The main aim of design is to create an environment which would enhance human dwelling qualitatively

For this office, the genesis of planning and design is both philosophical and ethical. Philosophical because planning and design is concerned with what a new place should be, and ethical because planning and design is concerned with values. The main aim of design is to create an environment which would enhance human dwelling qualitatively. To achieve this goal, this office has adopted a comprehensive set of theories and principles that guides and informs the design rationale.


Critical Regionalism

Critical regionalism can be best described as an approach to architecture that strives to counter the placelessness and lack of meaning in Modern Architecture by using contextual forces to give a sense of place and meaning.

Christian Norberg-Schulz and David Kelbaugh are both respected names in the field of architecture and urban design as architects, historians and theorists and are renowned for their work on architectural history and philosophy and the phenomenological approach to the built world.

Both have had a profound influence on architecture, landscape and urban environments and it is this philosophical framework provided by Norberg-Schulz and Kelbaugh that has been adopted by Dennis Moss Partnership as a starting point for our designs.

Concept of Dwelling

The term dwelling, from an urban design perspective, refers to the phenomena that characterized human dwelling over thousands of years.

The pioneering work of the architect/philosopher Christian Norberg-Schulz (Concept of Dwelling, 1993) provides both an intellectual framework and a practical mechanism that helps inform the urban design process and serves as a starting point and a reference framework for our designs work.

Norberg-Schulz also refers to four modes of dwelling namely settlement, urban space, institution and the house and the following specific aspects pertaining to these concepts form the basis of the urban design of all of our projects.

Finding Lost Space

In his book ‘Finding Lost Space’, urban designer Professor Roger Trancik traces leading urban spatial design theories that have emerged and writes about his research into the evolution of modern space.

According to Trancik, three approaches to urban design can be identified, the Figure Ground Theory, with it’s study of relative land coverage of buildings as solid mass and open voids, the Linkeage Theory with its connective qualities of the and the social responsiveness of the Place Theory.

All three differ greatly but it is their collective potential that provides potential strategies for integrated urban design.

Pattern Language

A system of design thought created by Christopher Alexander in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and stresses user design and the use of ‘patterns’, or recurring considerations that need resolution when performing a design task.

In a seminal publication Christopher Alexander et al. (1978) postulates that building patterns can be identified through the study of historic precedent. Alexander identified 253 patterns, which he together argues forms a architectural language.

Alexander’s Pattern Language provides a useful reference framework for much of our urban design work.

New Urbanism

A movement started in the USA in the early 1980’s in response to the problems experienced in urban America due to conventional suburban development. It promotes a return to traditional urban design principles that support developments of a human scale and also promotes healthy community interaction.

The Congress of New Urbanism was created in 1993 with the aim to ‘restore urban centres, reconfigure sprawling suburbs, conserve environmental assets, and preserve our built legacy’ (Charter of New Urbanism. 1999).

The Congress Of New Urbanism drafted a Charter of New Urbanism which provides a vision, strategies and techniques for New Urbanism. This charter has been adopted for the urban planning and design of all DMP developments.

Genius Loci

A Latin term from Roman mythology that embodies a location’s distinctive atmosphere, or a ‘spirit of a place’. Every place has its own unique qualities, not only in terms of its physical makeup, but of how it is perceived, so it ought to be (but far too often is not) the responsibilities of the architect or landscape-designer to be sensitive to those unique qualities, to enhance them rather than to destroy them.

Dennis Moss Partnership strives to achieve this ‘spirit of a place’ in all our designs and in doing so, achieve a sustainable living environment for those who live there.