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Legislation (like The Highways Act 1980) has to be complied with. However, the legislation doesn’t go into detail in terms of design – for example it might state the materials that a sign should be made of or what it means, but not when one should or should not be used.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets


Hand-drawn aerial perspective

Hand-drawn aerial perspective shows an imaginary view from the air. The information that it should contain includes:

  • overview of indicative proposals
  • built form and open spaces
  • character of buildings rather than detailed architecture
  • indicative landscape proposals

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Hand-drawn eye-level perspective

Hand-drawn eye-level perspective provide:
  • general character
  • indicative building form without detail
  • a sense of scale between people and buildings

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images


Today public policy talks a lot about preventing illnesses associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. There is also a large focus on dealing with mental health problems. Organisations such as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recognise that our built environment can play an important part in improving our overall health and wellbeing.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Heritage protection and management

There's been a longstanding alliance between historic conservation and design policies.

In many local authorities, for example, the main design post (often based in the planning department) is also the conservation post. But there are also sometimes perceived tensions between the agendas, and sometimes actual tension (for example when tall building designs are assessed). In reality these tensions tend to come down to how decision-makers balance heritage and other objectives.

Click here to access our lesson on Heritage protection and management

How the elements fit together

Now we are going to look at how some of the elements fit together to influence how the place works.

These relationships are really important to urban design. They create concepts and forms that underpin our thinking about how to design and manage urban areas.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements



Public policies call for inclusive access. This means everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, social background and so on, should be able to get to and use places and the services within them, conveniently and with dignity. It relates to the requirements of The Disability Discrimination Act but inclusion should go a lot further than this.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Inclusive access

Thinking used to focus on the physical conditions of individuals and access for those with disabilities. This 'medical model of disability' took the perspective that the person has the problem and ‘disabled’ themselves because of their situation. Today however inclusive access is thought of rather differently, using a social model which turns things around and says that it is not the person who has disabled him or her self, it is the environment which disables them because it does not meet their needs.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

Individual elements (The)

Places, like most things, are made up of lots of different elements or component parts. These vary in size and permanency – for example a river running through a town is a large and lasting part of the structure (and is not going to vanish!), but shop name boards in the high street are small features that might change every year or so.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Involve and evaluate

Talk to people about what they think the local context is. Include as many people who might have an interest as is practical, from the local planning officer to community groups to people who can advice you on natural habitats and flooding risk in the area.


So you've gathered lots of information. In some ways, that’s the easy bit! Now you have to evaluate what you have found out and use that information to inform your design.

Click here to access our lesson on Design process

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