International Laboratory
of Architecture
& Urban Design

Roles and Challenges of Urban Design
September 1, 2020
This short interview focuses on the scopes of urban design, its responsibilities, and challenges. By chronicling how the urban design discipline came to life and how the conceptualization of the field has evolved throughout the second half of the 20th century, I argue that it is particularly relevant to question the role of urban design in our contemporary society. More specifically, I ask the following questions: what is the agency of design in both societal and climatic shifting conditions? And how can urban designers respond to pressing design emergencies in slums, sprawling megalopolis, and areas where increasing inequalities are manifested throughout the built environment? While Michael Sorkin provocatively called for the end of urban design in 2006, I believe that urban design can still play a major role in shaping the physical forms of cities and, more importantly, in improving the societal and ecological processes of our urban spaces. Urban design needs to work across scales, time, and actors to inscribe the ethics and expressions of cultural diversity into the structure of a more equitable city.

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