WIKIPLANNING:
CO-CREATION IN URBAN    Diploma thesis
                        Author: Peter Tattersall
 PLANNING AND DESIGN...
pete.tattersall@gmail.com
               010
This thesis consists of three parts.

Part 1 examines a key set of problems relating to the expertise of the planner and t...
Introduction


“In a society where tradition and custom
are losing their hold, the only route to the
establishing of autho...
creation may offer some partial solutions to some of the age-old problems of planning. Current
participatory planning meth...
PART 1

     THE PROBLEMS
      OF PLANNING




10
1.1 The problem with representative democracy

This thesis argues that a more democratic planning process can be potential...
Acheived further or higher education qualification
     No further or higher education




  Education level of Finns aged...
democracy should be seen as an intermediate stage on the way to something better

- Planning law states a need for direct ...
machine that is the planning process.

Experience of public planning consultations affirms this: comments presented by a m...
How can they be helped to make constructive, normative contributions to the planning process?
The second part of this thes...
entails. Because of this, modern democracies have parliaments where groups representing
different ideologies strive to imp...
they technical and economical consideration or the private interests of stakeholders. The
comprehensive-rationalist planne...
The comprehensive-rationalist ideology is far from dead as far as planning practice is concerned,
for many planners still ...
being would become visible. Making abstract proclamations of our values regarding physical
well-being and cultural well-be...
world in the light of several searchlights.”

Sub-decisions in the design process can often only be justified in terms of ...
- Values cannot be defined without a context; public participation in planning should
allow lay stakeholders to develop th...
Explicit planning information, such as dimensional norms, environment health and safety
norms, or requirements stated by l...
1.6 The problem of taste vs. expertise

There are differing views on what constitutes a “good environment”. Perhaps a more...
are used as tools for the regulation and maintenance of social structures. Taste is used by
social groups to delineate the...
“barbarian”. It would be spurious to accept Kant’s evaluation and classification of his fellow
humans uncritically; the pu...
1.7 The problem of relevance systems

A problem with any planning process involving more than one person is that of incong...
to rationalist ideology, to whom this mental and symbolic sphere is absurd and irrational.

Planners and architects rely o...
PART 

     CO-CREATION IN
     URBAN PLANNING
       AND DESIGN




8
2.1 What is co-creation?

Co-creation refers to a mode of production where the users of a service or product participate
i...
2.2 Co-creation in practice: U.S. presidential elections

The 008 U.S.A. presidential elections provide an interesting cas...
by which Wikipedia is formed is in itself a new and intriguing way of amalgamating different
views without the use of thir...
projects, the capacity of planners to offer acceptable argumentation will not rise, because of
the inherent difficulty in ...
into parcels. In other words, the builder of their own house may choose the colour of their walls,
but cannot influence th...
PART 3

      PRESENTATION AND
        CRITIQUE OF THE
     WIKIPLANNING METHOD
3.0 The wikiplanning method

This section is contains a simultaneous exposition and critique of a planning tool, ”wikiplan...
A plan for part of Helsinki’s Hernesaari was created by a group of 12 laypeople in less than two
hours, with minimal help ...
The process results in models, or design proposals, to which each group has made at least
a small contribution. In theory,...
professionals; seeing their design represented using established professionals’ techniques
and mannerisms, lay participant...
Local residents’ drawn and writ-
     ten responses: many suggested
     closing part of Porvoonkatu street
     to cars, ...
the square: a popular local bar-café, a kiosk, a grocers and a restaurant. The closing of this
section of road would requi...
1.                                                  2.




3.                                                  4.




5.  ...
to be reasonable and desirable, the cost of re-surfacing the square and moving part of the
tram tracks is beyond the finan...
The proposals that emerged by the end of the workshop were notable for the feasibility of the
transit routes within the pa...
Upper strip: a good day in the park in the year 2015
     Lower strip: a bad day in the park in the year 2015
Above: one of the two models after the workshop.
Right: The final design, drawn by architect Heikki Kuk-
konen, in which t...
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design
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Wikiplanning: Co-creation in Urban Planning and Design

