urban design: connection of culture, infrastructure, sustainability and design

Most of our urban environments are not waterfronts and parks — they are our streets, our sidewalks, our utility corridors, parking lots. It’s everything outside the building. And yet there’s very little design to what they look like.



95 % of our urban environment are streets. Streets fill our cities, they are the places on which we travel and where we spend our time on. Our Cities don’t exist without streets, parking lots and sidewalks.

But what professor Martha Schwartz (Harvard Graduate School of Design) states aove is, that those essential urban places need design.they need architecture.

In her inter view for the  Yale Environment 360 report on December 5, 2012 the landscape architect explains how landscape design can help cities to become sustainable by reducing water, saving energy and lowering emissions.


It’s a lot more than green roofs. And the awereness that the landscape is more than decoration…

But landscape and urban design is not just about designing cities in the most sustainable or beautiful way. Martha Schwartz knows that designing cities is an extreme complex task. Firstly the city has to funcion. The infrastructure has to be organized. Technologies have to be applied in the right way. And then lastly, the urban space is designed to attract people and to make it liveable and sustainable.

Therefore urban design has to be adapted to the people. And the people’s culture.


If you don’t really understand people’s cultural values, you’ll get it wrong.

Therefore urban design is very different in Europe than in the Middle East, China or in the U.S.Martha Schwartz and her colleagues are designing cities and landscapes all over the world in order to make cities more attractive,healthy and sustainable.

Ongoing Project

One of her ongoing projects which started in 2012 is the Abu Dhabi Corniche Beach Revitalization, in the United Arabian Emirates.

Purpose of the Corniche beach project is to restore the 4 km long landmark of the city. The complex task is to make the beach open to both, the city and the sea. Moreover the architects had to consider during their planning process, that Corniche beach will be in public and private use.

But in order to attract citizens, the Corniche waterfront needed shade. Therefore Martha Schwartz and her team decided to plant date palms, as they provide a strong and unique image for the city. But instead of planting new date palms, the architects chose to take out all the water-hungry palm trees next to the highway which leads from the airport into the city, and put them on the beachfront.