ARCT40660 Introduction to Urban Design

Academic Year 2021/2022

'If your heart doesn't break at the state of urban society in the world today, then stop reading now. This i for those who want to make a big difference but don't know where to start. Because even though the difference-makers didn't get us into this mess, we are the ones with the drive and belief to get us out of it.'

This quote from urbanists Kelvin Campbell's Massive Small, Building the Urban Society We Want (2018, 5) sets a challenge for this module's focus on street life. Understanding the delicate balance of engaging across scales (from a room to a city) is a core challenge for designers, so this module aims to familiarise you with ways of looking closely at the city. It will provide you with tactics to assess places at different scales while taking account of a range of urban design perspectives.

Accordingly, this module aims to support students interested in the broader context of urban sites, both physically and socially. By addressing urban design at a range of scales, the focus is on making better places. The module supports a core interdisciplinary studio module by adding depth to reading townscapes, by developing methods for comparative analysis, fieldwork techniques and relating each to ideas of key urban thinkers.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Select a preferred methodology for the analysis of a place from a range of urban design thinkers.
2. Show evidence of in depth research in the assessment of an urban open space.
3. Develop critical appraisal of a place with evidence of fieldwork.
4. Capture findings in a submission that is academically rigorous and visually attractive (This can include visual diagrams, a design component, photos, videos, models, charts, recordings).

Indicative Module Content:

Open to students of architecture, planning and landscape architecture, this module will draw focus on streetlife and draw upon a range of historical and current insights in Urban Design to enable a more informed and methodological assessment of place. This will be particularly interesting and challenging to observe behaviour during Covid19.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Field Trip/External Visits


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Roald Dahl’s story of ‘The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me’ suggests a useful tripartite structure of interrelated scales and preoccupations; The Giraffe, who is vertically advantaged, offers the a vantage point or overview from above: Pelly, (the pelican with voluminous beak) feeds off the field (field-work), and captures the idea of city as a container of urban open space: Me, represents subjective experience, your personal academic learning journey and reflective writing skills.

These three building blocks conclude with an assignment based on the overview (Giraffe), the close-up (Pelly) and the reflective (Me) tailored to suit your studio work (if possible). Three Continual Assessments will build upon each other towards the summative assessment that applies to the assessment of a particular place and gives you agency in your own learning.

This module will be part of a UCD pilot on Inclusive Teaching during 2020.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Final essay (builds on other assessments with focus on improving academic writing skills (further briefing in class) Unspecified n/a Graded No


Fieldwork: Close observation and comparative analysis of streets (Further briefing in class) Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Attendance: Participation and engagement in discussions and reading seminars plus final reflections on the learning experience. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Book/ Literature Review (further briefing in class) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback given before summative assessment. I have developed a rubric for on-line grading related to learning outcomes. Timing and format to be agreed with the class.

1. Whyte, William H., The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, The Conservation Foundation, Washington D.C. Film and booklet on The Street Life Project.1980.
2. Jacobs, Allan B, Great Streets, MIT Press, 1995.
3. Cullen, Gordon, The Concise Townscape, Architectural Press, 1995.
4. Johnson Coffin, Christie and Jenny Young, Making Places for People, 12 Questions Every Designer Should Ask. Routledge, New York, 2017.
5. Dover, Victor & John Massengale, Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns. Wiley, 2014.
6. Glaser, Meredith, Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, Hans Karssenberg, Jeroen Laven and Jan van Teeffelen, Plinths, The City at Eye Level, Eburon 2012.
7. Cahill, Gerry, Back to the Street, University College Dublin. Housing Research Unit, 1980.
8. Rudofsky, Bernard, Streets For People, A Primer For America, Doubleday & Co. New York, 1969.
9. Appleyard, Donald, Livable Streets, University of California Press,1981.
10. Mogilevich, Mariana, The Invention of Public Space, Designing for Inclusion in Lindsay's New York, University of Minasota Press, Minneapolis, 2020.
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Once Off Offering 1 Week(s) - 10 Wed 10:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Wed 11:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 6 Wed 11:00 - 12:50
Once Off Offering 1 Week(s) - 10 Wed 13:00 - 13:50