  1. 1. WIKIPLANNING: CO-CREATION IN URBAN Diploma thesis Author: Peter Tattersall PLANNING AND DESIGN Supervising professor: Kimmo Lapintie
  2. 2. pete.tattersall@gmail.com 010
  3. 3. This thesis consists of three parts. Part 1 examines a key set of problems relating to the expertise of the planner and the nature of planning as an activity. The purpose of part 1 is to explicate some of the important problems and questions relating to public participation in planning. Part 2 consists of an exposition of co-creation and consideration of how co-creation might be applied to urban planning and design. Part 3 presents experiments conducted with the “wikiplanning” participatory planning tool and discusses the implications of the method and the meaning of its results. PART 1: THE PROBLEMS OF PLANNING 1.1 The problem with representative democracy 1. The problems with current participation methods: consultation vs. participation 1. The problem of the political nature of planning 1. The problem of the muddled nature of planning 1. The problem of tacit knowledge 1. The problem of taste vs. expertise 1. The problem of relevance systems PART 2: CO-CREATION IN URBAN PLANNING AND DESIGN AND .1 What is co-creation? . Co-creation in practice: U.S. presidential elections . Co-creation in practice: Consensus-building in Wikipedia . The significance of co-creation to urban planning PART 3: PRESENTATION AND CRITIQUE OF THE WIKIPLANNING METHOD .0 The wikiplanning method .1 Case study 1: Alppila . Case study : Roihuvuori . Case study : Lasipalatsi . Case study : WikiVermo . Observations and evaluation of the WikiVermo project . Future development . Conclusions .8 Appendices
  4. 4. Introduction “In a society where tradition and custom are losing their hold, the only route to the establishing of authority is via democracy” Anthony Giddens 1998 “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter” Winston Churchill Public participation in planning is a relatively new field. While in recent years it has been subject of much academic writing and debate, it is curious that the range of participatory methods that have actually been empirically tested remains quite small. A positive development is the emergence of internet-based forums for interaction between planning professionals and lay stakeholders, which enable residents to give feedback regarding new planning proposals, or to evaluate the existing environment and share their own local knowledge through on-line discussion forums or maps. Necessary as such forums are, there is a difference between the gathering and exchange of information and opinions on the one hand, and participation in the actual design process on the other. On the surface of it, it is ridiculous to propose that an activity demanding great professional skill should be even partially opened up to interference by amateurs. And yet due to the profound rise in education levels of the last few decades and the access to tools and information which the internet provides, a new form of production has emerged – co-creation – that questions the traditional role of the professions. Co-creation refers to an emerging form of production in which the users of a product or service participate in its creation. Co-creation occurs when large numbers of people who have the means to communicate and collaborate regardless of their physical location form ad-hoc networks and begin to participate in common projects. The phenomena in question is linked to many names, such as commons-based peer production, web .0, produsage; in this paper it will referred to as co-creation. Co-creation is not a speculative scenario nor a theoretical construct, rather it is a phenomenon whose consequences in many fields are quite profound. For example, through co-creation the most extensive - and most used - encyclopedia in history has been created. Co-creation has enabled the election of the first black president in the USA, formed the most used server operating system in the world and at the time of writing, is causing much concern to the governments of Iran and China. The purpose of this paper is to consider how co-creation might be applied to urban planning and design; not because of its appeal as a novel and trendy phenomena, but because co- 8
  5. 5. creation may offer some partial solutions to some of the age-old problems of planning. Current participatory planning methods are becoming fast outdated, as rising education levels and steadily decreasing interest in representative democracy are leading to a situation where residents’ skills, articulacy and desire to influence their environment greatly outstrip the means of participation currently available to them. New, more profound means of participation will become increasingly necessary if the architectural and planning professions are to retain their legitimacy as overseers of the design of the built environment. This thesis outlines a new participatory planning tool that attempts to apply some of the principles of co-creation to urban planning and design. The method, “wikiplanning”, has been empirically tested over 0 times in a wide variety of contexts, including real-life planning projects. In wikiplanning, lay people participate directly in the act of design of planning proposals – using miniature models - working alongside trained professionals. The resulting designs are subsequently interpreted into drawings which can be used to inform the planning process. According to conventional wisdom, it is absurd to suggest that untrained lay residents can directly participate in the actual design of the built environment, for it takes years of training and work experience to be able act as a qualified planner. In spite of facile conventional wisdom, this paper aims to demonstrate that involving lay people in the urban design process can lead to meaningful results and a higher quality of feedback than is normally achieved through approaches where the public is allowed merely to comment on professionals’ designs. At best, approaches such as wikiplanning can help to prevent non-constructive conflict and dead-end opposition to planning projects. This paper focuses on public participation in the design of urban spaces, i.e. the activity that traditionally occurs at the drawing board of the architect. Consideration of public participation in the wider planning process, including lay people’s opportunities for lobbying, the effects of purchase power and lifestyle choices, have been excluded from this paper for reasons of brevity and clarity. For the same reasons, this paper does not attempt to consider the roles of actors other than planning professionals in the formation of the built environment, such as developers, investors, politicians, lobby groups; significant as these are. 9
  6. 6. PART 1 THE PROBLEMS OF PLANNING 10
  7. 7. 1.1 The problem with representative democracy This thesis argues that a more democratic planning process can be potentially achieved through co-creation. It is therefore necessary to at least briefly explain why democracy is desirable in the field of urban planning and design. Democratic government, both in theory and in practice, appears to offer the best quality of life for members of society compared with other forms of government (Dahl 1998). It ensures that the interests of any single group or individual gains are not given undue preference over the interest of others, and it protects the interests of minorities. Democracy is intertwined with a culture of negotiation, meaning democracies tend to use violence and suppression as a last resort. While violence is thankfully rare in the field of planning, the issue of the use of suppression is less clear-cut. The built environment has significant (albeit largely indeterminable) effects on the quality of life of its users, and to allow one group’s interests to disproportionately affect the design and regulation of our cities at the expense of other groups’ interests would be unethical. In this thesis, particular attention is paid to a group of actors in the planning process that is often spuriously cast in the role of the neutral referee, rather than an interest group in its own right. The group in question is that of the planning and architectural profession, who exercise significant power in the built environment yet whose own interests and bias are rarely brought under examination. Winston Churchill told us that democracy is the worst possible form of government, with the exception of all other forms of government tested so far. While we may agree with Churchill, it would be an error to assume that western representative democracy is the be-all, end-all solution to the question of governance. The term “democracy” has been used to describe many diverse forms of government through time, which in many cases scarcely resemble one another. Just as democracy has emerged and evolved into numerous different forms in different times and places, democracy will - and should - continue to evolve and develop in response to a changing social conditions. So where is democracy heading at the present time? And where should it be heading? A notable trend in the development of modern democracies has been the increase in inclusiveness and a broadening of scope of protection. Short of lowering the minimun age of voting, representative democracy cannot become much more inclusive - the demands of Cromwellian parliamentarians, suffragettes and civil rights activists have been, in time, heeded. Yet while representative democracy may have reached its peak in terms of inclusiveness, it is is steady decline in terms of its popularity. Participation in elections has fallen steadily in Europe since the 190s. Political parties struggle to find candidates to stand for election. If the proportion of eligible voters that actually participate in elections is around 0%, the legitimacy of representative democracy a system and the legitimacy of the governments elected through it are questionable at the least. In Europe, there have been numerous state and EU-funded programs designed to counter the apparent “political apathy” of voters and to entice them back to the ballot boxes. 11
  8. 8. Acheived further or higher education qualification No further or higher education Education level of Finns aged 25 - 34 Election turnout in Finnish local elections since 1976 However, even if election turnouts were to reach 100%, we might still argue that representative democracy is an inherently poor mode of participation. Representative democracy increases passivity: voting for a representative every four years is not an adequate way of expressing one’s views on, for example, the details of a planning proposal that may affect one’s life significantly. Representative democracy is inarticulate: politicians can guess as to the reasons why they are elected in or out of power, but there is never certainty on the matter. Representative democracy is slow to respond to societal changes: the reaction time of representative democracy is the same as the period of government, typically four years. Representative democracy is unintelligent and non-discursive as far as the voter is concerned; while debate and argumentation occur within administrative bodies, the voter role is non-argumentative: he or she has neither the opportunity nor obligation to justify his or views, or refine or withdraw them in light of new arguments. Planning law has, in many western countries, recognised the need for direct participation (Kettunen 00). However, the means and scope of direct participation are not explicitly defined by law. Does participation mean lobbying elected representatives or appointed professionals? Does it mean gathering and publishing data relating to planning projects? Or does it imply citizens’ direct power of decision over all aspects of planning? The demand for participatory measures in planning is new; the range of tried participatory planning methods is narrow and experiences gained from them often negative. This thesis attempts to identify a few of the key problems of participatory planning, and argues that participation based on co-creation may offer solutions - albeit partial and imperfect ones - to these problems. Key points: - Representative democracy is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy and efficacy - Democracy has evolved through history; the current dominant form of representative 1
