Community Revitalisation in New Orleans

This past weekend a Regional & Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been leading community revitalisation workshops in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, an area devastated by hurricane Katrina.

The Lower Ninth Ward is an urban district of New Orleans surrounded by water on all sides with a man-made canal to its north west and the Mississippi River to its south. Today just 6,500 people live there with a third of these households living below the poverty line. The new Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, has pledged city support to renew the restoration efforts.

The revitalisation workshops were spurred by a coalition of faith-based organisations, planners, architects and artists in the community which came together to organise a new effort for the urban regeneration of the neighbourhood.

“The role of the AIA team is to work with these partners and the community to create a neighbourhood-based strategy for the regeneration. The central components of the strategy are on generating equitable development that doesn’t displace the community but serves as a vehicle to facilitate economic mobility and strengthen community.” – Joel Mills, Senior Director of Communities by Design, AIA

The four-day workshop process has included meetings with the steering committee, local tours, stakeholder sessions, and an open house event. To ensure the AIA team is capturing and reflecting on what residents are telling them, they follow a series of feedback loops.

Prior to the weekend’s workshops, the AIA’s Communities by Design released a short film about the project which gathered over 12,000 views on social media. It’s believed the film helped bring significantly more participation to the workshops.

Watch the Communities by Design film here

A resident in the film explains,

“The Lower Ninth Ward was historically, one of the most progressive, black-owned communities in the entire country.”

Before Katrina in 2005, nearly 20,000 people lived there over 90% of whom were African-Americans. The flood waters, a result of the hurricane and a breach in the levee, destroyed 5,000 of their homes. Following the destruction there were an estimated 15 attempts to recover the neighbourhood through different planning initiatives, but none were successful at helping restore the neighbourhood.

There appears to be a renewed sense of determination for people of this community. One resident said,

“This is the first time I have seen energy like this in the lower 9th. This feels like a new beginning.”

It’s a positive shift in a difficult story; no doubt many will be watching with hope as the AIA team, the local organisations and residents work together to build a brighter future.

More on the story can be read in this article from NC State University

The Lower Ninth Ward: Not Just Another Plan

Raising Stone in Blaenau Ffestiniog

The Blaenau Ffestiniog case study in 20/20 Visions describes a charrette focused community planning process to create a strategy to regenerate the town that once roofed the world. In this inspiring video, charrette team member and artist Howard Bowcott shows us the spectacular slate sculptures and other installations that emerged from the process to transform Blaenau town centre.

Watch the video on Youtube

20/20 Visions Foreword by Robert Ivy

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional Urban Design Action Team  (R/UDAT) model has played a hugely important role in the development of collaborative planning and placemaking. Established over 50 years ago as a response to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, R/UDATs have brought the skill of architects and other practitioners into hundreds of cities, towns and neighbourhoods across the USA to co-design visions with local communities.  Below, Robert Ivy sets out the emergence of the charrette methodology in the US and the early R/UDATs. He acknowledges the emergence of new technologies in architecture and planning today but reminds us that the fundamental purpose of Charrettes remains unchanged.


In a digitally frenetic time, when architectural technology has unleashed a plethora of unanticipated formal solutions to planning, design and construction, one humanely based architectural movement tied to democratic principles has thrived. Known by the acronym R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team) this lauded programme has persisted for fifty years and spawned participatory charrette methodologies that flourish today – in North America and the UK, and around the world.

The relevance of democratic design is growing in this second decade of the twenty-first century. At a time in which societies all over the world are moving to cities at an unrelenting pace, and for the first time in human history, more of us live in cities than do not, the charrette model offers an optimistic perspective and an invaluable hands-on tool for city building.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is proud to have been associated with the development of charrettes through the R/UDAT programme, and we applaud the work illustrated in this book, which celebrates real results through case studies that demonstrate the diversity and richness of successful charrette methods, at a time when the world needs them more than ever.

