The role of architecture in urban design is bound to get more pronounced in time as more urban centers develop. Indeed, architecture already plays a significant role in defining the urban landscape. This is not a new phenomenon. Since the earliest civilizations, architecture played a key role in defining the character and socioeconomic life of the people.
More and more people will live in cities in the coming years. Development organizations predict that by 2100 AD, fifty percent of all human beings will be living in urban centers. This is not very far-fetched when we look at the rapid rate of urbanization in some of the most populous countries such as India and China.
Urban design plays a key role in how people interact. The provision of facilities dictates who goes where. Hence, the character of any place in an urban center relies very much on how in it designed. The degree of vibrancy of an urban community critically depends on its design.
As the world becomes more urbanized and digitized, the need to have vibrant communities grows. Some of the things that brought communities together such as political rallies, games, theatre arts and cultural festivals no longer utilize the traditional channels. For instance, more people in the UK follow the proceedings of the English premier league from the safety and comfort of their homes compared to the numbers that actually go to the stadiums. Television has all but replaced theatre as the source of plays, poetry, music, and community announcements. When we add the influence of the internet to the vibrancy of communities, then the picture becomes more disturbing. Architecture seems to be the best remedy for the reducing interaction in communities.
There are certain specific ways through which architecture, through responsive urban design, can help to create and maintain vibrant communities. The strategies available for urban architecture includes the creative use of spaces, mixed use development concepts and the pursuit of the critical balance in population design to achieve social cohesion.
When new cities and urban centers come up, it is important to include spaces for parks, theatres, community centers and sports stadiums. These facilities promote social interaction and hence they help to create vibrant communities. It is likely that someone will attend a football match at a nearby stadium rather than watch it on television. The stadium experience is different from the home experience. In this sense, when urban planners include such facilities in the vicinity of urban centers, then they provide the community with a chance to develop into a vibrant one.
On the issue of mixed use facilities, there is a lot of incentive to build single use facilities and zones. In this sense, a section of town full of apartments without any kind of social amenities can kill the community. Human beings have a social instinct and therefore require spaces to evaluate relationships before they welcome people into their homes. In every residential development, there is need to provide public areas where people can interact freely. It is the basis of a vibrant community.