Alterations in Scale (Working Paper)

Ref: Baird, D. Feeley, M. Russell, P. Wong, K.T. (2010), Alterations in Scale. A Cartography of Urban Structure: Antiquity – New Urbanism, Working Papers of the Urban Design Studies Unit at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

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This Working Paper documents the research work of four Masters students of the MSc in Urban Design at University of Strathclyde, conducted in summer 2010 under the supervision of Professor Sergio Porta and Doctor Ombretta Romice at UDSU. Students Darren Baird, Mark Feeley, Peter Russell and Kum-Tak Wong investigates urban scale throughout history. Building on the work by  Mehaffy, Porta, Rofè, & Salingaros (2010), this research documents the emergence and existence of a universal 400-metre scale within physical urban frameworks until the development of Professional Urban Design Theory in the late 19th and early 20th century. Case studies of 100 world cities are analysed by mapping their urban framework and defining the sanctuary areas of the city through the use of satellite imagery. All satellite imagery is gained through the utilisation of Google Earth as a research tool. This research provides supporting evidence for the 400-metre scale and reveals an alteration in urban scale coinciding with the emergence of Professional Urban Design Theory. The altered scale predominates current urban development, whilst the 400-metre scale only persists in the framework of informal settlements. In addition to documenting the alteration of urban scale, this research also contributes to the theoretical debate about urban scale and the neighbourhood unit. The results implicate the neighbourhood unit concept as a contributing factor to the expansion in urban scale, suggesting that a return to human scale urban design requires the separation of the neighbourhood unit from urban frameworks.

Mehaffy, M., Porta, S., Rofè, Y., & Salingaros, N. (2010). Urban nuclei and the geometry of streets: The ‘emergent neighborhoods’ model. Urban Design International , 15 (1), 22-46.

Download the paper here: Part 1Part 2