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By : Malcolm Tait

The term ‘urban village’ has a variety of meanings according to the context in which it is used. In the UK, one particular meaning has been adopted by the Urban Villages Forum who have sought to define and refine the urban village concept. However, as is common with development concepts such as this, there is a further objective to construct physical examples of the ‘urban village’. These physical examples are intended not only to have certain physical characteristics, but also to promote certain social characteristics, such as a sense of community. This paper will explore the work which is carried out in order to turn the urban village concept into a physical reality. I will draw on a case study from East London to illustrate how certain principles of the urban village concept were translated into the specificities a particular development. Factors such as site characteristics, investment structures and norms, and housing markets all played a role in controlling how urban village principles were adopted. The paper will conclude by critically evaluating some of the key issues in implementing the urban village model into actual contexts.

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