Created in 1967 by AIA member Jules Gregory FAIA, and first held in Rapid City, South Dakota, the R/UDAT grew up and evolved in the civil rights era. Characteristic of their gestation in the 1960s, charrettes employ multidisciplinary teams of professionals to work with communities on a plan for urban change using the compressed timeframe. Today, after fifty years, over 150 R/UDATs have been organised by the AIA throughout North America, and the charrette methodology has been accepted and translated around the world.

Neither size nor scale limit the application of charrettes. Small towns and neighbourhoods, struggling economically, have seen light and hope, as have larger cities devastated by climatic events. In the US, universities, municipalities, state and federal agencies have adapted R/UDATs, and mayors have been among their most fervent admirers.

Millions of people today enjoy the results of charrette processes worldwide, and they have influenced professional practice as well. In the US, for example, the revitalisation of Portland’s successful Pearl District came about through a R/UDAT, as did the Santa Fe Railyard redevelopment, and the renaissance of tornado-hit East Nashville, to name a few.

During the past fifty years, technological innovation has exploded. We all look to see how new tools will affect future planning. The more humble tools that spurred the earliest convocations, the ubiquitous pens and pads and tape, have been joined by architectural software and communication tools that enable visualisation, a way of seeing in three or four dimensions, or that allow collaboration to happen in easier, more seamless ways.

While the tools have changed, their fundamental purpose has not. The convening of citizens through charrettes – enlightened, purposeful and committed  to design in its highest sense – offers hope for cities, towns and neighbourhoods struggling to find new models. Its democratic message explicitly promises us all that collective human intervention can be directed to positive ends.


Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Leading the Way with Kindness

In the second half of the 20th century, a decline in the textile industry resulted in the towns along the Upper Calder Valley, Yorkshire, England suffering from neglect and failing local economies. JTP architects and community planners were commissioned by the then regional development agency Yorkshire Forward to run the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance process to work collaboratively with the community to co-create a new Vision for the valley and establish a Valley team. Fifteen years on, a revitalised and enterprising community has come together to organise the Incredible Festival of Ideas where community and practitioners will come together to learn from each other in a celebration of community, creatively and kindness.

Leading the Way with Kindness

By Alison Pilling

How do we live and bring in new ways of being in our communities? The Calder Valley would like to show you how. While Hebden Bridge has always been known for being a unique place, the Calder Valley, from Todmorden to Halifax, has many experiences to offer; experiences that invite you to see why people move there and love living there.

A “Pay as you Feel” event, The Incredible Festival of Ideas is 4 days celebrating the birth, 10 years ago, of Incredible Edible, which has influenced communities worldwide, not simply with food, but on how to live with kindness and independence at heart. Opening with a solstice celebratory picnic and philosophy walk and exhibition in grade 2 listed Todmorden Town Hall, the weekend invites you to be inspired.

The Incredible Festival of Ideas includes two conferences, one on Placemaking sharing local views with national thought leaders, and the second focusing on how to build Resilience in flood affected areas.

As well as Incredible Edible tours where you’ll see maverick flower and food growing beds and benches to overcome loneliness, there are two ‘foodie’ days with important themes about sustainability and combating poverty. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp will even be doing a set on the Saturday night.

There’s also a radical version of Ted Talks, aptly named “Tod Talks”, where the main themes are Sex, Death and Currency (kindness not crypto) and all the other stages in between. It’s an incredible mix of local people with radical ideas, including leading campaigners from Transparency International and a leading lawyer for clergy abused in the church.

“The Festival is showcasing a way to live and in a beautiful valley too. We’re talking about ideas that really matter about place, connection and support and a triumph of hope in everyday life. Join us and see what the fuss is about and be inspired with ideas to make your place home too. Rather than say ‘something must be done’ come and see how we do it.”
—Mary Clear, Incredible Edible Todmorden

The festival coincides with the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, the much-loved Handmade Parade and the Incredible Fabulous Feast at the iconic, Grade 1 listed Piece Hall Halifax – a Jo Cox Foundation Great Get Together Beacon Event – making it a ‘chock-a’ weekend worth visiting.

