Community involvement for design in planning

A woman strikes a yoga pose alone in a city square with tall buildings around.Planning is also about design. And good design now includes users. Community involvement is a key part of planning processes. It must take account of our human diversity otherwise designs will unintentionally exclude. Community involvement in planning also introduces designers and planners to “other ways of being”. 

Design and planning go hand in hand, but design has been a subject to avoid in planning, particularly in the U.S. This is according to a journal article that challenges planners to move beyond policies of spatial organisation.   

The article covers climate change and climate justice, and social and racial justice. A workshop using collaborative processes is the basis of a case study highlighting the issues. Community involvement was pivotal to the success of the project and the research outcomes. The subject of the case study is an affordable housing provider. The aim was to move from standard cookie cutter designs to designs that suited the potential residents. The new design was applied to a prototype home. 

The author concludes that there are profound implications for planning research. Designers need to engage with planning because they can better address the social and environmental concerns. 

The title of the article is, Design in Planning: Reintegration through Shifting Values.  


Design is increasingly entering planning beyond the subfield of urban design. At a larger scale, designers are moving into the social sciences to apply design skills at intersections with the social sciences. This article offers an overview of research and practice at the forefront of both interpreting design fields and understanding their growing importance within planning. This transcends examinations of urban design to incorporate the potential of design more broadly in planning, with particular emphasis on community development and engagement.

The article does this through a case study of an existing design-based nonprofit (bcWORKSHOP) which leverages techniques across design and planning to generate new forms of community planning practice in the State of Texas. Ultimately, this case study begins to ask whether planning can fully address a number of issues (like social/racial justice and climate change) without understanding these issues from both design and planning perspectives simultaneously. It also emphasizes the importance of training planners to both envision and build alternate possible worlds, a skillset fundamental to design that could reshape planning education and practice.

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