General principles for the arrangement of streets,
paths, blocks and lots, public open spaces, activity centres, public transport
nodes and corridors and residential neighbourhoods.
Urban structure comprises the overall topography and land division pattern of an urban area. It is the pattern and scale of blocks, lots and public spaces, and the arrangement and scale of the movement network's streets, roads and paths. Whether at the scale of a city, town, neighbourhood, precinct or large development site, it is the interrelationship between all of the elements of urban structure, rather than their individual characteristics, that together make a place. Urban structure includes the location and types of activity centres, public transport nodes and corridors, public spaces, community facilities, and urban infrastructure.
The basic unit of a city's urban structure is a block. Bounded by streets, blocks contain lots or parcels of land that provide space for buildings and other land uses. While street and block patterns generally remain stable over time, lot patterns and land use can change. Lots may be subdivided or amalgamated for different types of buildings and land uses.
Why is it important?
The urban structure determines how serviceable and flexible an urban area will be, and how well it will integrate with its surroundings. The urban structure contributes to both the function and feel of an area and creates a sense of place. A well-functioning urban structure has connected neighbourhoods, where activity centres are within a convenient walking distance. Urban structure design can enhance personal safety and property security by allowing for informal surveillance opportunities and a choice of routes.
The layout of blocks and lots can support or limit flexibility, diversity and opportunity in a city or neighbourhood, and influence the types of buildings and land uses that can be accommodated. Large blocks might permit a wider variety of development options, but can pose a barrier to movement, while smaller blocks allow greater ease and choice of movement around
These urban structure principles apply to the design of activity centres, large development sites, higher density residential precincts, and the public realm. The urban structure principles should be used in conjunction with accepted civil design standards for motor vehicle movement, and water management.
Element 2 Movement network
Element 3 Public spaces