Designing Cities
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list 10 sequences
assignment Level : Introductory
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
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verified_user Fee-based Certificate
timer 40 hours in total

About the content

Each module in Designing Cities will focus on a different aspect of city design including: How Today’s City Evolved; The Ideas That Shape Cities; Tools for Designing Cities; Making Cities Sustainable; Cities in the Information Age; Preserving Older Cities; Designing New Cities, Districts and Neighborhoods; The Challenges of Informal Cities and Disadvantaged Neighborhoods; and Visionary Cities. Materials will be presented by the instructors and guest faculty from PennDesign through a series of five or more lessons per module, each typically 10-12 minutes long. The first lesson in each module will be a roundtable discussion among professors Stefan Al, Jonathan Barnett, and Gary Hack introducing the big issues associated with the subject. Each succeeding module will be a self-contained illustrated presentation of a set of ideas and images. There will be a list of suggested readings for those who wish to follow up on the ideas in each module. Everyone enrolled in Designing Cities will be expected to complete 3 assignments. These will be posted on the course site and they will be in the form of peer assessments. There will be a great deal to be learned from the ideas participants submit, reflecting cities of all sizes and circumstances across the globe so once you submit your assignment, you'll be able to see what your peers have done.

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  • Week 1 - How Today’s City Evolved
    Sometimes people talk about cities as if they are outside people’s control, like the weather. We are using the word designing in the name of our course, because everything that happens to shape cities is actually the result of decisions made by governments, bu...
  • Week 2 - Ideas That Shape Cities
    During the opening week we have given you a very quick sketch of the evolution of cities from pre-industrial times to today’s multi-centered urban regions. Of course you understand that charting the development of cities encapsulates almost everything that has...
  • Week 3 - Tools for Designing Cities
    We have seen that powerful design ideas can have a big influence on cities: towers surrounded by open space, a tree-lined boulevard, houses set amid lawns and gardens, a corridor of denser buildings supported by a transit line. But city design is not an “act o...
  • Week 4 - Making Cities Sustainable
    Last week we learned about tools that manage the design and development of cities, including infrastructure investments, codes and design guidelines, financial incentives for better city design, and negotiations for common goods between those who build cities ...
  • Week 5 - Cities in the Information Age
    This week we focus on the issue of communication in cities. The ability to communicate with others is becoming the central purpose of cities as they become more and more centered on service economies. It determines where people wish to live, their travel patte...
  • Week 6 - Preserving Older Cities
    We ended last week describing how mixing home, work, culture and recreation, rather than separating them by regulation is the key to creating 21st century cities. Inherited environments almost always have part of that urban mix already. This week we will deal ...
  • Week 7 - Designing New Cities, Districts and Neighborhoods
    Last week we focused on ways to maintain and capitalize on the unique aspects of a city’s past, through creating historic districts and designating historic buildings, and re-using and sometimes repurposing older structures. Preservation has cultural importanc...
  • Week 8 - The Challenges of Informal Cities and Disadvantaged Neighborhoods
    Much of our discussion to this point in Designing Cities has focused on more developed cities in Europe, North America and Asia. But over the next several decades, the rapidly multiplying cities of Latin America, Africa and South Asia will represent a large fr...
  • Week 9 - Visionary Cities
    So far we have focused on city designs that were actually built. But throughout history, architects, artists and philosophers, have imagined and drawn up visionary cities. Many of these designs are what we call “paper” projects, since they were typically releg...
  • Week 10 - Concluding Comments
    We have come to the end of our course, and while we could say much more, you need a break from our thoughts and images. As we have said in past reviews, the assignments submitted have spanned the globe, and brought to us very interesting observations about wha...


Gary Hack
Professor and dean emeritus
City and Regional Planning, PennDesign

Jonathan Barnett
Professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning
City Planning

Stefan Al
Associate Professor of Urban Design
City and Regional Planning


Content Designer

University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and considers itself to be the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.



Coursera is a digital company offering massive open online course founded by computer teachers Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller Stanford University, located in Mountain View, California. 

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The entire course content is amazing and worth learning for future sustainability.

Published on July 19, 2020
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July 19, 2020

The entire course content is amazing and worth learning for future sustainability.