Dias, Mahawattha (2015) Development of a Community Embedded Sustainable Urban Design Process Framework for Neighbourhood Context, UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

City beautification was the fundamental purpose of urban design at the time it was introduced as a separate profession. Over time, the scope and objectives of urban design have changed. Today, urban design plays a key role in the creation of sustainable urban environments in terms of the 'triple bottom line', that encompasses the three dimensions of life–economics; social and environmental sustainability. Therefore, today, urban design seeks to enhance the life of the city and its inhabitants in socio-economic and environmental terms.
Even though urban design has a wider scope for achieving sustainability on all its three fronts, the current process of urban design has often become an obstacle to attaining this scope. The current urban design process is top-down, i.e., generally the urban designers or planners design the urban environment and at a later stage the community may have some
involvement. There are serious criticisms of this process as it may not touch the “ground” level community, and therefore, there is a serious risk these projects will fail to create sustainable environments. Accordingly, in order to overcome the drawbacks of the current top-down process, researches have discussed implementing a bottom-up process. A bottomup urban design process will give prominence to the local community in the urban design process and it will assist in the identification of locally significant factors and the exact problems and issues within the area which will then ensure that the urban design solutions will address the sustainability issues.
However, it is found that the bottom-up urban design process has its own negative features which can adversely affect the creation of sustainable urban designs. In the meantime, it is discovered that the current top-down urban design process has many positive features which can positively assist for the creation of sustainable urban designs.
Accordingly, it is illustrated that neither the current top-down process nor the suggested bottom-up process will address the critical issues for achieving the current scope of urban design and, therefore, a ‘balanced’ community embedded urban design process was required to overcome the current research gap.
This research used the ‘onion’ methodological framework and the research strategy was case study. Two live neighbourhood urban design projects in North West England were used as the case studies and the key data collection methods were semi structured interviews, focus group discussions and non- participant observation.
The analysis resulted to derive 07 key factors from the case study 01 and 10 key factors from the case study 02 and these key factors were further analysed in order to develop components for two initial urban design process frameworks from the two case studies. Thereafter, the data were triangulated and the new urban design process framework was developed. Finally, at the latter stage of the research, the new urban design framework was validated via experts
in urban design. Accordingly, this research developed a new community embedded and balanced urban design process framework to replace the current standard top-down process to produce sustainable urban design solutions in a neighbourhood context in UK.

Final thesis - DIAS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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