WORKSHOPS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION
Towards a shared understanding in urban planning

Summary

Traditionally planners have distinguished between the substantive and procedural aspects of urban and regional planning. In the 1990s these two planning approaches have come closer together, with new issues such as sustainable development demanding an integration of substantive and procedural aspects. Newly emerging approaches to planning among researchers and practitioners, for example, increasing communication through the exchange of information and ideas, underscore the links rather than the differences between the two aspects. In the context of sustainable urban development, a shared understanding of basic common conditions is essential. This paper focuses on workshops on environmental innovation as a tool for planners for enhancing a shared understanding among the stakeholders in urban planning projects. A sustainable perspective of water and traffic networks as basic conditions is the starting point for the workshops discussed here. The central question is how to improve the workshop method in order to highlight the major issues of all the "actors". The paper discusses the background to this question and then discusses how such workshops can play a regular part in urban restructuring projects. An analysis of these experiences leads to suggestions on how to improve the workshop methods currently being used.

Section1
Introduction

Traditionally a distinction is made between the substantive and procedural aspects of planning theory distinguishes (Faludi, 1987). However, the two planning approaches came closer together in the 1990s following a number of developments. Figure 1 graphically demonstrates our view on the two approaches.

From substance to procedure

The worldwide focus on sustainable development has drawn the attention of planners away from the substantive towards the procedural aspects of planning. The Strategy of the Two Networks (Tjallingii 1992, 1996) is a good example of an approach that has its roots in substantive planning, but which incorporates procedural elements. On the one hand, the strategy seeks to make water and transport systems more sustainable by addressing noise, energy, pollution and other environmental issues. (See section 2 of this paper for an elaborate description of the Strategy of the Two Networks - sometimes termed here S2N). This illustrates the substantive roots of the strategy. On the other hand, procedural elements are evident in two different ways:

  • In the traditional approach the claims of specific land-use functions used to be the starting point. This usually led to opposite points of view rather than to a shared understanding, whereas working with the Strategy of the Two Networks encourages the development of a shared understanding because of its initial focus on the "carrying conditions" of sustainable water and transport systems. While a functional approach tends to focus on the claims and targets of interest groups demanding space for agricultural, residential, commercial and other land-use functions, starting the planning process with the "carrying conditions" of the networks for water and traffic implies that this approach has to be used in relation to all land-use functions. As a result, the concept contributes to the development of integral designs of landscapes.
  • In a second approach the focus is on a durable "backbone" for development. This "backbone", formed by the spatial structures for water and traffic systems, creates a framework that leaves room for uncertainty and flexibility in the plans for other functions such as housing, industry, agriculture, recreation and wildlife. That flexibility also allows for the development of interactive processes between stakeholders.

In these two ways the Strategy of the Two Networks (S2N) combines the substantive and procedural approaches to planning and creates a basis for communication - the exchange of ideas and information.

From procedure to substance

In the 1990s, planners moved away from their roots in the procedural tradition and turned to genuine communication and discussion. The procedural tradition was characterised by putting forward planning proposals to a public enquiry before the final decision making, but only after a lengthy preparation by professionals. By the time of the public enquiry the proposal could not be changed. So unless there was a massive protest, the proposal was passed unchanged. The so-called communicative, collaborative or argumentative form of planning (Healey 1997; Sager 1994; Fischer & Forester 1993) was a reaction to this rather "top down" approach. Healey identifies five characteristics which distinguish the collaborative from the traditional approach:

  • integrated "place" making
  • collaboration in policy making
  • stakeholder involvement
  • use of "local" knowledge
  • building "relational" resources (Healey 1998).

Clearly, these characteristics are not found not in the traditional "top down" approach to planning. Healey's characteristics can be used as a framework for the assessment of the quality of participation in projects or work processes; they are listed here to typify the "communicative" form of planning. They illustrate that proponents of communicative approaches prefer to give impetus to genuine interaction between those who have a "stake" in the innovation that results from this particular planning process.

