Promoting urban design excellence across New Zealand.


The purpose of the UDF is to:

  • Promote cross-disciplinary understanding of urban design and collaboration amongst built environment professionals;
  • Raise awareness and appreciation of the benefits of urban design at both national and local levels;
  • Advocate for and influence good quality urban design outcomes and best practice in urban design;
  • Provide a forum for discussion of design-based approaches that are relevant to the development and management of New Zealand towns and cities.


Urban Design is the process of arranging and influencing the design of the components that make up our urban environment, with the objective of creating quality urban places. This applies in 3-dimensions and across a range of scales from the city / region down to small individual development sites.

By quality urban places, this means making places that:

  • Feel safer
  • Encourage healthier lifestyles
  • Are more culturally relevant, promote social and community interaction and are more equitable
  • Are more sustainable and enduring
  • Are more economically prosperous
  • Are easier to move around by a range of forms of transport including walking
  • Are more enjoyable to spend time in, and are more attractive to live in, to work in, to visit and to invest in.

The UDF recognises that creating great quality urban places also depends on a range of other aspects including politics and law-making including financial policies; development economics; social, community and cultural issues; policing; and traffic management to name but a few. The field of urban design can’t attempt to resolve all these issues. But where it can help is in the physical arrangement of the components that make up our built environments.

The UDF therefore believe that urban design is the skilled process of influencing and arranging these urban components. It is recognised that the primary design responsibility for these components lies with design specialists including architects, landscape architects, engineers etc. In this regard, good urban design is achieved by all built environment professionals working together to achieve common urban design goals and the skill of the urban designer in many cases is to help other specialist designers to work together and see the wider urban design outcomes.

The UDF believes that there are professional urban designers – specialists practising urban design who have been trained to fully understand the art of arranging the elements of the built environment to get the best possible urban design outcomes.

There are also related design specialists whose primary role is to design the individual urban components (such as buildings, spaces and streets) but in doing so are trying to achieve wider urban design outcomes.

The UDF aims to promote cross disciplinary understanding of urban design and represent both specialist urban designers as well as those with other primary specialisms who are determined to achieve good urban design outcomes. 


Over the next two years, the UDF aims to achieve its purpose through a series of actions around the following:


Purpose: To promote awareness of best practice in urban design and urban issues

  • Continue to update the UDF website and other media platforms with articles, information and other relevant links
  • Identify and share scholarship and intern opportunities
  • Sharing of the good news stories

Events and partnering

Purpose: To build collaborative and influential relationships and share knowledge and increase membership base


  • Strengthen our relationship with Ngā Aho to recognise the Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and increase the profile of Māori designers working in the built environment space.
  • Identify other key alliances and collaboration opportunities at national and local level including NZPI, NZILA, NZIA, Property Council, Women in Urbanism, NZIS, Transportation Group NZ and UDINZ.
  • Organise regular branch events on topical issues pertinent to urban design to foster enquiry and debate
  • Continue supporting a national urban design conference (aiming for early 2022)
  • Investigate the idea of re-introducing a national Urban Design Award programme to recognise and reward outstanding urban design practice in Aotearoa.

Recognising Urban Design practitioners

Recognising Urban Design practitioners

Purpose: To recognise and support those people who are trained and are practicing experts in the field of urban design


  • Survey members to ascertain the appetite for some form of urban design certification or recognised practitioner status


Purpose: To proactively input into national and local policy and plans to keep urban design issues at the fore

Advocacy focus areas:

  • Pro-active lobbying, particularly to central government on key UD issues of national significance including RMA Reform, the provision of national urban design advice
  • Responding formally on behalf of the urban design community to key topics, issues, policies and other major proposals, in particular RMA Reform
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