Urban Update 24 May 2019


24 May 2019

  • First call for presentations for the 2019 National Urban Design Conference – deadline Sunday Night!
  • Framework for Towns and Cities – Next UDG London Event
  • Creating  Neighbourhoods not Housing Estates - Selection of presentations now available on Urban Nous
  • Home far from HOME – tragedy and hope at the Zaatari refugee Camp, Jordan
  • Record number of job opportunities

Next UDG Event


Framework for Towns and Cities - Summit

The Gallery, 70 Cowcross St., London EC1M 6EJ

Wed, 05/06/2019 - 6:15pm - 8:15pm


How to align legislation, policies, design guidance, practices and technical standards to ensure sustainable development and healthy, happy citizens.

Most people will have heard of cases of masterplans being approved in planning, the street layout being approved by highway authority development control and then being rejected by the technical approval and adoption section of the council, with the final scheme abandoning the people-friendly vision in favour of an environment designed for vehicles.

This is just one example of the sorts of conflicts that are defeating the goal of creating people-friendly places.  

It starts at the strategic level with the planning system being unable to bring forward sites that are sustainably located.

It goes right down to the detailed level, with problems with planting trees or introducing sustainable drainage systems, that are vital to enable towns and cities to adapt to the heatwaves, and extreme downpours brought by climate change.

The objective of this event is to discuss how to move towards a system for the planning, design, engineering and management of towns and cities that works well together, and works consistently towards high level objectives, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, central government policies and statutory duties on issues such as climate change, human rights and equality.

  • How can technical standards be drawn up so that they don’t conflict with each other or block high-level policies, visions, and masterplans?
  • How can urgent objectives for improving public health, or adapting and preventing climate change be translated into action?
  • How can decision making by different sections of public authorities be made consistent?
  • What funding systems are needed to encourage great design and liveability?
  • How can local authorities be encouraged to make the essential updates to their guidance and standards necessary to align with current central government policies and statutory duties?
  • How can professionals be provided with a work environment that gives them the freedom to deliver up-to-date best practice that puts people first?


6.15  Introduction

6.20  Expert Panel Presentations

Places, Streets and Movement

Phil Jones, PJA

Systems thinking

Lorretta von der Tann, UCL

Mobility and inclusion

Brenda Peuch

Neighbourliness and social inclusion

Noha Nasser


Katja Stille

SuDS & Water Sensitive Urban Design

Paul Shaffer, CIRIA (Construction Information Research and Information Association)


Jim Smith, Trees and Design Action Group, & Forestry Commission

Using the space under our towns and cities

Liz Reynolds, URBEN and Think Deep UK

7.20  Workshop session – Add your experience and ideas for change

8.00  Feedback

8.15  Close


National Urban Design Conference 2019

Birmingham  26.27.28 September

Making People-Friendly Places

Deadline for the first
Call for Presentations
Sunday night!


Be a part of this year’s conference! 

Submit your ideas for a presentation by Sunday 26 May.  We will frame the conference around your ideas.

Let’s hear from you!!

More details



Home far from HOME

Marwah Aziz writes about the plight of refugees


There are currently over 60 million refugees spread across the globe.  Of these around 15 million live in refugee camps. There are many questions.  Should the camps be planned and built as permanent development with supporting infrastructure, when they seemingly have an only temporary role?  But most fundamental question of all is whether it is right to plan and build refugee camps, given their impermanent nature and inadequacy for normal human life. Zaatari camp in the Jordanian desert is currently (and has been for almost 5 years) a home for at least 80,000 Syrian refugees who approximately make one tenth of the whole Syrian refugee’s population in Jordan, a crisis that needed external assistance as it was too much for the Jordanian government to manage on its own. The camp is considered Jordan’s fourth largest city!


When the first group of fleeing civilians were received in 2012, Zaatari camp was a short-term setting of scattered tents, however, the increasing flow of people and the indefinite time of stay created many challenges including providing acceptable housing.   An initiative by the UNHCR, provided more than 20,000 prefabricated caravans, equipped with an electricity supply. This step contributed to the camp’s evolution into a city structure. The initial layout of tents was informal while the caravans were provided on a grid and in rows, interestingly some refugees repositioned their caravans to form U shapes that allow them to live in groups with their extended families.