A further step in introducing substantive elements into the procedure of communicative planning is the emerging "discourse analysis", the term used for an analysis of speech, reasoning and argument by stakeholders participating in a planning process. Understanding the cultural context and the background of the social construct which form the basis of the stakeholders' language, narratives and images, contributes to the development of a shared understanding.

Workshops

In the context of growing attention being paid to the communicative processes, it is not surprising that workshops became a common and recurring element in the formulation of planning and policy processes. This paper is about workshops held on strategic urban planning projects which aim at sustainable development. We call them "workshops for environmental innovation" and draw upon our recent experiences in The Netherlands.

Much of the discussion on communicative planning builds on the work of Habermas. He argues that "communicative rationality" results from the interaction between "actors" pursuing a common definition of reality. Thus, an interdisciplinary mutual understanding or shared understanding of subject areas can be achieved in the interactive process. In our view, workshops for environmental innovation are useful in stimulating and generating such a shared understanding.

On a practical level, our starting point is that workshops can offer a forum for working out both the substantive and procedural elements in relation to actual planning situations.

 

Questions addressed in this paper

  • The underlying question is how to create basic conditions for sustainable urban development? It is worthwhile describing some of the implications of this question. Firstly, there is a concern about future generations; furthermore, it is assumed that it is not possible to create a static situation called sustainability, but that conditions for a dynamic process of sustainable development can be created.
    The preliminary answer to the question, then, is that sustainable options for water and traffic networks are basic physical conditions for sustainable urban development. The "Ecological Conditions" approach (Tjallingii 1996) combines these basic physical conditions with the basic social conditions for a process of social learning, in which a shared understanding is a key issue.
  • The question that follows from this is how to stimulate a shared understanding of these basic conditions?
    The preliminary answer is that workshops for environmental innovation taking the communicative form of planning as the starting point, may contribute to this shared understanding of basic conditions.
  • As we have experience with a number of these workshops held during the last year, the third question is how can we improve the method of workshops for environmental innovation? More specifically we would like to reflect on the question of how the "actor" issues could play a more important role in the workshop method used at present.

Outline of the remainder of this paper

In sections 2 and 3 on the Strategy of the Two Networks (S2N) and the Workshops for environmental innovation respectively, this paper discusses some of the background to these questions before moving on to the role of Workshops in urban planning practice as illustrated in the projects of Haarlem (Schalkwijk) and Delft (Poptahof). Finally, the weaknesses, dilemmas and options for making improvements to the present workshop method will be explored.

 

Section 2
The Strategy of the Two Networks (S2N)

In the Introduction reference was made to the way that The Strategy of the Two Networks (S2N) is providing the structure for current planning processes. But why is it based on water and traffic networks?

The role of water and traffic in planning

At the level of structure plans for urbanising landscapes, water and traffic networks may organise "spatial order". In the making of such a plan it has proved practical to take the traffic network as a starting point to create the right conditions for economic development. Likewise, the water network (the drainage system, groundwater and surface waters) is a practical starting point for linking urban development to the local landscape and, more specifically, for creating the appropriate conditions for an integrated pattern of green areas. Moreover, strategies for sustainability related to energy saving in terms of mobility and the prevention of pollution, may be effectively linked to the planning of water and traffic systems and their spatial networks (Tjallingii 1995). In the S2N traffic and water networks are seen as the "carriers"of a spatial organisation that offers a basis for sustaining biological diversity, sustainable use of natural resources and a good quality of life for citizens.

If we use S2N as a tool in the workshops for environmental innovation, it means that traffic and water flows are the starting point for urban planning. Thus, planners will look first at these flows, their spatial networks and at the other players connected with the road and water infrastructure. The three perspectives - flows, areas and players are the "decision fields" discerned by the Ecopolis Strategy, the conceptual frame in which the S2N was conceived (Tjallingii 1995).

Strategic principles for water and traffic planning

The traffic principle of S2N is a concentration of the infrastructure on corridors. In this way, the strategy seeks to create conditions for the efficient use of the infrastructure, to exploit public transport and for joint efforts in pollution and noise control. Apart from these "flow" directed effects, the traffic principle of concentrating on corridors seeks to create conditions for "area" qualities such as the reduction of barriers and less fragmentation of the landscape.

