Building urban futures through an exploratory project: how can innovative design approaches be used to regenerate urban planning routines?

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Technological change and emerging social concerns signal the advent of new economic innovations and social inclusion challenges for cities, in addition to the transition to an ecological and smart society. These changes raise questions about urban planners’ routines, which may need to be reviewed. They clearly call for a review of planning processes, especially in urban projects, in order to explore the potential of new paradigms. Some private and public companies have responded to this challenge, with convincing results, by developing tools based on innovative design theories. One of these methodological tools, Definition-Knowledge-Concept-Proposition (DKCP), was used to regenerate the range of planning options of an urban district in Montreal, Canada. Elected officials wanted to adopt a planning vision for the next 20 years. Some observations emerge from the use of the DKCP method: 1) the introduction of a necessary “deterritorialization” at the beginning of the process (failing this, spatial constraints act as cognitive fixations, limiting expansive thinking); 2) disciplinary decompartmentalization, in order to integrate a diverse range of knowledge and disciplines (engineering, health sciences, arts, agribusiness, etc.), to rethink the identity of projects and develop new routines among planners.
urban futures, routines, rule-based design, innovative design