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Urban design is closely related to Urban planning, however as a profession and focus it is generally focused on the design of actual regions of cities, ranging from a few buildings to several blocks, to be a pleasant but also effective urban space. That is, while it shares a concern with Planning for effective urban settlements, it tends to focus on how these can be achieved via active design of the relation of buildings to public space, streetscape planning, particular physical measures to control transport modes and behavior in an appropriate way in an area (e.g. traffic calming), and integration of natural elements such as trees into a site. Whilst Urban Planning would share many of these goals, professional planners' work would more likely put emphasis on the rules and regulations of planning law that could be employed to support them, rather than producing actual designs. Planning is also more likely to work on e.g. more general infrastructure planning at the scale of entire cities rather than urban designers' more detailed focus on particular regions.
So in some ways, urban design is in a complementary relationship mid-way between Architecture and Urban planning. It is also closely related to Landscape architecture except with a greater focus on the built form.
Sustainable Urban Design
Good urban design is important in terms of sustainability because the relationship of buildings, functions, public spaces, and transport in a particular built environment has a significant impact on people's behaviour and resource uses. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System now includes a Neighbourhood Design category for example to take this into account - see http://www.usgbc.org/neighborhoods.
Several recent movements have attempted to renew Urban Design principles from earlier settlement patterns in an effort to move away from low-density suburban development patterns, particularly in the United States. Prominent among these is the New Urbanism movement.
- Urban planning
- Landscape architecture
- Elements of a thrivable city
- Livable neighborhoods
- Usable public space
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