [13]. In The Urban Question, Castells proceeds to
redene the idea of the urban. Experts must understand cities
as a source of capitalism through manifestations of power and
2 A.M. Elshater
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production [14, p. 3]. Correspondingly, the term metropolis
means mother city or mother of cities [15, p. 27]. A metro-
politan area is a region inhabited by a high-density population
in the urban core and is little populated on the periphery [16].
On a parallel trend, urbanism is a term concerns the spatial
relations, design approach, theory, strategy and a way of life to
improve the living standard in cities [12, pp. 692693]. It was
found in various specializations. The rst uses by archaeolo-
gists as a word to describe the process that drives people to live
in cities was by Le Corbusier in 1942 [13]. Le Corbusier
describes the term as a set of spatial relations by politicians
to clarify the means (methods) of production in town or cities.
It is geographic, economic, political, social and cultural con-
text studies of the cities, and considerateness the impact of
the forces on the built environment. Urbanism holds
approaches such as an urban design especially when respect
the human needs responding with empathy to town and city
morphologies. It is a way to deal with the city and includes a
philosophy that seeks to explain town and city relations [17];
[18, pp. 14.114.8]. It aims of civilized people live in cities
adapting their resources and technologically advancing for
achieving good quality of life; quality, beauty, enjoyment,
equality and satisfaction [19, pp. 1620,48].
1.3. Research justication: content analysis and questionnaire
In Egypt, there is what might be called state of affairs
represented in a degree of confusion between the meanings of
the vocabularies circulating in the area of specialization of
designing the human settlements. This research claries the
problematic issue of terminology using the content analysis
and questionnaire. The content analysis of some literatures
published online nd out that in Egypt the word urban and
urbanism both are translated in Arabic langue to Umran
[20], or use the term urban to describe all types of human set-
tlement whether in the city, informal community or rural [21];
[22]. This common translation appears in both professional
practice of some projects as well as the academic eld through
schools of architecture. The question goes around the accuracy
of using Arabic word Umran that led to a kind of miscommu-
nication with Western society, as well as an efcient use of
Figure 1 Graphical abstract of the research methodology. Source: the author.
Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization 3
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principles of science related to the other interface concepts
illustrated in (Fig. 1). On the other side, the word Umran
attached with the word describing the design process,
Tasmeem, lettered as Tasmeem Umrani is, also, commonly
used in Egypt [23]; [24]. The literature review of some manu-
script in the eld of social science Umran is translation to the
term human development to describe the notion of civilization
[4]; [2]; [7, p. 2]; [4, p. 859].
On the convenience side, a questioner was designed to
follow the concept and denition of terms related to the eld
of Architecture as whole and urban design especially. The
questionnaire was launched equally, to experts in the eld of
specialization, academic professors, and fresh graduates
(Fig. 2). The author collected the data from 210 responses
during three days. The outcomes concluded from analyzing
the questionnaire consecutively are:
The common side of the professional participant (52%)
whether they are fresh graduates or experts use the term
urban design; Tasmeem Umrani, to describe the arrange-
ment, appearance and function of our suburbs, towns and
cities. The common side (48%) use urban design; Tasmeem
Haderi to describe that process. On the other side, a small
ration (5%) uses the two terms for the same action.
Most responders (80%) suggested that the urban design can
be used to create or reclaim all types of human settlements.
The meaning of urban design moves around two word;
Tasmeem Umrani and Tasmeem Haderi with a propor-
tion, sequentially, 45% and 55%.
From Question four and ve, most responders use the word
Tasmeem Umrani and Tasmeem Haderi with the meaning
to design or reclaim the urban setting. Both of the two
words can be described to deal with all human settlements
Most responders (45%) mentioned that the term of urban
design, in concept, equals to urbanism. A relatively high
ratio (20%) uses the word to describe all listed words.
The concept of the word Umran represents the cities but is
also descriptive of all of the types of areas where there is
human life on earth. The content analysis and questionnaire
show that, there is a range of conict and interference in termi-
nologies and its translation to Arabic Language. In some
cases, the same professional participants use different termi-
nologies to describe the same action. Additionally, there is a
kind of inaccuracy in translation. Therefore, the following
section aims to understand the history of thought of one of
the most respected specialties in the eld of architecture. The
contribution of the current research is to clarify the need for
separation between the two terms of urban design, littered in
Arabic as Tasmeem Haderi, and Tasmeem Umrani.
