This paper is based on a review of the theories and concepts of 19th and 20th century pioneers, from which appropriate urban design principles and typologies are deduced. The essence of the proposition is that in elemental terms, the city is composed of solids and voids. Every part of city volume is either one or the other. The voids are represented by squares and streets, and the solids are buildings - which may be focal or background types. The investigation of these four elements, i.e. square, street, focal building, background building, and their interaction is the theme of the study. These considerations seem to have been neglected in the mid 20th century development of city centre districts of Newcastle upon Tyne. The paper examines how the theme might be reintroduced as a kind of urban restoration and what the criteria for proposed patterns and elements might be. The outcome should be a flexible frame of reference which offers parameters for sympathetic development in city centre districts and thereby suggests a future direction for urban design in Newcastle upon Tyne.