Crafting new urban assemblages and steering neighbourhood transition: actors and roles in ecourban neighbourhood development

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New sustainable neighbourhood developments are multiplying worldwide. Embedded in these model neighbourhoods are not only particular ideas about better urban form, but also particular ideas about better organization of urban life and social development. Frameworks, certifications, and labels to organize the practice of sustainable neighbourhood development are proliferating almost as rapidly as the developments themselves, and each holds a different mix of such ideas. Beginning from a typology of seven extreme types of ecourbanism, we consider the implications of pursuing each extreme for the key actors who assume different roles in planning, building, and living in these new neighbourhoods. We then consider two different ecourban neighbourhood frameworks, the Living Community Challenge and EcoDistricts Protocol. We examine these frameworks in terms of our seven extreme types of ecourbanism, as technologies of ecourbanism that have emerged in order to facilitate the mainstreaming and generalization of experimental ecourban development practices. Building upon a conceptual framework of transition theory and urban assemblages, we see the emergence of such new frameworks as mobilizing different assemblages of actors, via the crucial work of intermediary institutions, in order to move ecourban neighbourhood development from a niche practice to the mainstream. Better understanding the mixtures of actors’ roles and responsibilities, and expectations and practices promoted in different frameworks, will help us better understand the prospects of ecourban developments under different frameworks, in different urban contexts, at different stages of development, and different scales of experimentation and standardization.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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