Underneath all this creativity, the local organisers, volunteers and conference speakers are giving their time for free. In joining together to make this happen, kindness, enjoyment and idealism bring us together.

Incredible Festival of Ideas
21 – 24 June 2018 in the Calder Valley
Various locations, many free events with Pay as you Feel where specified,
see website for details:





















Case study from New Zealand

20/20 Visions: Collaborative Planning & Placemaking is now available to order from RIBA Bookshops.  In researching for the book, the author, Charles Campion, wrote case studies on Charrette processes from around the world. Many were based on first-hand experience and always with input and guidance from the many people who led these projects. Here is a case study chosen for this blog that was written with the help of Urbanismplus Director, Kobus Mentz and Senior Urban Planner, Susannah Goble.

Transport for Auckland’s future growth

Agreeing and devising, under extreme time constraints, a progressive $8billion transport strategy for the new growth areas of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, which is grappling with high population growth in historically low density, car-based urban environments.


Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest city and most important economic centre in the country and its diverse citizenry of 1.45 million, includes the largest Polynesian population in the world. The city’s growth in the early twentieth century was shaped by the rail and tram network but the rise of the private car subsequently led to Auckland developing a strongly suburban character.  Although, in many regards, the quality of life is high, Aucklanders cite traffic congestion and poor public transport as significant negatives.

Today, Auckland is experiencing unprecedented growth with an additional one million people predicted by 2043. In addition, there is an affordability crisis, due in part to a lack of housing supply, and the consequences of this are perceived to be a threat to the strength of the national economy. Regional urgency to plan for growth has therefore been compounded by pressures from central government.

The Transport for Future Urban Growth (TFUG) project was set up by local government agencies, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council and the central government NZ Transport Agency.  It was decided that the project should not just be transport focussed, but that other disciplines would have equal say because transport has profound and long lasting effects on communities and urban growth with serious environmental, economic, and social consequences.

A highly integrated process was required, not only to address the many disciplinary objectives, but also for speed due to the urgency and the inter-agency nature of the project. It was decided therefore that a carefully planned Charrette process was necessary.


In late 2015, the three key agencies, their project teams and discipline leads, were joined by consultants to participate in the Charrettes, devised and led by Kobus Mentz from Urbanismplus (other consultants were AECOM, Flow Transportation, Beca, Jacobs, TTM, Pocock Design:Environment, and Prosperous Places). The process was designed around six week long charrettes, held over a seven week period, with numerous shorter workshops occurring before and after this period.

The five month long project began with a scoping workshop, process workshop and several sessions to determine the required outputs. Three week-long charrettes (one for each growth direction to the South, North and North-west) were then held to develop long-list options and consultation sessions were held with elected members, iwi, developers, and the public with outputs fed back into the workshops. Traffic modelling of options and review of multi-criteria analysis was undertaken between Charrettes to inform the next stage. Three further week-long Charrettes (one for each growth direction) were held to develop short-list options and preferred programmes.  And finally, an implementation workshop was held, which prioritised all major transport infrastructure to ensure alignment with the thirty year Future Urban Land Supply Strategy.

While the Charrettes were tasked with technical complexity, many normative objectives were set and delivered, including:

  • Enthusiasm – by articulating the benefits to each discipline of a well-balanced and sustainable approach.
  • Holistic – by stating the holistic objectives of the project up front, and then again in more detail when sub-areas were considered.
  • Trust – by collectively agreeing to the multi-disciplinary evaluation criteria, and applying them collectively.
  • Integration – by all understanding each other’s objectives.
  • Breadth – by involving a wide range of disciplines and over 40 specialists in the charrettes.
  • Depth – by allowing all disciplines time to consider their area in depth before formulating multi-disciplinary solutions.
  • Place-based – by mapping ideas where possible.
  • Rigor – by technically verifying the options and by running transport modelling tests between workshops.
  • Consensus – by directly engaging with local boards, iwi, land owners, developers and stakeholders, and the general public in parallel to the workshop process ensuring their feedback was considered during the process.