  9. 9. democracy should be seen as an intermediate stage on the way to something better - Planning law states a need for direct participation as an end; the means and scope are not defined by law. New methods should be explored through empirical experimentation 1.2 The problems with current participation methods: consultation vs. participation Public participation in planning is no easy matter. The current situation was well summed up by a Helsinki planner, who, when asked about his views on participatory planning during a panel discussion said: “Participatory planning? We’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work. The public only ever gives criticism, never praise.” The statement is interesting in two ways: firstly, the implication that participatory planning has been exhaustively “tried” is a fallacy. Even at a global scale, participatory planning is still a new phenomenon, and the number of participatory methods that have actually been tried is small. While participation in planning has been the subject of much theoretical debate in academic circles, there has been disproportionally little practical experimentation and development of new approaches to involving the lay public in the planning process. The means for participation in planning that are usually provided are based more on consultation (hearing) rather than participation (listening). In Finland, planning procedures typically make the smallest possible concession the participation requirement stipulated by law, by allowing stakeholders to submit their opinions at public meetings, on-line comment forums and lodge formal appeals against planning proposals through courts of law. Given that these existing procedures have been subjected to much criticism from many sides, and given the public and private sectors’ desire to avoid time consuming formal appeals, there is a clear need for experiments into new approaches to participation in planning. The planner quoted at the start of this chapter also points out that the public’s reaction to planning proposals is usually negative; planning proposals are far more likely to be criticised and opposed than praised and embraced by lay stakeholders. Public consultation meetings are often tense affairs, where the planner has to deal with heated and blunt criticism from local residents, who often blankly oppose all changes to their environment, sometimes dealing out personal abuse and accusations to the planning authority’s staff for good measure. Planners, quite understandably, are reluctant to open up their work to inspection by people who seem to have little understanding of the matter in question and who seem inclined to resist - with minimal politeness - any changes to their own living environment. Residents’ resistance to planning proposals is not necessarily due to the selfishness or ignorance of the lay public - although these play their part. Rather, resistance appears to be structural. The physical environment is taken as self-evident by the inhabitant: it forms a background and a context for everyday life. Any change to this context bears at the risk of an impairment in the quality of life itself (Lapintie 00). The lay resident, if knowing nothing else about the design and production of the built environment, understands that planning is a slow, massive, complex and expert-dominated machine, against whose inertia the individual acting alone has little hope of exerting influence. Resistance is the natural choice of action for residents who know that there is little hope of negotiation with the massive and cumbersome 1
  10. 10. machine that is the planning process. Experience of public planning consultations affirms this: comments presented by a member of the public is typically met with downright rejection (on the grounds of “taking the wider view” or the “public interest”), or even worse, the comment or question is met with the planner’s killer phrase: “We will look into the matter”. With this reply, the resident’s concerns are sucked into the opaque depths of planning bureaucracy, like a sailor thrown into a stormy night sea: the resident’s issue may resurface several months later, but whether it will be alive or dead, will remain a mystery until that time. Stakeholders’ comments gathered during the planning process may “resurface” only in the final planning proposal, by which time the plan is often too refined and conclusive to be subjected to any changes, except if the plan breaches laws. Once a plan is in its later stages, it is easy to label any demands for alterations as “unreasonable”. Not only is planning bureaucracy massive and non-responsive, it also works in mysterious ways. Planners’ and architects’ expertise is based to a significant extent of tacit knowledge, i.e. knowledge which cannot be easily verbally communicated or opened up to public scrutiny (Eraut 000). As will be discussed later, planners and architects employ both tacit and explicit knowledge in their work, and planning decisions based on even partly on tacit knowledge will tend to evade rational communication, which further makes genuine participation difficult. Rationality is perhaps the most important means to achieve influence available to the powerless (Flyvbjerg 1998), and the prominence of tacit knowledge in planning means the powerless are often stripped of their best weapon. Planners and laypeople do not have a common language with which to negotiate and reach understanding about the planning task in hand. Nor is there necessarily an understanding as to what the task in hand actually is, for different players have different frames of relevance for defining the problem. The issues of relevance systems and tacit knowledge will be examined in greater detail later. Current modes of participation present the lay stakeholder with a choice: to resist the planning proposal outright and thus marginalise oneself from the process; or to remain in the process and thus accept the main features – and the agenda - of the planning proposal. A principle tenet of democracy is control of the agenda by the participants. The definition and framing of planning problems often determines their outcome; at its worst, participation can mean playing a game whose result has already been decided; the participant can merely hope to influence minor details. The structural resistance to planning proposals might be reduced or changed if lay stakeholders are given a wider means of expressing their views and values than by mere opposition of predefined plans. A genuinely participative planning approach would allow citizens to make positive, constructive suggestions instead of only negative complaints; one approach to this aim is involving the the layperson in the creative design process itself. Another tenet of democracy is the idea that participants should be given the opportunity to develop the insight necessary to make considered decisions that reflect his or her values. (Dahl 1998). This can mean providing general education or specific information on the issue being decided. Current forms of participation in planning do little to develop the insight of lay stakeholders to facilitate more enlightened negotiation of planning issues. How can lay people develop meaningful insight into planning issues in a short period of time? 1
  11. 11. How can they be helped to make constructive, normative contributions to the planning process? The second part of this thesis presents a planning tool which attempts to offer solutions to these problems. Key points: - Very few participatory planning methods have been actually tested - Participation methods currently in use are based on consultation rather than actual participation - Current planning procedures typically engender resistance and appeal - Developing laypeople’s insight into planning problems is key to engendering enlightened negotiation and participation - For participatory planning methods to be effective, they should allow the public make positive, constructive suggestions as well as complaints 1.3 The problem of the political nature of planning In what way should the planning process be democratised? Modern democracies delegate significant amounts of power to experts, such as civil servants and professionals of various fields, who have the necessary knowledge and skill to solve problems related to their field: the experienced pilot flies us safely to our destination; the well-trained doctor helps to get better when we get ill. Why not then entrust the task of designing buildings or laying out cities to experts of that field, to architects and planners? To compare the work of architects and planners to the work of doctors is to misunderstand the nature of planning. In any specific society, there often exists a reasonably wide - albeit neither perfect nor static - consensus as to what constitutes a healthy human body. The goal of medical practice in that society is to help the patient to keep their physique as close as possible to the commonly agreed ideal, taking into consideration the risks and costs of doing so. Unlike in the field of medicine, which in the West strives to be a scientific activity, there is no pre-existing consensus as to what the aim of planning is. The practice of science is a descriptive activity - it tells us how the world is now and how it has been in the past, and it can make good predictions as to how the world will probably work in the future. But science does not tell how the world should be; this is a moral matter, not a factual one. As Hume’s Law reminds us, no statement of value can be derived from a statement of fact. In other words, observation alone does cannot tell us how to conduct our business - to make decisions on how to live, we must qualify our choices with valuation systems. The production of a design proposal is a prescriptive activity. Each new building or urban plan is a statement by its designers about how the world should be, for each new building or urban plan will, for its part, determine how the world will be in the future. Planning is a matter of values as much as it is of expertise; if we are to accept democratic ideals, then planning tasks should be opened up to public scrutiny. There are, historically speaking, numerous and often conflicting notions of what a “good society” 1
  12. 12. entails. Because of this, modern democracies have parliaments where groups representing different ideologies strive to implement their notion of “good society” or “public interest”. At the heart of political debate is not dispute over empirical facts, but contention over values and their prioritization. To offer a stereotypical example, those on the political right believe that good society is one which the initiative and interests of individuals are allowed to flourish, while for those to the political left, a good society is one in which care and equality are emphasised. Parliamentary debate revolves around the realisation of these differing values in specific contexts. The notion of the “good environment” is just as political a matter as the notion of “good society”. For in as far as we accept that the built environment influences the lives of its users (although determining causes and effects is difficult), the two concepts are inseparably intertwined. In questions of architecture and planning there exist ideological factions within the profession who endorse competing environmental ideologies; the ongoing attempts of modernists and post- modernists/historicists to discredit one another is perhaps the clearest instance of competing factions. In some cases, the factions manifest as formal associations such as the Congress for the New Urbanism and CIAM (Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne). Such bodies resemble political parties, albeit lacking a formal “parliament” in which to debate. The normative and political nature of planning means that, from a democratic point of view, it would be wrong to delegate planning decisions in their entirety to undemocratically chosen professionals. In state governments there is an attempt to delineate expertise form value judgements. Civil servants are supposed to represent expertise, by preparing the background material required for decision making and offering a narrowed-down set of options from which to choose. The role of elected politicians is to make value judgements based on the material presented to them. This division of roles is, however, highly theoretical, for in practice decisions are the result of negotiation and power struggles between politicians and officials, and in the framing and preparation of decisions officials exercise a significant amount of value judgement. In political science, there is continual debate as to how power should be shared between politicians and civil servants. If we are to assume that the requirement for democracy should extend into the fields of architecture and planning, how should a balance be struck between expertise on the one hand and popular self-rule on the other? Comprehensive-rationalism A notable attempt to address the problem of the legitimacy of planning was the comprehensive- rationalism on the 190s, whose assumptions seem to persist in the attitudes of planners today, despite the fact that in academic circles such ideas appear to be very dated (Puustinen 00). Comprehensive-rationalist planning was an attempt form a legitimate basis for land-use regulation by applying scientific methods to planning (Taylor 1998). Adherents to this ideology saw planning as a matter of finding solutions to problems. According to this view, the planning process would start by the planner identifying all of the problems relevant to the planning project in question. This would require the gathering of massive amounts of information, a feat that would be unrealistic in light of the limited resources of most planning agencies. Assuming this information has been collated, the planner would then proceed to generate a proposal that represents an optimal (i.e. the best possible) integration of all relevant viewpoints, be 1
