Meaningful Urbanism: A human-centered approach to placemaking using form-based zoning codes




Hyden, Sarah
Lopez, Sarah

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The professional perspectives that planners, designers, government officials, real estate developers, and other trained ‘experts’ have on urban space are often very different from the lived experiences of the people who actually live in communities. This results in the need for planning methods that not only accommodate people’s everyday perspectives, but center them in the process of designing the urban landscape. This thesis examines how the creation and conception of place are central to people’s experiences and considers form-based zoning as a potential mechanism for implementing human-centered values in actual built environments. It examines the emergence of zoning as a way of exerting control over space, phenomenological perspectives on urban placemaking, and how the conveyance of meaning in the built environment shapes people’s lives. It finds that form-based coding can facilitate meaningful placemaking in a way that conventional zoning frameworks do not. The coding process and outcomes of two form-based developments in the Austin area, the Mueller neighborhood and the Leander transit-oriented development, are then outlined as examples of implementation.



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