The Charrette process delivered over 300 individual long-list options which were evaluated by all disciplines and modelled. From the resulting short-list of options a series of programme options were built. These were intensely scrutinised to ensure the best balance between supply and sustainability was found, and resulted in new hybrid programmes, and ultimately four preferred programmes for each growth direction.

The analysis quickly revealed that motorway extensions alone will fall short of relieving congestion and underscoring the need for more sustainable solutions. Rapid Transit Networks (RTN) feature strongly providing for dedicated busways that may graduate to light rail over the long term. Cycleways, transit oriented developments (TOD), increased employment opportunities, and biodiversity links were incorporated.

The resulting strategy prioritised $8 billion of transport infrastructure for 30 years of growth. The following specific outcomes were delivered for the three growth directions:

  • In the South a frequent bus network will supplement rail which currently serves limited employment destinations. When rail capacity is expanded through providing new stations serving a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at Drury West, and centres with local employment opportunities, the bus network will convert to a rail feeder system.
  • In the North-West – a RTN will link Auckland City Centre with the new North West Town Centre, later to extend further east and north in a staged manner.
  • In the North – a new RTN from Albany Centre to the growth areas in the north at Dairy Flat, with high quality bus links to the nearby town, Orewa. A new TOD in Dairy Flat with considerable new employment land to reduce commuter travel.


The project proposals were quickly endorsed by the NZ Transport Agency’s Board, Auckland Transport’s Board, and Auckland Council and this allowed the development of Detailed Business Cases for each preferred option to get underway. At the time of writing, Auckland Council is developing structure plans to guide the zoning and land development to align with the outcomes of the charrettes.

The process allowed the planning / design professions to deliver promptly on an issue of wide economic and private sector importance while engaging widely and maintaining environmental standards. It has achieved a strategy that signals a step-change for Auckland’s future by delivering more autonomous and affordable communities supported by good public transport choices. This would not have been possible without having all the discipline experts in the room at the same time to challenge, problem solve, and inspire.

The TFUG project team continue to work as an amalgamated unit, with personnel from all three alliance agencies working in one office, allowing for continued integration, efficiencies, and multi-agency agreement across the different project streams.

In 2017, the process won the New Zealand Planning Institute’s 2017 Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning and Investigations. This Charrette-based approach can serve as a model for similar challenges internationally, allowing central and local government to work together with stakeholder input to produce a clear and deliverable pathway for investment.



Case Study from Finland

20/20 Visions: Collaborative Planning & Placemaking is due to release in mid-May 2018.  In researching for the book, the author, Charles Campion, wrote case studies on Charrette processes from around the world. Many were based on first-hand experience and always with input from the many actors who took part in these projects. Here is a case study chosen for this blog that was written with the help of Andreas Von Zadow, Von Zadow International and Fred London, Partner at JTP. In 2011 Andreas and Fred were part of the team leading this stakeholder Charrette in Tempere, Finland.

Closing the zip – connecting Tulli in Tempere

The isolated Tulli neighbourhood of Tampere, was suffering from lack of vitality, creating particular problems for two of the city’s most important institutions; Tampere Talo, the iconic concert and conference hall, and Tampere University.  A range of city stakeholders came together to create a Vision for how to overcome the problems.

A magnificent river, known as ‘The Rapids’, flows with gentle but awesome power through the heart of Tampere, Finland’s second city.  The twenty metre drop over one kilometre between a lake to the north of the city and another to the south, gives the river enough force to run two hydro-electric power stations.  The river is a constant presence for citizens and visitors as they pass through the city centre. However, one part of the city Tulli was isolated from river and the rest of the city centre by the railway line and main station.

