Urban Update

In Brief 

  • Apartments - what features to include for better mental health 
  • Why Saudi Arabia's "The Line" isn't a Revolution in Urban Living
  • 15 minute Neighbourhoods and Canada's Housing Crisis - Report 
  • Better Walkability leads to stronger community ties
  • UK Climate Change Committee 2023 Progress Report - planning reform needed 
  • Placemaking Matrix

  • new Better Streets Summit - The High Street Ecosystem >>>> 80 minutes
  • recent The Deck Access Housing Design Guide: History, typologies, case studies, practical guidance, debate >>>> 70 minutes
  • recent Solving the Housing Crisis - An urban design perspective >>>> 75 minutes
  • recent Family Housing >>>>  90 minutes

  • Urban Design Saturdays : Guildford - 22 July - Diary Date
  • Trees and the Underground - 19 July 


new Historic Towns and Villages Forum | new Pegasus Group | new Lambert Smith Hampton | Place Services - Part of Essex County Council | Tetra Tech

Forthcoming UDG Events

Urban Design Saturdays


Saturday 22 July 2023 - 10:30


A walk around Guildford with like-minded people, to discuss the evolution of the town.  Includes a Placecheck with Rob Cowan.  

Free - stay as long as you like. 

Further details in the next Urban Update 


Other Events

Trees and Design Action Group
Trees and the underground (Part B) – which method to use where, why and how (Held online)  
19th July 2023 2.00-4.00 BST
Registration: Eventbrite

News and Research

Built Environment

The Biggest Problem With American Suburbs: They Can't Grow – Video >>>>
Five Things Missing In The Built Environment For Families With Young Children >>>>
Shade, toilets, pedestrianised streets, small shops, space on public transport for prams etc
Seoul Metropolitan Government introduce new Urban Design Initiative aiming for world lead >>>>
Five pillars: empathy, tolerance, dedication, recovery, and sustainability.  Measures include colour zoning, creative benches, and dynamic skylines, while highlighting lighting, colour, and text font standards that represent Seoul's identity
Arizona car free development >>>>
Why Saudi Arabia’s “The Line” Isn’t A Revolution In Urban Living >>>>
The 100km linear design produces long travel distances and reliance on public transport.  An alternative circular city design with a radius of 3.3 kilometres, would reduce distances between people and promote active mobility. 
  • Two random people in The Line will on average be 57 km apart
  • The linear shape makes the transport system vulnerable. Breakdowns could paralyze entire parts of the city.
  • Any given trip will take, on average, at least 60 min.
  • 47% of the population will have a commute longer than 60 min.
  • Only 1.2% of the population will be within walking distance from each other.
The article identifies the design as possibly being driven by branding and social media.
Masdar – “Greenprint for sustainable living” >>>>
15-Minute Neighbourhoods and Canada’s Housing Crisis - Report >>>>
Persimmon gets approval for new timber frame factory >>>>

Humans, Health, Society

The architecture of mental health: identifying the combination of apartment building design requirements for positive mental health outcomes – The Lancet >>>>
Significantly higher positive mental wellbeing is associated with:  solar and daylight access, private open space, design features for improving acoustic and visual privacy, separation of living spaces and bedrooms from common and external circulation spaces, storage, communal circulation spaces, car parking and greater mixes of apartments,
Communal outdoor space and the use of outdoor areas was positively associated with neighbourliness, which protects against loneliness, and which in turn guards against depression.
Inadequate daylighting or poor window views have been found to increase the probability of depression by 60% and 40%, respectively.
Is your city making you sick? >>>>
Trees are disappearing, pollution is rising, people are lonely. Can urban design save our cities — and quality of life?  A perspective from the USA, including San Francisco and Salt Lake City.  Article contains useful references.
Walkability promotes community ties UC Sand Diego research >>>>
Adults who live in walkable neighbourhoods are more likely to interact with their neighbours and have a stronger sense of community than people who live in car-dependent communities,
“loneliness and isolation can lead to a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia among older adults, and increases risk of premature death by more than 60%.”
Study suggests warfare, not climate change was responsible for the boom-bust cycles of Neolithic societies in Europe >>>>
Neolithic period in Europe runs from 5000-3500BCE.


VR tool shows how children see the built environment >>>>
This tool shows what the world looks like when you are under 1 metre tall.  Many visualisations and models show what places look like if you are 100 metres tall.
Turning old maps into digital 3D representations of lost neighbourhoods using Machine Learning technique Ohio State University >>>>
Mapping cities in motion  >>>>
MIT’s Senseable City Lab popularized visual tools that show how cities work. A new book reflects on the promise of dynamic urban maps.
The Impact of Digital Twins on Urban Design and Architecture >>>>
Accurate digital replicas of urban environments, can provide insights into system performance and enables different scenarios to be explored including the impact of policies and designs on traffic, air quality, energy consumption, etc.

Natural Environment

Restoring an Urban Creek – US Case study >>>>
Global analysis on pollinators in cities: Wild bees and butterflies are at particular risk >>>>
Losing the Darkness – on the runaway increase in urban light pollution >>>>

Energy, Climate Change

UK Climate Change Committee Independent Report to Parliament >>>>
Review and update the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure that Net Zero outcomes are consistently prioritised through the planning system, making clear that these should work in conjunction with, rather than being over-ridden by, other outcomes such as development viability
the Government should provide clear guidance to planning authorities on carbon assessment and measuring environmental outcomes.
There are also recommendations about strategic planning of energy supplies at different scales.
China on course to hit wind and solar power target five years ahead of time >>>>
Measuring the relationships between various urban green spaces and local climate zones - Nature >>>>
The results show that compact urban greenspaces of 10–25 hectares with dense trees have the most pronounced cooling effect.
Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage – understanding the media coverage >>>>


Politics, Philosophy, Economics

Placemaking Matrix – published by Policy Exchange  >>>>
“A Matrix for Measuring & Delivering Placemaking Quality”
Offers 12 assessment area divided among three headings of physical, socio-economic and psychological.
Nutrient neutrality rules blocking housebuilding, says English minister >>>>
River pollution monitoring is 50 years out of date - New Scientist >>>>

Opportunities: UDG Careers Board 

Consultant Executive Director
Historic Towns and Villages Forum 

Principal / Senior Urban Designer
Pegasus Group | South West

Urban Designers across all levels
Pegasus Group | London and South East

Head of Urban Design
Lambert Smith Hampton | London and South East

Senior Urban Design Consultant
Place Services - Part of Essex County Council | London and South East

Associate Director - Urban Design
Tetra Tech | East Midlands, North West, West Midlands

For more details please visit the UDG jobs board