Collaboration in planning: the geodesign approach

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Planning literature proposes different paradigms (Khakee, 1998) for interpreting the concept of public participation in spatial planning, ranging from early advocacy planning approaches (Davidoff, 1965) to more recent communicative ones (Innes, 1995). Different approaches highlight different perspectives on participation, including expression of pluralist community views, preferences, and values, creation of better knowledge, better transparency, and more consensus in decision making. While the Arnstein’s Ladder (1969) can be still considered a reliable model to describe different degree of participation, ranging from none to full citizen control, most recent studies propose its revised application to the realm of current digital practices in spatial planning (Kingston, 1998; Carver, 2001). As shown in figure 1, Kingston (1998) and Carver (2001) argue that the highest levels of participation are achieved when citizens are actively involved in designing possible alternatives and in making decisions. However, the latter models did not contribute much to clarifying how public participation intervenes within the different phases of a planning process. Indeed, the contribution of the local community, or the people of the place (Steinitz, 2012) can affect different stages and tasks of the process: local knowledge can be collected to integrate with expert surveys, aimed at the description of the current state of the environment and of the ongoing territorial dynamics; the interests and needs of the citizens can be encoded in risk and/or suitability analyses aimed at guiding the design of future alternatives; or members of the local community can collaborate to propose changes, to assess their impacts and eventually take part to decision-making. Having a clear framework in mind can help everyone to better understand these facets and possibly to better understand the opportunities and functioning of public participation in spatial planning, design, and decision-making.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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