  13. 13. they technical and economical consideration or the private interests of stakeholders. The comprehensive-rationalist planner’s task was to generate a plan that was optimised for the “public interest”, usually defined on a utilitarian “greatest good for greatest number” basis. This line of thought has been subsequently much criticised in theoretical circles (Nigel Taylor 1998), as it failed to properly take into account qualitative points of view such as residents’ subjective experiences and non-quantifiable concepts such as the “pleasantness” of a landscape or the “scariness” of a route. Comprehensive-rationalism attempted to ignore into non-existence the political nature of planning, an attempt that inevitably failed, just as many would say the socially dysfunctional housing areas built in the name of rationality have failed. Habermasian communicative planning The 1990s saw the emergence of a counter reaction to comprehensive-rationalist planning in the concept of collaborative planning (Richardson Connelly 00). Here, the Habermasian idea of communicative action is applied to urban planning with the intention of creating a planning process where consensus would be sought on planning issues through rational and considerate argumentation and listening. Collaborative planning was based on the presumption that stakeholders would enter discussions ready to forego their own private interests for the sake of reaching a consensus that reflects the best interests of all stakeholders collectively. This communicative approach places much emphasis on verbal communication as the means of reaching consensus, despite the fact that words are by themselves an inadequate means of negotiation about the qualities of physical space. Communicative planning has widely criticised on account of its idealism; Habermas’ notion of stakeholders entering discussions with an open and disinterested mind and genuine readiness to put group consensus before his or her own interests is an ideal to which real-life situations can rarely come close. The paradigm of communicative planning is nonetheless pertinent in that it aims to create forums for negotiation where stakeholders’ subjective interests and qualitative matters are brought into play as relevant and valid planning issues. Habermasian planning theory emphasises consensus as an important aim in participatory planning. This view has been criticised because of its potential to distort the ensuing negotiations; in many cases contradictory interests simply cannot be mutually accommodated, and seeking unanimous agreement may distort the deliberation process by ignoring or foreclosing viewpoints which threaten the achievement of consensus. Yet conflicts need not be seen as failures – by making conflicts visible, they become possible to address (although not necessarily solve) and thus stakeholders can develop a balanced, realistic understanding of the situation, which can enrich the ensuing decision-making process. Rather than trying to solve conflicts, participatory planning process should instead seek to make conflicts visible and understood by stakeholders and decision-making entities alike. A good participatory planning process is one which leads to a shared understanding and acceptance of the final results; stakeholders need not necessarily agree on the end result and feel it to be just, but it is valuable that they understand both how it was arrived at and how their own interests are represented in relation to the interests of others; in some cases, the worst-served interests may be subsequently compensated in some way or another. If and when it happens to emerge, consensus is a pleasant bonus, but it should not be strictly set as an aim. 1
  14. 14. The comprehensive-rationalist ideology is far from dead as far as planning practice is concerned, for many planners still see planning as being a question of problems and solutions, where the supposedly politically neutral planner has to optimise different considerations to achieve a plan that best reflects the “public interest”. While planning is undeniably a question of synthesizing numerous considerations into a coherent whole (Puustinen 00), it does not automatically follow that problems, solutions and values exist are discreet entities; for in practice, planning is a far more muddled issue than rationalists dare to recognise. If we are to acknowledge the importance of lay people’s subjective experience of the environment, how can this be brought into the planning process while simultaneously making use of the expertise of trained professionals? To answer this question we must first examine in more detail the nature of the activity of planning. Key points: - Planning is a normative, not descriptive activity - There are numerous and often conflicting views as to what constitutes the “good environment” - The value-bound aspects of planning should, if we accept democratic ideals, be subjected to public scrutiny - Aiming for consensus can undermine the quality of deliberation. Participatory planning processes should aim to make conflicts visible and understood 1.4 The problem of the muddled nature of planning Muddling through Rationalist planning attempted a leap over Hume’s guillotine, which tells us that in order to proceed from empirical observation to a design proposal, we must justify our prescriptive statements (or designs) with valuation systems. One might suggest that the spuriously depoliticised comprehensive-rationalism be amended by bringing laypeople’s values and subjective wishes into the planning process, for example by examining the subjective values of stakeholders alongside other information gathered at the outset of the planning process. The generated design proposal could then be evaluated in terms of how well it realises the pre-stated values. The problem with such a view is that it assumes that values, problems and solutions can be meaningfully distinguished from one another. it may be possible to verbalise some value statements, it is often impossible to place conflicting values into a hierarchy. It is also not possible to identify (or indeed verbalize) all value statements that may be relevant to the design project in question, for we become aware of our values only when confronted with situations which require a trade-off between different values. For example, in the theoretical situation of having to decide how much funding to devote to cancer treatment in compared to the funding of opera performances, our relative values regarding physical well-being and cultural well- 18
  15. 15. being would become visible. Making abstract proclamations of our values regarding physical well-being and cultural well-being without a context would have little meaning. Therefore the idea that one should select the design proposal that best optimises one’s values (even if consensus were achieved on these) is false, for in practice the best we can do is is select the proposal with the best combination of values. As Charles Lindblom tells us in his “The Science of Muddling Through”, “We choose among values and among policies at one and the same time” (Lindblom 199). A concrete example of this would be the task of designing a new park. Residents may predefine various values which they wish to be realised in the design for the new park, such as “closeness to nature” and “good lighting to give a sense of safety”. These values carry little substance in themselves, for the designer’s understanding of the physical consequences of these values may differ from that of the other stakeholders in the design project. By generating a design for the park, it becomes possible to evaluate whether or not the park is sufficiently “close to nature” and whether the lighting is adequate to engender a sense of security. The requirement for good lighting may be in conflict with the requirement for the “naturalness” of the park, and it is only be reviewing multiple alternative designs that one can form an opinion of what a suitable trade-off between the two might be. Unlike the simplified example of the park, real-life design situations require trade-offs and integrations of far more than just two considerations. According to Lindblom, it is not necessary to justify our choices, because values (and choices regarding trade-offs between different values), are often beyond argumentative justification. Lindblom asserts that the only necessary justification for a policy is that it enjoys consensus; it is not necessary to demand that a policy (or design) is the optimal integration of predefined values. After all, the only justification for pre-stated values is that they enjoy consensus, according to Lindblom. Wicked problems This “muddling through” view of policy making was later echoed and elaborated both by Donald A. Schön in his “The Reflective Practitioner” (198) and in the concept of Rittel and Webber’s (198) concept of the “wicked problem”. The wicked problem is a concept used in used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. Challenging the long-persisting rationalist idea that problems may be identified at the outset of a planning project, the notion of the wicked problem entails that meaning that the problem is not understood until a provisional solution has been formulated. This reiterates Lindblom’s idea that values only become visible through being expressed in a context. As Mäntysalo and Nyman (00) describe: “Designs are like searchlights in a dark, strange territory. While they elucidate the unknown territory, they also direct our gaze towards a particular direction. Without designing, we would see nothing, but even through designing we do not see the whole landscape; we see the landscape as the design presents it. For this reason, one should not be satisfied with one searchlight, but rather try to attain an understanding of the 19
  16. 16. world in the light of several searchlights.” Sub-decisions in the design process can often only be justified in terms of previous design decisions; a street is placed here because we have previously decided to place a square there; and yet the square might just as well have been located elsewhere. Attempts towards rational justification of a design will succeed only in making fragmentary “branches” of rationality, where decisions can be justified in terms of other previous decisions. While self-consistent and integral as far as the design is concerned, such branches of rationality will not necessarily be connected to the trunk or roots of the problem. When a design proposal is presented to lay residents for appraisal, the planner can easily fend off criticism of individual details by claiming that the design as a whole demands the detail in question to be just so, even if the planner agrees that the detail in question is a comprised solution. The planners position is secure, for in light of the limited resources of any planning office, it would be unreasonable to have to redesign the whole proposal in response to criticism of an individual detail. Both the notions of muddling through and wicked problems would appear to point to the need to generate multiple proposals for each planning project. The democratic implication of this would be to involve lay participants in the choosing of the option to be executed. However, to involve lay stakeholders into the planning process as merely as judges is problematic for two reasons: firstly, it ignores the democratic requirement for participants to develop insight into the matter being decided; secondly, it allows for an imbalance of power between those involved in the act of design and those acting as judges, for if excluded from the process of design itself, lay people are excluded from influencing some of the most important decisions. The implications of muddling through and wicked problems for planning are perhaps best summed up by Nigel Taylor (1998): “The whole point of personal or social choice in many situations is not to implement a given set of values in the light of perceived facts, but rather to define, and sometimes deliberately reshape, values - and hence the identity - of the individual community that is engaged in the process of choosing.” The consequence for public participation in planning is that laypeople should be involved in the actual act of design so as to have the opportunity to gain meaningful insight, develop considered value-positions and to influence the micro-level sub-decisions of the planning project. The more directly involved the stakeholders are in the design process, the greater their insight into the problem at hand will be and therefore a greater quality of democratic engagement will ensue. Yet involving lay stakeholders in the design process is difficult, due to the way in which planners and designers work, with much of their expertise being based on tacit knowledge. This are will be examined in the following section. Key points: - The process of design is not simply a matter of executing predefined values and desires, but creating a balance between different values and desires. This is in itself a value-laden and political activity 0
