Thursday, July 5, 2012

Urban Composition. Developing community through design

Sharing from asladirt: 

In Urban Composition: Developing Community through Design, Professor Mark C. Childs, who teaches architecture at the University of New Mexico, declares that “settlements are not just the sums of their parts; their poetry and vitality comes from their collective composition – the interactions among multiple designs.” In other words, it’s the way multiple individually-designed pieces work together that leads to the overall success of a place. These pieces include buildings, parks, streets, and works of public art. Each of these components is individually crafted by an architect, landscape architect, or artist. Childs argues that good urban design occurs through a concinnity of these components. He defines concinnity as “the skillful and harmonious adaptation or fitting together of parts to craft a whole.” He writes “great places emerge from the concinnity of incremental acts of design. Existing work frames new projects, which in turn inspire future works.” Each designed element should innovate while still drawing from the existing cultural, environmental, and physical context. In this way, the components of a city can be individually interesting and part of a coherent larger whole. 
Childs describes these individual acts of design as falling within a design hierarchy. He gives the example of a building, which is located on a lot, which is part of a block, which is part of a larger pattern of blocks and streets, which is in turn influenced by the topography of the city. Each of these layers becomes progressively permanent: a building is more likely to change than the lot boundaries, which are less permanent than the underlying topography. Additionally, a building creates new spaces for interior design, from the division of rooms to the arrangement of furniture. These layers of design define how different design professions interact with each other. The interactions between multiple designers operating at different scales leads to a rich urban composition. However, the precise distinctions within this design hierarchy aren’t always clear. Childs writes, “when do architects place buildings in landscapes versus landscape architects place designs around buildings?”  

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