Cathaoirleach (Lord Mayor)
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland
“Assuring Civic Quality and Achieving Urban Excellence in Planning : Some Experiences of an Irish County Council”
1. Context: This paper draws on the planning experience of an Irish local government authority - the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council - with an emphasis on the increased complexity of modern governance. I ground the work in our recently adopted County Development Plan, 2004 – 2010. The Plan came into effect in April 2004, with a vision “to plan for and co-ordinate appropriate sustainable development in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown based on high quality residential, working and recreational environments and sustainable transportation patterns”. The Plan has to have regard to the Government’s national spatial planning process, embracing retail and housing density requirements, regional planning guidelines and other legislative requirements. The overall message of this Paper is that to achieve the potential of our County requires quite a diverse range of players collaborating closely in implementing strategies for successful planning, assuring civic quality in achieving urban excellence.
2. Challenges for Irish local government: Irish local government has witnessed significant changes in recent years. Indeed, there is increasing emphasis on widening civic participation, promoting better customer service, improving accountability and ensuring strategic management. Councils also have to act more cohesively in the provision of services, as well as interacting with a greater range of players, including various Government Departments, European Union bodies and regulatory agencies and authorities. In short, there is a continuing need to ensure local authorities take a wider view of their range of responsibilities and adopt collaborative strategies in tackling the demands of modernisation.
3. Relevance of National Planning Framework: For the first time, Ireland has in place an entire hierarchy of strategic planning under the Planning and Development Act, 2000. This ranges from the National Spatial Strategy (2002) at national level, to Regional Planning Guidelines (2004) at regional level, and county development plans and local area action plans. In the case of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, its Development Plan has to have regard to the Regional Planning Guidelines for the region embracing the Greater Dublin Area. Accordingly, we in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown now have to review the Plan we recently adopted, to see “…whether any variation of the development plan is necessary in order to achieve the objectives of the Regional Planning Guidelines” (Section 27 (3) of the Planning and Development Act , 2000).
4. Lessons to be learned : I plan to complete the Paper with some lessons as to how we might best achieve the potential of our County; in particular, how best to ensure that the wide range of players - legislators, administrators and citizens - collaborate closely on mutually beneficial strategies for planning the development of our County. In concluding, I will refer to recent research on “Smart Growth”, which explores the best connections between development and quality of life. While there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution for planning local government, it is clear that successful communities do tend to have one thing in common - a vision of where they want to go and of what things they value in their community. Invariably, their plans for development seek civic quality and urban excellence.
Dr Naima Chabbi-Chemrouk
Architect, Urban Designer
Laboratoire Architecture et Environnement (LAE)
Ecole Polytechnique d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme, EPAU
“Civic Quality and Its Interpretation Over Time: A comparative study of two intentional urban settlements in the Algerian Sahara”
The M’Zab valley is a vast rocky plateau carved up by deep and interlaced valleys situated in the northern part of the Algerian Sahara in North Africa. The urban development of the M’Zab valley is the result of a deliberate choice made by the Ibadhites a group of religious dissidents who chose to settle in a remote area, away from trading routes and under harsh conditions to avoid conflicts with the nomads.
Today this ensemble of ksours (towns) and palm groves constitute an exceptional landscape and symbolise the will and obstinacy of mankind. The compactness of the ksours expresses both social coherence and cohesion. The social ideal of rationality and austerity is clearly perceived through the buildings’ architecture.
The numerous and varied systems for catching and draining off water, such as irrigation ditches, subterranean galleries and wells, and the palm groves themselves give the area a specific image and identity. The Valley is today listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and the traditional settlements or ksours still dominate the valley despite the development of many new quarters.
The industrialisation of the Sahara and the proximity of the main oil and gas fields attracted many workers, and the Valley became a transit centre. In the seventies, the Algerian central government decided to create a new town and called a well-known French architect. A.Ravereau was living in the region for a long time and was appreciated by the local communities.
Sidi Abbaz, the new urban settlement, was supposed to convey the new image of the Valley: an image where collective memory and local identity were to be preserved but with a clear reference to the new national ideologies of the newly independent country.
Based on evidence from documentary sources and field surveys, the paper will compare the two types of “intentional settlements” and will try to show how civic quality varies over times and across cultures.
Deputy Director (Physical Planning, Systems)
Urban Redevelopment Authority
Singapore, Republic of Singapore
“Meeting Global Challenges and Local Desires - The Singapore Planning Experience”
Singapore has grown rapidly from an overcrowded city to a throbbing yet orderly modern metropolis in just a few decades. From the 60s to the 90s, the critical task for Singapore was to secure economic survival. Thus, the focus was on efficiency and functionality. As we progress to the next plane of economic development, we will have to compete internationally with other global cities to bring international businesses and talent to our shores. Singapore must be a distinctive and attractive place to live, work and play in.
