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Why Urban Design Today? Ep.4

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.

Architect, from Italy, Aj. Federico is our UDDI Associate Director; he is one of international experts of the Thammasat Design School. Interested in photography, with his hybrid researches he sees and investigates the various spatial and human interactions of the built environment - especially the ones that occurs in the historical/cultural contexts. During his years in Thailand, he took care of teaching and researching different topics and different subjects, tackling the urban challenges from different perspectives.

Since always, humans created physical and social structures to live together. Not only cities and spaces, but invisible bonds and relationships that kept lives together for a bigger goal: if in the beginning of the civilization the bond was related to practical issues (safety, food, etc.), the history of the world created more and more sophisticated needs and bonds with its progress. The spontaneous organization of the common life worked pretty well, and the diverse other configurations succeeded during the Ages, allowing scientific, artistic and progress to happen. But after the agricultural industrial revolutions over 250 years ago and the subsequent technological development (altogether with the capitalist power's development), the bond between cities and territory, urban and country and generically "built and unbuilt" faded away slowly, being lost definitely lost in the last decades of the XX century. More than that, megacities' growths, urbanization, economical inequalities and dark perspectives on some megatrends (i.e. climate changes, pandemics) will not make the situation brighter.

But here's the need of urban design today.

Our built spaces needs us urban designer.

Our socio-economic system needs professionals able to tackle urban challenges with a comprehensive sight; our world needs a new stakeholder, us, able to coordinate other ones in the city to carry a coordinated, sustainable, green and smart development. We, as orchestra's "maestros" and directors, can coordinate all the other stakeholders and allow them to play their piece at the best. We can do it in the public sector, but also in the private - or as a private think-tankers, doers, young businessman. We do it with the help of the architectural and urban planning tools and knowledge, but we need all our different personalities: there's no final recipe for the specimen of the urban designer. We need urban dreamers with visions, urban professionals, urban city-makers, urban space-makers, urban doers, urban developer able to allow the Public and the Private groups to design better conditions for our lives.

And this it written in our name: the root of the word design comes from a Latin word translatable with "sign", "mark". What we will do as urban professional should be this: leaving a sign in our built environment, improving our common lives.

This requires mental agility and strength: the socio-physical system where we live in requires some time to be understood, and a continue back and forth in the different scales of the human spaces. Everything is related, everything is connected in the contemporary city, physically and digitally. With our UDDI Program you will develop the ability to enter in this world, understand it and be able to play your game: leave your "sign", your "mark" in our contemporary built environment.

Aj. Federico Puggioni,

Thammasat Design School International Expert,

UDDI Associate Director

Image Credits: Bangkok Today, Federico Puggioni; Section: RPBW, St. Gilles, London; Map and axon. view: Urbanus, Urban Development in Nantou.

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