  17. 17. - Values cannot be defined without a context; public participation in planning should allow lay stakeholders to develop their own considered value-position through direct involvement in the design process - Planning “problems” are never solved, they are merely addressed - Planning problems are only understood through proposing solutions 1.5 The problem of tacit knowledge Involving lay stakeholders in the design process is difficult because, for among other reasons, in producing the visual manifestation of the design, i.e. drawing as models, planning professionals have at their disposal rhetorical tools that are not immediately accessible to laypeople. As long as value decisions are made through the selection of non-verbal, i.e. visually communicated proposals, there is an imbalance of power in the discourse between planners and stakeholders, because the lay participants are largely compelled to communicate on the terms of the planner. The area of expertise of architects and planners is not merely the design of built environments, but also (and arguably, primarily) the communication of ideas of the built environment through visual means, namely drawings and models. While Lindblom’s statement, “We choose among values and among policies at one and the same time” (Lindblom 199, 9), is pertinent, we could perhaps more accurately say that: “we choose among values, among policies, and and among graphic presentation techniques at one and the same time”. We cannot reliably distinguish between the three. It would therefore seem necessary to open up the representation of planning substance and decisions - the making of drawings, maps, and charts - to public participation. This is no easy task, as the skills required for the act of design are based on tacit knowledge. As discussed previously, part of architects’ and planners expertise partly “scientific”, in as much as there are aspects of their expertise that are explicit, and thus subjectable to verbal argumentation and negotiation. But architects’ and planners expertise is to a significant extent “artistic”, in that tacit knowledge or skill - that which is partly or wholly inexplicable to others - plays a major role in the design of the built environment (here we will use the definition of tacit knowledge used in the field of knowledge management, which should not be confused with the earlier - yet different - definition offered by Polyani). Tacit knowledge is often considered more valuable than explicit knowledge, as it represents an ability to respond appropriately to real-life, contextual problems. Tacit knowledge is gained through contextual experience: it is an understanding of how to solve problems involving numerous variable factors that may appear, in real-life situations, in combinations never seen before. While tacit knowledge is often linked to empirical experience, it is by no means infallible. Tacit knowledge is tied up to intuition, personal convictions - notions of how things should be done, which may well be both unfounded and detrimental to the task in hand. Individuals’ tacit knowledge may be based on such deep-founded convictions that we never consider - or dare - to subject them to a reality test. Tacit knowledge may manifest as tacit wisdom or as tacit stupidity. 1
  18. 18. Explicit planning information, such as dimensional norms, environment health and safety norms, or requirements stated by landowners or politicians are rarely so extensive as to entirely determine the nature of the design in its entirety. By convention, those considerations that are beyond verbal argumentation, such as matters of aesthetics and the “atmosphere” of a place, are usually left to the designer to determine. Not only are some aspects of the built environment left to the tacit skill of the designer, but the synthesis of all various considerations - both tacit and explicit - into a coherent design proposal is in itself an act that defies verbal justification. Generating a synthesis requires the designer to make numerous subjective and non-explicable design decisions; for the trade-offs that must be made between multiple non-quantifiable values are difficult to subject to rational argumentation. So while the design problem incorporates explicit information, a design for an environment inevitably embodies values that are the result of the designer’s tacit skill. Tacit knowledge is by definition not explicable to outsiders; tacit knowledge is thus inherently non-democratic knowledge, as it is difficult, if not impossible to subject it to public and open scrutiny. An important aspect of planners’ and architects’ tacit skill is the ability to understand the spatial qualities of a design represented in drawings. Few lay people are able to look at a urban plan and form a mental image of walking through that environment. This aspect of the planner’s skill is inaccessible to the layperson, but the problem can be partly addressed by providing laypeople with adequate depictions of the future environment (perspective drawings, ground- level walk-throughs etc.) rather than abstract representations (site plans, zoning maps) for the basis of evaluation. The fact that planners’ and architects knowledge is based largely on tacit knowledge is problematic, for personal and subjective values are indistinguishably intertwined with widely accepted and validated professional skill. In other words, in planning, matters of personal taste are inseparable from matters of valid expertise. If planning expertise unavoidably incorporates taste judgements, can matters of taste be brought into democratic regulation? Is it possible to reach democratic consensus on matters of subjective preference? Or are some taste judgements more valid than others? Key points: - By controlling the means of representation of planning substance and decisions, planners have significant influence over the values to be realised through the plan - In planning professionals’ expertise, inexplicable tacit skill is inseperably intertwined with explicit knowledge, thus making planning decisions difficult to subject to democratic scrutiny - Tacit knowledge incorporates both personal taste judgements and validifiable expertise - The planner’s tacit skill includes the ability to visualize environments based on abstract representations. By providing depictions, as opposed to abstract representations of planned environments, laypeople can better evaluate plans before they are built
  19. 19. 1.6 The problem of taste vs. expertise There are differing views on what constitutes a “good environment”. Perhaps a more widely discussed issue is what constitutes “good art”. only has to visit an art gallery with any group of people to see that people’s reactions to works of art differ. Should we assume that the definition of the good environment is a purely subjective and personal matter - a question of taste, that is beyond dispute? Or is there is a plausible case for a universalist definition of the good environment? And if the evaluation of our environment is a matter of taste, are all tastes equal? Arto Haapala (009) offers three possible understandings of the term “taste”. The first is the essentialist view, wherein taste is an internal ability or sensitivity to observe the aesthetic qualities of aesthetically valuable objects. According to such a view, taste is a sense of beauty; and beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, rather it is an inherent quality that resides within certain objects. Haapala’s second understanding is of taste as a personal preference, which is beyond dispute: De gustibus non est disputandum. I might like chocolate but dislike licorice, but my taste judgements reflect my personal preferences, rather than the inherent qualities of the objects of my judgement. The third understanding given by Haapala is that taste is a form of expertise that can be achieved through education in the history and theory of art and aesthetic phenomena. Taste is the ability to notice various subtle features in the artwork and to thus discern what time period and stylistic tendency, to highly specific a level, it belongs. Participation in critical discourse and in reflection of the various responses to a given work of art over time, common and universal evaluation criteria become established. When such criteria are established and stable, there is less room for statements of personal taste, for a canon of “classic” works of art acts a common benchmark for the evaluation of new works. In other words, there exists a social process by which a common set of trans-subjective criteria - a supposedly universal taste - arises, through which we can make evaluations that reach above and beyond personal taste. Architecture and planning have their own canon of classics; there is little dispute as to who were the five most important architects of the 0th century, and if we want to know what a good building or good urban plan looks like, we need only to open an architectural history book to see which works have been elevated to the category of classics. The existence of canons of classics is the result of a process of selection that goes beyond the personal judgements of individuals, but this selection process is, however, far from representative or democratic. Relatively few of us have the resources to directly participate in debates of art or architecture criticism, leaving cultural critics and practitioners much power to determine what cultural works pass into the canon of classic works. For a better understanding of the processes by which classics are selected for inclusion into the canon of “good” cultural works, it is useful to examine Pierre Bourdieu’s studies into the social function of taste. Bourdieu and taste as a means for social arbitration In his Distinction (Bourdieu 198), sociologist Pierre Bourdieu asserts that judgements of taste
  20. 20. are used as tools for the regulation and maintenance of social structures. Taste is used by social groups to delineate themselves from other groups, and as a means by which people can attempt to elevate themselves from one social group to another. Bourdieu’s distinction theory is based on empirical research conducted in France during the 190s. The theory tells us that displaying one’s taste acts as a tool for the exertion of power; it is a means by which a group or individual can distinguish themselves from other groups, often with the aim of asserting their relative superiority. One of the fundamental ways of asserting superiority through taste - the mechanism of distinction - occurs by choosing one’s aesthetic values so as to show one’s distance from economic necessity. This does not necessarily occur in the literal economic terms described by Thorsten Veblen, but in terms of the commodification of objects of taste. Bourdieu shows how members of the upper classes (both in the economic and cultural senses) consume items that allow them to display the actualisation of Kant’s “disinterested gaze”, wherein an object is viewed without imposing on it expectations of functionality, moral virtue or meaning. In Bourdieu’s view, by employing the detached gaze, the viewer is able to display to his peers his lack of concern for material need. This pure, detached gaze (whose objects Kant called “free beauties”) contrasts with the mode of viewing used by members of the lower classes, who, as Bourdieu’s interviews seem to prove, always seek meaning and functionality from artworks, and qualify their evaluation of a work of art with respect to a proposed purpose. This definition of two contrasting modes of aesthetic experience are corroborated not only by statements made by Bourdieu’s interviewees, but is also visible in the differences between “high” and “low” art. “Low” art rejects all types of formal experimentation that distances the spectator from being able to identify with the world being represented in the artwork. In contrast, “high” art is defined by its refusal of facile involvement and vulgar enjoyment, and thus it relishes in formal experimentation. While the working class takes interest in the things signified by a work of art (e.g. a fruit bowl, a person) and seeks from the artwork a continuation of life through representation, and thus an affirmation of his or her sense of reality, the cultural elite concerns itself with the sign itself (e.g. the technique of the painter, the language used by the author) and is not concerned with whether or not the artwork offers a believable representation of real life. The relevance to architecture is clear, and is witnessed by questionnaires conducted regarding lay people’s architectural taste: the lower classes want easy, enjoyable architecture, where a house is recognizable as a house. The aesthetic elite does not seek such semiotic functionality from architecture, but instead it seeks opportunity for sublimation; a good house is one that evades or challenges conventional notions of what a house is. Bourdieu takes pains to point out that Kant’s assertion of the sublime, non-conceptual aesthetic experience as superior to a commodifying one is a moral argument, not a factual one. Kant presents these two forms of aesthetic experience as a way to delineate social groups from one another; the civilised from the barbarian. Kant tells us that the capacity for sublimation (i.e. the ability to cease conceptualisation) is the “definition of the human man”, and that “Taste that requires and added amount of charm and emotion for its delight.. not to speak of of adopting this as the measure of its approval, has not yet emerged from barbarism” (cited in Bourdieu 198). Kant’s aesthetics is a normative one. His Critique of Judgement is written in the imperative, and offers no justification for the delineation of the “civilised” from the
