A MODEL FOR PRODUCING RELIABLE URBAN DESIGN GUIDELINES
Authors: HOLDEN, Gordon
Urban design guidelines are one set of a range of instruments used to control or influence public and private works so as to optimise the production of reliably ‘good’ physical built environments. They address the public domain of our cities as well as the private domain in so far as this impacts on the public domain. Guidelines are public documents, which to be successful their basis must be accessible for critical review. This is necessary so that guidelines can reflect shared community values and be accountable. The model in this paper describes ‘good practice’ procedures for the preparation of guidelines that are based in theory and practice. Examples are drawn from published guidelines. The model includes discussion on substantive matters that are relevant to built environments. The model seeks to establish high quality decisions as well as high quality information upon which decisions are made. Both the information and decisions are intended to be transparent and thereby accountable. The model is grounded in critical study of existing urban design guidelines in Australia and overseas as well as in theories and methods derived from the literature. The model is structured to reflect a managed problem-solving approach under the headings of: intentions; preparation; implementation; performance. A further heading, ‘substantive content’ parallels the other headings and addresses the subject matter of guidelines with cross reference to underpinning theory texts and to analysis techniques. The model is not a sequential action checklist, but rather is a heuristic wherein each step may inform previous steps and thereby potentially modify the conclusions of that step, and in turn the outcome. However such ‘reflective’ process cannot proceed indefinitely and informed decisions are expected to be made within time and budget constraints. The model brings theoretical and practice knowledge together to help produce higher functioning built environments within which aesthetics and symbolism are considered as functions, in the Lang sense , together with physical, ecological and economic aspects.