The water principle of S2N is based on the strategy to keep rainwater clean and to keep it for longer, by means of retention and infiltration techniques. The rationale behind the "keep it for longer" strategy is based on bad experiences with the rapid removal of rainwater, causing erosion and flooding downstream and decreasing groundwater tables upstream. The "keep it clean" principle leads to prevention programmes and to the rule that water should flow from the clean to the polluted. Apart from these "flow" directed issues, the water principle leads to retention ponds, waterfalls and other water forms that contribute to the quality of areas. A more detailed discussion of the principles of the S2N and the ways in which they can be used in the process of integral planning and design is given by Tjallingii, 1995 and 1996.

As both the flow and area principles for water and traffic are well elaborated, the social or "actor" dimensions were often less well worked out in the workshops. Special attention was paid, therefore, to these "other player" dimensions in our search for improved workshop methods.

 

Section 3
Workshops for environmental innovation

Workshops and communication

Objectives behind the use of workshops are diverse. They can aim to provide an exchange of views, to gain support amongst a wide variety of "actors", or to set a common agenda. A municipality may organise a workshop to bring stakeholders together for the development of a municipal plan. A municipal service may organise a workshop in a district to offer its inhabitants the means to participate in decision-making on the district water system. An urban planning department may have a workshop with another department to tune their agendas to each other. Generally, the term participation is used only to refer to citizens' participation. However, in the context of this paper, participation means communication between all participants in a planning process. Officials from several municipal departments, for example, often find it difficult to develop a common language for their contributions to an integrated planning process.

Scientific rationalism is based on instrumental logic: planning starts with the formulation of objectives, then proceeds to the selection of the means and subsequently goes on to implementation and evaluation. There has been a lot of criticism on this linear, rationalistic approach, which does not take into account uncertainties, risks, conflicting interests and diverging values. Most planners agree with this criticism (see Kickert et al. 1985 for the evolution of planning theory). The perception of planning as a "communicative enterprise" (Healey 1993: 240) is a reaction to a vision of planning characterised by scientific rationalism. As Healey puts it:

"A communicative approach to knowledge production - knowledge of conditions, cause and effect, moral values, and aesthetic worlds - maintains that knowledge is not merely a preformulated store of systematised understandings but is specifically created anew in our communications through exchanging perceptions and understandings and through drawing on the stock of life experience and previously consolidated cultural and moral knowledge available to participants. We cannot therefore predefine a set of tasks which planning must address, since these must be specifically discovered, learned about, and understood through intercommunicative processes" (Healey 1993: 241).

In planning practice, for instance in infrastructure planning, the path to decision-making may be organised in cycles in order to allow for uncertainties and to create conditions for feedback. Figure 2 illustrates the basic steps. Clearly, the most promising opportunities for a shared understanding, and therefore, for the workshops for environmental innovation, are at the design stage. If we link this with Bryson and Crosby's categories of decision-making in the forum, arena or court, then clearly the workshop forum is the setting for developing a shared understanding (Bryson & Crosby 1993).

Figure 2. Plan development (De Jong 1998)

 

Development of a workshop method

Several studies have contributed to our approach of holding workshops for environmental innovation. Mayer's analysis of scenario workshops has deepened our understanding of communication on environmental issues in a workshop context (Mayer 1997). Teisman (1997) drew our attention to the process of "enrichment": the evolution of planning proposals through different rounds in workshops. The essential point, he argues, is not to vote away second best ideas, especially when they contain sound solutions for partial problems. The combination and recombination of ideas in a process of enrichment generates well elaborated alternatives with more support from different stakeholders. This comes very close to a shared understanding on the lines of a Habermas dialogue.

For the further development of practical tools in a workshop setting it has been useful to study the experiences of extension schemes, such as those in agricultural development in developing countries, where methods such as Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal (Pretty 1995) have been developed and field-tested. These approaches are characterised by practical tools that are not used as a recipe book, but can be adapted flexibly to local circumstances. One method with which there is extensive experience in The Netherlands, is Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Knowledge Systems (RAAKS) (Engel 1995; Engel and Salomon 1997). RAAKS is a participatory action-research methodology and focuses on the social organisation of innovation. Engel asks the questions to which this methodology seeks to find the answers as follows:

"What do social actors, individuals and/or organisations, actually do to innovate their practices? How do they organise themselves? Can this be managed or facilitated, and if so, how?" (Engel 1995: addendum).

