Thursday, September 23, 2010

A new approach to large scale urban design

A new approach

Large scale urban design is about the bigger picture. It deals with the economic, social and environmental issues over large areas that cannot be solved through local action.
Ecology Park, Greenwich Millennium Village © Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd
Ecology Park, Greenwich Millennium Village
© Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd
In a tough fiscal climate, distinctive places play a critical role in generating community pride and attracting investors.
CABE has developed a new approach to planning and urban design which crosses local authority boundaries, responding to the way people live their lives.
The guide provides a flexible new framework to inform decisions on where to invest limited resources for infrastructure, or where to focus the energies of developers and public service providers.

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More about large scale urban design

Foreword from Richard Simmons

Large scale urban design is not about hoping that micro-level interventions will add up to something that works at the large scale. Nor is it about imposing inflexible solutions. It embraces the complexities and uncertainties facing people today using a design process that allows people to shape the places they want.

Introduction to large scale urban design

People are travelling much further nowadays in their daily lives, which means that the way in which we plan and design our towns and cities and rural areas will need to change.

The challenges that it tackles

Large scale urban design is good at making connections, at supporting economic growth, and resolving competing priorities. Cross boundary working is also highly relevant for environmental issues.

Six distinctive features

The process is all about delivery – so it uses a creative and visual approach which engages everyone, but is highly selective when it comes to project scope and outcomes.

The outputs

Large scale urban design delivers across spatial scales: from an inspiring expression of the story of change, down to the standards and tools to guide masterplans and proposals.

The benefits

Large scale urban design is suited to organisations and partnerships in the public and private sector which are tasked with delivering solutions to big scale challenges, whether economic, financial or environmental.

Workshop-based process

The new approach to large scale urban design uses a workshop-based process split into three phases - prepare, design, implement.

Three phases

  1. Prepare – understand the challenge
    Define the project scope, select a spatial boundary, choose your project team, inform stakeholders, gather information, analyse and write a brief for the design phase.
  2. Design - develop a spatial strategy
    This phase is based on one or more intensive workshops that are guided by expert facilitators.
  3. Implement - deliver the strategy
    The implementation plan sets out how the strategy will be delivered and by whom. This is based on the earlier exploration of delivery issues and its preparation may culminate in a dedicated workshop with delivery partners.
See the whole process at a glance.

Benefits of a workshop-based approach

A workshop-based approach has many advantages over other methods of spatial planning. These include:
  • a shorter time scale: the design process is compressed into a number of workshops, making it cheaper and less likely to be out-of-date before it is finished
  • iterative working: frequent feedback loops and immediate design responses are built in
  • integration: all parties are engaged, and work brought together at different spatial scales in a single design process
  • engagement and sense of ownership: active participation in developing design solutions helps stakeholders to be positive and to own the project
  • conflict resolution: with all parties working together, any conflicts become evident quickly – stakeholders can discuss and resolve them immediately
  • consensus building: working alongside each other allows participants to develop an understanding of the wider issues
  • capacity building: participants become informed decision-makers who are able to develop strategic solutions in a structured and inclusive manner
  • increased probability of implementation: the workshops consider delivery issues from the start through a process that includes multi-disciplinary teamwork and engages politicians, funders, delivery bodies and the wider community.
Despite these advantages, challenges remain. The biggest of these is how to reconcile different views and avoid ‘consensus as compromise’, that is, reaching decisions that no one objects to but no one believes in either.

The new approach as outlined in this guide addresses difficult issues head on: this will be a tough process and not everybody is going to get everything they hoped for. It selects a handful of good, deliverable projects rather than agreeing to a long list of untested ones. And it develops strategic themes, spatial options and proposals for key projects to a level that is detailed enough for the wider community to engage with, allows for proper testing and forecasting of impacts, and provides adequate guidance for delivery partners.