June 08 2011

Defining “Urban”: What Is It?

For nearly a century now, urban theorists have been trying to pinpoint the specific factors that drive the formation of an “urban experience.” Perhaps one of the most basic factors in achieving a successful urban experience for any city is to achieve high numbers in an urban population. However, this in and of itself, is not enough to promote an atmosphere that is “urban.”

Along with a large population, must come diversity that helps fuel the melting pot of cultures, in terms of both wealth and ethnicity. This, after all, is what makes urban areas so interesting and unique. It is this melting pot that fosters an atmosphere of urban vibrancy, as seen in the diverse districts of New York and San Francisco.

Along with diversity, comes a sense of uniqueness felt within the city. This uniqueness, as argued by James H. Kunstler, creates a “sense of place” as well as a “place worth caring about.” These places, then, help craft a sense of identity and emotional affiliation with residents. Without this emotional attachment, no one would bother caring about the space they live, causing an urban “failure.”

The question becomes, then, what elements of urban design promote a sense of urban vibrancy?

The following four points help answer this question:

  1. Pedestrian friendly design;
  2. Mixed-use development;
  3. Spaces that encourage social interaction and involvement, such as this park in Catalunya, Spain;
  4. Interesting architecture.

Notice how all of these design points encourage interaction. In a sense, the urban experience can be summed up as the intensified interaction between people of different cultures. It is up to urban planners to design a space that encourages the interaction of people. Then, and only then, will a city achieve the status of being a vibrant urban area.

Do you agree? Do you believe the interactions of people from varying cultures creates a sense of vibrant urbanity?

Defining ‘Urban:’ What Is It?[RVS1]

For nearly a century now, urban theorists have been trying to pinpoint the specific factors that drive the formation of an urban experience. Perhaps one of the most basic factors in achieving a successful urban experience for any city is to achieve high numbers in an urban of population. However, this in and of itself, won’t beis not enough to promote an atmosphere that is urban.

Along with a large population, must come diversity that helps fuel the melting pot of cultures, in terms of both wealth and ethnicity. This, after all, is what makes urban areas so interesting and unique. It is this melting pot that fosters an atmosphere of urban vibrancy, as seen in the diverse districts of New York and San Francisco.

Along with diversity, comes a sense of uniqueness that is felt within the city. Every city is unique. This uniqueness, as argued by James H. Kunstler, creates a sense of place as well as a place worth caring about. These places, then, help craft a sense of identity and emotional affiliation with residents. Without this emotional attachment, no one would bother caring about the space they live in, and it will end up falling apartcausing an urban failure.

The question becomes, then, what elements of urban design can help promote a sense of urban vibrancy in a city?

The following five four points help answer this question:[RVS2]

1. Designing areas that are Ppedestrian friendly design;

2. Encouraging development that is Mmixed-use development;

3. Spaces that encourage social interaction and involvement, such as this park in Catalunya, Spain;

4. Interesting architecture.

[RVS3] Notice how all of these design points encourage interaction. In a sense, the urban experience can be summed up as the intensified interaction between people of different cultures. It is up to the urban planners[RVS4] to design a space that encourages theis interaction of people. Then, and only then, will cities a city achieve the status of being a vibrantn urban area.

Do you agree? Do you believe the interactions of people from varying cultures creates urbananity? that is vibrant.[RVS5]


[RVS1]Where are the hyperlinked keywords within your blog? Please try to naturally incorporate more keywords, with hyperlinks, that open in new windows.

[RVS2]Four or five points?

[RVS3]You mentioned above that there are five points, however, you only listed four points. Either change the points or change the wording in the above statement. “The following five points help answer this questions.” Four or five?

[RVS4]Need to hyperlink keyword in a new window.

[RVS5]You can change this question, but please pose one at the end in order to create a discussion. Once you have made the above changes, please post in WordPress.

Daniel Sheehan

Dan Sheehan studied City and Regional Planning with a concentration in Urban Design at the Ohio State University. Dan has lived in several cities throughout the Midwest and is dedicated to exploring urban and environmental design issues as they relate to Midwestern cities of the United States. His passion for urban design and urban planning began during his studies in Columbus at the Ohio State University, and continues to pursue those passions in the realm of urban planning. Dan blogged for The Grid until October 2011.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 at 7:00 am and is filed under Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “Defining “Urban”: What Is It?”

  1. Jordan Says:

    I definitely agree with your four points, as I saw and was a part of them daily while living in Singapore. A fifth element in the urban vibrancy question would have to include a plurality of activities in the urban space. And not only a wide range of things offered, but the possibility of activity throughout the day and into the night. The city where I now live is trying to revitalize the downtown core, and enlivening the night-time street scape is going to be a big part of that, hopefully.

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