A RAAKS toolkit, with practical tools to work with in a series of workshops, supports the innovation process.

Having clarified the objectives and backgrounds of the workshops for environmental innovation, we now turn to the experience with such workshops in Dutch planning programmes for the renovation and reconstruction of post war districts.

 

Section 4
Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

In the beginning of the 21st century, The Netherlands faces urban reconstruction as its most important task in urban development. The objective of restructuring is to provide variation in the housing stock, increase the quality of the living environment and to achieve a drastic reduction in environmental pollution. In the last decade, the traditional "top down" approach gave way to an interactive procedure in which the role of practitioners and stakeholders is essential from the very beginning of the planning process.

In the past two years, researchers from the Delft University of Technology and Alterra participated in a number of urban projects. The objective was to learn about the use of concepts on sustainable development in the actual context of restructuring projects. Attention was paid to flows, areas and "actors" or players, but a special focus was on the role of communication.

Schalkwijk District

Background

Schalkwijk is a district of 730 ha in the south eastern part of Haarlem. It has 14,000 dwellings and 33,000 inhabitants. The average density is 45 people per hectare. In 1996, the local government started the restructuring project "Schalkwijk 2000+", with the creation of a varied and sustainable living environment as the main objective.

An open planning process has been adopted, in which residents and other stakeholders are invited to participate from the beginning. The Schalkwijk process is currently in the preparatory stage of the definition phase in which the approach, objectives, spatial structure and budgetary conditions have to be defined. The participants in the process are the housing corporations, the district councils, the residents, the water board and the drinking water company, the electricity company, local environmental groups and numerous local government officials from different departments. The organisation of the process is shown in Figure 3. At an early stage, residents participate in the working groups (printed in bold). The "products" are shown in italics. The project management team (PMT) and the local authorities are responsible for the final decision-making.

Figure 3. Organisational model of Schalkwijk. Workshops are an essential part of the working groups and of the work in the design team.

 

Workshop settings

The planning process included approximately 35 workshops over a period of three years. The goals of the workshops were information/education; creating support and commitment; determining the extent of (environmental) goals; pointing out bottlenecks and generating ideas (for example, the residents' festival), design at the district level; testing of the design suggestions; and the modification of the designs through formal reactions (involvement/participation procedures).

Three working groups identified key issues and targets for environmental quality, spatial/physical quality and social quality. These key issues had to guide the planning process. The workshops of the working group on environmental quality and the design team are discussed briefly here. In the course of five workshops, the working group on environmental quality discussed and formulated environmental goals in the fields of water, traffic, green, waste materials and cleaning, and construction materials and water (Van Eijk 1997). During the workshops, a three-step strategy was used (Duijvestein 1997: 16). These steps, aiming at a reduction in pressures on the environment, comprised:

  • preventing unnecessary use
  • using alternative resources
  • using finite resources wisely

Specific measures were formulated at each step.

In addition to the use of the three-step strategy, the working group chose to use the S2N to create an integral and sustainable restructuring concept for Schalkwijk. Local residents participated in the workshops alongside municipal practitioners. Other participants were the water and energy supply companies and the regional water board.

A residents' festival was organised in conjunction with these workshops, which aimed to increase the commitment of the residents to the planning process by inviting them to join the process of generating ideas. Four information meetings (urban planning, traffic, environment, living conditions) were held in support of the residents' festival, where outside professionals presented the future possibilities for Schalkwijk. Residents submitted seventy ideas altogether. A children's play island, the winning idea, will be created. Other ideas, such as the construction of a mosque, will be incorporated into the planning process.

