Research introduction

Design of the Urban Fabric is one of the research groups of the department of Urbanism, at the Delft University of Technology.

Urban fabrics refers both to the physical urban environment (elements, materialisation, form, scales, density, networks), and to its psychological, socio-cultural, ecological, managerial and economical structures. The Urban Fabric Research Group studies the relations between these tangible and intangible structures in different contexts, grounded in the Dutch tradition of urbanism. Its aim is to foster a sustainable and vital urban environment.

We understand urban fabrics from a design perspective, that is, as the result of a sequence of design decisions taken by latent/professional designers at various scales. In order to understand these processes, we study urbanism practices and projects, urban territories and how individuals/groups design in a complex setting. In order to understand the urban fabric itself, we investigate the dynamics that gave rise to existing urban fabrics on two levels. First, by studying (the sequence of) actual interventions and their implications for human activities. Second, by studying the dynamics of design processes before actual realisation.

The knowledge gained from studying the processes and the structures that manifest urban fabrics, allows us to anticipate or stimulate changes by (evidence informed) design. In general, we study and promote two design strategies: the application of design patterns and the use of scenarios. By using design patterns extracted regularities in the urban fabric can be made operational for design purposes. By using scenarios possible and desirable futures can be explored, supporting the design of adaptive and prospective environments.

The main research questions are:

  1. How can (re)designing the urban fabric contribute to improving the sustainability and vitality of the urban environment for our and future generations?
  2. How do the physical environment and the intangible structures interact?
  3. What are the dynamics of the urban fabric and how does this relate to different design strategies?
  4. How can patterns and scenarios support and structure design processes in a multi actor setting, and how can they provide a way to transform desirable future images into concrete design interventions?
  5. How can new knowledge responding to the above questions help us generate new or improve excising design tools, improving urban design & planning practice and education?

(version 23 March 2016)