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.
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.
Transport planners and engineers are not new to counting pedestrians. But how many of them count the number of pedestrians using a mobility device? This information is very useful in understanding the importance of designing for accessibility. A study carried out in New Zealand ran a pilot study for measuring pedestrians using mobility devices. The aim was to develop an appropriate counting tool and survey template to help with transport planning.
The New Zealand study by Bridget Burdett was carried out in six sites. Twelve categories of aid were included in the count worksheet. Burdett acknowledges that this is not a measurement of disability per se, or an assessment of accessibility for a facility or for transport connections. However it proved to be a reliable tool which can be used more widely.
The interview data were useful in gaining more detail about the complexities of being a pedestrian who uses a mobility device.
Abstract: This study set out to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of a series of pedestrian counts, including counting the subset of pedestrians who use visibly identifiable mobility aids. The resulting proportion of mobility aid users can then be used as a proxy measure of relative accessibility for each count site. The study acknowledges the diversity of disability, and the count is not intended to capture all people who identify as having disability of any kind. It was estimated from Statistics New Zealand data that approximately 3% of New Zealand’s adult population uses a mobility aid for travel at any particular time. This figure includes those identifying as having permanent disability, as well as an estimate to account for those not included in this figure, namely children, people who do not identify as having a disability but nevertheless use a mobility aid, and those with temporary disability requiring use of a mobility aid. The study identified opportunities to use the tool to remove gaps in the delivery of accessible transportation, across all parts of its system from policy and planning, through design, construction and monitoring. Its widespread promotion will support more objective measurement of inclusion, to inform best-practice infrastructure investment for all.
Editor’s comment: The number of people using a mobility device relative to the population is not the issue in terms of designing accessible and inclusive places. However, for transport planners the tool brings to the fore the need to be accessible and inclusive.
When it comes to active travel and bike riding, fewer women take up these options than men. The City of Sydney wanted to find out why this inequity exists and commissioned a study. It’s part of their overall strategy to apply a gender lens to planning. With an historical bias towards designing cities for men, the status quo in planning is likely to remain.
Using participatory methods and a gender lens they found the drivers, enabling factors and barriers affecting women’s transport choices. The report resulting from the study is comprehensive.The key recommendations for supporting women to walk and cycle are:
perceptions about women bike riders
there’s a gender bias in transport planning
Safety beyond street lighting and cycle-ways
the need to work hand in hand with public transport
the need for end-of-trip facilities
Women’s travel habits are more complex than those of men. That’s because of home and work responsibilities. It’s not just a case of getting from A to B. Women often have more than one stop such as school drop-offs, running errands and doing the shopping.
The report recognises that infrastructure needs to be friendly to all ages, abilities and backgrounds, not just women. The title of the report is, On the Go: How Women Travel Around Our City: A case study on active transport across Sydney through a gender lens.
There are other research reports on active travel on the City of Sydney website. Bike riding is one of the City’s strategies for mitigating climate change.
Last century lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) individuals felt the need to band together for safety in numbers. Some argue that successive human rights legislation has lessened the need for this to continue. Or has it? The notion that gay neighbourhoods are no longer needed is premature. Other neighbourhoods based on ethnicity or socio-economic factors haven’t completely disappeared, and neither have gay neighbourhoods.
Alex Bitterman discusses the lack of academic documentation and research on gay neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods will likely continue and be important to future generations of LGBT residents and families. He argues that gay neighbourhoods are neither dying nor flourishing – just existing – in the same way as any other typology. Gay neighbourhoods will also need to adapt to other trends such as gentrification and affordability. The notion that gay neighbourhoods are self-sustaining, or that they are diminishing is erroneous.
Bitterman concludes his essay; “Through unglamorous scholarly inquiry, the true account of the evolution and trajectories of gay neighbourhoods will be revealed. To better understand the longitudinal progression of gay neighbourhoods, researchers should endeavour to differentiate between well-established gay neighbourhoods and emerging gaybourhoods, carefully studying the trends and demographics that lead to shifting LGBT populations and changes in gay neighbourhoods. This evolution, occurring in plain sight but largely undocumented, is LGBT history in the making and the opportunity to chronicle these unique and important changes is ours to lose.”
It’s time to move away from the word “placemaking” to “making place” and “making space”. This concept is discussed from an Indigenous Australian context in a book chapter titled, There’s No Place Like (Without) Country. Making place and making space allows for a view of spatial histories, claiming and reclaiming sites, and to uncover stories that are often overlooked in urban design practice. This is an academic text in, Placemaking Fundamentals for the Built Environment, and you will need institutional access for a free read. It includes an example of the authors’ experience at the Sydney Olympic Park site. Sydney Olympic Park has documented some of the local Indigenous history.
Introduction: “In this chapter, we critique traditional placemaking approaches to site, through the Indigenous Australian concept of Country. We contest that a move away from the word ‘placemaking’ is overdue. We instead propose a practice of ‘making place’, and further ‘making space’ (i) that allows overlooked spatial (hi)stories to reclaim sites that they have always occupied, and (ii) for the very occupants and stories that are ordinarily overlooked in urban and spatial design practice. To do so is to accept that we must look to those marginal occupants, practices and writings that challenge the gendered, heteronormative, white, neuro-typical and colonising discourses that dominate architecture. Placemaking practices employ community consultation, privileging local stories and quotidian ways-of-being in response. It is our position, that even these ‘community-engaged’ processes perpetuate erasure and marginalisation precisely through their conceptualisations of ‘Site’ and what constitutes community. We present a model for an Indigenous/non-Indigenous collaboration that offers methods of spatially encountering site within a colonial context. We share our experiences of a project that we collaboratively produced in the Badu Mangroves at Sydney Olympic Park, to share the overlooked spatial histories and cultures of countless millennia. We have woven together Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies and axiologies, and design-as-research methodology.
Is there a link between an age-friendly urban environment and sustainability? This is a question posed by a group in Hong Kong. They carried out an on-street surveyto see what the links are, if any. They claim that “The empirical results suggest how the aging‐friendly factors have impacted the economic, environmental, and social sustainability to a certain extent”. Among other results, outdoor spaces were not found to be a planning factor, but community support and health services were. The abstract below gives more detail. This paper shows how it is possible to bring different disciplines together rather than having them compete for attention. That is also apparent when taking a universal design approach to planning.
The title of the article is “Does aging‐friendly enhance sustainability? Evidence from Hong Kong” You will need institutional access for a free read.
Abstract: The aging population is one of the demographic changes in the 21st century. World Health Organization defines an age‐friendly city as a place that has an “inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active aging.” It receives considerable attention in the field of gerontology and contains important aspects of sustainable urban development. Unfortunately, there have not much research that addresses the relationship between aging‐friendly and sustainability. There is a need to modify the market mechanism to achieve environmental objectives while striking a balance between social and economic considerations. This paper aims to empirically examine the integrated relationships between the dense urban environment and the social and emotional needs of the elderly in the Hong Kong context. The on‐street survey was conducted in eight districts in Hong Kong to collect the opinions about aging‐friendly criteria and sustainability indicators. It utilizes principal component analysis and multiple regression technique to unveil the mask of their intrinsic relationship. The empirical results suggest how the aging‐friendly factors have impacted the economic, environmental, and social sustainability to a certain extent. Notably, two key findings were revealed from the empirical results. (a) “Outdoor Spaces” is consistently found not to be a planning factor that can enhance three types of sustainability, irrespective of the age groups in Hong Kong; (b) “Community Support and Health Services” is regarded as a significant factor, with the exception of economic sustainability (age group ≤60).