Urban Planning: definition, problems and solutions


Urban Planning: definition, problems, and solutions

Summary: Urban Planning is a large-scale concept concerned with planning and development at all levels ( architectural, infrastructural, ecological, economic, and even political ).

During this process many problems & obstacles come up but luckily the same as any other kind of problems, there are solutions and precautions which we will discuss in detail.

What is Urban Planning simply in less than 2 minutes?

#1: Urban Planning Definition

According to Wikipedia, Urban  Planning is a technical  and  political  process  concerned with the  development  and  use  of  land, protection and use of the environment, public welfare, and the design of the urban environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks.

On the other hand, English Lexicon describes Urban Planning as a branch of architecture dealing with the design and organization of urban space and activities besides determining and drawing up plans for the future physical arrangement.

Here in IEREK, we believe that Urban Planning must be accompanied by sustainability concept which enables us to carry out the urban development process in the right way to keep up the sustainable environment for future generations.

#2: Urban Planning Problems

The basic concern of city-town planning is the internal form, structure, function, and appearance of urban areas.

Physical aspects such as buildings, roads, land use, etc., play an important role in urban planning, at the same time social, economic and technological forces should also be considered while planning so that a healthy environment is created in the city/town.

Apart from this problem, some factors also complicate the task of planning as follows:

a)      Urban Sprawl

Urban Sprawl refers to the migration of a population from populated towns and cities to low-density residential development over more and more rural land which results in:

  • Increase in Public Expenditure: They can actually play a part in the increases of public costs because these changes in infrastructures and building must actually be paid for by someone- and it is usually the taxpayers.
  • Increased Traffic: Populations will begin to use their cars more often, which means that there is more traffic on the roads.
  • Environmental Issues: When you think about going out to develop these lands you will have to worry about the wildlife that lives in these lands.  You will be displacing them, and it can really cause a ripple in the environment.

b)      Individual Control or Small Parcels of Land

Private ownership of small parcels of urban land sometimes interferes with the effective control of the space pattern of the city like the following:

  • If a private owner enjoys unrestricted right to use his/her land as he wishes, he may build a shop or a factory in the residential area, thus decreasing the value of the nearby residences.
  • If in a continuous residential area where two houses walls are shared, the problem arises in such areas when one house owner is willing to renovate the house and another is not in case of deterioration. They may develop conflict, which may turn out to be a problem in the future.
  • If a private builder wants to undertake a project developing or reconstructing the building on the same land, he/she may face two problems, one is he/she may have to pay more money to the existing house owner and the second is he/she has to face the problems created by a neighbor. Both such events are detrimental for the urban development.

c)      Unique Environmental Site

Every city/town occupies a unique environmental site, hills, valleys, rivers, waterfronts, or any other physical features make one city/town look different from another as following:

  • Different sections of the city have unequal value as building sites as the underlying soil and rock formations affect the soundness of the foundations, characteristics of subsoil drainage, etc. All these make differences in the cost of underground construction. At the same time, the rough terrain has different advantages and disadvantages for different kinds of buildings.
  • Topography affects the routes of transportation. If a heavy rail line has to be constructed, it needs a level route, but if the city/town does not possess this feature, then transportation is affected.
  • Breaks in transportation like from waterway to land-way or from the roadway to railway prove advantageous for certain manufacturing and commercial activities.
  • Some parts of the city provide better amenities than others. The amenities can be in the form of a better view and access to the market.

d)      Housing Affordability

Affordable housing is housing deemed affordable to those with a median household income. Housing choice is a response to an extremely complex set of economic, social, and psychological impulses as follows:

  • Housing expenditures: Housing affordability can be measured by the changing relationships between house prices and rents and between house prices and incomes. There has been an increase among policymakers in affordable housing as the price of housing has increased dramatically creating a crisis in affordable housing.
  • Economy: Lack of affordable housing places a particular burden on local economies. As well, individual consumers are faced with mortgage arrears and excessive debt and therefore cut back on consumption. A combination of high housing costs and high debt levels contributes to a reduction in savings.
  • Transportation: Lack of affordable housing can make low-cost labor more scarce, and increase demands on transportation systems (as workers travel longer distances between jobs and affordable housing).

#3: Urban Planning Solutions

As we mentioned before Urban Planning must be accompanied by the sustainability concept. Here where we should stand and understand that the city is more than the sum of its parts. It is a whole living thing that is constantly changing, evolving and morphing into an ever more ECO-Friendly and welcoming entity which can be achieved through innovative sustainable solutions such as following:

a)      Sustainable and Affordable Housing

Census population doubles which require more housing spaces, yet our goal to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Housing means “housing which contributes to community building, to social justice, and to economic viability at a local level” (Morgan and Talbot,  2001, p. 321).

Morgan and Talbot  argue  that sustainability  should  be  the  main  principle  to  design  housing  and  one  of  the  important dimensions of the housing quality.

Also, Development of Sustainable Housing refers to not only the development of building but also the layout of the housing areas since Quality of Dwelling life is not just simply concerned with having a roof over one’s head and a sufficient amount of living space, but also with social and psychological satisfaction.

Affordable Housing has become a commonly used term for summarizing the nature of the housing difficulty in many nations. He identifies six elements of measuring housing expenditure to an income ratio to measure housing affordability.

