Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Urban Design I

Urban Design I
Second semester
Project Planning Module
Urbanism 1
Main language of instruction: English

Other languages of instruction: Spanish

Teaching staff

Subject to prior appointment by e-mail.


This course is responsible for providing students with their first impression of Urban Planning. To do so, the Urban Planning I syllabus is planned as an open window to all the topics embraced by our understanding of the city as a project. The course contains a wide variety of fundamental concepts which are absolutely new to students. The theory and practical classes are designed to show them how to name and read things from a planning perspective; in other words, imagining their direct or indirect transformation. The course should arouse students’ intellectual interest in the face of an increasingly complex reality and stimulate the exploration of potential future scenarios. It should imbue their language with rigor and their interventions with well-founded doubts.

Workshop teachers:

Dra. Marta Benages

Dr. Pere Vall

Arch. Ignacio Arizu

Pre-course requirements

Students should be in their second year of architectural studies to attend this course.


The Urban Planning 1 course represents an introductory level to urban planning training. The objective is to learn how to interpret the form of a city and a region as well as understanding the basic concepts for planning them. Students will be introduced to the practice of reasoning about a city, presenting locations and issues close to the student. The aim is to understand the different aspects and variables that influence the configuration of a city, position them in terms of the correct time and cultural context, and interpret them to build new realities.

The purpose of urban planning is to understand and control the form of the city and the region; it encompasses every urban and territorial scale and the task starts where the building ends; therefore, students need to view urban planning as an architectural practice where the city and the region are the ‘living’ working material. Cities are not the sum of buildings and infrastructures but of the relationships established between the different urban elements.

The course is divided into two parts:

1. The first is geared towards reading and reinterpreting characteristic cities and regions by making an analysis in order to identify, decode, classify and understand the different elements that configure the form of a city, by means of reflection and graphic expression on the appropriate scale. Students should analyse the form of the city and its territory, recognizing the structural elements and formative process, and offering a consistent and deliberate reintroduction using a set of instruments whose essential support is drawing and graphic expression.

The aim of the second part of the subject is to present the student with the accoutrements of basic concepts and ideas used city and territorial planning. The subject revolves around the main activity of the architect/urban planner: planning. This stage goes into greater depth by way of a morphological analysis of urban fabrics and students will study the basic structural patterns (linear, grid and nodal) underlying the form of the city and its territory. Students will analyse in situ the forms of urban growth associated with each pattern and from this extract the transformation criteria.

The course prepares each student to acquire criteria with regard to urban issues so they can put forward cogent arguments for developing solution techniques. These criteria are, in many cases, found written in the actual reality of the city. Planning in a city is about rewriting, attaching a new text to existing texts, understanding the city as a “palimpsest” and not an empty book.

This subject is approached with a triple educational objective: providing students with the instruments, methodology and culture of urban planning. Buildings are disposed following certain formal guidelines and combination criteria (aligned, isolated, repeated, etc.); streets and public spaces respond to criteria such as diversity, hierarchy and specialization, giving these urban fabrics the unique features that configure their identity. Understanding the urban space inherent in these fragments and knowledge of the different elements that make them up, their rationales and their relations, constitute the main objective of the course.

1. Facilitating the knowledge and use of working tools to adequately relate the materials inherent in the city and its urban fragments.

2. The use of a precise and rigorous method of reading the urban space being studied and putting forward proposals for its transformation.

3. Providing information on certain yardstick examples and key elements of urban planning culture. This selection aims to showcase the projects and planners who explore innovative mechanisms of urban development and composition.


  • 35-T - Ability to conceive, put into practice and develop urban projects
  • 37 - Ability to develop functional programmes for buildings and urban spaces.
  • 42 - Ability to catalogue buildings and urban heritage and plan their protection.
  • 45-T - Ability to design and execute roads and urban development, gardening and landscaping projects
  • 46 - Ability to apply urban planning ordinances and standards.
  • 47-T - Ability to prepare environmental and landscaping surveys and plans to correct environmental impacts.
  • 51 - To acquire adequate knowledge of the study methods of social needs, quality of life, habitability and basic housing programmes
  • 52 - To acquire adequate knowlege of the environment, sustainability and the principles of conserving energy and environmental resources.
  • 53 - To acquire adequate knowledge of architectural, urban development and landscaping traditions of Western culture, as well as their technical, climate, economic, social and ideological foundations
  • 55 - To acquire adequate knowledge of the relationship between cultural patterns and the social responsibilities of the architect
  • 57 - To acquire adequate knowledge of urban sociology, theory, economy and history.
  • 58 - To acquire adequate knowledge of the methodological principles of urban planning and metropolitan and regional development.
  • 59 - To acquire adequate knowledge of the mechanisms of preparing and managing urban development plans on any scale.
  • 60 - To acquire knowledge of civil, administrative, urban planning, building and professional regulations.
  • 61 - To acquire knowledge of feasibility analysis, supervision and coordination of integrated projects.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course subject, students should be capable of:

Knowing how to analyse the form of a city and its region.

