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Urban Planning & Urban Design

Urban Planning & Urban DesignABSTRACT

The effect of over exploitation of nature resources by human and also lack of awareness of good planning and design in the cities causes many problems to many cities in the world. That is why it was crucial to have good planning system in the city and also to put the planning into practice with the design of the city itself. Urban planning is a mixture of planning in physical (like roads, maps and land use plan) but also it is dealing with nonphysical planning like regulation, policies in the city or regional levels. Furthermore urban designs are more focusing on the art of making places; this includes the way places work and matters such as community safety. The integration between these two fields is that urban planners are more focusing on the function of the city as a whole, and the urban designers will try to interpret it in the design of the city.

One of the main elements in urban planning and urban design is green open space. The latter is the region or ground surface area which is dominated by plants that are promoted to a particular habitat protection functions. Green open space has many various functions which vary from social, economical and environmental aspects.

One of the better ways to improve the green open space and conserve it is by implementing smart growth. The latter is one of the researches that have been conducted in USA to approach a sustainable development in America. These researches have produced ten principles of successful community from every part of the world. The principles in smart growth are considered to be good examples to be also implemented in other countries. Furthermore, the use of the smart growth principles needs to localize these principles regarding to the country condition, culture and legislation.

In general, the understanding of the characteristics of different types of open spaces in an urban and rural matrix may guide authorities (local and country) in the long term planning process. The assessment of change in green open space system is equally important to take measures in maintaining livable countries and cities. Also planning and designing for a green open space are very important in promoting the development of any country.


Since the existence of humankind, planning was among the main issues to deal with; this is so because planning helps him to organize his activities and to predict his future. It is on the basis of this that cities have also been put into account in planning. However, as the human society is growing up, this development is bringing some problems to our earth since there is over exploitation of the world resources. Due to this over exploitation of the earth, natural resources; and other mal- human activities (socio-economic), such as pollution and waste problems, lose of natures conservation, biodiversity, ecology and green coupled with the emergence and dangers of climate change, global warming and its negative implications on living quality in recent times and in future to the whole world, there is a growing interest in sustainability, sustainable development and its incorporation into plans of all sorts.

Despite this issues of global warming, researches have shown that green open space can be one of the solutions of that problem. Green open space has effect on microclimates. Trees and planting can result in the reduction of peak summer temperatures by up to 5° Celsius. Thus, trees can be included in the City’s street scene designs wherever possible, to provide shade and cooling and consequently reduce global warming (City of London, 2009). Basing on the above said, we found important to discuss about urban design and urban planning: Green Open Space.


According to Peter Hall, 2002, the verb ‘’to plan” and the noun ‘’planning” and planner, have in fact only the second general group of meanings: they do refer to the art of drawing up a physical plan or design on paper. They can mean either ‘’either ‘’to arrange the parts of” or ‘’to realize the achievement of ‘’or” more vaguely, to ‘’intend”. The most common meaning of planning involves both the first two of these elements; planning is concerned with deliberately achieving some objectives and it proceeds by assembling actions into some orderly sequence. It is on the basis of this that Gallion and Eisner, 1993, defined urban planning as an attempt to create an orderly development in urban areas and reduce social conflicts and economic conditions that would endanger the lives and property.

On the other hand, urban design is about how to recapture certain of the qualities (qualities which we experience as well as those we see) that we associate with the traditional city: a sense of order, place, and continuity, richness of experience, completeness and belonging. Urban design lies somewhere between the broad-brush abstractions of planning and the concrete specifics of architecture. (Cowan, 1997).

As we can see it through the definitions, there are some similarities and differences between these two subjects. Though, the above definition can be summarized as follows (see the table below):

From this table, urban planning has a role to make sure that a city is working and functioning well that is why urban and regional planning is focusing on various issues such as economical, social and environmental issues while, urban design is more focusing on aesthetical values like sense of place, building character, pedestrian design and design of public space. Furthermore, sometimes urban planners can become very micro like urban designers. They can make some designs of the cities which is the main task of urban designers. In revenge urban designers can make plans for policies and guidelines. Because urban planning and urban design are very wide, we found important to discuss about green open space as a focus point.


