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Urban Design for Community Development | Circumstance Study


Urban design is considered the practice of influencing and handling the metropolitan environment. Its role and potential for creating better places in areas with community issues will be discussed with reference to Hulme, an area one mile south of Manchester city centre. Through the past due 80s Hulme fell into circumstances of inner city decay, it became a marginal area notorious for offense, communal deprivation and poor property. However, during the early on 90s an ambitious metropolitan regeneration plan covering an area of 240 acres was made, the programme was entitled The Hulme City Obstacle Initiative. This was managed with a jv company, Hulme Regeneration Small consisting of Manchester City Council and AMEC Plc; over time a bunch of other open public, private and community hobbies have been involved.

Hulme can be an extreme circumstance of a location with community issues a few of which stay unresolved. However, more than 12 years because the programmes introduction and with over 250 million spent into numerous regeneration projects it provides an abundance of information for making clear items throughout the article. Hulme's new features and former deficiencies will allow genuine connections to be produced with urban design ideas while highlighting possible procedures you can consider when addressing areas with community issues.

How do community issues happen?

When addressing community issues main roles is to understand how the existing problems have arisen. A demanding transparent research should be conducted so that prior errors aren't repeated because "areas swept away in general redevelopment tend to be the very areas which today are declining and undergoing significant change" (CABE 2005, p. 12). This occurred to Hulme through the 60s, .

When different public and ethnic underprivileged teams live together in marginal areas like Hulme they all generally have limited usage of resources and protection under the law while various communal tensions can occur from sparse open public spots. These limited public spaces experience stresses from various patterns of use; from people surviving in flats without backyards, to those who spend a long time out-of-doors, like the homeless, medication addicts, loitering young adults with little or nothing to do and migrants with nowhere to socialise. This triggers friction and competition between these teams who in turn intimidate others who want go through or use these areas. Those intimidated usually withdraw themselves from these group dominated spots; they have a tendency to be the elderly, disabled and small children. Incidentally, the 1960s Hulme design discouraged permeability through the general public realm; it lacked diversity of space and available companies, which created defensible areas and isolation. These history issues imply Hulme suffered with placelessness (Jacobs & Appleyard 1987), whereby people "withdraw from community involvement to take pleasure from their own private and limited worlds" (Jacobs & Appleyard 1987, p. 115).

Neglect and decrease of space is common in marginal areas, but exactly why is it we find litter ridden streets, vandalised outdoor furniture, tip heaps in parks, vacant business units, regions of poor maintenance, and so forth. Some blame can be directed towards the neighborhood authorities for the latter; yet, in this circumstance one will solve neglect shown from local residents. When residents allow their environment to fall into a state of decline it features their insufficient attachment to put. Alternatively, the worried minority believe that any attempts to maintain the area will only be in vain. The lack of attachment with place can derive from transient inhabitants who feel no responsibility in looking after or respecting short-term, low-quality accommodation and surrounding public spots. As a location declines as time passes so does the quality of life, it portrays a sense of abandonment within the city. For Hulme it became stigmatised with a poor perceptual image shown through dilapidated complexes and its own depressing environment. This can have a 'knock on' impact by deterring local businesses who fear no returns on the investment and are sceptic about security. This not only degrades general population areas through reduced block activity and cultural integration but it reduces self-policing, increases unemployment levels which fuels localised criminal offenses from the ensuing "low degrees of social company" (Wilson, 1997 p. 21). Hulme were able to force those with any aspirations out of its area through defining itself as an 'real estate' via its rigid zoning of activities and enclosure tenure. Its unpredictable and declining local populace not only weakened community bonds but helped the procedure of residualisation in Hulme and hence crime figures increased.

Working with and resolving community issues

Having scratched beyond the surface of some typically common community issues, one will discuss potential methods of approach advised by urban design theorists. These will be cross referenced with several socially healing trends in Hulme.

Selected Preservation

Firstly you need to make an effort to understand the collective cultural meanings and values communities put on their existing physical environment via extensive assessment with residents. This enables one to separate the type and uniqueness a particular place presents; this may be through specific structures, public areas or landmarks. Calthorpe and Fulton state that "conservation and repair are sensible undertakings that may be. . . socially enriching" (Calthorpe & Fulton 2001, p. 48). Which means urban designer should seek to keep up these focal points weaving them into future development, thus strengthening the areas' urban identification. Through conserving some familiar adjustments it offers a mental comfort for long-term residents; specifically the elderly. One of the key and incidentally oldest properties conserved during Hulme's regeneration was the congregational Chapel for Zion Institute, built in 1911. This iconic building was preserved and transformed in 1997 into a multi-arts service for young people; its success has helped provide creative opportunities for youngsters as well as providing socially enriching communal situations. It is these constant incidents and public shows that have strengthened and created group associations within Hulme. This hub for young people has enticed idol children off the street and assisted with the reduction in juvenile criminal offense.