More importantly, familiar surroundings and landmarks in our physical environment have become markers as we mature as a society. It 'roots' us and binds us together, in a place we call home.
In response to these challenges, Singapore’s national planning authority, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) prepared two plans to focus on how we can enhance the quality of our living environment and reinforce the character of our landscape.
The first is an island-wide Parks and Waterbodies Plan. Singapore is well-known worldwide for our ever-present greenery today. It is natural for us to build on this achievement and take this vision a step further – to create a city in a lush tropical garden. The plan presents key ideas on how we can enhance our living environment by making the most of our natural assets and heightening the sense of greenery.
The second is an Identity Plan. Even though Singapore is a young nation, we have been mindful of the built heritage in our physical environment. This was the impetus for our conservation efforts in the historic districts like Chinatown from the 1980s. As conservation has gained recognition and success over the years, it is now timely for us to work with the public to further develop these efforts towards a Singapore where there is a sense of place, where identity is retained and our built heritage is enhanced. The Identity Plan is not simply about the retention of old buildings, but also recognises that community life, streetscape and activities are unique anchors that contribute to the character, colour and identity of a place.
While the URA is the government agency tasked with master planning, it is really about how ordinary Singaporeans are going to live, work, play and dream. The plans must reflect the hopes of the people and the forms of the physical places that are important to them. Consequently, the URA embarked on one of the most extensive public consultation exercises to date. More than 35,000 people visited the exhibition, and we received about 4,500 feedback replies. This shows Singaporeans’ strong sense of attachment and ownership to places in Singapore and a willingness for the public to be part of the decision-making process.
Three Subject Groups were also formed to deliberate on the Plans in greater depth by gathering, sieving through and analysing the comments of people from diverse walks of life. Without the public’s inputs and support, these plans would not be meaningful.
Dr. Akito Murayama
Center for Sustainable Urban Regeneration, The University of Tokyo
Click on the title below to view the formal paper.
“Governance for Sustainable Urban Regeneration: Cases of Participatory Urban Planning and Machizukuri in Fukaya City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan”
After experiencing rapid growth in the latter half of the twentieth century, Japanese cities are now making a hairpin turn toward no- or low-growth, depopulating and aging society. Following the global movement, the achievement of economic, social and environmental sustainability and the enhancement of people’s quality of life have also become important issues to be challenged in the matured society of Japan. In the field of urban planning and regeneration, there has been a big change or a paradigm shift from a top-down technical bureaucratic approach to a bottom-up collaborative approach. Since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, activities of non-profit organizations as well as citizen participation to policy-making processes have become very active in many cities, accelerating the paradigm shift. In this paper, the author introduces recent cases of participatory urban planning and “Machizukuri” (collaborative community regeneration) in Japan and presents a potential framework of governance for sustainable urban regeneration in the Japanese context.
First, the following cases of participatory urban planning are introduced. (1) “The Process of Developing Fukaya City Urban Master Plan”, based on author’s experience as a staff member, describes the intensive efforts by the citizen planning groups and explains how difficult it was for the inexperienced City departments to accept some of their proposals. (2) “The Experimental Use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in Updating Mitaka City Comprehensive Plan”, also based on author’s experience as a staff member, suggests the effectiveness of the internet-based information mapping system compatible with cellular phone equipped with digital camera and GPS (Global Positioning System) as an innovative tool to collect grass-root information. (3) “1,000 People Workshop for Urban Center Regeneration in Sapporo City” introduces the challenge by a pioneering Japanese planner to involve 1,000 people in the one-day workshop to collect citizens’ opinions on City’s urban center regeneration policies.
Second, the following cases of “Machizukuri” (collaborative community regeneration) are introduced. (1) “Achievements and Limitations of Non Profit Organizations in Downtown Fukaya”, based on author’s experience as a practitioner, describes the intensive efforts by the non-profit organizations to revitalize the downtown through preservation and utilization of historic resources, and emphasizes the strong need for collaboration among various actors including property owners, retailers, residents, city departments and non-profit organizations. (2) “Projects by Town Management Organization in Kanazawa City” introduces various projects by Kanazawa Town Management Organization to revitalize the commercial district including small-scale commercial development, street improvements, parking management and various events. (3) “Collaborative Efforts for Historic Preservation in Kawagoe City” is the success story of preserving the historic main street through the design guidelines based on C. Alexander’s “Pattern Language” and the alternation of the outdated street expansion plan, which suggest the importance of collaboration in community regeneration.
From the above cases of participatory urban planning and “Machizukuri”, together with some implications from the author’s recent research on urban planning in U.S. cities including Portland and Seattle, the author presents a potential framework of governance for sustainable urban regeneration in the Japanese context.