By 2011 there had been significant investment in individual building projects in the city but no one had yet contemplated the connections between them. Then Kari Kankaala, Tampere’s chief planner, saw a presentation on Collaborative Placemaking by architect Fred London of JTP and it got him thinking how Tampere could address Tulli’s challenges.  He managed to encourage some of the key local stakeholders including Finnpark, Tampere Talo, Tampere University, Technopolis and Tulli Business Park, to contribute payments towards the cost of a Charrette process to cover the shortfall of the city’s funding limits.  Paulina Ahokas Managing Director of Tampere Talo explains, “We are next to the area and we see a need for redevelopment.  We wanted to see concrete actions and we wanted to make sure that the city were aware of the opportunities.”

JTP were appointed to lead a multi-disciplinary team to facilitate a Charrette focussing on Tulli’s connections and how to overcome the barrier effect of the railway. The resulting Vision was to inform a brief for an international competition for the area. Initially, it proved difficult to agree a strategy, but this was eventually overcome by agreeing a two stage process.  The first stage was a ‘thinking’ workshop to be followed two months later by the second stage, a ‘creating’ workshop.  The personnel of the JTP team were altered between the first to the second workshop to reflect the changing focus from strategy to Vision production.

Tampere station consists of a broad swathe of eight railway lines that creates a break in the urban structure – ‘the open zip’.  This is exacerbated by a sharp level change of around six metres from the generally flat city centre along the river up to Tulli the area to the east of the tracks.  The locals refer ironically to the area to the east of the railway line as, “Russia!” A further consideration was a major new landmark scheme by Daniel Libeskind to be built on a deck over the railway lines, which included jagged towers and a brand new Ice Hockey stadium for Tampere’s premier team.

Kari Kankaala, described the Charrette’s task as trying to find out how to “close the zip” and bring the two neighbourhoods either side of the railway tracks together.

The main design challenges for the Charrette were:

Tampere Talo: The biggest combined concert hall and conference centre in Scandinavia, able to attract top performers from all over the world, needed better connection to the city centre and railway station.

Tampere University: A listed building of elegant design but low density and lacking liveliness needed to open up and welcome in the outside world and also venture out of its campus to engage more with the rest of the city.

Finnpark: The multi-storey car park in Tulli that attracts traffic into the fine-grain area and monopolises a central part of the quarter, was to be demolished because a one kilometre tunnel with spaces for 972 cars had been blasted through the cities granite with lifts connecting directly up to the major stores above.

The Charrette was an invitation only stakeholder event.  The fact that the major organisations were funding the process led to strong engagement from representatives, many of whom knew each other but had never worked together and had no idea about their neighbours’ plans for the future.  Participants responded readily to the opportunity to share their thoughts in the collaborative atmosphere of the carefully structured workshop process, including collaborative hands-on design tables. There was a lively buzz in the room and it was clear that they were all enjoying themselves. Paula explains, “I liked the fact there were workshops and real site visits and the process ran over a whole weekend.”

The Vision created through the process included:

  • The extension of city centre’s car-free, slow movement system to include Tulli and the establishment of the Eastern Station Gateway concept.
  • Development of integrated multi-modal movement concept and a new pedestrian axes linking Tampere Talo and University to station, city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods.
  • Vibrant new public spaces in Tulli quarter – hard and soft landscaped.
  • Proposals for new commercial buildings over and alongside railway tracks and a design concept to create a fitting sense of arrival.
  • Ideas for intensification and diversification of the University campus with new buildings, spaces and connections to transform it into a ‘UniverCity’.
  • Drawing up of ‘Tulli Charter’ and establishment of ‘Tulli Team’ for collaborative decision-making on the Vision for Tulli.

The Vision was presented on the final day of the Charrette and Chief Planner Kari Kankaala reaction was, “What I saw today, in the final presentation, was more than I ever dared to expect! We’ve learnt such a lot from the Charrette process by working all together.”  Paulina from Talo also commented that a key benefit of the process were the “good looking materials to visualise our strategies – often there are reports with just words.”

