Fitting new building forms into historical urban contexts through urban design : lessons from the United Kingdom experience for the case of Damascus
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Urban design emerged in the 1980s linked to the trends of urban marketing in which architecture and its outcomes, i.e. new forms of buildings, have become a physical expression of an economic-political process. However, the quality of these forms has varied from the excellent to the awful and many questions have been raised about the merit of such products, particularly in cities with historic urban contexts. Urban design has provided toolkits that have been applied at different stages of the design control process in order to improve the production of contemporary designs in historic urban contexts, focusing on how all buildings, old and new, work with each other to create spaces and a sense of place, which is seen as influencing the quality of life for communities. This thesis investigates the role of the urban design approach in fitting new proposed forms into their historic contexts, by reviewing its application in a selected number of real-life projects in Edinburgh and York, both of which have substantial and sensitive historic urban contexts. This is done through an examination of documentary evidence of the application of urban design tools and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the design control process (regulators, developers, designers and a wider range of actors involved in the process). Ultimately, the research proposes, based on the two cities’ experience, some lessons for the city of Damascus in relation to how local planning authorities can improve design quality of proposed new forms into historical urban contexts through applying urban design tools.