In 1997 and 1998 an interdisciplinary design team drew up a draft structure plan during two series of workshops (10 in total), using the documents from the working groups and the results of the residents' festival. In both series, the S2N was the leading strategy for the spatial organisation of Schalkwijk. The first series of workshops was about Schalkwijk as a whole, while the second series was organised by neighbourhood. (Schalkwijk consists of four districts). The workshops had an "open" and an "enclosed" structure. In the "open" part of the workshop, the residents identified problems during a walk through the neighbourhood. In an "enclosed" part of the workshop, the design team elaborated on the proposals. Subsequently, following the session and consultations, the residents gave their reactions to the design results. Design decisions were presented to the local authorities by the Project Management Team (PMT). These results were then communicated to the residents. The final structure plan, incorporating 27 projects, was presented and went through a public enquiry procedure including an open discussion with the residents. The open discussion was attended by 2,500 people and yielded 1,500 written comments. After this procedure, five internal workshops were organised to investigate the 1,500 reactions in greater detail and to advise the local authorities.

Reflection

A comparison of nine urban restructuring projects in The Netherlands has shown that the Schalkwijk process (with the Strategy of the Two Networks -S2N) is the most integrated and has the highest ambitions concerning sustainability (Hal and Sylvester 1998; van der Wal 1998). From the start, environmental issues were discussed interactively with participants. However, using the S2N and setting up an interactive process did not appear to guarantee the commitment that the PMT was hoping for. What significant lessons can be learnt from the Schalkwijk case in order to find answers to the main question of this paper?

The S2N is a promising approach, both in terms of shaping the decisions and in the design of the district. However, traffic and water networks are still rather abstract concepts for residents. Most of them find it difficult to imagine what a large-scale structure plan implies in relation to the scale of a house or a garden. The number of negative reactions to the traffic network proposals illustrate this. Collaboration in policy making and the organisation of a public enquiry procedure do not automatically lead to support for a plan at the final stage. The fact that more than 50 formal meetings had been organised between the local government and the residents (including workshops) did not change their perceptions. In the public enquiry procedure it became obvious that it was unclear to the residents how the visionary master plan would relate to operational projects. This was especially the case because of the lack of information regarding the way in which the participation process will continue in the next phases of the project.

Many residents have difficulty with the complexity and large scope of the project: the "so many people, so many wishes" effect. Moreover, it is sometimes hard to see how short-term interventions relate to the sustainable development of a larger area and in the long term (Van Eijk 1999). Should the S2N be communicated in a more persuasive way with participating residents or would it be more appropriate to restrict resident participation to issues concerning the neighbourhood itself? In that case decisions about structures for the whole district could be prepared by a forum of stakeholders, including some representatives of the residents, with the knowledge and commitment at the more abstract structure plan level. At that level the professionals and politicians would be responsible for setting out the broad framework within which there would be ample scope for local decisions.

Traffic proposals, especially plans to concentrate traffic (cars) in some zones and to reduce it in others, met with resistance that was not easily resolved in the workshops. Besides the "not in my backyard" syndrome of residents, there were objections from the traffic department of the municipality. They had doubts about the feasibility of the traffic proposals. Also the social housing corporations objected because they found it hard to conform to spatial interventions where the effects on a microscale were uncertain. Additionally, a local political party expressed doubts about the feasibility of the proposed traffic interventions. Experiments with interactive planning of the infrastructure (Wolsink 1999) show that this is not a new phenomenon. The formal reason given for these objections against limitations of car use is often uncertainty. Behind this, however, there may be more or less justified fears for damage to vital short-term interests. It is obvious that mere workshops could not offer the one and only answer.

Urban restructuring processes go beyond the municipal elective term and need (inter)active participation of the policy makers, the city council and non-governmental organisations. In the case of Schalkwijk, partly due to elections, the participation of sitting politicians in the urban planning process was not sufficient to gain the commitment of future politicians. For example, unlike other "actors" or players, politicians did not participate in the workshops. Consequently, much energy was needed to gain political support in the end.

There can be a tension between substantive planning concepts adopted at an early stage and an open procedure, inviting stakeholders to participate in the process. This tension arises when the adopted concept offers no room for local variation or for an adaptation of the concept. The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy discussed this issue in a recent report (WRR 1998: 133-139). The WRR describes some promising cases. Crucial is the open yet challenging nature of the initial concept, and the selection of stakeholders. Workshops are an interesting tool in this context.

