Local economic development plans are traditionally built on compartmentalised actions. While urban planners and real estate developers shape the physical basis of the economy, economic stimulation agencies and administrations responsible for training and business start-ups tend to focus exclusively on people. It is rare to see development plans or urban renovation projects in which the "hardware" and "software" of cities are addressed coherently. Moreover, local communities hardly get a meaningful say in economic development policies concerning their environment. This can lead to situations in which places, communities, and the economy are disconnected rather than in symbiosis.
Building a sustainable and resilient economy is about connecting places, communities, and economic activities. Moving from a compartmentalised to a concerted approach is, however, a big challenge: without an effective approach to envisioning the complex interactions between places, communities and the economy it is very difficult to make any progress in the way of transition.
The complexity of many projects requires bringing together knowledge on the different dimensions. The planning process is divided into seven phases:
After an initial RESEARCH phase, we disentangle the development and FRAME them in distinct themes that are connected to initial hypotheses about the future. For instance, for the Cité Internationale Universitaire project in Brussels, we defined four themes ("landscape", "circular flows", "privacy", "common space"). During the EXPLORATION, concise summaries regarding each of the four themes are informed through focus groups with users, expert panels, in-depth interviews and a synthesis of research. This step is the main input for the subsequent CONVERSATION about the potential complementarities and tensions between the different themes, i.e. their integration into a systemic vision of the site’s reconversion. The short thematic briefs described in this document are notably used to work on the "edges" between each of the other three themes, to use a term borrowed from Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. Working on the edges provides at least two advantages. First, it forces stakeholders and experts to leave the comfort zones of their respective specialisations and contributes to a better understanding of how a specific element will behave when it is inserted into a larger system. Second, looking at the same interactions from two different perspectives yields "early warning" alerts whenever different specialisations provide conflicting solutions for the same type of interaction. For instance, it is not uncommon that engineers view the interaction between technological infrastructures and commons space differently than the business or residential community. This method is a way to articulate potential conflicts at a very early stage in the planning process.
The outcome of transversal planning is a programme that is co-created with a much larger constituency of experts and stakeholders compared to conventional interventions. In the DOCUMENTATION, the output of this co-creation is condensed in a meaningful narrative, describing the philosophy and conceptual cornerstones of the vision, as well as sketches of the reconversion. The narrative and sketches are presented in the form of a comprehensive document including a strategy and programme for the reconversion that can then be used in the IMPLEMENTATION.
Any local authority department linked to space, community or economy development (green spaces, agriculture, waste management, water management, economic department, etc). In one example, the authorities of two large universities were assisted by members of the TURAS team to go through the seven phases of the transversal planning process described above. The project was concerned with the site of military barracks that will be reconverted into a central place of the university neighbourhood. In another example, a local municipality in the agglomeration of Rome was assisted in planning the development of a 400 ha area that will host a peri-urban agricultural park.
The following expertise is required to apply the curatorial planning methodology: animation of participatory processes, facilitation of system thinking, complexity management, animation of multi-stakeholder workshops, knowledge brokering between different types of stakeholders and areas of expertise, the capacity to synthesise complex information into accessible and communicable formats.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
community development department; water and sewerage management department; energy and waste department; socio-economic development department; agriculture department; green spaces department; planning and development department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
professional expert; community group; researcher; local or regional authority; business; entrepreneur
underused urban site & building; (sub-) urban communities; urban-rural interface; urban region
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE:
community trust; local knowledge; expert knowledge; public institutional set-up
Please get in touch with our expert contact for additional material’