History of the Urban Design Group

Forty Years of the Urban Design Group

On 22 November 1978 Francis Tibbalds, Keith Ingham, Percy Johnson-Marshall, Kevin Eastham and others convened a meeting at the RIBA under the title 'Architects in Planning'.

This was the inaugral meeting of what very quickly became known as the Urban Design Group, initially with the subtitle: a forum for architects, landscape architects and designers in planning.

Arnold Linden, an early member, recalls of the gathering of our earliest pioneeers:

'They did so knowing full well that the institutes of architecture and of planning no longer recognised each other's legitimate role in the creation of the urban scene. The public realm had become, by default, largely the consequences of mechanistic decisions by highways, traffic and municipal engineers.

The group held from its inception that everyone acting in the environment was an urban designer, whether they were performing positively, negatively or just passively, because the decisions they make (or disregard) affect the quality of urban spaces.'

Soon architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers, public artists and a range of other professionals were declaring their commitment to urban design. Their mission was to change how the environment was shaped.

They argued that architects should be concerned with the place, not just with designing a building to satisfy the client’s demands alone. Planners should be concerned, not just with land use, but with the physical form of development. Landscape architecture should be involved in analysing and understanding sites at the start of the planning and design process, rather than being brought in at a late stage to disguise ugly buildings with some planting. Highway engineers should use their skills to make places that are pleasant to be in and to walk through, rather than focusing narrowly on keeping the traffic moving.

Urban design is now a mainstream professional activity, which local and central government and local communities greatly value. But urban design has not turned into a new profession somewhere between architecture and planning. Urban design is more than that: it is a set of skills, a state of mind and a way of thinking.



Architects in Planning (November 1978)
Designers in Planning Group (January 1979)
Urban Design Group (since February 1979)



1992-1993 John Worthington
1991-1992 Francis Tibbalds
1989-1991 John Worthington
1985-1989 Terry Farrell
1983-1985 Roy Worskett



2020-2020 Katja Stille 2002-2004 Alan Stones
2018-2020 Leo Hammond 2000-2002 Marcus Wilshere
2016-2018 Colin Pullan 1997-2000 Roger Evan
2014-2016 Katy Neaves 1992-1997 Jon Rowland
2012-2014 Paul Reynolds 1991-1992 Kelvin Campbell
2010-2012 Amanda Reynolds 1989-1991 Lawrence Revill
2008-2010 Duncan Ecob 1986-1989 Arnold Linden
2006-2008 Ben van Bruggen 1979-1986 Francis Tibbalds
2004-2006 Barry Sellers    



The UDG has an active board of Patrons who help to promote the Group's goals to a wide audience nationally and internationally.

Current Previous  
 Alan Baxter Irena Bauman Sir Peter Hall
Lindsey Whitelaw Tom Bloxham Simon Jenkins
John Worthington Honor Chapman Sir Richard MacCormac
  Sir Philip Dowson Jane Priestman
  Sir Terry Farrell Dickon Robinson
  Colin Fudge Helle Soholt
  Nicky Gavron  Les Sparks



2019 Professor Kate Jeffery
2018 Tim Pharoah (Urban Design Group Lifetime Achievement Award 2017)
2017 Tim Stonor, Space Syntax on behalf of Bill Hillier (Urban Design Group Lifetime Achievement Award 2016)
2015 Sir Terry Farrell
2014 Professor John Punter
2013 Kelvin Campbell, Urban Initiatives
2012 The Responsive Environments Team (Graham Smith, Sue McGlynn & Ian Bentley)
2011 Christopher Alexander
2010 Sir Richard MacCormac
2009 John Thorp – Leeds Civic Architect
2008 Peter Heath – World Squares for All
2007 Philip Singleton and Kelvin Campbell – Birmingham: Can we configure a whole city centre?
2006 Peter Bishop – A Vision of Cities of the Future
2005 Hank Dittmar – Can design coding work here?
2004 Alfonso Vegara – Sustainable Urbanism for the 21st Century
2003 David Lunts – Our Cities: Image Rhetoric & Reality
2002 Adriaan Gueze (West 8)
2001 Dickon Robinson
2000 Stefan Schroth – Images of the City & Ideas of Society: The Heritage of Modern Times
1999 Rem Koolhaas – Waterfront Development in Rotterdam
1998 Ricky Burdett – Contemporary Urban Design: Towards a new pragmatism?
1997 Charles Jencks – New Urban Design & the Fractal City
1996 Cedric Price
1995 Sherban Cantacuzino
1994 Sir Peter Shepheard
1993 Patrick Hodgkinson
1992 Peter Hall – Shaping Cities
1990 Tony Coombes – City Ventures
1989 Sir Philip Dowson – Paternoster Retrospective
1988 Sir Roy Strong – Rus in Urbe: Green thoughts for the City
1987 Norman St John Stevas
1986 Leon Krier



2005 Sebastian Loew 1998 Peter Hall
2004 Sir Peter Hall 1997 Michael Cassidy
2003 Ken Yeang 1996 Terry Farrell
2002 Les Sparks 1995 Piers Gough
2000 Alan Baxter 1994 Zaha Hadid
1999 Jon Rouse 1993 Richard Rogers



2019 John Thompson
2018 John Thorp
2016 Bill Hillier
2015 Sir Terry Farrell
2014 Prof JohnPunter
2013 Kelvin Campbell
2012 The Responsive Environments Team (Sue McGlynn, Graham Smith, Alan Alcock, Paul Murrain & Ian Bentley)
2011 Prof Christopher Alexander