Here is “Alejandro Aravena” comes with an innovative solution for Housing Affordability through his architectural philosophy.

b)      Zero-Carbon Cities

Components of Zero Carbon Building
Info-graphic shows Components of Zero Carbon Building

There is a need for Zero-Carbon Cities which are urban areas powered by renewable energy techniques and technologies.
A zero-carbon city runs entirely on renewable energy; it has no carbon footprint and will in this respect not cause harm to the planet.
Most cities throughout the world produce energy by burning coal, oil, and gas, unintentionally emitting carbon. Almost every activity human does involve burning one of these fossil fuels.

To become a zero carbon city, an established modern city must collectively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to zero and all practices that emit greenhouse gases must cease.
The aim of a zero-carbon city is reducing carbon emissions from buildings, reducing waste, transport, materials and food emissions by 50% globally. It can be achieved by the following steps:

  • Reducing energy-use wherever possible in the buildings and transportation sector.
  • Increase Renewable Energy Resources by Adding as much renewable energy as possible.
  • Offsetting any CO2 emitted through purchasing carbon credits.
  • Developing distributed power and water systems.
  • Increasing photosynthetic spaces as a part of the green infrastructure.
  • Improving Eco-Efficiency.
  • Developing cities without slums.

c)      Green Roofs

Green Roofs (roofs with a vegetated surface and substrate) provide ecosystem services in urban areas, including improved storm-water management, better regulation of building temperatures, reduced urban heat-island effects, and increased urban wildlife habitat.

Just imagine if this technology was applied to every building within your city, it comes with unlimited benefits as following:

  • Storm Water Management and Water Retention since Green roofs can help with controlling the stormwater runoff which is a major problem in many cities. They have the ability to retain water at a rate of 50-90% depending on the design of the roofs.
  • Improvement of Micro-climate as rainwater evaporates, it humidifies the air above it, making the air cooler. This reduces the ambient temperature of the air above rooftops, improving the micro-climate. Since the rooftop becomes cooler, the efficiency of the building’s AC units is improved.
  • Dust and Toxic Particles Binder where air pollution is a common phenomenon in all major cities. Green roofs can play a vital role in filtering the air pollutants, improving the quality of air. When the air flows, the foliar surface of green roof reduces the speed of air flowing above it. This filters 10-20% of dust particles from the air, thus, helping to purify the air.
  • Protection from Noise Pollution as green roofs can be of great advantage when it comes to noise pollution. Urban areas are mostly subjected to sources of loud sounds and noises particularly because of buildings being located under flight paths, adjacent to nightclubs, markets, malls, and fairs and so on.
Case Study (New York city applied Green Roofs)
Info-graphic Case Study (New York city applied Green Roofs)

d)      Sustainable Transportation

Transport has a major impact on the spatial and economic development of cities and regions. The attractiveness of particular locations depends in part on the relative accessibility, and this in turn depends on the quality and quantity of the transport infrastructure.

The concept of sustainable transportation promotes a balance between transportation’s economic and social benefits and the need to protect the environment.

In further articulating this idea, the Center for Sustainable Transportation has defined a sustainable transportation system as one that:

  • Allows individuals and societies to meet their access needs safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations.
  • Is affordable operates efficiently, offers a choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy.
  • Limits emissions and waste within the planet’s ability to absorb them minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise.

Depending on modern-technology we can convert current polluting transportation into an environmentally friendly one.

So, Let’s have a look at 10 Most Amazing Sustainable Vehicles (Future Transportation) 

International Conference On: Urban Planning and Architectural Design for Sustainable Development (UPADSD)

If you are eager to know more about Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, Luckily IEREK is organizing The 3rd Version of International Conference On: Urban Planning and Architectural Design for Sustainable Development (UPADSD) to be held in Egypt at 22, Nov / 24, Nov 2018, follows the success of the previous versions which took place in Cairo, Egypt  during the year of 2015-2017.

UPADSD 2018 aims to bring together, scientists, urban planners, architects and other stakeholders from across the globe to discuss the latest scientific advances in the field.

Critical Topics will be exposed during this conference as written below:

  • 1. City Planning And Urban Fabrication.
  • 2. Cultural Places And Urban Spaces.
  • 3. Rural Developments And Urban Growth Limitations.
  • 4. Sustainability And The Built Environment.
  • 5. Environmental Planning And Natural Resources Management.
  • 6. Cultural Heritage Management And Sustainable Tourism.
  • 7. Quality Of Life And Sustainable Solutions In Emerging Countries.
  • 8. Learning From Nature And Biomimetic Architecture.
  • 9. Public Transportation Planning And Sustainable Networks.
  • 10. Social Interaction And Citizens’ Behavior With Sustainable Development.
  • 11. Waterfronts And Community Planning.
  • 12. Historic Preservation, Management, And Rehabilitation.
  • 13. Arts, Culture, Identity And Creative Placemaking.
  • 14. Planning Inspiration From Past And Innovation.
  • 15. Forecasting, Evolving And Envisioning Of Architecture: Predicting Probabilities – Imagining Possibilities.
  • 16. Public Involvement In Sustainable Development.
  • 17. Future And Contemporary Cities.
  • 18. Infrastructure, Facilities, Systems: New ICT Technologies And Sustainable Economy.

For all information about this conference and to continue click at the link below


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