  21. 21. “barbarian”. It would be spurious to accept Kant’s evaluation and classification of his fellow humans uncritically; the pursuit of sublimeness in art or architecture should seen in its context as being a attempt at social regulation. Bourdieu would agree with Haapala third notion of taste in that there appears to exist a trans- subjective taste, which is widely regarded as objective. While our aesthetic judgements may be freely chosen in some aspects of life, we nonetheless tend to defer to and respect what we see as “official” or legitimate taste, that has been defined and then consecrated - in the form of “classics” or certain evaluation criteria - by a particular segment of society. The legitimacy of the consecrated taste is however questionable; it is defined by a relatively small segment of society, whose taste is formed through successive negation of the working classes’ taste. In the absence of a convincing essentialist argument for a notion of good taste, and in the absence of a moral functionalist argument for the existence of a taste that serves the population better than others, any claim for an objectively good taste would have to base its authority on democracy. Democratic accommodation of the tastes of all sectors of society is difficult, as the very nature of taste is its opposition to and distinction from other group’s tastes; Bourdieu’s view seems to lead to a pessimistic conclusion: that consensus will not and cannot be found on matters of taste. What are the consequences of Bourdieusian theory for architecture and planning? Firstly, it tells us that architectural and planning expertise are bound to social processes which inherently act to deny the mainstream populous of the realisation of their taste. This reminds us of the importance of seeking to build consensus on questions of the “good environment” through consultation that reaches beyond the boundaries of the architectural and planning professions. While Bourdieu is pessimistic about the possibility of ever reaching consensus, we may nonetheless consider how the built environment can be designed to simultaneously serve a plurality of tastes (as proposed by Rowe and Koetter (198) in their Collage City), and whether or not a utilitarian approach should be adopted with the hope of best serving the tastes of the largest part of the relevant population. Key points: - The essentialist approach to evaluating works of architecture and planning conflicts with empirical evidence - The strong social constructionist view is also difficult to maintain - The valuation of architecture and planning is linked to both the objective physical qualities of the work and social processes surrounding it - The tacit skill of the professional designer is not only value-bound, but it also tends to defy lay people’s values rather than affirm them
  22. 22. 1.7 The problem of relevance systems A problem with any planning process involving more than one person is that of incongruence between different actors’ meaning systems or relevance systems. We earlier established that planning is a value-bound and political activity; planning disputes are usually disputes over values, not facts or information . Not only do different actors have different values and different notions of what constitute the “good environment”, but different people’s ways of understanding the environment and planning problems are based on different frames of reference. Our values, interests, previous experiences (including education) and social position form “lenses” which act as a framework for understanding and evaluating our environment. For example, the taxi driver may perceive the city as a network of traffic lanes, the architect may see the city as a web of geometric spaces and spacial sequences; an old-age pensioner may perceive the urban environment as a set of experiences and past memories of friends, neighbours and park benches. These different frames of reference (or relevance systems) are not necessarily different points of view on the same matter (the city), but rather different points of view on different matters. A concrete example is the study into the construction of a motorway bypass (Sewell 19), in which the different agents involved with the project, ranging from various professionals to activists and local inhabitants, were asked to list the professions whose expertise they saw as relevant to the planning question in hand. The professional planners saw the planning task as a matter for planners, geographers and economists. Simultaneously, the activists saw the same matter as one to which the expertise of ecologists, biologists and landscape architects was most relevant. The incongruence between different relevance systems may lead to an actors’ comments and desires seeming absurd and irrelevant to other players (Lapintie 00). While we have differing frames of relevance, they are not necessarily static, as Patsy Healey tells us: “We may shift our ideas, learn from each other, adapt to each other, ‘act in the world’ together. Systems of meaning or frames of reference shift and evolve in response to such encounters. But it can never be possible to construct a stable consensus around ‘how we see things’, merely a temporary accommodation of different, and differently adapting, perceptions” (Healey 199). What kinds of relevance systems are at play in planning and architecture? Each individual has his or her own very personal relevance system, but we might identify three main categories (building on Jauhiainen 00 and Bäcklund 00): the concrete, physical space of the environment; the social world of the environment; and thirdly mental space, consisting of the mental conceptions and memories of the environment. Concrete physical space is perhaps the domain of the planner and architect, whose plans, maps and depictions deal with the placing of physical matter into space. The social sphere is to a small extent taken into account in the planning process, insofar as the planner may consider how the physical environment affects the behaviour of its users. The mental dimension of the environment is hardly included in the planning process - if anything it is spurned by adherents
  23. 23. to rationalist ideology, to whom this mental and symbolic sphere is absurd and irrational. Planners and architects rely on abstract representations of the environment to communicate their work. While the simplification offered by maps, charts and drawings makes the design process possible, the same simplification affects the framing of planning matters. As Jauhiainen (00) tells us, “Through abstraction, the everyday, lived urban environment is squeezed into urban maps, coordinates in geographical information systems, and strategic development visions. It is often a question of the planner’s unfulfilled illusion of the mapping out of an objective situation.” Incongruence between relevance systems is not necessarily a source of disagreement, and accommodating different frames of reference is not necessarily a matter of compromise - for as different player’s interests pertain to different things, it may be that interests do not clash as they do not even meet on the same “battleground”. Indeed, conflicts are perhaps more likely when two parties have a similar frame of reference but different values on the subject. By making differences in values and relevance systems visible, appropriate “compensation” can be administered for those interests that the planning proposal does not sufficiently serve. How can the gap between the various life-worlds and the system world by bridged? According to Aija Staffans (00) “citizen-experts” act as interpreters between the lived, experienced environment and the the political-administrative environment of the planning agencies. Yet the scarcity and limited resources of such super-citizens does not make them a sustainable option. Can a system of planning be created that engages the life-world experiences of residents as well as with the abstractions of the system world? How can the lived experiences of lay stakeholders form the basis of the design process? Key points: - Different stakeholders have different values and different relevance systems; these are not different viewpoints on the same matter, but different viewpoints on different matters - For planning to be able to account for numerous interests, it should be able to work on several relevance systems. Abstract representation of the environment is not a way to achieve neutrality of relevance. - Participatory planning methods should allow for communication on the terms of as many relevance systems as possible
  24. 24. PART CO-CREATION IN URBAN PLANNING AND DESIGN 8
  25. 25. 2.1 What is co-creation? Co-creation refers to a mode of production where the users of a service or product participate in the creation of the content of that service or product. It has numerous synonyms, such as co- production, commons-based peer production, produsage, prosumerism etc. The phenomena of co-creation was initially associated primarily with open-source software production, most notably the Linux operating system. Linux gained fame as a serious competitor to the Windows and Mac operating systems, even though it was created by an ad-hoc network of private individuals, none of whom were paid (directly) for their work in creating the software. In the early 000s, the principles of open-source development were taken up in the creation of what came to be known as web .0: websites whose content was at least partially provided by its users. Such applications include on-line services and products including social networking sites, citizen-journalist news sites, and most renownedly, the open encyclopedia, Wikpedia. Web .0 and co-creation have become a fashionable phenomenon, with its evangelists (such as Yochai Benkler (00), Charles Leadbeater (008) and Clay Shirky (008)) proclaiming that web .0 will give rise to profoundly new social structures and processes. Improving access to information and creating new, more responsive forms of participation will lead, its exponents say, to the radical democratisation of not only knowledge formation and use but also potentially of decision making and administration. Co-creation should be seen in its wider context of certain societal changes. Since the 190’s, levels of education in developed countries has risen significantly. In Finland in 19, half of the population had a further education qualification (university or vocational high school degree). In 00, the corresponding number was 8%. This is reflected in a doubling in the average number of years of formal schooling in European countries since the 190s. The ever-better skilled population has access to ever better production and creation tools. The publication of a magazine years ago entailed laborious typewriting, cutting and pasting of images and texts; the question of distribution was a problem in its own right. Today, the means and skills necessary to create a website or write a blog entry are accessible to the majority of citizens of developed countries, not the minority. This means that professional-standard productions of various kinds can be easily created by non-professionals (what Leadbeater calls the professional-amateur, or pro-am revolution) in their spare time. Co-creation can be seen as a response to these trends; an ever-better educated population is becoming ever-less interested with the means of participation open to them. Yet falling election turnouts should not be automatically interpreted as indicating that citizens are becoming more passive. The rise of web .0 seems to indicate a rise in willingness to engage in communal and at least partly altruistic projects. For co-creation projects offer something that – as developed economies become ever-more service-centred - is increasingly rarely found in the world of work. As our jobs become increasingly removed from primary production by many layers of administration and bureaucracy, we long for activities that allow us to express ourselves, do something that we feel to be useful and meaningful, and to see the results of our work. 9
  26. 26. 2.2 Co-creation in practice: U.S. presidential elections The 008 U.S.A. presidential elections provide an interesting case of successful engagement with a wide public, using a form of co-creation. Obama’s opponents, McCain and Clinton, looked for two things from the electorate: money and votes. Money was sought from a relatively small number of wealthy supporters through the candidates hosting fund-raising dinners and events for people that already supported the candidate in question. The money raised was then used for campaigning, organised by a central campaign office, in order to win more votes. Obama’s campaign employed a different approach. Obama’s campaign sought something more than money and votes; the campaign offered opportunities for active involvement. The Obama campaign made use of social media to organise local support groups to organise campaigning activities and raise campaign funds. While McCain and Clinton received large sums of money from few donors, Obama’s campaign received small sums of money from a large number of donors. Of the $0 million raised, 9% consisted of donations under $100. The Obama campaign had 1 official website, 1 official social websites, and over 00 facebook groups; these sites formed the forums through which 1. million active supporters independently organised their own decentralised, local campaigning activities. Obama’s campaign offered voters the opportunity to become active in the campaign, rather than contenting oneself with merely voting. While the U.S. presidential elections are a different issue to urban planning, the question they raise is an interesting one: can planning be outsourced to some degree to the lay public, so that their contribution forms a valuable asset, not an obstacle? 2.3 Co-creation in practice: Consensus-building in Wikipedia Wikipedia is an open, on-line encyclopedia. Wikipedia allows anybody to write new articles, edit existing ones, and cancel (revert) changes made by other people to articles. Wikis rely on “soft protection” to ensure the quality of their content; it is easy to commit vandalism on a wiki site, but it is also very easy to correct damage. The openness of wikis has raised suspicion as to the reliability of its content, yet several tests have shown that Wikipedia is virtually as trustworthy as a conventional encyclopedia (Bruns 008). The true value of Wikipedia should not be evaluated in terms of the reliability of its articles, but more in that in the way it changes patterns of use and distribution of knowledge (Vadén 00, Hintikka 00). Wikipedia has over 1 million articles (. million in English), compared with the half million published in english in the Encyclopedia Britannica. While Encyclopedia Britannica is easily found in libraries around the world, the ease of access of Wikipedia makes it for many the starting point in any investigation. Wikipedia has, however, been criticised on account of its systematic bias in favour of popular culture and recent events, which for better or worse, is a reminder of how co-creation projects can closely reflect their contemporary discourse. While the intention of Wikipedia’s founders was and is to create a high quality encyclopedia available to anybody in the world (albeit limited to those with an internet connection), the process 0