The Charrette covered a huge amount of ground and created consensus from the wide range of stakeholders involved that no other process would have been able to achieve in such a condensed time frame.  A key success factor was having top representatives of all the organisations devoting their time to the benefit of the overall process. Paulina commented, “The partners from the area got to know all the different parties involved – you can’t redevelop an area just by one party taking decisions.” 

Following the Charrette an international competition was held. Whilst the Charrette report was included in the competition brief to illustrate possible ways to address level change issues JTP were not invited to sit on the competition jury.

After the winner of the competition had been announced, the city organised a follow-up public workshop in Tampere to encourage input from the local community. City representatives and winning team, led by COBE from Denmark, made a trip to visit projects in and around London which had been used as precedents during the Tampere workshops, including Kings Cross redevelopment and Camden Market.

At the time of writing the work has not yet begun on the major projects around and above the railway station.  Paulina explains, The Charrette Vision was very ambitious which is good – if you don’t aim high you won’t get very far. The challenge is there is currently no one really to keep the group going forward, I don’t think there is an active and passionate person to run the project. But if the Libeskind development happens it will bring forward the Tulli area – the place identity projects won’t cost much but it needs someone to organise them.”

It is anticipated that in due course the consensus built at the Charrette will be influential in connecting Tulli with Tampere’s western districts and give people to the east of the railway direct access to the heart of the city and the Rapids.

Shaping successful places in diverse communities through collaborative planning and placemaking

Mit gemeinsamer Stadtplanung das Zusammenleben in Vielfalt gestalten

by Dr Ulrike Spohn


Politicians decide on a project. Experts design the proposals. A committee suggests modifications. Then a compromise is negotiated. Finally, the project is implemented – and then it turns out: the citizens wanted something completely different (and simpler) if only they’d been asked!

Architect Charles Campion knows well this problem in the design process. As an expert in participatory urban planning and placemaking, he helps people and local communities around the world to design the places that meet their actual needs and enhance the quality of life for all. I have met him to learn more about this practice of Collaborative Placemaking — and how it can help make co-existence in cultural diversity a positive thing.

Collaborative Placemaking brings people together

The mantra of Collaborative Placemaking is: “Cities and towns are not just about buildings – they are also about people”. This means that the public space of cities is understood above all as a living space, a social space that people can take ownership of and shape. Therefore, the method involves citizens from the beginning to understand their needs and aspirations. At the same time, Collaborative Placemaking creates a space for encounter and exchange within the framework of participatory workshops, also known as Charrettes. The goal of creating common living space brings together people who previously may had little to do with one another in everyday life. The design of public spaces using Collaborative Placemaking shapes human relationships, as Charles emphasizes: “It’s all about making connections.” In this way, cultural barriers and fear of contact can be reduced. People at a Charrette have experience of their public realm that, regardless of cultural differences, they can share. Together they can shape the design and use for the benefit of all.

The participation of all requires intercultural competence

But how can the needs of all residents be taken into account when designing/redesigning urban spaces, and not just those of a specific group? Publicly organised participation processes can sometimes be dominated by long-established citizens, often from the middle class. So how do you reach people who, because of their involvement in other social or cultural groups, have reservations about such processes or to whom the information might not even get through?

Here, Charles points to two main factors: First, the professional planning team must actively address the different target groups, seek out, inform, and encourage participation in places that are familiar and important to them. This includes, for example, visiting and appraising the site which is to be replanned. Second, the professional team may include members who share and understand the culture and language of the target group. This helps to build trust and facilitate understanding.

Design with a sense for cultural sensibilities

Charles also told me about his experiences in his international projects. These show that the reorganisation of a space can have a positive effect on people’s coexistence if the specific cultural conditions of the place are taken into account during the process. As part of the planning process, care must be taken to ensure that significant religious or cultural places remain untouched: “These are places not to develop but to respect,” explains Charles.

