What is it about architects and urban design?

David Rudlin

Architects love to break the mould – but you ignore the rules of urban design at your peril, says David Rudlin

Earlier in the summer I sat listening to an architect teaching urban design in one of our architecture schools. He started promisingly by showing a site which I recognised as being one of ours. However he ruined it almost immediately by then imposing a caricature of a plan (not ours) over the site and saying: “This is conventional urban design. It is not what we do in this department.” He then showed a short film clip of one of the small squares in Manhattan, teaming with people, buskers and a craft stalls before announcing that this was the sort of urban design that they taught in the department. The next two days were spent looking at student work with beautifully done CGIs and photomontages, looking very much like that square in New York. Except that the people, buskers and craft stalls were Photoshopped rather than being real and many were shown in locations where such urban vitality would just never happen.

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