  27. 27. by which Wikipedia is formed is in itself a new and intriguing way of amalgamating different views without the use of third-party referees. The process of formation and development of Wikipedia articles is encapsulated in the flow diagram below: The consensus-building process of wikipedia; emphasis is on comprimise, and the emerging consensus is not static After an article is started, it can be edited by any Wikipedia user. If no-one contests the last edit, this version of the article becomes the new consensus. If the edit is contested, the contesters can edit either edit the article further, revert it to an earlier form, or discuss the matter on the discussion page and try to reach a solution through argumentation. The process by which consensus is reached on Wikipedia articles is interesting in that verbal argumentation is the secondary, not primary mode by which a common view is reached. The primary mode of negotiation in Wikipedia is the act of writing, editing and re-editing, which, when performed with a reasonable degree of frequency, emerges in a consensus - in kind - between those involved in the editing process. At it best, Wikipedia represents a non-partisan, non-confrontational way of reaching consensus. While in party politics and architectural competitions rely are based on selecting the best policy from numerous competing ones, Wikipedia is based on the integration of different views. If one disagrees with the content of a Wikipedia article and wishes to edit it into a better form, the act of editing an existing article requires one to understand the consensus achieved up to that point; one must integrate one’s own ideas with the ideas of others. For this reason, the wiki process would seem to ancourage a politics of empathy rather than one of opposition. At its worst, Wikipedia is a battleground for conflicting views, and in the cases if controversial themes (such as George W. Bush) the article is locked by Wikipedia staff and barred from further editing. 2.4 The significance of co-creation to urban planning It will become untenable in coming years for planning authorities to continue with current processes of public consultation. As the public becomes ever more keen to influence their environment, and as they become ever better equipped to do so thanks to the strong rise in education levels, current forms of public consultation in planning will be seen to be inadequate. While the lay public will increasingly demand better argumentation and justification for planning 1
  28. 28. projects, the capacity of planners to offer acceptable argumentation will not rise, because of the inherent difficulty in explicating planning problems. While on the one hand the public will require better argumentation, and on the other hand architects and planners will have difficulty in convincing the public that decisions made on the basis of tacit knowledge are valid. The issue is troublesome, but is conflict inevitable? Conflict is hard to avoid if planners choose to adhere to current practices and attitudes despite the fact that the social context of planning is changing. Can planners make use of lay stakeholders’ abilities, so that residents can make a positive contribution to planning? Can co-creation be adopted in some form to planning to result in a higher quality of participation, where enthusiasm and constructive engagement are the dominant features of participation, as opposed to opposition? If the potential benefit of applying co-creation to the design of the built environment is the meaningful participation of lay stakeholders and the emergence of a built environment that reflects their values and wishes as well as possible, what kind of contributions should lay people be allowed to make? In his Wealth of Networks (00), Yochai Benkler introduces the concept of the ”micro- contribution” to describe the small contributions made by numerous agents in co-creation projects. Benkler suggests that in successful co-creation projects, tasks are ”granulised” into discreet and clearly defined tasks which can be taken up by any interested actor or group of actors; granulisation keeps the tasks and the project as a whole manageable. For example, Wikipedia articles are in themselves discreet ”grains”, which can be created by a single actor or through iterative edits by multiple actors. Other examples of granulated tasks include segments of software code or security patches; youtube videos; buildings or geographical areas in Second Life or other on-line virtual worlds. The implication of Benkler’s granulisation is that the co-creation project should be have predetermined structure or format within whose constraints participants add content without necessarily interfering with content created by other participants. In the case of wikipedia, an article represents a granule which may be created through the micro-contribution of a single person or through micro-contributions and negotiation between numerous individuals. An important benefit of the limiting the impact of individual players is that it prevents the views and values of any one player from disproportionally influencing the end result, in favour of allowing the end result to emerge from roughly equal input from many different players. If lay people are to be brought into the process of the design of the built environment, should tasks be granulised as Benkler suggests? One way to granulise the task of urban design might be to divide the area to be planned into small parcels of land, assembled around a pre- determined street network. Different actors would then be allowed to design or influence the design of one of these parcels. A precedent case for co-creation in the built environment are the virtual environments constructed in Second Life or other virtual worlds, as well as many real-life single-family house areas, where the builders of each individual plot is allowed some degree of freedom to determine the qualities of the house to be built. While the geographical/physical granulisation of the task of urban design has been tested and its potential understood, it is problematic in that it denies micro-contributors the opportunity to influence the designation of granules itself, i.e. the way that the design task is broken down
  29. 29. into parcels. In other words, the builder of their own house may choose the colour of their walls, but cannot influence the layout of the street network. In this respect, geographical-physical granulisation is plebiscitic, in that major decisions are made before the public involvement commences. In the case of Wikipedia this is not a problem, as it is natural that encyclopedia articles exist as discreet atomised entries, and Wikipedia contributors and editors can negotiate about the merging and splitting of articles – in other words, granules can be continuously re- delineated. But in order to allow a large number of lay people to influence an urban design, they should be given the opportunity to make design gestures that affect the design at all physical levels (e.g. street network, building density of the area in general) rather than being restricted to influencing the qualities of just a small area within the whole (e.g. building density and height of one plot or sub-area). As discussed later in this paper, the wikiplanning method granulises the design process temporally, i.e. by limiting the time that any one individual can spend on a design task. The relevance of Wikipedia to urban design is limited in the respect that Wikipedia aims to collate pre-existing, descriptive knowledge into one place. Urban design is a matter of making normative proposals for development; while the reliability and accuracy of Wikipedia has been a matter of interest to its users (and opponents), reliability and accuracy are not relevant concepts as far as urban design is concerned, and the question of the ”quality” of urban designs is a highly ambiguous area which has been touched upon in the first part of this paper. An important feature of co-creation projects is their largely non-hierarchical administration, meaning that decisions are often made through peer-to-peer negotiation between micro- contributors - for example Wikipedia contributors discussing entries between themselves - avoiding the need for a central coordinator who oversees the project, a role which would carry certain risks as far as democracy is concerned. Key aspects of co-creation that may benefit urban planning and design: - Direct stakeholder-to-stakeholder negotiation can reduce need for centralised adjudication - Co-creation can facilitate the amalgamation of different viewpoints and building of shared understandings, without necessarily requiring verbal communication - Limitation of each individual’s input into ”micro-contributions” helps avoid disproportionate influence by any one stakeholder
  30. 30. PART 3 PRESENTATION AND CRITIQUE OF THE WIKIPLANNING METHOD
  31. 31. 3.0 The wikiplanning method This section is contains a simultaneous exposition and critique of a planning tool, ”wikiplanning”, that I have been developing since 00 in an attempt to address the issues and problems outlined in the first section of this thesis. Wikiplanning is a live workshop method, in which up to 0 lay participants are involved directly in the formulation of planning proposals through model-building. The method has been empirically tested over 0 times in a range of contexts. The wikiplanning method seeks solutions to the aforementioned problems by looking to co- creation. Wikipedia, and the process by which is is built and maintained, offers an interesting model for urban design and planning. Applied to the design of environments, Wikipedia’s mode of production offers a way of integrating numerous different viewpoints and interests without necessarily having to recourse to verbal argumentation, which forecloses non-conceptual, non-explicable matters from the consensus-building process. Wikiplanning in action: the method has been tried over 30 times in a range of contexts Wikiplanning is an attempt to apply the concepts and principles of co-creation to urban planning to result in a planning tool to lead to designs that represent the “public interest” without having to rely on refereeing by one of the interest groups – i.e. planning professionals - whose neutrality in planning issues is questionable. The wikiplanning method has been developed as an off-line, live process, although the eventual intention is to consider how a similar process might be conducted on-line to allow for a larger number of participants. At the time of writing, the method has been over 0 times in various contexts and in numerous permutations. Participants have included residents’ associations, professional planners, local politicians and election candidates, festival-goers, NGOs, as well as school, undergraduate and doctoral students. Through experimenting with different approaches, a “finalised” method has been arrived at which is outlined below, although the method presented will continue to evolve in future development. The development of the method has raised at least as many questions as it has answered, and more experimentation is necessary. Most wikiplanning sessions conducted were not conducted in the context of a “real” planning project, and more testing is needed in real-life contexts, as the high emotional intensity of real planning situations where much is at stake forms a useful acid test for the method.
  32. 32. A plan for part of Helsinki’s Hernesaari was created by a group of 12 laypeople in less than two hours, with minimal help form professionals. Above: site plan. Below: central square. Process The method is simple; several “design stations”, typically numbering three to six, are placed around a room. Depending on the design tasks in hand, the design stations may consist of a site plan or partial site model to which changes are made by moving or adding components. The participants are divided into small groups of up to five persons, such that there are as many groups as there are design stations. The participants are then allowed approximately 10 minutes to make alterations to a model at one of the design stations by manipulating or adding wooden blocks, lego bricks, and a range of other materials. After that time has elapsed, each group in turn presents their work and explains the alterations they have made. Then, each groups moves on to the next design station, where they make further changes to the model, using the previous group’s finishing state as their starting point. This process of editing previous groups’ edits is repeated until every group has worked at each of the design stations. Discussion is kept to a minimum until the latter stages of the workshop, as too much discussion can lead to conversation (and disputes) about small details at the expense of consideration of the wider picture.