To sum up, the main questions evolving from the Schalkwijk case are:

  • at what stage of the urban planning process should participation with or without residents take place?
  • how should the other "actors" in the field be involved in the planning process?

We shall look at these questions in greater depth in relation to the Poptahof case in Delft.

 

Poptahof District

The Schalkwijk case shows that participative planning processes (including workshop sessions) do not automatically lead to a shared understanding among all the "actors" involved. The visionary and comprehensive nature of the plan in particular, and its large scale and the complexity, as well as the attitude of the (in)directly involved "actors", may affect support for the resulting structure plan. How can we deal with these kinds of dilemmas and what should the role of workshops be? Against this background we shall take a closer look at the workshop method that has been used in a case study on the restructuring of the Poptahof in the municipality of Delft.

Background

The Poptahof in Delft can be characterised as a typical town centre neighbourhood in the 1960s. About 2,400 people live in the Poptahof, an area of 18 ha with a density of 133 people per hectare. A housing company (social rent) owns the dwellings.

The main objective of the restructuring project put forward by the municipality of Delft was to create a concept for a sustainable (spatial) organisation of the Poptahof, in collaboration with the housing company. The project management intended to involve the residents at a later stage.

The workshop method

The workshops were based on the Environmental Maximisation Method, the EMM (Duijvestein 1997: 35). This process-oriented design method was used in the context of several new housing projects in The Netherlands (see Figure 4). Several similar workshops were organised in the neighbourhood of Kvillebacken in Gotenburg, Sweden, in the Randstad region and in the municipality of Deventer, both in The Netherlands. In the workshop environmental themes were related to water, traffic, nature, and built-up areas (blue, grey, green, and red on the workshop drawings and maps). Following the S2N, water and traffic were approached as important carriers for their spatial qualities and for reducing the environmental impact: environmental strategies for blue and grey create conditions for green and red. In addition to these four themes, the Poptahof workshops were also about environmental themes concerning energy, waste, housing stock, and liveability.

Two on-location workshop sessions took place in which 30 professionals and politicians participated. The project management decided to select the "actors" on an ad hoc basis. Most of them worked for the municipality or the housing company. Unlike the Schalkwijk case, no residents participated in this stage of the project.

The goal of the first workshop was twofold:

  • for participants to become acquainted with each other and with the issues and options for sustainable urban development
  • to stimulate creative thinking without the limitation of day-to-day practice, in order to formulate innovative options for a sustainable spatial organisation of Poptahof.

 

The goal of the second workshop session was also twofold:

  • to explore a number of alternative integrated plans based on the outcome of the first session
  • to enhance a number of these plans and to gain support for and commitment to them as a basis for subsequent stages in the planning process.

 

Figure 4. Workshop sessions in relation to the Poptahof project

 

The first workshop session was about maximising the environment, to create good conditions for all kinds of urban functions. Before the participants were split into working groups, everyone's dreams and nightmares concerning the urban renovation of the Poptahof were itemised and discussed in a brainstorming session. Subsequently, questions would have to be answered in separate disciplinary working groups regarding the sustainable management of flows (such as water and traffic), the sustainable management of areas and the sustainable involvement of "actors". Questions raised by the "actors" are relevant in the context of this paper:

  • Which parties are financially involved in the project?
  • Which "actors" are involved in the making of plans and at what point in the decision-making process?
  • Which user group is the plan intended for and what is the relation between public and private activities?
  • How will the management and maintenance of buildings and open space be organised? Who participates in that process?

Between session 1 and 2, optimisation of the results stemming from the maximisation phase takes place. A "home-working" group of volunteers, including representatives of the housing company and the municipality, was formed at the beginning of the process. This group of six formulated the design principles.

In the second session interdisciplinary working groups explored several alternative variants on the basis of the design principles. The design variants were meant to act as a basis for further impact analysis and design studies by the professionals.

 

Reflection

Dilemmas between the spatial themes (traffic, water) emerge at an early stage of the process when this workshop method is used. The S2N proved fruitful in this respect.

