Ambiguous risks, fixed responsibilities : urban planning in Jerusalem

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Urban resilience has been widely adopted by planning scholars and practitioners as a framework for managing complexity and contingency. However, the term is not only over-ambiguous, but is also frequently adopted a-critically into planning policies. Therefore, the paper uses the concept of risk (rather than resilience) in order to investigate the way planners, define, prioritize and respond to risks. This is explored as a normative decision (and action) with ethical implications, rather than a purely professional one. Acknowledging the need to investigate both the planning process and the physical environment, the paper focuses on the prioritization of risks, planners’ response concretization of risk perceptions in the urban environment through urban planning and design. These issues are investigated in Jerusalem’s city center, an area that has witnessed attacks and has been going through a process of densification and renewal. Findings reveal that planners assume a fixed responsibility and distinguish between two types of risk: (a) economic-demographic risks, which are seen as central, and (b) security risks, which are disregarded as irrelevant and were not considered in the plan. Despite this distinction, the analysis reveals correlations between economic and security interests, demonstrating the connection between security practices and neo-liberal urban regeneration. The last section of the paper acknowledges the importance to resist the fortification of urban spaces, yet warn that ignoring certain risks in a conflictual arena may reflect a dismissal of the conflict itself, as well as urban planning’s role in perpetuating unjust circumstances
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
urban planning, urban design, risk, ethics, resilience
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