Historical Urbanism is a supplemental approach to urban design that both draws from and can positively influence other ‘urbanisms’. At its core, Historical Urbanism advocates for a deep understanding of the history and memory of place as a central component of the urban design process. It draws inspiration from the bottom-up, consultative design principle of Social Urbanism (prioritising the needs of excluded groups in how they interact with the city and each other).
It can be viewed as a historical complement to Everyday Urbanism; an approach that seeks to understand the social use of space in the present. The innovation of Everyday Urbanism is to draw our attention away from aesthetics and towards the often unnoticed practices of everyday life that can contribute to the vibrancy of public space. Historical Urbanism follows this moves away from aesthetics by forwarding an alternative to how the past is viewed and utilised by urban designers. Consideration of history and heritage in urban design processes is usually quite shallow and tends to focus on the aesthetic qualities of ‘heritage’ buildings and spaces.
Historical Urbanism allows us to explore the intricacies of everyday experience in the past city and investigate if such ‘pasts’ are a usable means to better understand the contemporary city and positively influence its future form.
Find out more about the Historical Urbanism research project in the Project Outline section