2. The urban design thought: the rst proof
Historically, urban design (UD) is the art of the city, but this
denition had not resonated since the mid-sixties, when urban
design became a scientic art taught in American universities
[25]. Consequently, it achieved the level of a profession that
not only aimed to rehabilitate and reclaim deteriorated areas,
but also to create and envision new development projects,
particularly in existing built environments that are then linked
to the public realm of the city [26, p. 17]. Throughout history,
the building of cities has passed through elementary and sec-
ondary transformative shifts. The followings show some of
Figure 2 The questionnaire results. The numbers on chart repress the percent of interviewees viewpoint. Source: author analyzed the
repose on <>.
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the distinctive paradigms that began in 1800s. The transforma-
tion includes two paradigm shifts.
2.1. Urban design paradigm: twelve notions do not come for all
human settlements
This section aims at reviewing the urban design paradigms to
clarify the imbedded notion (Fig. 3). Before 1950s, urban
design, UD, did not exist in its current form but rather within
the elds of Townscape and town/city planning. It passed
through several stages (Table 1). At the end of the 19th cen-
tury, Sitte published one of the earliest writings on the UD spe-
cialization in which the ideology of the humanization of cities
prevailed, according to his strong admiration for the contem-
porary/modern forms of medieval and Renaissance towns
[26, p. 17]. He focused attention on the aesthetic aspects of
public spaces to occupy a unique place in the UD timeline.
His focus is on space rather than on building. In his book,
City Planning According to Artistic Principles in 1889, these
ideas had a tremendous inuence on the development. The
book focuses on plazas and squares as important areas of cit-
ies, as well as enclosed spaces constructed to serve as indepen-
dent (outdoor) rooms [27].
The rst use of the word Townscape was in 1880, but its use
in the traditional sense was in 1889. Hissey mentions: At the
eighteenth-century, by analogy with a similar design practiced
improver of land, it might be christened Townscape [27, p.
263]. Thomas Sharp in 1948 used the traditional meaning of
Townscape noted above, when launching the development of
new cities [28]; [29]. Ivor De Wolfe in 1949 shows Townscape
to be a visual art of town planning [30]. According to the
school of landscape architecture design, Townscape is an
extension of the English picturesque [29]; [31].
In modernism, public spaces are abstract spaces and a
vacancy between buildings. In 1940, Cullen shifted his atten-
tion, considering the case that dealing with these spaces pro-
duces adverse effects in these modern spaces. Thus, it
becomes a problem in the practices process [31]. The core
principle of the UD picturesque, but the difference is in the
scale, and the detail; whereas the modernist organization was
based on the drawing board or in the model, the picturesque
approach was based on the perception at street level [32, p. 21].
By the early 1950s, the Townscape theme focused on design
ideas satisfying human needs and requirements in cities and
towns [31]. It becomes an issue as the UD emphasizes the
coherence of the visual environment as a core need. Regarding
what the modernist architects contributed toward the error of
separating the urban form from its content; form and content
must not be separated from each other, or the physical envi-
ronmental requirements cannot be met. In the 1950s, Cullen
developed the argument that the relevant environment should
be dealt within the practice of town planning [31, p. 199]. Cul-
len described all of these changes according to the UD concept
in the list of the historical essences of the city. Additionally,
understanding the possibility that the Townscape concept sur-
really describes the process of moving through the urban
spaces and records the results of this sequence using drawings
and photographs. Cullen called it the art of relationship [33,
p. 13]; [34, p. 64]. In the trend of urban planning, Lynch is the
rst pioneer to argue that the greatest value of any city lies in
the characteristics of its spatial form. According to Lynch [35,
p. 1]; [36], inhabitants have long associations with some parts
of the city. They imagine it as a place permeated with memo-
ries and meanings [36]. He coined the words image-ability, way
nding, and Legibility [37, pp. 4690]; [35, p. 6], [38, pp. 372
390], [39, p. 32], [40].
