Urban design as a distinct field began to gain attention in Indonesia at the end of the 1980s and has expanded considerably since, in response to the needs for better urban design knowledge and skills for design professionals of government officers at local, regional and national planning boards in particular, to support the implementation of national policy on regional autonomy. Planning board officers nationwide are required to prepare and evaluate urban design policies, strategies, concepts, guidelines, master plans and development programs, as well as become involved in the detailed design and management of urban spaces, which demand better appreciation of urban structure and context.
Urban design approaches, concepts and principles learned from developed countries are not fully implementable to solve the multitude of problems that challenge Indonesia at present and in the future, due to great differences in socio-cultural, political, economic and natural physical contexts. Indonesia ultimately needs to develop its own urban design and development approaches, concepts and principles, which are based on and accordingly relevant to its own contexts and experiences.
The initiative to establish a Master's degree program in Urban Design at ITB began in 2001. The Program introduces students to the fundamental theories, methods, and substantive content of urban design, as well as provide them with professional knowledge and skills through a series of urban design studio practice. Strong emphasis is given to the process of designing and creative contribution toward the solutions of urban problems through design.