THE ROLE OF A FORM-LED APPROACH IN THE EXPANSION OF IRISH TOWNS: THE USE OF URBAN MORPHOLOGY AS AN UNDERPINNING DISCIPLINE

A study was carried out on the expansion of Irish towns over the past 50 years. It recognised that the planning of these urban extensions was largely driven by infrastructure and land use considerations but with little or no concern for the resulting form. The study develops a case for the potential of urban morphology providing a vital theoretical discipline for form-led planning and design. It identifies four essential urban morphological determinants that can be used as tools for description and analysis as well as for planning and design, namely, conceptual determinants, concerning the essential layout type of the town; physical determinants, comprising landscape characteristics and the infrastructure of transportation; organisational determinants, focused on the sequential arrangement of tissues reflecting, density, intensity and land use; and structural determinants, involving five essential urban elements as concepts, namely, routes, nodes, edges, districts and landmarks. Accordingly, eight case study towns were rigorously analysed, consistently demonstrating the lack of coherence in their suburbs. Examples of successful form were also identified as models for improved coherence of the urban fabric.