During the sixties, there was a signicant architectural
movement that aimed to overturn the trend that takes into
account residents social lives [41]. It discussed abandoning
the traditional methods of dividing the city into different areas
and domains by either rigid or exible planning grids. This
approach leads to the necessity of examining the traditional
urban centers that expected human life to be dictated by the
surrounding environmental conditions (the context). This
was synchronous with many of the European specialists
involved in the rebuilding of entire towns that were nearly
demolished in the Second World War to meet their popula-
tions current requirements. These ideas were established in
urban design process that was clearly emerging in building cit-
ies with a signicant consideration of Contextualism [42, pp.
676679]; [42]; [43]. According to Shane (1971), architecture
must match and respond to the surroundings. It can either
complete a pattern implicit in a roads layout or introduce a
new one. Crucial to this study of urban patterns is the gestalt
double-image of the Figure/Ground [42, p. 676], [43].
Since the beginning of the seventies, urban design has
bridged the different specializations in the eld of architecture
planning and design, showing the interrelationship between the
spatial dimensions on the one hand and the morphological
dimensions on the other hand (Fig. 4). These interrelationships
Figure 3 Urban design paradigm complied by author.
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Table 1 The twelve notions, the urban design paradigms and paradigm shifts. Source: author.
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gather the urban habitats quality and vitality, beginning with
the traditional and continuing up to the newly developing cit-
ies [44]. During this period, urban design progressed through
different theoretical ideas, which are presented in the litera-
ture. Colin Rowe (1975) [45] put forth his own theory of the
urban Architecture of cities in America in 1975 with the two
ideas of urban inll and Collage City.
Krier (1979) discusses the latest urban perceptions on
rebuilding traditional cities through the meaning of the place
[46]. Synchronizing what is happening in America and Europe,
the Krier brothers (Robert and Leon) address city urban
design through an understanding of the context [47]. Through
analyzing the way of lifestyle and attitude of the public places
in European cities, they understood the ideological and eco-
nomic forces that led to the deformation of the urban fabric.
Krier [46, p. 207] respects negative spaces and the revitaliza-
tion/revival of the public buildings and historical monuments
of their land. This gives meaning to architectural metropolitan
cities. The morphology and typology created different urban
forms in the distinct urban spaces of city building instead of
in vacant Land [43].
In the eighties, urban design took on other dimensions,
including becoming interested in the relationship between
human beings and their contexts [48]. In this point of view,
the urban designer becomes an architect of groups [19]. He
can respond to the issue of public participation through an
awareness that the city has related serial events relevant to
human behavior, as a way to understand cultural communities.
During this period, various theories and approaches emerged,
such as the semantic theory, the pattern language theory, and
the structured behavioral approach [44]. Urban design deals
with a group of people interacting in a built environment in cit-
ies and towns. The urban designers tasks are to understand
the needs and aspirations of the client group. Christopher
Alexander adopted a method to activate the behavioral con-
cept and the relationships between people and places to visual-
ize the city and to rebuild it, creating a new urban design
concept [44, pp. 4749].
In the nineties, urban designers interests in a certain eld
include topics such as sustainability and environmental com-
patibility/responsive (Fig. 5). Additionally, UD includes envi-
ronmental impact assessment and climatic change, air
quality, energy independence; renewable energy, fuel use and
transportation; water resources, water sanitation and manage-
ment; and livable cities [48]. Sustainable urban design (SUD)
[49] is . . . A process whereby all the actors involved national,
regional and local authorities, citizens, community-based orga-
nizations, NGOs, academics and enterprises work together to
integrate functional, environmental and quality considerations
to design and plan a built environment. . . [50].
In the early of the second millennium, urban design focuses
on environmental compatibility and sustainability, including
energy, climatic change and taking advantage of passive solar
energy. Passive solar energy can provide up to 20% of the
annual space heating required for a well-insulated building in
cities [51, p. 40]. Incompatibility way, UD specializations
Figure 5 The principle of responsive environments. Source: based on [48, p. 9].
Figure 4 The four key dimensions and six derivatives.
Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization 7
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exhibit New Urbanism principles [52], through creating a
walkable community Post-Urbanism, or what is also called
the Generic city, emerges with Koolhaas [53], to walking every
day in new neighborhood units. New Urbanism aims at
reclaiming the built environment and improving its lifetime
value by creating better places for peoples lives [18].
2.2. Paradigm shifts
Urban design passes through three paradigms and two para-
digm shifts [41], [25]; (Table 1). The rst-paradigm shift is
called the art of cities. It moves from town planning to the
design process and is the beginning of the art and science of
building cities. It emerged at the end of the eighteenth century
in the eld of architecture known as Townscape. This eld was
established according to artistic principles that were estab-
lished by Camillo Sitte. Otto Wagner followed in the American
City Beautiful Movement (19011903). This movement, led by
the most respected urban design pioneers at this point, Charles
Mulford Robinson, lasted until the Second World War, when
the CIAM organization and Team X appeared [25].
The second-paradigm shift starts with the overlap between
urban planning and urban design, which began in 1950 with
experts revealing their ideas, such as Contextualism, by Alison
and Peter Smithson 19491952. In one point of view, the level
of its morphological relationships enhances the strength of the
components of the citys structure. The pioneers of this view-
point are Colin Rowe (Collage City) 19611979, Stuart Cohen
(Contextualism as an Empirical Theory) 1961, Thomas L.
Schumacher 1971, David Graham Shane (Contextualism)
1976, Roger Trancik (nding lost space approach) [43] 1966,
and Robert and Leon Krier (the urban quarter theory) 1979
[46]. In another point of view, the priority in the eld of archi-
tecture emerges as a new approach called Urbanism in 1943
by Le Corbusier [54]; [47]. It was followed by the Metabolism
movement in 1960, with its pioneers Kenzo Tange and Kisho
Kurokawa. In addition, the Mega-structure and Archigram
movement emerged in 1974 with Peter Cook [55]. The 1960s
were the roots of using the dimensions of visual and human
perception in the eld of architecture, with Kevin Lynch in
1960 [37]; [35] and Gordon Cullen in 1961 [31]. At the same
time, Rossi (1984) [39] arrived from Europe with new ideas
about UD. He asserted that the architecture should be under-
stood as building typologies that persist long after their origi-
nal functions have changed [39]. In sync with these beliefs, in
the sixties and seventies, but in a different manner, Rossi devel-
ops the urban morphology and the urban context factors [39];
[54]; [45, p. 75].
2.3. Concluded remark from urban design thought
The previous review concludes that the urban design comes to
establishing and repairing cities and towns, it has specic keys;
tasks, paradigm, dimensions and principles illustrated in
Table 2. In this point of view, the built environment incorpo-
rates the design of cities, town and neighborhood units. From
one side, the UD repairs and rebuilds the cities and promotes
compact cities and towns. It posits that the good design can
have a signicant positive impact on an individuals sense of
place and community. On the other side, other types of settle-
ments do not appear through the history of urban design as a
scientic professorial practice. The paradigm shifts, previously
in Table 1, arise with no contribution from the design process
but through other types of human settlements, with a primary
focus on cities and towns.
3. Egyptian context toward a second proof
The process of analysis aims at verifying the types of human
settlement in Egypt (Table 3) as a general overview. Afterward,
the analysis focused in Fayoum Governorate. Fayoum is taken
as a case study because of it holds several types of human set-
tlement inside its administrative boundaries. Some develop-
ment projects in these human settlements were taken as key
projects in Egypt. The research follows and analyzes the liter-
atures that they discussed the urban design and human devel-
opment projects [5661]. Generally speaking, the survey
depends on an analysis of the Egyptian built environment
for two categories: people and places. The validity of the
design principles/guidelines of these two categories is not
applicable. These new development processes neglect the view-
point of typology; people and places. This process of develop-
ment adapts the principles of architecture, urban planning and
even urban design.
3.1. Fayoum: content analysis
Fayoum Governorate lies in the Western desert, in the Western
South of Cairo governorate (Fig. 6). It is bordered in the West
by 6th of October City and in the South East by Bani Swaif.
Fayoum governorate is approximately 6068 km
and repre-
sents nearly 6% of the total area of Egypt [60].
