One of the major criticisms to modern urban design has been its failure to lead to socially popular urban spaces. It is generally believed that this failure of modern urban design is mainly a result of its non_contextual approach by which factors pertaining to local community contexts were overlooked. Accordingly, contextualization of urban design is now seen as an important approach through which the above failure could be corrected. In this direction, historical urban spatial forms are seen as important sources of knowledge and inspiration. This paper supports and contributes to this current discourse about urban space through presenting and discussing the findings of analyses of the modern city centre of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and the historic city centre of Fes, Morocco. Analysis of Dar es Salaam city centre illustrates further the above failure of modern urban design. It shows how land use paterns, traffic circulation system, density standards, urban solid_void relationships, and urban space treatment which did not take into account existing local circumstances led to public urban spaces which are underutilized, misused, and modified by users. Analysis of Fes city centre demonstrates the potentials of historical urban spatial forms for informing current urban design in its endeavour to generate good urban spaces. In Fes city centre, a study of the physical and social structures of the historic centre reveals a rigid order in the organization of urban spaces. Two different types of urban spaces structure the historic centre. A central public urban space is surrounded by private urban space. Together they are strongly related to each other by an important network of communication channels. This physical structure is adapted to certain way of life. The private urban space is a physical element placed in a special relation to surrounding buildings and streets that connects it to the public urban space. The private urban space is also a social element which belongs to a social group tied to familiar relations, ethnicity, profession, etc.