Performance of Regional Design in a Discursive Dimension of Planning Concepts

The above notions on design, in combination with notions on how spatial development is considered in the realm ot spatial planning (outlined in Table 4.1), have led to a first position concerning interrelations between regional design and spatial planning frameworks. In this position, regional design as an argumentative practice, performs in a discursive dimension of spatial concepts. In order to identify ways how plans influence decision-making, Faludi and Korthals Altes (1994, 405) distinguish a “technocratic” from a “sociocratic” way ot planning. In technocratic planning, government safeguards the public interest by means of a ready-made plan. In a sociocratic approach, the views of other actors are considered: “[authorities are not the only ones called upon to act in the ‘public interest’ and not above other actors either.This leaves room for negotiations” (Faludi and Van derValk 1994, 405). In technocratic planning, the influence of plans is judged upon the “conformance” between implemented planning decisions and the earlier onward determined plans. In a sociocratic way of planning, the “performance” ot plans is in the outcome ot negotiation and deliberation: in agreement among actors, and the change of mind that the formation of such consent requires. When taking this definition of performance as a starting point, a set ot key performance parameters of regional design in the realm of spatial planning can be distinguished.

  • Regional design assists in the building of spatial planning rationales. When regional design operates in a discursive sort of way, it assists in the structuring of existing reservoirs ot meaning, in the face ot a particular spatial problem. Such structuring of knowledge, values, and norms - the building of argument, story lines and narratives - gains considerable attention in literature about regional design (Hajer, Reijndorp and Feddes 2006, Hajer, van‘T Klooster, and Grijzen 2010,Van Dijk 2011). In the realm of spatial planning, structuring corresponds to its objective “to articulate a more coherent spatial logic for land-use regulation, resource protection, and investments in regeneration and infrastructure” (Albrechts, Healey, and Kunzmann 2003,113). In planning as well as design persuasive logics are associated with learning.
  • Regional design challenges or refines spatial planning rationales. As highlighted above, design theorists argue that design - the testing of solutions against simplified abstractions of the built environment - may be a process of elaboration or discovery. When assuming that design practice is framed by spatial concepts, the practice may be used to refine these concepts through deducing solutions from an institutionalized repertoire ot meanings. Conversely, a hypothetical or imagined design solution may help the designer to uncover new aspects of a ‘spatial planning

Table 4.1 Theoretical notions used to identify key performances of regional design in the realm of spatial planning

Design theory

Design is an argumentative practice.

  • • Design has a normative orientation towards change and improvement.
  • • Design has a holistic orientation. It is concerned about wholes and interdependencies among parts.
  • • In a context of uncertainty, design is exploratory. Instead of following a linear problem - solution logics, argumentation evolves during iterations, repetitive rounds in which solutions are developed, comprehended, reflected upon, and adapted.
  • • Design follows a process of "conjecture and refutation." The building of argument involves creativity and ingenuity, luck, and also doubt.

(Caliskan 2012, Hillierand Leaman 1974, Lawson 2009, Rittel 1987, Schon 1983, Schonwandt and Crunau 2003, Cross 2004, Van Aken 2005)

Designers work with representation.

• Designers work with representations of the built environment to support the imagination.

(Lawson 2009, Rittel 1987)

Abstract representations of the built environment are used to test design solutions.

  • • To argue for change, the designer imagines design solutions but simultaneously imagines the world around him or her. The latter is a process of abstraction that leads to the recognition of types: simplifications of real, material settings, sited between highly general, abstract categories, and highly specific ones.
  • • Simplifications of real, material settings are used to test solutions.
  • • Testing may lead to adaptations of solutions or to a changing appreciation of environments.

(Caliskan 2012, Hillierand Leaman 1974, Schon 1988)

Planning theory

Planning has a normative orientation.

• Planning has a normative orientation. It seeks to sustain environmental resources, to distribute these in an even and fair way, to temper unintended external effects that stem from individual or group action, and to improve the information base for democratic decision-making.

(Klosterman 1985)

Spatial planning pays particular attention to spatial development.

  • • Spatial planning is oriented towards the longterm, the integration of sectoral plans and activity, and the involvement of stakeholders in planning decision-making.
  • • Compared to other (regulatory) planning approaches, spatial planning pays particular attentioi to spatial development.