Fayoum governorate has a population of 2.48 million,
according to the census of January 2005. It extends to six
towns, 160-agricultural/shing villages units and to 1883
Ezbat [71, p. 6]. The analytical process aims at categorizing
Table 2 Urban design keys; the compiled tasks, paradigm, dimension and principles of urban design, source: author.
Tasks Paradigm Dimensions Principles
Livable Cities
Quality of Life
Repulsiveness Environment
Perceptual Dimension
Morphological Dimension
Behavioral Dimension
Functional Dimension
Temporal Dimension
Environmental Dimension
8 A.M. Elshater
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Table 3 Typology of places and people in different Egyptian settlements [56,6170]. Source: author.
Typology of Places Typology of People

Source: [61]

The Fortress of Shelli at the Siwa
oasis, source: [62]
] 4 6 [ : e c r u o S ] 3 6 [ : e c r u o S
Source: [65] ] 7 6 [ : e c r u o S ] 6 6 [ : e c r u o S







Asshwayat form , Source:
Source: [56] ] 8 6 [ : e c r u o S


Source: [69] Rural women in Egypt, source: [70]
Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization 9
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the typology of the human settlements in Fayoum governor-
ate according to the functional base. In addition, it attempts
to discover if the disciplines in Fayoum are using urban
design term as an umbrella term for several types of
settlements. The content analysis considers some of the
actions plans to be created in the governorate toward
improving the usage of urban design in the constructive
3.2. Concluded remarks: not all Egyptian settlements are cities
or towns to adapt urban design in their professional practice
Human settlements in Fayoum take several forms, which can
be summarized as the following types. Tables 3, 4, and 5 show
some photos and description. The two tables analysis shows
the action plans related to some previous Egyptian develop-
ment projects that take place in Fayoum Governorate [60].
All these projects give reports that hold three level of develop-
ment; urban planning, urban design and architecture level. The
concluding remarks and arguments about development
projects are analyzed in the following points (Fig. 7).
Although Fayoum Governorate holds several types of
human settlements; cities, rural, Bedouin, informal, the
two proposed task for the new paradigm are achieved only
on cities and resorts as well as the informal settlements. The
informal settlements in the governorate were targeted to
improve the quality of life by providing for the infrastruc-
ture network and solving the environmental issues.
Achieving the task responsive environments was not taken
in consideration in any developing process through the last
few years.
Mostly, in Egypt, the governorates hold no action plan to
improve the Bedouin settlements. The Egyptian manpower
in nomads communities has many opportunities toward
tourism development. In addition, no actions were taken
toward Umran unless by remove and reload into an urban
community in Fayoum city or surrounding villages.
Figure 6 Top right: a locational map of Egypt- source: [60], top left: a detailed geographical map of Fayoum governorate, source: [57].
Down, distribution of rural community in Fayoum.
10 A.M. Elshater
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Table 4 The types of human settlement in Fayoum Governorate, (continued) source: compiled by the author [75, p. 43].
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Table 5 Types of human settlement in Fayoum Governorate, (completed). Source: compiled by the author.
12 A.M. Elshater
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In the rural communities, the living structures and buildings
are located close together, but the action plans have no feed
bake on the social dimension. The convergence between
people through a compact built environment can empower
the local society. The derived paradigms from urban design
just focused on the trends and methods and neglect other
types of paradigms. The missing paradigms such as move-
ments and approaches may add to that development. In
addition, the action plan neglects most of the principles.
The key element of urban design was used in its un-suitable
places to accommodate the constructed environments. In
the resorts that built as water development in Fayoum Lake
depends on the Quality of Life; QoL [60]. The objectives of
the QoL where that projects adapted moves toward envi-
ronment impact assessment not to put a strategy to
improvement human settlements.
Although all developing projects use urban design as a tool
to develop, but they do not achieve most of the urban
design keys in most types of human settlements.
The previous arguments give a clear proof about using UD
to rebuild/repair all types of human settlements in Egypt are
not adapted. The urban design discipline needs a wide range
of theorizing to put the place and people in his consideration.
