Urban design and quality of life. Lessons to be learnt from Madrid’s periphery

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Academics and practitioners have elaborated a number of planning and urban design tools to understand the built environment and to provide guidance for physical-spatial interventions. Both tools are aimed to contribute to the improvement of the quality of urban space and the quality of life of those who use it. After so many years of trying to get well designed and sustainable neighbourhoods, it is possible to assume that there exist tool kits ready to be applied to practice. However, the existence of wide avenues, large green spaces, collective housing to achieve compactness, and dynamic commercial areas, does not ensure by itself the creation of urban spaces which provide quality of life. Practice shows that, in fact, there is a wide gap between theory and practice. Facing this situation, planners and urban designers face several questions when trying to realise their potential professional powers. Which urban design and planning criteria may lead to better urban places? What are the relations between physical form, functional structure and social aspiration to improve quality of life? Which spaces are contributing to urban quality: public, private or the links between them?
Strategies For the Post-Speculative City : Proceedings of the 4th AESOP European Urban Summer School, Madrid, Spain, September 2013
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