Recognizing the structural elements and formative process of the city and offering a consistent and well-founded reintroduction.

Analysing the morphology of urban fabrics and generating a transformation proposal.

Studying basic structural patterns (linear, grid and nodal) underlying the formation of a city and its region.

Analysing in situ the forms of urban growth associated with each pattern and extrapolating transformation criteria.


The theory content of the Instrument Workshop will be translate to practical exercises to be carried out and explained on the instrument workshop days. These exercises will relate to the relevant theory session. It is regarded as essential to deliver these exercises to be able to pass the course, as the whole course subject is designed as a complementary training process.

The thematic axe are:

- Evolution and transformation of the city of Barcelona

- Urban growth patterns

- City and public space

- Urban and regional linear structures

- Urban and regional grid structures

- Urban and regional node structures

Teaching and learning activities

In person

The Planning and Urban Design Workshop  provides exercises that allow students to develop the theoretical content through graphic expression and introduces them to interventions in cities. 

The first exercises aim to introduce the students to the observation of physical reality from what we might call “fundamental particles” and their initial aggregations. Students will identify and classify streets, plazas, blocks and the roads that regulate them. Other exercises are aimed at summarizing the structural and identifying features of the city, detailed drawings in the most appropriate style of the urban elements or ensembles that define the transformation of the city and form the active structuring part of urban evolution. 

The last exercise go into greater depth on linear, grid-like and nodal city structures based on drawing up a propositive analysis of an area of the city. These exercises aim to provide a global understanding of the city as a structured entity, recognising the different parts that make it up and the features that characterize it. The aim is to put an emphasis on the selection and reintroduction of the most important elements in this sector of the city; those that have a determining effect on its development and give it identity.

Class exhibition
35-T 37 42 45-T 46 47-T 51 52 53 54 57 58 59 60 61 0,73
Class participation
35-T 37 42 45-T 46 47-T 51 52 53 54 57 58 59 60 61 0,73
Clase practice
35-T 37 42 45-T 46 47-T 51 52 53 54 57 58 59 60 61 0,73
35-T 37 42 45-T 46 47-T 51 52 53 54 57 58 59 60 61 0,82
Individual or group study
35-T 37 42 45-T 46 47-T 51 52 53 54 57 58 59 60 61 3

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

The evaluation of the trajectory of the student is continuous and the attendance to class and the weekly correction are obligatory. Tests of the theoretical part and the practical workshop are taken into account for the final evaluation of the course. Specifically, the theoretical part comprises 4 tests and 4 comments of readings and represents 30% of the final grade, while the practical workshop consists of 3 exercises and corresponds to 70% of the final grade (20%, 20% and 30% respectively for each exercise). You have to pass all the tests to be able to do media. Otherwise, students have the right to a second call in the month of June that depending on the case may consist of recovering the theoretical part through a written exam, recover the practical exercises through an improved delivery, or both options. The students receive all the information related to the evaluation procedures on the first day of class during the presentation of the course program.

Bibliography and resources

BACON, Edmun N., Design of cities, Londres: Thames & Hudson, 1958

BENÉVOLO, Leonardo, La proyectación de la ciudad moderna, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1978

BUSQUETS, Joan, Barcelona: evolución urbanística de una capital compacta, Barcelona: Mapfre, 1994.

KOSTOF, Spyro. The city shaped,  London: Thames & Hudson, 1991.

KOSTOF, Spyro. The city assembled, London: Thames & Hudson, 1992.

MORRIS, A.E.J., Historia de la forma urbana: desde sus orígenes hasta la revolución industrial, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1984

ROSSI, Aldo, La arquitectura de la ciudad, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1971

SOLÀ-MORALES RUBIÓ, Manuel, Les formes del creixement urbà, Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 1993.

SOLÀ-MORALES M. Diez Lecciones sobre Barcelona, COAC, Barcelona, 2008.