Understanding The City

Faculty of Planning, Foundation Studio 2020

What

The first step to beginning an urban study is observation and exploration, which is a combination of off site studies via satellite imagery and on site perception studies. The final output of the exercise is a base map and a photo essay.

Why

Each student is assigned a one sq.km area, a precinct in the city. They map and make key observations about their area in order to familiarise themselves with  scale, urban fabric and form typologies . Mapping in urban design and planning is the act of tracing and therefore spatially recording the urban form via satellite imagery.

How
 

Geographic information system (GIS) ,satellite imagery and photo essays as essential tools to understand and analyse urban settlements. GIS enables students to document ,collate, manage, analyse and create multiple data sets, which leads to  a robust and nuanced understanding of settlements. Satellite imagery facilitates an understanding of the urban grain. This is followed up with a first hand site visit and photo essay, which aims to document the first impression of the study area.

What

Urban morphology is the study of the form of human settlements and the process of their evolution and transformation. The exercise seeks to understand the spatial structure, character and evolution of their precinct. The final output of this exercise is a series of maps demonstrating this evolution and its determinants.

Why

Cities are kinetic as they continuously evolve in structure, form and size. This is largely attributed to the interaction of multifarious entities that occupied them in the past and occupy them today. These interactions and the subsequent outcomes are driven by various determinants such as change in political will, technological advancement, updating building bye- laws or introduction of a new transit system. Hence, it is necessary for students of the urban to understand the historical underpinnings of a city, before they are expected to design or plan.

How
 

The exercise starts with an evidence based approach towards building a narrative which explores multiple data sources - google earth timeline, secondary literature ( research papers, books) and interactions with city dwellers. The student then represent the narrative using different tools of representation such as photo montage, sketches and maps. This process is also supported by a short reflective essay, which helps align and structure student’s  thoughts and perspectives.

What

The exercise focuses on developing a holistic understanding of streets and networks and how they enable mobility. The final output is a series of maps showing hierarchy, block sizes, street and node densities along with street sections resulting in an analysis of accessibility for non-motorised modes of transport.

Why

Streets fulfill a dual purpose in cities, on the one hand they allow for movement of people and goods while on the other, they function as a platform for people to enact the mundane (walking,vending,playing etc.) and the extraordinary (festivals, weddings etc.). They are an extricable part of urban life and hence an integral part of urban studies.

How
 

The exercise aims to introduce students to the physical and quantifiable aspects of street and networks. This is achieved by first introducing the students to street network assessment, where hierarchies, street density, link to node ratio, node density and block sizes are studied. This is followed up with assessing the street condition and road-inventory and understanding the varying capacities of streets. The studies are conducted by developing GIS databases via primary survey.