Shifting Paradigms

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The Design Charrette, 2014, pp. 61 - 95
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Apart from news articles and popular publications, design charrettes are not commonly found in academic literature. However, planning for the longer term, without calling it design charrettes, has been characterised. Aspects that are forming the basis for good design charrettes, such as ‘creating a hospitable climate’, ‘include key decision makers and outsiders’, ‘look far ahead’, ‘begin by looking at the past (and present)’, ‘conduct scenario work in groups’, and ‘continue a strategic conversation permanently’, form the key elements of planning for the future. The question of bringing the long term closer to present and, similarly, the global closer to the local, is essential when planning for a sustainable future. ‘Out there’, many people in communities have inventive and intelligent ideas about a sustainable environment, they drive change in the places they know best and meaningful participation helps them to better be able to deal with extreme (climate) events, reducing reliance upon external intervention. The way these kinds of abstract futures can be discussed in a way that they resemble to people living in the present is to organize methods for collaborative design and decision-making. Mutual exchange between stakeholders and decision-makers is organized in a participative model, in which leaders, team members, stakeholders and advisors and champions from academic, governmental, civic and private backgrounds are brought together. The design charrette is a tool that makes an excellent fit for collaborative cooperation for long term future planning. In many ways the collaborative approach of design charrettes is a pivot point in a transition in spatial development processes. Without becoming completely autonomous processes, the design charrettes shape more space for bottom up collaborative processes, in which stakeholders and participants determine, more than before, the agenda and process of the proceedings. This shift in paradigms can be distinguished in five fields of theory building and thinking: Problem framing, Spatial Planning, Stakeholder Engagement, Mapping and Workshop Tools. For each of these fields the current discourse as well as the shift to design charrette practice will be interpreted.
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