Urban Design Summer School (Place Alliance)

  • 21 hours (approx)
  • 3 days


This intensive three-day course will look at how to transform cities, towns and public spaces through placemaking.

The aim is to:

  • introduce you to urban design core principles and process
  • take you systematically through the stages of site investigation, visioning and coding
  • introduce the basic skills required to communicate urban design
  • inspire you with the latest thinking and practice in urban design

Each day will focus on a different stage of the design process, at different scales (from site level or landscape level to street layout).

You'll develop the knowledge, skills and passion to confidently create successful places, whether in an urban, suburban or rural context.

The course provides a unique learning forum, bringing together different disciplines to share learning, strengthen networks and enhance multi-disciplinary team working.

It's run by Place Alliance, based at the Bartlett School of Planning, and will provide an introductory yet inspirational exploration of the subject from high-level practitioners and academics. To receive updates about the summer school, and about the Place Alliance's work, sign up to become a supporter ( You can unsubscribe at any time. 

Course content and structure

The course is structured into a series of masterclasses over the three days, along with other activities such as workshops, site visits and networking.

Each day will focus on a different stage of the design process:

  • Day 1: Understanding place
  • Day 2: Vision for place
  • Day 3: Place-making through form-based code

Other activities will include:

  • a city walk 
  • a design project 
  • site visits 
  • group work
  • urban design toolshop (a 'quick tips and tricks' session so you can pick up specific urban-design skills based on your particular needs and interests. Topics will focus on skills related to analysis, design, presentation and delivery.)

Who this course is for

The summer school is aimed a wide range of professionals and decision-makers involved in making and sustaining successful places.

It's also open to:

  • postgraduate students, or undergraduate students with some work experience
  • other professionals wishing to up their skills levels or simply hear about the latest thinking and practice in urban design

The programme will focus on skills development within local planning authorities and other public sector bodies, e.g. highway authorities, the HCA (Homes & Communities Agency), government departments, etc.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • talk confidently about urban design
  • undertake a basic analysis of place
  • use graphic techniques to represent urban design ideas
  • understand and produce basic design coding for schemes
  • design at different scales: the ‘big picture’ and the detailed one
  • raise commitment to the quality of design

Certificates and assessment

The course isn't assessed, but you'll receive a certificate of participation for CPD purposes.


The fees are as follows:

  • £395 (standard rate) - for central government department and executive agencies, private practices 
  • £295 (reduced rate) - for local authorities and other local government employees
  • £195 (reduced rate) - for local community organisations and registered charities
  • £195 (reduced rate) - for students

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Course team

Valentina Giordano

Valentina is a Research Associate at the Bartlett School of Planning where she manages the Place Alliance. She's an urban designer and planner with over 15 years' UK experience including professional consultancy (urban design and streetscape intervention), academic research and teaching. She has a degree in Town Planning and a Postgraduate Diploma and MSc in Urban Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She's a Chartered Member of RTPI and an Urban Design Group Recognised Practitioner. She joined the Place Alliance management team at UCL following her time at Farrells where she was hired to liaise with UCL on the development of the Place Alliance and the Farrell Review. At the Bartlett Valentina has taught for several years on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She also continues to work as an urban design consultant on both public and private sector projects.

Matthew Carmona

Matthew is Professor of Planning & Urban Design at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning. His research has focused on urban design, processes of design governance and on the design and management of public space. Matthew was educated at the University of Nottingham and is a chartered architect and planner. He chairs the Place Alliance which brings together organisations and individuals who share a belief that the quality of the built environment has a profound influence on people’s lives. He was Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment and in 2015 won the RTPI Academic Award for Research Excellence.

Course information last modified: 31 Mar 2017, 16:44