Designing Place: International Urban Design Conference

Monday 2 April 2012 - 9:00
University of Nottingham


Over the past twenty years, place has emerged as the key concept for urban design. The concept of place is loosely defined as the interrelationship between the formal and spatial organisation of buildings, groups of buildings, streets, spaces and landscapes; the activities taking place within it and the meaning associated with it.

The agency assigned to each of these components of place varies according to different traditions of thought and design theory. By definition, the triad of space, activity and meaning cannot be captured in a fixed theoretical framework.

In the UK, since the publication of Lord Rogers Urban Task Force report, now over two decades ago, place making designates a comprehensive approach to the design, decision making, delivery and maintenance of the urban design process. The processes involved, design principles, governance, economic viability and market forces, community participation, sustainability, planning and regulation, long-term project management and accountability, and the sense of belonging, distinctiveness and cohesion, amongst others, points to the broad context that underlies how places function and evolve, and the patterns of behaviour and needs of the people who live or work in them or visit them.

Research, practice and policy have produced a wealth of publications, projects and case studies describing and exemplifying successful places. However, it appears that by now place making has become synonymous with all design and intervention processes in the city -addressing all scales, stakeholders, and the social, economic and political forces involved. It appears that in theory the concept of place defies any exact theoretical delineation, and in practice its scope is without limits.

Nevertheless, for urban design theory and practice, the question of how a successful place is conceptually constructed and how it can be designed is paramount. The conference seeks to revisit and clarify place as a concept for current urban design theory and practice. It invites papers that examine the definition, scope and instrumentality of place as a tool for design.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Amanda Reynolds, Chair of the Urban Design Group
  • Ali Madanipour, Professor of Urban Design, Newcastle University


  • Theoretical definitions and the conceptual components of place
  • Methodological studies that suggest a form of analysis or pedagogy
  • Case studies that examine the specificities of place

Contributions will be organised in thematic sessions. Selected texts will be published in an accompanying book.

Submissions: Proposals should relate to the themes outlined above.

Abstracts should not be longer than 400 words, and sent by e-mail as Word (doc) or Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files to the 30thSeptember 2011. Abstract proposals will be reviewed by the conference advisory board.

Registration Fee: £ 250

The registration form and further information will be available in October 2011. Please see

Time Schedule:

1st August 2011 Call for Papers issued

30th September 2011 Abstracts due

7th October 2011 Notification of acceptance

7th October 2011 Registration opens

31st January 2012 Full paper due

2nd-3rd April 2012 Conference


Dr Katharina Borsi

Urban Design Research Group

Department of Architecture and Built Environment

The University of Nottingham

University Park

Nottingham, NG7 2RD