Green Open Space is the region or ground surface area which is dominated by plants that are promoted to a particular habitat protection functions, and / or facilities neighborhood / city, and / or network security infrastructure, and / or agricultural cultivation. (Directorate General of Spatial Planning, Indonesia Ministry of Public Works, 2007). Nowadays, the concept” open space” in complex matrix is not limited only to the urban park and preserves but also non park-non natural-places. Public spaces such as streets, school yards, outdoor sport complexes, cemeteries, and public squares are important green open spaces (Hall, 1998).

Why plan and design for green open space?

The process of getting everyone together to think about community needs is worthwhile endeavor in itself. An urban open space plan is much more than a land acquisition plan. It can make a wide variety of recommendations about the future of a country.

So, we have to plan for a green open space because:

· A green open space plan is the flip side of a development plan. After identifying important green open spaces, it will be much more apparent where development should occur.

· It recommends land use regulations that will help to protect the community from uneconomic and inefficient sprawl. (Department of Environmental Conservation , California, 2004)

It is for this reason that it is essential for urban planners to determine the function of green open space in order to increase its value (such as water conservation, wetland area, city lungs). When you talk about why plan and design for green open space, it is essential to look at the size and levels of green open space.

Green Open Space (size and level)

It exists two types of green open space: rural open space and urban open space. Rural open space is made of habitat, recreation, health/ safety (flooding/seismic), agriculture/ rangelands, river and stream parkways while urban open space is constituted by recreation, trails and parkways, stream and canal corridors, natural resources and public space (Department of Environmental Conservation, California, 2004).

However, it is too difficult to determine an international size of green open space by different levels because every country has its policies, own physical characteristics and culture but we have an example from United Kingdom which can be a best practice.

The United Kingdom Accessible Natural Green Space Standard (ANGS) mentioned that:

· No person should live more than 300 m from their nearest area of natural green space of at least two (2) hectares in size;

· There is provision of at least two (2) hectares of Local Nature Reserve per 1,000 population;

· That there should be at least one accessible 20 ha site within two (2) km from home

· That there should be one accessible 100 ha site within five (5) km;

· That there should be one accessible 500 ha site within (10) km.

We can not only discuss about the size and levels of green open space in urban planning and urban design, we need also to recognize the functions of green open space because the latter are always planned for certain purposes.

Function of Green open space

Green open spaces are vital part of landscapes with its own specific set of function. Open spaces (natural or manmade) contribute to the quality of life in many ways (Burke and Ewan, 1999). Beside important environmental benefits (such as improvement of the quality of air, soil and water, decrease of noise levels, reduction of thermal amplitude variations, protection against the winds, waste Management, improvement of the infiltration and drainage of storm water, reduction of flood risks), these areas provide social psychological services (such as Recreation and Leisure, Increasing physical and Psychological well-being, Sociability) which are critical for the livability of the city and well being of urbanites (Chiesura, 2004). Thompson (2002) sees green open space as places to celebrate cultural diversity, to engage with natural processes and to conserve memories. Green open space has also economic function: it promotes the image of the city, increase the selling point. It contributes ecologically because it diminishes the process of erosion and promotes biodiversity.

These above functions can be combined each other. For example in Houten, we saw that green open space is combined with wet land area. The functions of green open space are water conservation and recreation. Also, green areas are used to encourage people to cycling. This is done by planning green open space along the bicycle pathways. Here, green space has multifunctional purpose like encouraging cycling and enhancing community health.

As it is stated above, today, green open space is mainly planned with a purpose of fighting against global warming; this is why we found important to talk about its role in combating against this worldwide issue.


There is a growing consensus that global warming is one of the greatest threats facing humanity.

Different researches have shown that greenhouse gases are the first to keep the earth warm, human use of fossil fuels is the main source of excess greenhouse gases. By driving cars, using electricity from coal-fired power plants, or heating our homes with oil or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Deforestation is another significant source of greenhouse gases, because fewer trees mean less carbon dioxide conversion of oxygen. This is why some scientists say that: “The bigger are the cities, the more the urban citizen is deprived of contact with the environment, the more he despises or simply ignores the other elements of ecosystem. He becomes more and more hostile and the men look for refuge during more time inside artificial environment” Monteiro, 2001. This author wanted to express that the growing of the city affects the environment because the forest, trees or green in general are replaced by urban infrastructures like houses, streets, public building, etc. This idea is also supported by Sing Chew, 2001 in his book: world ecological degradation. Accumulation, urbanization and deforestation, he said that: “In all the process of urbanization, depending on the nature and levels of consumption and production, generates ecological degradation when the nature becomes extremely exploitative”.