(Albrechts, Healey, and Kunzmann 2003, Albrechts 2004, Allmendinger and Haughton 2010, Faludi 2010, Healey 2004, 2006, Nadin, 2007, Needham 1988, Schon 2005, Tewdwr-Jones, Calient, and Morphet 2010)

Contemporary Theory

Table 4.1 Cont.

Spatial representations are geographic imagery that is purposefully used by plan actors.

  • • Spatial representations, in word and image, are socially constructed perceptions of the built environment.
  • • Spatial representations are expressions of what different actors find important and what they are willing to neglect.
  • • Spatial representations have agency, they are purposefully employed by plan actors to inform the behaviour of other, related actors.
  • • Spatial representations draw on repertoires of existing symbols.

(Davoudi 2012, Davoudi and Strange 2008, Duhr 2003, 2004, 2006, Faludi 1996, Graham and Healey 1999, Jensen and Richardson 2003, Neuman 1996, Thierstein and Forster 2008, Van Duinen 2004, Forster 2009)

The use of spatial representations has an analytical, normative and/or organizational logic.

  • • 1) When representations have an analytical logic, they depict spatial development and are associated with (invariable) scientific knowledge about material spatial settings and practices.
  • • 2) When representations have a normative logic, they portray desirable planning outcomes and are associated with political values.
  • • 3) When representations have an organisational logic they show a territory and are associated with forms of territorial management.

(Duhr 2004, Forster 2009, Van Duinen 2004)

Spatial concepts are institutionalized perceptions of geographies.

  • • Spatial concepts are perceptions of geographies that are used for the purpose of planning.
  • • A frame is "a perspective from which an amorphous, ill-defined, problematic situation can be made sense of and acted on" (Rein and Schon 1993,146).

Spatial concepts are geographic frames.

• Spatial concepts resemble discourse as "an ensemble of ideas, concepts, and categories through which meaning is given to social and physical phenomena, and which is produced and reproduced through

an identifiable set of practices" (Hajer and Versteeg 2005).'

(Davoudi 2003, 2012, Davoudi et al. 2018, Gualini and Majoor2007, Hagens 2010, Healey 2004, Markusen 1999, Richardson and Jensen 2003, Van Duinen 2004, Zonneveld 1991, 1989, Zonneveld and Verwest 2005)

Spatial concepts are composed of an analytical, normative, and an organizational dimension.

  • • 1) In their analytical dimension spatial concepts provide a reservoir of analytical knowledge.
  • • 2) In their normative dimension spatial concepts incorporate a reservoir of political values.
  • • 3) In their organizational dimension concepts incorporate a reservoir of policy measures that can take effect in territories.
  • • Through being composed of these dimensions, spatial concepts allow for the construction of spatial planning rationales.

(Davoudi 2003, Markusen 1999, Van der Valk 2002, Van Duinen 2004, Zonneveld 1991)


Table 4.1 Cont.

Performance of plans is in their impact on decision-making.

  • • The conformance of plans is in their effective implementation.
  • • The performance of plans is in their impact on decision-making. Performances are in learning and/ or a change of minds of actors.

(Faludi 1987, Faludi 2000, Faludi and Korthals Altes 1994, Mastop and Faludi 1997, Needham 1988)

Source: Balz (2019).

world’. Design practice is then inductive: it is used to challenge or enrich prevailing spatial concepts and the array of rationales that these incorporate.

Key performance parameters stem from matches and mismatches in analytical, political, and organizational dimensions. A more detailed set of performances can be presumed through the distinction of logics of spatial representations and dimensions of spatial concepts. According to these, design may be a form of analytical reasoning (referring to the analytical foundation of concepts), a form of political action (referring to the normative planning agendas that concepts imply), or a form of organizational reasoning (referring to forms of territorial action and control concepts suggest). In this context, performances of regional design in the realm of spatial planning are varied. Design contributes to the spatial and technical quality of plans, it clarifies political options, as well as enhances territorial management. The analytical framework explains these different performances by the matches and mismatches that designs produce in the context of premediated perceptions of geographies that frame policy argumentation. Depending on these congruencies, design proposals refine or challenge the analytical foundation of spatial concepts, the normative agendas that they incorporate, or the policy-making that they suggest for territories.

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