On the other side, Egyptian experts can follow the same histor-
ical literatures about designing human settlements that written
in the fourth century. The Introduction [1] is one of the
ancient manuscripts about sociology that gives an Arabic term
Umran to cover, in the description, all types of human settle-
ments in North Africa.
Figure 7 The assessment of developing projects in Fayoum
Governorate based on the urban design key complied in (Table 2).
Figure 8 The proposed paradigm; Umran Design can come with three main tasks to achieve a quality of life, livable place and responsive
environments. Source: author.
Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization 13
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4. Conclusion: the new intellectual paradigm Umran Design vs.
Urban Design
Different manuscripts represent the theories in the eld of
building the human settlements from the middle of the last cen-
tury. They focus on cities, and there is no mention of the coun-
tryside or Bedouin areas. Throughout this time, the history of
UD thought includes and presents several different theoretical
paradigms. These paradigms can be altered to the concept of
Umran Design. The primary interest is in people and places.
It involves the theoretical background, movements, trends,
schools, approaches, theories, and methods. The proposed par-
adigm of Umran Design has three main tasks to achieve: quality
of life, livable places and responsive environments (Fig. 8). It
also can derive principles from urban design for various areas,
including cities, towns, Bedouin, rural and informal settlements.
These principles are permeability, variety, vitality, legibility,
robustness, richness, personalization and appropriateness.
Consequently, Umran Design works with four general dimen-
sions: cognitive, formational, sociocultural and environmental.
In conclusion, the paper supposed that driving the Arabic
term engaged with the design process as an umbrella for many
types of human settlements can come over problems of termi-
nologies through dealing with Arabian settlements, which hold
such variety of community types within a certain context.
Although a theoretical review study in the current paper indi-
cates that the urban design is both a science and professional
practice for cities and towns, in Egypt, it is applied in places
that are neither.
This paper recommends using the term Umran Design as
an umbrella term to cover designing different types of human
settlements. This includes townscape, landscape architecture,
site planning, site design, community design, streetscape signs,
sustainability (green architecture), environmental design and
urban design. While the term Urban Design only deals with
the metropolitan areas, the term Umran Design is concerned
with all of the urban, rural and Bedouin areas on earth. This
problematic issue of terms was proved using an exploratory-
descriptive approach through two evidences, the thought of
urban design and applicable project in Fayoum governorate.
The Urban Design discipline is used to indicate the historical
centers in traditional cities as key elements of urban form, the
development and reclamation of cities at three levels (individual
buildings, districts and regions) and at three scales (small, med-
ium and large). In conclusion, the addressed assumption, based
on the interface between terminologies, was claried through
putting the interest of urban design in cities and town and get-
ting the spirit of Umran design from Ibn Khalduns theory.
The contribution of this paper is, rst, delaminate the inter-
ference between terminologies; urban and Umran. Second, it
claries the need for separation between the two terms of
Urban Design, littered in Arabic as Tasmeem Haderi, and
Umran Design, Tasmeem Umrani. Third, it submits a redun-
dancy of urban design and Ibn Khalduns Umran in an exper-
imental benet from the assets of urban design paradigms that
are accompanied with urbanism movements. This redundancy
can cover the gap that urban design cannot ll through all
human settlements. It provides an opportunity to expand to
use the Arabic word; Umran, in all patterns of human
development. The paper, also, recommends future studies of
current local communities for the benet of the paradigm. It
rewrites segments of the intellectual paradigm that are closely
related to each other. It aims to test the principles and guide-
lines for both people and places for creating the architecture of
cities (human and stone) using Umran Design.
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Abeer Elshater obtained her BSc in Urban
Design & Spatial Panning in 1999 from Ain
Shams University, Cairo. In 2009, she holds
her PhD in Urban Design from the same
university she graduated from. Since then, she
acted as teaching assistant and then assess-
ment professor at Ain Shams University
teaching and supervising multidisciplinary
topics. She has worked in several international
research projects with international Universi-
ties. She has published numerous papers and
authored and co-edited ve books (under publishing/revise). She is a
member of Quality Assurance in CIQAP. She can be reached by e-mail
Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization 15
Please cite this article in press as: Elshater AM, Urban design redux: Redening a professional practice of specialization, Ain Shams Eng J (2014),