Urban Design is the level of intervention between urban planning and architecture. It is the level at which a stable stage is set by shaping public space and infrastructure, thereby setting out the themes and rules that will guide well-organized yet varied architectural interventions for a long time to come. Urban design is also the level of work that must anticipate that interventions at the next level – architecture – will be distributed among many firms and developers; it therefore has a built-in need for a governance structure to steer varied interventions while maintaining long-term resilience and spatial coherence.

The challenge for urban design – whether driven by public agencies or by private development – is to create a basis for structured growth and change, as well as offering readily available, serviced yet flexible building plots to realize new buildings replacing older ones. This requires strategic planning tools to steer development for over time, tools that are appropriately updated from time to time in light of changing realities on the ground.