Connecting People to Places

At a macro level communities experiencing a feeling of entrapment and abandonment can be helped through increased permeability and contacts to the city. Among the first major activities in Hulme was the re-instatement of Stratford Street which provided a vital link to Manchester city centre; this allowed the communities to feel integrated with the wider framework and therefore reduced their restriction to resources. On top of that, the conclusion of the 'landmark' Mancunian Way Footbridge in 2002 symbolically associated Hulme Playground with Knott Mill and the City Centre. It was significantly suitable for pedestrians and cyclists to be able to cross the occupied Mancunian Way, but how can designers encourage pedestrian and cyclist movement within an unsafe environment?

Incidentally, various design steps can be employed to increase general public realm basic safety while collectively minimizing the impact of the automobile; incidentally the car dominated Hulme's 60s design, ideally "the main general public places must be for pedestrians, for no open public life can take place between people in automobiles" (Jacobs & Appleyard 1987, p. 119).

  • Public and private space should be obviously described (Jacobs 1961).
  • A variety of well-lit routes that pedestrians or cyclists can pick should any problems happen.
  • Routes should not be isolated; they should be self-policed with sufficient eye on the road through outlets and property which increase a sense of basic safety (Jacobs 1961).
  • Street layout should be clear to minimise the length from A to B.
  • The grain of the street should become slender around nodes of activity to impact permeability of the space.

At a localised scale increasing communal integration amongst a diverse community is difficult. Coming up with physical space has its restrictions when trying to inform where and what forms of social discussion will happen. What can be provided to neighborhoods are areas that encourage chance encounters which in turn may create group formations. There are usually two types of group formations, formal and communal. From an urban design perspective the former group type can be urged more because they have a approved purpose with identified patterns. It is the communal groups which have to develop themselves, however design can allow social habits to be easily recognised via unrestricted usage of activities within general public spaces. It is through repeated activities such as marketplaces that friendships can be made over time between existing and new residents. Furthermore, areas chosen for specific activities, for instance activities can support group relations. Observing other folks and their activities, like watching a local football match, can make others, such as new residents feel a temporal sense of belonging without actually participating in the experience themselves (Carr et al. 1992). This reinforces the discussion that public spaces must be accessible to all groups to permit observation as well as verbal interaction.

Hulme Park is a excellent example of what sort of public space can have a positive impact on a community. It not only brings people jointly but improves their standard of living and projects a assured image of the area. The respective quick was to deliver a safe and attractive park to get a variety of groups. Psychological obstacles alternatively than physical installations were applied to create a open public but secure park. Firstly its width never exceeds 70 metres, this allows users to recognise each other and subconsciously not feel anonymous within the area. Secondly the new surrounding residences provide natural surveillance, also a preexisting road and perimeter auto parking increase close by activity which creates a sense of security.

When a neighbourhood neglects their own environment it is important as a developer to restore a sense of pleasure and public ownership of the fighting area through community engagement. Creating a rapport with residents from the offset can be effective during the development process and local source can positively impact design decisions. Customer participation in the design process and management of space provides areas with a sense of control over their own neighbourhood (Carr et al. 1992); this can increase their connection to place resulting in a revived curiosity about their adjoining environment. Providing opportunities for personalisation of space can also strengthen this goal. The introduction of Hulme Park engaged some conferences with residents from the area so its design could charm to its potential users. Because of diverse demands from a range of age-groups, the designers, 'Panorama Tasks' went with a favorite theme which arose through the consultation process; swimming and surfing. The design theme shown the areas' interest and stamped their personality and participation on the project. This generated an increased level of respect for the area and has led to little vandalism of the playground.

Additionally, accurate decisions can be produced by working with the community when determining appropriate functions for a space. It is the function or activity within a space that may become important to individuals, teams and communities. You can create important space based upon understanding the residents' lives and patterns of use (Carr et al. 1992). Community space incorporating various functions can be created by categorising site characteristics and linking them to desired activity options suggested by the community. The facilities within Hulme Park were strategically positioned in order to gain maximum social integration. For example, the athletics area was specifically located next to the prevailing Proctor's Children Centre so coaches could teach and observe the whole team. Local requests for a skate area were built-into the look too, thus increasing its variety and user appeal.

