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Why Urban Design Today? Ep.3

Updated: May 5, 2021

Here at UDDI we consider our topics as a practice and a discipline aimed to improve the quality of the life of the people in the built environment.

In this column we intend to orient, to inform and to say why we need Urban Design today - from different point of view.

Pongpisit is the director of UDDI program, he has been involving with UDDI since the beginning with working experience in Japan, and Italy. He has research interests in socio-cultural diversity, urban studies, and urban resilience with the specialisations in disaster management planning, social enterprises & urban systems, and stakeholder management & community engagement. Additionally, he is the founder of Urban Studies Lab, an independent research centre that are working on inclusive placemaking, smart city, urban analytics, and city partnership development. USL is the founding organization of COVID-Relief Bangkok which employed urban analytic to help vulnerable households in Bangkok, so far, the initiative has reached 31,000 families.

"We are living in an urban era, there will be more people living in the urban area not the opposite. Building and managing a city require multidisciplinary team of expert as well as other stakeholders ranging from the public sector, private organization, civil society as well as the citizen. While the technology enable us to have a more robust and real-time living data that can help us make a collective decision for our city, we need someone who can be in the middle that can help facilitate and communicate between different parties. Importantly, design tools can help illustrate the complex urban data and spatial analytics in more understandable and tangible picture, urban design is one of the most suitable profession who can do that. I personally believe that urban designer is a person who helps translate urban planning and policy into a more practical solution, especially the liveable living environment of the city.

Not only the design context, UDDI program was intentionally constructed to the cover the urban development issues as well. As thus, it is critical for us to investigate the urban realm through different lens. These include economic development, environmental resilient, equity and inclusiveness and much more. The discussion about smart city development is accelerating, but in order for the smart city tech and solution to work we need people who understand data analytic, public administration, city management, business ecosystem as well as public-private partnership project initiation. UDDI has all the experts and practitioners who lead the charge for Thailand on those matters.

From COVID-19 pandemic, growing inequality, natural disaster, obsolete urban infrastructure, incomprehensive urban mobility, etc., the city itself is going through many challenges. But when there are challenges, there are also lie the opportunities. Progressively, we see that the gap is being fill by third party, many of them operate as city or social enterprise to offer innovative products and services to the city. UDDI has a dedicated class for social innovation and social entrepreneurship which give the student the chance to learn and employ design thinking while understanding the complex ecosystem and business feasibility side of the urban intervention as well. This is of course… just a snapshot of what UDDI have, the student can tailor the aspects of the urban issues they are interested in, ultimately, they will answer to different challenges of the city. Through the mission to train and foster the future urbanists, we believe that we can contribute to the sustainable development of Thailand and the region in the years to come. "

AJ. Pongpisit Huyakorn, Ph.D.,

UDDI Director

Image credits: our students' projects for UD429, Year 4 Studio, 2020, Midterm Presentations. Images by Manita Intarachaisri (Local Employee Persona slide), Tanavara Chawanid (Mobility Map), Supisara Khumruangrit (Stakeholders network), Mananchaya Nomnumsub (Economic Agglomeration Map), Panyawat Terdkeat (Innovation Campus Town Masteplan).

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