  33. 33. The process results in models, or design proposals, to which each group has made at least a small contribution. In theory, each individual will have had the opportunity to express a) his or her values and desires regarding the design task in question, and b) his or her values and desires regarding the integration of the values and desires of all participants into the design proposals. We will later consider to what extent this actually occurs. After the workshop the models are photographed, and the photograph is then “drawn up” by an architect to result in a visual interpretation of the model in which the architect applies - to one extent or another – his or her own professional insight and personal preferences. The drawings can be used as the basis of further discussion between the lay participants and planning This plan, also for Helsinki’s Hernesaari was designed by a mixed group of professionals from fields related to urban planning and land use regulation. Improvements to an imaginary high-rise suburb: to what extent is the cred- ibility of a desgin due to the way it is presented?
  34. 34. professionals; seeing their design represented using established professionals’ techniques and mannerisms, lay participants can develop an understanding of the consequences of their proposal, and thus learn more about their own preferences and dispositions and how to express them. Correspondingly, the architect can use the drawings to try develop an understanding and empathy for what the lay participants are driving at. The drawn-up representations should be seen as tools for communication, not as conclusive results in themselves. 3.1 Case study 1: Alppila In the spring of 00, I was approached by the residents’ association of the Alppila urban district of Helsinki. The active members of the association (numbering approximately six individuals) were dissatisfied with the safety and general pleasantness of Alppila’s main square, known to locals as, among other things, Kuuskulma (”Six Corners”). The traffic arrangement in the square have been widely criticised as unsafe and confusing by car-users, as the separation of trams lines from car lanes is not always clear. Also, pedestrians and inhabitants have bemoaned the speed with which cars drive through the square and the perceived run-down visual appearance of the square, at whose centre is a cluster of recycling bins. The residents’ association wanted to propose improvements to the square in cooperation with as wide a group of local inhabitants as possible, with the hope of gathering enough local support to be able to pressure the city authorities into implementing the changes. In agreement with the residents’ association, I started the consultation process by delivering 00 questionnaires to households surrounding the central square. In addition to conventional questions, the questionnaire form included a map of the square in its current form, and inhabitants were encouraged to draw their own proposals for the development of the square During the course of 8 weeks, 0 questionnaires were returned, of which over 0 had either writing or drawing on the map indicating the inhabitants’ ideas. Contradicting conventional wisdom, the proposals drawn by the local residents exhibited not only an ability to read and understand the plan drawing of the square, but also to draw serious and viable proposals for alterations. Several of the drawn proposals suggested the closing of a stretch of road to through traffic and re-directing it to a widened tram lane. This would enable the formation of a large pedestrian square directly adjoining four local businesses which draw many people to 8
  35. 35. Local residents’ drawn and writ- ten responses: many suggested closing part of Porvoonkatu street to cars, something the traffic planner held feasible 9
  36. 36. the square: a popular local bar-café, a kiosk, a grocers and a restaurant. The closing of this section of road would require the relocating of about 100m of tram tracks and would result in four fewer car parking spaces in the area – all of which could be relocated by changing the parking arrangements of a nearby street to allow diagonal parking. As questionnaires were returned (to a box in the entrance to a local shop), I drew proposals for the development of Kuuskulma square. The proposals were published on a blog, and inhabitants were invited to comment on the proposals. During the eight weeks of the project, six proposals were drawn and published on the blog, where comments were received on the proposals. Many comments resisted changes to the square, citing the possibility of increased noise pollution from the square’s restaurant and bar if their terraces are extended during warmer months. Also, many comments indicated a fear of the number of car parking spaces being diminished. Notable in the blog was the aggressive tone adopted by people writing anonymous comments, who in venomous terms criticised ”green hippies” for threatening the rights of car users. One commenter even alleged that the whole project was initiated by the local bar who was seeking to expand their terrace into the square. In addition to the questionnaires, an open wikiplanning workshop was held at a local festival during the time of the project, and a closed wikiplanning session was held for members of Helsinki’s planning committee and members of the public. The latter event was held in the bar adjoining the square, so that the place being designed was directly visible to the participants of the workshop. After briefing, the three local politicians (all members of Helsinki’s planning board) were given 10 minutes to make alterations to a model of the square as it currently exists. After this time, a group selected from the audience (of about 0 people) was allowed 10 minutes to make their own proposals and to alter the proposal generated by the politicians. Finally, the politicians had a further 10 minutes of modelling time. Although briefed as a model- making event and not a discussion, with the aim of giving the politicians to display and hone their group-working abilities, their interaction was nonetheless characterised by long speeches and interruptions. The final design, in which the north-eastern part of the square was to be closed to though- traffic and the central area of the square would contain a number of raised planting beds, was presented to the relevant authorities While the authorities felt the proposed traffic arrangements 0
  37. 37. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Designs for the square were generated iteratively as feedback was received via the blog, paper ques- tionnaires and meetings 1
  38. 38. to be reasonable and desirable, the cost of re-surfacing the square and moving part of the tram tracks is beyond the financial means available for the following five years. 3.2 Case study 2: Roihuvuori A wikiplanning workshop was organised as part of a larger set of consultation activities intended to involve local residents in the design of a park to be constructed on a piece of land in the centre of the Roihuvuori suburb of Helsinki. A veteran of public participation in architecture, architect Heikki Kukkonen, was commissioned by the city authorities to organise a process of public involvement in the design of the park. Heikki Kukkonen organised a series of walks, discussions and workshops for inhabitants of various ages. In addition to these, I was asked to organise a wikiplanning workshop for the design of the park. In the workshop, in which participated slightly less than 0 local residents of various ages, there were four design stations. At two of the stations their were 1:100 models of the park in its current state. The other two design stations involved a story-telling exercise using images and text. At design stations three and four, a long strip of paper was placed on the table, with a time-line of a day in the year 01, starting at :00am and ending hours later. The task at station three was to use the provided images (cut from magazines) as well as text to tell a story of a good day in the park in the year 01. The task at the fourth station was to use images and text to create a story of a bad day in the park in the year 01. The collage exercise seemed to be a succesful way of provoking thought about the kind of use of the future park, as opposed to specific activities, which were the focus of the two models. The task of designing the park involved, to a large extent, consideration of the types of activities and facilities that the future park should offer, rather than the placing on new large- scale physical objects on the site. Ideas proposed seemed to reflect the interests those participating in the workshop, with teenagers proposing such facilities as e.g. climbing frames and skate ramps, and older adults proposing ponds and benches. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this workshop was the introduction of lego figures which were used to represent demographic groups or viewpoints that were not necessarily represented by the workshop’s participants themselves. Each lego figure (at scale 1:0) held a sign with their name, age, occupation/status and a short statement of their wishes regarding the development of the park. The figures were placed on a table in the middle of the space at the beginning of the workshop, and participants were asked to place the figures in the models to show which part or aspect of the future park the figure in question may most appreciate. The object of this exercise was two-fold – firstly, to help participants consider viewpoints and needs other than their own, and secondly, to make visible whose wishes the participants wanted to cater for and whose wishes were not deemed relevant or appropriate. The somewhat harrowing result was that the figures representing alcoholics (who in real life are currently the primary users of the park) were left on the central table, while a participant offered the explanation that ”alcoholics would be welcome in the future park if they were to behave well, but they never do”. While the lego figure does not solve any problems, it made participants choices starkly visible. It is possible that such use of fictional figures may make participants embarrassed by the one-sidedness of their own viewpoints and thus make concessions to others, but this was not so in the case in question.
  39. 39. The proposals that emerged by the end of the workshop were notable for the feasibility of the transit routes within the park. The network of routes proposed by the lay participants were practicable to the extent that they were carried through to the proposal drawn by architect Heikki Kukkonen as a synthesis of all of the public consultation conducted relating to the park. As local residents know which places they typically move between, it is easy for them to propose routes that reflect their requirements well. When the required routes of a larger range of people are combined and synthesised (as happens in wikiplanning workshops) the result is a network of routes that is highly practical. In this sense, one could claim that some kind of collective intelligence occurs in wikiplanning regarding route design. Lego figures were used to represent groups whose interests were not represented by the participants present at the workshop 3.3 Case study 3: Lasipalatsi I received a commission from Lasipalatsin Mediakeskus Oy to organise a way to gather ideas for the development of the square that lies between the Helsinki’s Lasipalatsi building and the former coach station. On the ”Night of the Arts” in Helsinki in august 009, two 1:0 scale models of the Lasipalatsi square were placed in the square and the general public was invited to model their ideas using plasticine, lego, wooden blocks, cardboard and other modelling materials. One of the two models was used to gather positive ideas for the future of the square, while the other was used to gather negative ideas, i.e. the public’s vision of the the least desirable development of the square The models were open to the public from pm. to 9 pm. Lasipalatsi’s square is currently administered by the properties department of the City of Helsinki. The current urban plan allows for over 000 m of subterranean space to be constructed below the square. Lasipalatsi Mediakeskus Oy wanted to find ideas for both the long term development and use of the square as well as temporary and short term uses until possible building work on the subterranean spaces begins. Current rent agreements allow the two bar terraces in the square to remain in place until 01. Aside from structures relating to the possible underground spaces to be possibly built, it is unlikely that significant and permanent spatial changes will be made to the square, and for this reason the scope of
  40. 40. Upper strip: a good day in the park in the year 2015 Lower strip: a bad day in the park in the year 2015
  41. 41. Above: one of the two models after the workshop. Right: The final design, drawn by architect Heikki Kuk- konen, in which the results of the whole consultation process were taken into account

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