A human-based approach to form-making principles of urban spaces
A human-based approach to urban design primarily consists of two kinds of design strategies:
- Urban design as form-placing process,
- Urban design as form-making process,
Professional designers deal with the form-making of urban spaces, while the form-placing is a vernacular and indigenous development of urban forms through time made by lay-people and non-professionals. The former is also known as formal, conscious design process while the latter is called informal, pragmatic, unconscious design process. Unconscious urban design process, being developed through a long period of time, has provided opportunities for people to satisfy needs. Contemporary urban design practice now faces some difficulties to go to the same design process. Today, it is unlikely to force people build their own physical environments. What makes an unconscious design process attractive to design professionals is that it is thoroughly a human-based approach to form-placing of urban spaces. Observations show some fundamental differences between form-placing and form-making process. However, should urban designers consider people's needs and their behavior as their main agenda in the design process; that would basically be a common principle between form-placing and form-making process that makes them both humane. Thus, it can be argued that in order to go through professional form-making process, urban designers need not only to rely on a program, developed through urban design process based on human needs and behaviors, but also to review previous and existing indigenous, unconscious design process as a paradigm.
Two main existing approaches now can contribute in the development of a human approach to form-making principles of urban spaces:
- A mechanistic, elitist and deterministic approach,
- A neo-functional approach,
The former focuses on non-indigenous dimension of urban space development; deals only with client's needs and attitude; relies on individual needs rather than social aspects of people's lives. Technological development is the key principle in order to overcome physical, social and environmental problems. This approach insists heavily on the formal and aesthetic aspects of urban design, pre se. it believes in physical determinism. It is a product-oriented approach and its final products would be something to look at. It is elitist and visionary in its aesthetic value. Reason and thought are the major criterion in its rational planning process. The neo-functional approach is empiricist in nature and insists on human sensory experiences of the built environments. It deals with users' needs and their aesthetic values and their everyday urban lives. It focuses on indigenous urban spaces development. Its main commitment is to create small urban places in order to live in. it sees urban design as a dynamic process rather than a mere final static product.
It seems that a combination of the two approaches would be fruitful. Thus, a thoughtful selection of the visionary and aesthetic aspects provided by the former and that of human and neo-functional dimensions of the urban design suggested by the latter would be helpful in order to make a "human-based approach" to urban design. Within this new approach two motivation-based and culture-based views were recognized. The paper's humanistic approach was mainly focused on motivational bases of human behavior while it recognized the importance of cultural aspects as a by-product of a humanistic approach to urban design.
Director: Ghasem Motalebi
Edit: Shohreh Sadat Arabshahi