Top 10 Urban Design Firms in the World

Avenida de Portugal by West 8. © Municipality Madrid

Article by Elisa A.M.Varetti Discover our top-ten selection of urban design firms from around the world. Who knows maybe they’re hiring. Have you ever stopped to think about the meaning of urban design? Well, working with urban design is not as easy as one could think and is not just about towns. Incorporating several disciplines, such as landscape architecture, architecture, civil engeneering and urban planning, to say a few, it relates to people and their connection with spaces. The following is our top 10 selection of the best urban design firms from all over the world which better develop this subject, creating joyful and interesting designs.

Urban Design Firms

10- SANALarc , Turkey

Based in Istanbul, Turkey, this fourteen-year-old firm can be considered among the most interesting urban design names of the last few years. Its latest urban design, Sishane Park, was nominated for the Beirut 2015 Archmarathon, meaning that its mission in creating innovation for public spaces, thanks to a multidisciplinary team, is leading it to the right direction.

Photo Credit: Sishane Park by SANALarc by Olivia Wimmer

Photo Credit: Sishane Park by SANALarc by Olivia Wimmer

Read our article: The Dark Secrets Behind Sustainable Urban Design Revealed in Şışhane Park by Simon Vive

9- Integrated Planning and Design Inc. , USA + China

iPD is not a common firm: being an incubator where creative individuals (and ideas) can grow is what makes it different from the others. Founded in 2009, it is based both in the USA (San Francisco) and China (Shanghai and Shenzhen) and owes its popularity to its citizen-oriented designs. “iPD values timeless and enduring environments that solve problems and connect to people. We strive to excel through technology, knowledge, construction techniques and an innovative methodology to keep pace with the ever-changing, complex landscape.”

Lotus Lake Park. Credit: Integrated Planning and Design Inc.

Lotus Lake Park. Credit: Integrated Planning and Design Inc.

Read our article: Lotus Lake Park Sets Precedent for Sustainable Urban Design in China by Michelle Biggs

8- Landscape Projects , United Kingdom

This urban design firm, based both in Manchester and London, United Kingdom, combines urban planning with landscape architecture, a strong design sense, and people-oriented principles. Its core business is to create spaces where people can entertain themselves and which are capable of improving our society. Its team focuses on social connection and this is the reason why their designs are so well-appreciated. “As a practice we have spent time examining what makes successful places. The best spaces are well connected and they fit well with the way people use them. They are comfortable. They have a beauty. We believe that as a practice, we understand how to design these successful places.”

New Road, Brighton, design by Gehl Architects.

New Road, Brighton, design by Landscape Projects. Photo © Shaw+Shaw

Read our article: Just How Powerful Are Pedestrianised Streets? By Taylor Stapleton

7- HASSELL , Australia + China + South East Asia + United Kingdom

A multicultural team defines this urban design firm, based in different locations around the world. This peculiarity, combined with good design and a certain sense of empathy with clients, forms the machine capable of creating large-scale urban projects as well as small ones. “Our capability in urban design is supported by original research in knowledge, innovation and sustainability – all of which help us achieve our goal to deliver future cities that are robust, culturally rich and economically strong.”

Fiona Stanley Hospital

Fiona Stanley Hospital. Photo credit: Peter Bennetts

Read our article: Fiona Stanley Hospital: A Landscape for Healing by Erin Tharp

6- The Office of James Burnett , USA

Founded in 1989 in Houston and today also based in Solana Beach and Boston, this firm’s urban projects combine landscape architecture with a deep analysis of forms and functions. Its huge team grants it a higly professional approach with both design process and clients. “OJB’s design process conceives original and inventive landscapes within the framework of context and function, mitigating site challenges with creative and innovative solutions.

Klyde Warren Park. Photo credit: Gary Zvonkovic

Klyde Warren Park. Photo credit: Gary Zvonkovic

Read our article: Does The New Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Bridge the Gap to a Greener City? by Tania Ramos Gianone

5- SWA Group , USA + UAE + China

Sustainability and aesthetic principles is what characterize SWA’s designs. With offices in several towns in USA, China and the United Arab Emirates, this firm can count on a huge multidisciplinary team capable of developing large-scale urban designs as well as smaller ones with high quality standards. “Professionally focused and employee-owned, our foremost passion is to create exceptional places for our clients”. Read our article: Gubei Gold Street Brings Peace to the Busy City of Shanghai by Alexandra Antipa


We couldn’t forget this well-known firm based both in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Its popularity as an urban and landscape architecture firm lies in its interventions entwisted with the natural world. Project scales do not worry its team, which always creates dynamic designs coming from deep analysis and rigorous research. “Sustainability is a central tenet of our holistic approach, uniting natural processes with technical innovation to produce contemporary and beautiful places.”

urban design firms

Credit: © OMA and OLIN

Read our article: The Street Bridge Park Everyone’s Talking About by Erin Tharp

3-West8 , The Netherlands + USA + Belgium

Founded in 1989 with offices in Rotterdam, New York, and Brussels, West 8 couldn’t miss its place on the podium of our top 10 selections. This award-winning firm is composed of a multidisciplinary team working on important projects all over the world. Its designs focus on sustainability, global warming, and space identity.

urban design firms

Avenida de Portugal by West 8. © Municipality Madrid

Read our article: 280 Million Euros Invested into Urban Revitalisation Project by Julia Lucchese

2-Gustafson Porter , United Kingdom

This very well-known firm, based in London since 1997, develops each of its designs with a highly talented multidisciplinary team. Advanced computation tools help in the development process but its attention to detail and ability to read a place’s historical, social and cultural background is the real value it adds to its designs. Not to mention its intriguing designs with soft shapes and water features.

urban design firms

Westergasfabriek Park. Image courtesy of Gustafson Porter

Read our article: Westergasfabriek Park Goes from a Polluted Gas Factory to an Award Winning Design by Gerard de Silva

1-Turenscape , China

This Chinese firm, established in 1997 and considered the most important in its nation, develops great and giant open spaces focused on nature, people, and ’spirit of the place’, or genius loci (as its name states). Its interventions, though oriented towards landscape architecture, definitely represent real, huge-scale urban regeneration managed only by its 600-person team which grants it highly professional designs and emotional results. “Armed with modern technology, Turen observes the phenomenon up in the sky and the patterns down on the earth; follow the natural and social processes so that man, nature and the spirits can be understood as one and designed as one.

urban design firms

This industrial site represents 50 years of Socialist industrial history and was a witness to China’s Cultural Revolution. Credit: Turenscape

Read our article: Shipyard Site Transforms into Stunning Ecological Park by Luis Eduardo Guísar Benítez Here ends our selection for the top 10 urban design firms from around the world which include some of the best names that have made of collaboration with disciplines and design innovation their professional philosophy. Choosing among several high-quality urban designers has not been easy and we know some others could have been included, but we chose the best of the best. Fancy an internship abroad to get some professional experience? Why don’t you try to contact our top 10 names: some of them are looking for interns and you may be the one they’re looking for.


Recommended Reading:

Article by Elisa A.M.Varetti

Published in Blog

Leave a Reply

Lost Password