Icebreaker: Engineering to Urban Design
Coming from a STEM-focused engineering background, urban design initially felt completely different to what I was used to. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I mainly studied maths, sciences and programming within different engineering fields. I specialised in civil engineering, which featured investigating ground conditions, conducting site surveys, learning design codes and structural analysis. However, civil engineering and urban design have their similarities. Both aim to improve the built environment, whether it be through designing and building infrastructure, or planning and developing areas.
What drew me to urban design was partly my third-year Civil Design project where I designed a motorway bridge. This involved a background study, drawing conceptual ideas, working out the sizes of beams and foundations, and calculating overall costs. The project was interesting and I learned a lot about the stages of conceptualisation to construction, but the initial design stages appealed to me the most. I wanted to learn more about designing for the urban environment, which led me to this course.
To me, urban design is creating a built environment which aims to connect and improve the experiences of the users. It considers many aspects such as economic, physical, cultural and environmental, as well as aesthetics. What I like about urban design is that it is interdisciplinary, combining architecture, planning, geography, engineering, and other related fields. There are a lot of skills from engineering, such as using CAD software, problem-solving and site studies, which also apply to urban design. The Urban Design lecture series (TCP8052 and TCP8090) are helping me to understand the theories and how they have shaped many cities across the world. I am enjoying learning about the principles of urban design and how they have evolved over the years. Over this year, I hope that I can expand my knowledge of designing for the urban environment and applying it to a larger scale.