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Urban Design

Urban design at the RTPIUrban Design Network members recognise that there is a need to demonstrate and promote the value of good urban design - to clients, developers, local authorities and other community decision makers - and to maintain the ground secured in recent years in terms of the policy basis for high quality design and the whole philosophy of design review and place-making.


Regular Bulletins keep members up to date with urban design issues, publications and events and allow member-to-member exchanges to benefit from the vast range of knowledge and experience across the Network. To receive a sample Bulletin please email the Network Manager. Members have access to an archive of Bulletins and other useful resources.

Events 2017

Through the RTPI regions and the RTPI urban design network there are a number of exciting information and continuing professional development (CPD) events open to all categories of RTPI membership. To find an event in your region visit our events page.  If you are interested in putting on an event we would be very interested to hear from you. Please contact the network manager to discuss.

11 May  2017.

From academia to practice – RTPI Urban Design Network hears from some of London's top thinkers about what makes for an "excellent" public ream.

Perhaps for some, the challenge of answering the question of what makes an excellent public realm in an hour would be impossible, but our speakers had a good go. The bringing together the school of architecture and school of planning at Westminster University allowed practitioners and students from both fields to discuss a question with, it seems, an infinite amount of answers.

Marion Roberts, Professor of Urban Design at Westminster University, gave an overview of Urban Design theory using examples of public spaces at home and abroad, with a clear message that success of a public space is just as much down to its management as its design; the opportunity, for example, for local people to take ownership of the public realm is a great factor contributing to its success, this can be as simple as local people being given control of raised flowerbeds.

From the theory to the practical, the Chair of the Urban design Network, Eileen Thomas, navigated delegates through a maze of do's and don'ts from her experiences. We were shown a plethora of physical interventions in the public realm that she has observed and been involved with over her career, offering insight into what she thought made the successes. The message; detail is just as important as the strategy for making things work. From paving design to vehicle controls, infil developments and soft landscaping, some inspiring design approaches, some eye-wateringly incongruous. Eileen's years of experience as a practitioner had certainly honed her eye for detail and gave the younger practitioners in the room food for thought.

Back to the theoretical, research Assistant Neal Shasore did a stirling job, stepping in last minute to offer his thoughts about the crucial factors to ensuring involved in the success of the public realm is just as much about what happens post-design process, and the crucial role that collaboration between agencies plays in ensuring better outcomes, using Croydon's "place-making" department, bringing together planning, economic developments, urban design under one umbrella, as an example. There was also, he said, a part for the professional institutions to play in facilitating this.

Finally, an excellent on-the-ground example of regenerating Barking Riverside summarised very well by Douglas Ingils from Alex Lifshutz architects, described the design approach and challenges for creating a new public space as part of the development. With options still being discussed as to what final uses will be in surrounding areas, the complexities involved in making the design work from a planning point of view could not be ignored, particularly with regards to phasing.

The post presentation discussion again focused on the need for collaboration between professions, some more experienced practitioners referring back to days when Councils had their own in-house design teams. Interesting questions about choice of density at Barking riverside followed. And on the eve of the publication of Design Guide for Planners by Urban Design London, the question of whether design codes could have helped or hindered success at Barking Riverside, laid the foundations for a whole separate discussion, which time did not allow as to follow through with, laying foundations for a future discussion by the RTPI Urban Design Network on this topic alone.


We are always pleased to welcome new members and we are happy through the Network to address issues that might bring greater clarity to urban design in practice. The Network is only open to Members of the RTPI - there is a range of RTPI membership options and not all involve a professional qualification.

You can join the Network via this link.

Inclusive Design

Design Council Cabe has launced an Inclusive Design Hub that covers buildings and outdoor spaces, in all phases of development including planning, design and construction, right through to the management of those buildings and places. It is a collection of resources and they do not promote the use of one over the other.

Historic Environment Group

There is a sub-group of the Network for those with a particular interest in the historic environment. Local heritage assets are valued by their community and good practice has shown how well-conserved heritage can be a great catalyst  for new investment and growth.

You can join this Group via this link.


For more information on this Network please contact:


Forthcoming events
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