Architect, Professor in Spatial Planning, Blekinge Institute of Technology
National Board of Housing, Building and Planning
“Assuring Civic Quality: Bridging the Divide Between Architects and the Community”
The basic obligations of Society are to guarantee the civic rights, such as justice and defence, one reason being that individuals or the market cannot manage them. But also quality in public space – buildings and places – is a civic right. The question is, however, how this civic right is to be understood: as the right to well-designed public space or the right to participate in the decision about how public space shall be designed? In other words, should the design of public space be entrusted to architects, or should it be a matter for participatory decision?
From time to time this issue raises heated debate. Architects claim that they have the right to express their ideas in buildings. Lay people claim that they are the ones who will use the buildings and places for years, and therefore have the right to decide. Tom Wolfe, in his From Bauhaus to Our House, has explained this divide in U.S. cities; others have followed up by pointing at the divide between the “Starchitects” and the community. A Swedish example is the new Modern Arts Museum, designed by the world famous Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, who wanted the building to have a grey colour. But the building committee preferred red, and they won.
These examples also illustrate the divide between “Architecture as an expression of our time” and “Architecture as an expression of locality”. When buildings increasingly are designed by the international jet set of architects, public spaces in our cities and towns run the risk of streamlining: Starchitect buildings all over the world along with MacDonalds. And thus, local identity is lost. But if we emphasize the importance of locality, we may end up with mediocre buildings and public places.
The Swedish Architecture Year 2001 aimed at raising the civic interest for architecture especially in public space. Many campaigns, exhibitions, events, and books told people what “Good Architecture” means. But one group took a bottom-up approach in the campaign “Appreciate Buildings” using ‘appreciation’ both as ‘liking’ and as ‘evaluation’. Before people had voted for the ugliest building in town and the winner usually was designed by a famous architect. Now we turned around the focus to the best buildings.
So we asked people to vote for their favourite buildings – one old and one recent – in their home town. Then the winning buildings entered the “competition” on the county level, and finally we organised an “Architecture Parliament” to find out the most favoured buildings in the country as a whole. During the nine-month campaign we had extremely good publicity, especially at the local level. But the architects were not enthusiastic: “it is dangerous to ask laypeople what they like because they don’t care, they only like old buildings and kitsch and they have no understanding for Architecture of Our Time”.
We proved the architects to be wrong. People care about architecture and often have emotional attachments to buildings, old as well as new. Public places and buildings should be beautiful, pleasant and dignified. To assure civic quality architects need to understand this and stop viewing architecture as their privilege to express themselves. Architects must be more sensitive to the values of all those that are to live with the buildings and places after the architect have left the scene for a new job. But that is not the same as letting people participate in the design process.
Timothy W. Smith, AIA, AICP
Director of Urban Design and Planning
Portland, Oregon, USA
“Civic Ecology: An Intentional Framework for Sustainable Placemaking”
Achieving authentic places in a globalizing world requires attention to the local needs, assets, values and flows that animate vital communities, while not losing sight of the strategic advantage that urban excellence and high civic quality can afford a city-region in the global economy. There is no place like home particularly when home is attractive, vibrant, and organized with one eye toward maximizing local wealth and another toward leveraging that wealth for enhanced global competitiveness. But the best of both worlds requires an uncommon level of planning: an intentional effort that harnesses core values, social capital, local resources and culture into a comprehensive framework to guide decision-making.
This presentation will describe a community systems approach to achieving urban excellence and assuring civic quality. The author’s hypothesis is that whole and beautiful places evolve from careful attention to constructing and managing an underlying framework of community systems. Energy flows, local food production systems, local-global economic webs, social networks, community governance, resource sharing networks, land use and transportation are just some of the community systems that, when synergized in a specific place, constitute a complex human ecosystem or “civic ecology”. This web of relationships and flows affords communities opportunities to enhance their local wealth (environmental, economic and cultural), resilience and competitiveness and take control of designing and managing their future.
The presentation will begin with a brief case study of Chestnut Hill, a much celebrated 300-year old urban neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, highlighting how its variety of mature community systems work together as a civic ecology to the community’s local and global benefit. This narrative, anchored in a specific place, will set the stage for an explanation of the principles underlying the civic ecology approach. The principles define a more profound and comprehensive process of place-making and include the following elements:
The presentation will continue with a series of vignettes drawn from the author’s award-winning research and professional practice both in North America and abroad to explain the application of civic ecology in a variety of scales and contexts. These will include:
Each vignette will feature concept diagrams, photographs and other graphics designed to convey the civic ecology framework. The presentation will conclude with an overview of the planning process that has proven key to the evolving civic ecology frameworks exemplified in the vignettes.