While redesigning Crumlin Road in Belfast, the design team faced what was still a tense relationship between Catholics and Protestants against the historical background of the Northern Ireland conflict. Here, during the collaborative planning process, representatives from both sides of the community divide were able to agree on much in terms of shared living space, such as the redesign of historic buildings and retail uses. In order to create a place where the people who use it every day really feel comfortable, a sense of cultural symbolism and identity is required.

Note on the text: This is a translation from the German original posted by Dr Ulrike Spohn on the blog of Bertelsmann Stiftung, following a talk Charles Campion gave at their location on 8th March 2018. Bertelsmann Stiftung is an organisation setup to investigate how we live together in diversity and how this can be shaped to ensure successful communities thrive.

The original text can be read here



Shaping better places together

During 2017 a specialist team from the University of Dundee (led by Dr. Husam AlWaer), Eclipse Research and Kevin Murray Associates, supported by the Scottish Government, undertook ground-breaking research into ‘the facilitation of participatory placemaking’.

Dr. Husam AlWaer said,

“The publication of the resulting report – ‘‘Shaping better places together” – marks what we believe is a first attempt to investigate the role and significance of facilitators in participatory community design processes. The topic is highly relevant, given the increasing application of participatory and community design events in Scotland and beyond, along with the use of engagement tools such as the Place Standard Tool.

This research provides an important scoping of the many components and steps involved. Its findings will aid understanding and ultimately enhance the output performance of community charrettes and similar participatory design processes.

The research should give confidence to professional facilitators, local authorities, local communities and the development industry active in collaborative processes, underpinning the investment in skills and expertise of appropriate facilitators.”

For the full report and Executive Summary visit:

Corridors of Freedom

On the 17 January, UCL Bartlett hosted a second event in London as part of its Large Scale Urban Development series. This time it was a unique opportunity to compare one of London’s opportunity area developments (Old Oak & Park Royal) with international projects of a similar scale.

Of particular interest, was the work of the Johannesburg City Council to radically address inequality through transport oriented interventions.

“It is officially recognised that apartheid spatial planning has left the City with sprawling low-density areas without viable public transport systems. The majority of working class and poor citizens are still living on the fringes of the city and have to commute over long distances to access work and economic opportunities.”
– Johannesburg City Council

The City Council used a wide range of participatory planning and consultation methods and employed non-technical drawing techniques to communicate ideas and themes to the public and encourage involvement.

Herman Pienaar (Director, City Transformation and Spatial Planning for the City of Johannesburg) presented a fascinating walkthrough of their public consultation processes. He described the complexities of Johannesburg and how government funding was crucial to land acquisition along key roadways into the centre of the city. These “corridors”, as they see it, are a means to get people from poor communities in the suburbs to their jobs in the core. This is also a way to encourage social mixing, getting black and white people to use the same transportation systems and the same services within the city.

“There will be a clean break with apartheid spatial distribution and people living on the periphery will be able to move closer to economic opportunities. The shape of the future City will consist of well-planned transport arteries – the “Corridors of Freedom”
– Johannesburg City Council

More on the Corridors of Freedom project can be found here

Communities by Design and the R/UDATs

The first case study in 20/20 Visions: Collaborative Placemaking and Planning is of the Santa Fe Railyard Regeneration. It’s a fascinating story of a town coming together to fight a plan for a disused railway yard drawn up without their involvement, to save its heritage and to radically envision an alternative future.

The opening of the case study begins with a question: “What to do with a large, valuable railyard that becomes available in the heart of the historic, thriving state capital of New Mexico – who decides?”. Up until this moment in the town’s history, no one had considered how citizens could actively shape the vision for an area that needed change. The case study goes onto to describe the months long process which was formulated to enable the community to share their stories and ideas. This set the scene for an American Institute of Architects Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team to lead a Charrette over a weekend in February 1997 and create a new Vision for the Railyard.

To see what it was like on the ground, the AIA’s Communities by Design released a short documentary available online, see link below:
Santa Fe’s Railyard Revival

Learn more about Communities by Design and the R/UDAT