It is true that if you build a bigger city you will consume more sources and also you could have big impact to the environment, and if you are not limiting the growth of your cities you will lose a lot of nature area. However, big cities have a lot of advantages and opportunities thus we cannot do away from them because of green open space. Big cities are good for economy so to have big cities is not a problem; it depends upon of how you plan for them. You have to limit the growth of the cities, integrate cities with environment and make sure that people have more contact with environment. And as you know, you cannot achieve this without good planning, this is why it is important to discuss about green open space and planning.


According to Knopf, 1987; Gerlach-Spriggs et al., 1998; Cooper Marcus and Barnes, 1999), for thousands of years, there have been ideas to the effect that human health and welfare are influenced in a positive way by his spending time in natural surroundings – wild nature as well as enclosed gardens. It is for that reason that green open space is the main issue to be prioritized in city planning. It can be primarily planned if you consider the green open spaces as your main priority; it means that you emphasize the environmentally friendly concept rather than other issues. For examples: Green Cities and Eco-Village.

On the other hand, open space and green must be planned at the same level with other activities. Example if you are planning for a residential area you cannot prioritize green open space but you have to plan for it at the same level with housing. This is very important for sustainability and as we know, sustainability takes into account social, economical and environmental aspects.

It also depends on the situation that occurs in that country, for example if the transportation issues like traffic congestion or urbanization are more dominant more than any other issues then the planning will give emphasis more on the transportation issues.

Concerning the role of urban and regional planners, they can develop plans for long-and short-term land use and growth and regeneration of green spaces. Planners seek to optimize land for parks and other public facilities related to the green open space. They can help local leaders to lessen social, economic and ecological issues by recommending sites for green space. In order to enhance the awareness and understanding of this, urban planners could use media such as mass media, magazines, online media, radio, news papers, and television as tools of communicating with community and stakeholders, about how the urban planner arranges the space in the same understandings and meanings (Edison, 2009). There should be at least a diversion of responsibilities of all stakeholders in arrangement and using of spaces. In that way we could make a comfortable, safe, productive and sustain living environment (Fauzi, 2009).This work includes forecasting future needs of the population. Planners consider the public opinions to ensure that these facilities meet the needs of a growing population and development. They can also help to make decisions about resource development and protection of green spaces. The planners can also help to legislate on the environment thus green open space will be well protected and will always be attractive. On the side of finance, they can look at the aspect of taxation, though they can plan for green open space near high class residential areas (taxes can be paid by high level income people).


Grosso modo, green open space is among the infrastructures that contribute to the smooth development of our world because it has social, economical and environmental functions. Due to the functions and the role green open space plays in the cities, they are fundamental elements, inductors of quality of life. When they get organized in systems like the green structure, their value is potentiated and incremented then contributing more efficiently to the quality of life. It is for that reason that green open space has to be promoted in the whole world. In nowadays, green open space is well thought-out because of its role in fight against the global warming and climate change. That is why it is incorporated in different spatial plans around the world. At this juncture, urban planners are identifying important green open spaces and determine always much more apparent where development should occur. So, land use regulations that will help to protect the community from uneconomic and inefficient sprawl will be put in place. This planning is done at different level with various size of green open space (we have to note that this differ from one country to another).

After analyzing the importance of green open space, we discovered that smart growth can be a solution for green open space (in planning) because it takes into account the concept of sustainability. (Heberle and Susan M.Opp, 2008) and it is in smart growth that we find the principle of mix land uses which always gives room for green open space (Wheeler, M. and Beatley, T. (2006). Thus, it is suggested to urban planners to think about smart growth when planning for green open space in cities. Here, urban planners are obliged to work with national, regional, and local partners to give the tools and means needed to ascertain and prioritize areas to realize smart green open space. The implementation of locally based, long term green open space plans is a critical element in achieving smart growth. Well-managed open space programs can safeguard the natural green infrastructure of a place, offering opportunities for recreation, preserving important environmental and ecological functions, and enhancing community quality of life.


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