UCL Urban Laboratory


Studying the role of knowledge: how urban design knowledge has changed

In 1992 A.V. Moudon published an article titled: "A Catholic Approach to Organizing What Urban Designers Should Know" where she introduced a set of categorisations that helps urban designers to organise their knowledge. After almost quarter a century, we try to update her initial article in order to find out how urban design knowledge has changed in response to the dramatic changes happening in the world. This study reflects on a broader topic of how the built environment-related knowledge and the role of universities have changed recently. In doing so, the range of literature that is being taught in more than 30 universities for urban design courses has been studied to see what is being understood as an important text, or topic. Different traditions of urban design pedagogy in US, UK and Australia have been derived by analysing these lists. A briefer enquiry has also been done to find out how urban design course coordinators see the change in urban design literature in relation to the mentioned article.

The result of this research shows that the shared body of knowledge is now relying far more on mixed method and interdisciplinary methodologies especially in more global universities. The current challenge for education system is to adapt with the rapid change in technology and enabling students to work in non-western context. The final stage of the research suggest replacing traditional urban design teaching with more critical thinking that enables student to develop their own "theory" - as it is illustrated in the post-human condition, theory should happen at the same time with practice. As a consequence, organizing the knowledge will be more like navigation through the literature that happens based on the problems in hand.

10 minute presentation by Hooman Foroughmand Araabi (UCL).

Session two (parallel panel one): 14.00 - 16.00, Thursday 17 September, Darwin Lecture Theatre. 

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