The refugees themselves added some sort of order to the sprawling chaotic camp, giving the place a character and some dignity to its people. Strikingly, the camp has developed a social and economic structure.  Refugees have set up small businesses, established a wide range of shops, mosques, schools and hospitals to serve people’s daily needs, as well as choosing area leaders from among the population to solve social conflicts.The main commercial strip named Shams-Elysees’ after Champs-Élysées in Paris as Alsham is name for Syria, is a long street with more than 3000 stores.  Most are food related but there are also beauty salons, phone shops, wedding dress boutiques and so much more, bringing a sense of normality in a vibrant street where people are struggling under serious hardships.


The dynamics of creating life in Zaatari camp are unique as described by Kilian Kleinschmidt, the United Nations official in charge of Zaatari, “the most fascinating project on earth when it comes to the development of camps.” This ability to function, adapt and transform in the midst of extreme stress reflects the Syrian refugee’s resilience and the capacity to create new traditions in replacement of the lost ones. In addition, it demonstrates their solidarity and sense of acquiring a shared identity in the face of sectarian divisions, horrible war memories, inhuman circumstances, freedom of movement deprivation and other endangered human rights. “A place as a manifestation of human culture is a social process where people create meaning to give themselves a sense of identity” (Cohen, 1994). This camp is an explicit example that people always have the capacity to rebuild their lives in the worst of environments.  This is certainly worth studying.


From a broader perspective, the Zaatari mini city –so to speak- legally remains an unrecognized community. Unlike people in standard asylum, refugees were relocated as an immediate protection response and have limited human rights, while the international law hasn’t legalized such phenomenon.  These people are seen as a potential threat to the security of the host country and a liability. In addition, the entrapment in a zone in the middle of “nowhere” makes them vulnerable and takes away their rights to decide their own destiny. Undocumented and stateless, new babies grow in the camp not having any other memories nor an idea of the outside world.


Should refugees be regarded, treated and assisted as incapable, vulnerable people?  Or should they be given the assistance to enable them to live in self-reliance and dignity? Zaatari camp is a live example of how people, even under the most difficult circumstances, will try to take control over their lives and lifestyle. Humanitarian aid is an urgent immediate response; however, long term situations require dignified, permanent solutions. Camp life must not become the refugee’s destiny.  It should be temporary, to prepare them to live in decent life standards until they can return HOME.


Urban Nous videos


Creating Neighbourhoods not Housing Estates - Introduction

Noha Nasser


Councillors’ Attitudes to Residential Design

Matthew Carmona


Is the quality of design an economic issue?

David Rudlin


Scores of recorded urban design lectures kindly provided by Fergus Carnegie.


2019 Events

Calls for Papers

Designing for utopia or dystopia? People and planetary health at a crossroads – final call Deadline 29May 2019

14-15 October 2019
Royal College of Physicians, London, UK 



Transport for New Homes



Historic Towns and Villages Forum


Buxton: Resilient Cultural Heritage & the Role of the Visitor Economy


Thursday 23rd May 2019

York: Planning for the future with heritage in mind

Thursday 27th June 2019



IHBC Annual School – Nottingham 2019

Heritage, Risk & Resilience confronting conservation calamities
Fire – Flood – Structural Failure



Urban Design London


Designing Liveable Neighbourhoods

5 June

Cost conscious street design

25 June


Academy of Urbanism

AoU Congress Eindhoven – A Place to Call Home: Urbanism and affordable housing

June 20 - June 22

Centre for Cities


The march of city placemakers

19 June  2019 - Birmingham

Community Land Trust

Future of London


Summer Conference: Water Works

20 June, 8:45 am – 6:00 pm

Good Homes Alliance


Vanguard Campaign – London

Thursday 27th June

Kent Design


2019/20 programme now published


Infrastructure and Connectivity ‘The first - last mile’ 
Tuesday 11 June 2019 (13.30 - 17.00), Reading


Landscape Institute


Museum of Walking



Nottingham Urban Room


Place Alliance





Urban Designers and Masterplanners - edge Urban Design


Design Review Panel - Southwark Council


Scheme Consultant - City Design


Townscape Consultant/Landscape Architect and Urban Designer - Lichfields


Townscape Professionals - Turley

London / Manchester

Associate Director of Masterplanning and Urban Design - Tyréns UK


Director of Masterplanning and Urban Design - Tyréns UK


Urban Designer - Tyréns UK


Planner / Urban Designer - Urban Initiatives Studio

Farringdon, London

Panel Members - Cornwall Design Review Panel

St Austell, Cornwall

Urban Design Officer - Medway Council

Chatham, Kent

Urban Designers - Terence O'Rourke Ltd


Infrastructure Coordinator, Project Delivery Support - Sustrans


Infrastructure Officer, Project Delivery - Sustrans


Infrastructure Officer, Project Delivery Support - Sustrans



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