Urban Design Theory

The principle aim of this course is to introduce urban design (as opposed to urban studies). Other aims are to introduce a discussion of urban design theory, especially that of the twentieth century, and urban design history, which is to say politics, sociology, and culture.

The articulation of these three terms—design, theory, and history—is a distinctly modern (post-Kantian) phenomenon. The ancient Greeks, for example, steeped as they were in the concreteness of Homeric example, would not have understood such a distinction. In our own time, Leon Krier has observed that you only need a theory if you don’t know how to do something. But today there is little consensus about architecture and urbanism, and theory is a necessity. Thus, the articulation must be acknowledged and used as a fact of modern life.