New trends always ignite some form of opposition, usually from long-term residents as the idea of change unsettles them. Generally they can be searching for confidence that their community and the surroundings where they live have another and most essentially they are part of that future. Territoriality can be considered a sensitive concern when community teams develop strong thoughts about their 'protection under the law' to have a space developed; this can create tension between the custom made and can instigate neighbourhood disputes because of this of a communities' promise over an area. From an metropolitan design point of view indistinct boundaries are the typical reason behind such disputes, therefore delineating places that are collectively owned can minimise conflict while strengthening a sense of public possession.

Physical installations can help unify areas and reinstate a feeling of identity; public skill can portray distributed social values of any neighbourhood while iconic landmarks can make a positive affirmation of change, which helps revitalise a location through nullifying previous stigmatisations. This has been achieved in Hulme with Wilkinson Eyre's eye-catching Arch Bridge, its key location (a significant route from the town Centre to the main motorway network) helps highlight and reinforce the positive transformations taking place within Hulme. It really is among the many new landmarks that have attracted more people and businesses to the area, thus building a more robust community which plays a part in more 'eye on the neighborhood' and increased local job brings about lower crime levels.

According to Calthorpe and Fulton (2001), variety is one of the important elements for improving communities. Providing a variety of local activities within close closeness enables community personal information resulting in a strengthened urban quality. New diverse structures should be aesthetically interesting if people are to take pleasure from experiencing their environment, "if a city's streets look interesting, metropolis appears interesting. " (Jacobs 1961, p. 27). Fig 2 exhibits how Hulme has become a more attractive destination to live with its dramatic diversification of cover stock and its replacement of the notorious Hulme Crescent with modern casing. On top of that, Carr et al. (1992) status how characteristics not only offers diversity to a location but advances bonds between people and places. "The very best public spaces will be the most flexible ones" (Madanipour 2004, p. 285), hence why spots deliberately remaining undefined in Hulme allowed new uses to evolve as time passes. Through not overdesigning a location it enables users to adapt space with their needs. Incidentally, the Hulme horticultural society was officially revived through local adjustable space; it also reinforces the fact that nature may bring disparate individuals and groups with various passions together.


To summarise, the Hulme research study has proven how quality urban design gets the potential to solve community issues and make a place better. Despite some left over troubles in Hulme one was eager to focus after the positive metropolitan design elements which healed a lot of its community problems. The sociable benefits realised in the development and revival of Hulme is summarised under the following key urban design elements:

  • Preservation; maintaining key complexes like the Zion Artwork Centre have sustained the historic identity of Hulme which comforts long-term residents, while those regenerated have created nodes of social integration.
  • Permeability & Availability; connection with the wider environment of Manchester has removed the sense of entrapment and abandonment within Hulme.
  • Communal organizations & People Space; the revival of Stratford Highway as a shopping vacation spot and the success of Hulme playground are types of how Hulme's urban environment has been turned on, with increased cultural activity and group formations.
  • Safety on the roadways; through logical street design, increased facilities and communal opportunities the greater number of 'eye on the streets' have made the area safer.
  • Neighbourhood participation; through community assessment during trends, residents now feel a sense of ownership, well-being and respect for his or her environment this has helped reduce vandalism in the area.
  • Landmarks; Hulme Arch bridge has helped promote Hulme in a positive light which has resulted in an increase in residents and local businesses; resulting in its more robust community soul and reduced crime rates due to local occupations.
  • Diversity & Overall flexibility; the diversity of housing and general population space has made the area a more attractive spot to live thus increasing the neighborhoods quality of life. Flexible space has provided the opportunity for even more positive developments when community passions and desires change.

What is noticeable is that the above are interwoven and affect one another in some way therefore they must be purposefully blended to support each other. It is also evident that environmental and monetary factors provide an underlying influence on the success of such design elements. However, one should shoot for a complementary economical, environmental and public strategy to maximise community benefits.


  • Carr, S. et al. , 1992. People Space. Cambridge: Cambridge College or university Press.
  • Calthorpe, P. & Fulton, W. , 2001. The Regional City - Planning for the end of sprawl. London: Island Press.
  • Jacobs, J. , 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Locations - The Failure of Town Planning. NY: Vintage Literature.
  • Wilson, W. J. , 1997. When Work Disappears - The World of the New Urban Poor. New York: Vintage Catalogs.
  • Jacobs, A. & Appleyard, D. , 1987. Toward an Urban Design manifesto. Journal of the North american Planning Connection, 53, pp. 112-120.
  • Madanipour, A. , 2004. Marginal Consumer Spaces in Western european Cities. Journal of Urban Design, 9 (3), pp. 267-286.
  • CABE, 2005. Creating Successful Neighbourhoods - Lessons and Actions for HOUSING MARKETPLACE Renewal. London: CABE.
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