Unlike the Schalkwijk case, active involvement of local politicians stimulated the participation of other "actors". The local alderman himself participated and by doing this he showed a strong commitment on behalf of the municipality. Other participants could expect, therefore, that the outcome of the process would not be without obligations for the municipality.

The brainstorming session worked reasonably well; participants found it hard, however, to free themselves from day-to-day practice.

Some administrators pointed out that they had difficulty with innovations which did not fit into current policies.

The two housing companies involved in the project had different opinions about the participation of residents: one preferred to consult them only at the end of the process, whereas the other preferred to involve them at an earlier stage.

It is remarkable that the workshop participants were unable to answer the "actor"-oriented questions referred to above satisfactorily. They did not get beyond listing the "actors" currently involved. Apparently, participants had trouble in listing "actor" strategies related to realisation, use and management. Would it have been different if other "actors" had been present?

It is important for the project manager to involve residents in the stage where wishes are translated into actual possibilities.

The workshop method is only a "snapshot" within the whole course of the project which could take 12 years, as in the case of Schalkwijk. The Poptahof case shows that the workshop is an important point of contact in "actor"-oriented planning, not just in determining what everyone wants and what is possible, but also in discussing innovations at an early stage and in getting the commitment from all the "actors".

 

The workshop method towards a shared understanding?

An assessment of the Schalkwijk and Poptahof workshops and a number of other experiences leads to a set of preliminary conclusions and to a proposal for an improved procedure for the workshop method.

One of the recurring points in an assessment of workshops for environmental innovation is that the significance of the "actor" role is underestimated. The question is how to facilitate interaction between "actors" in relation to innovative concepts (such as the S2N) and procedural aspects. The following questions are significant for "actor"-oriented (including stakeholder) planning:

1) Who are the "actors" or players and how can a representative group of "actors" be selected to participate in the planning forum?

2) Which workshop method should be used to stimulate and structure communication? How do we set up interactions in 'open' and 'closed' structured workshops at an early stage of the planning process to facilitate a shared understanding or consensus about sustainable decisions?

Who are the "actors"?

Project managers should not underestimate the "underground" influence which some "actors" may have on the decisions made by local governments and by other groups of "actors". These influences greatly affect the officially supported concept. Examples of these influences are deliberate distortion of documents, backstage negotiations and the use of rhetorical persuasion (Flyvbjerg 1998). "Actors" are mostly individuals representing a particular community (group) or organisation (van Loon 1998: 307). "Actors" can influence the substantive concept in a negative way (e.g. by putting forward private benefits at the expense of public benefits), but they also can improve the quality of the design process and its results. To improve this quality it is quite important to be aware of the 'inter-organisational' design process. Van Loon defined an inter-organisational design process as "a process in which several actors, operating within a particular community (group) work jointly on a plan (through a design process and with help of professional designers) to improve or change that community (or some aspect of it). Besides striving for this common goal, each actor (and each designer) seeks to achieve his/her own (individual) goal during the process, and has his own image of the community (or particular aspect of it) and his immediate environment" (Van Loon 1998: 308).

The difficult task for the project manager is the organisation of such a planning process, especially for complex projects. Primarily this is about communication with actors and about setting up an accurate framework for decisions in the planning process. The planning process can be divided into several phases (decision-taking moments) starting with an initial preparatory phase, then a design-definition phase, an implementation phase and finally an evaluation phase. In an "actor"-oriented, communicative planning process, interaction between the internal and external participants (actors) is organised at each project phase. These "actors" are from governmental and non-governmental organisations (Rothengatter & Moet 1996: 70).

The variety of "actors" and the different interests and discussions call for an analysis of the social network in which environmental innovations take place. This is the first of three phases of the RAAKS method. One of the important objectives in using RAAKS is to create an awareness among relevant "actors" with respect to the opportunities and constraints that affect their performance as innovators. This is the second phase. The last phase involves articulating policy and strategy planning for action (Engel & Salomon 1997: 30-33). The tools in the RAAKS method, especially the "windows" and tools of the first phase, offer a good practical starting point for the selection of "actors". Even though RAAKS was originally designed for the agricultural sector, applying RAAKS to urban planning processes may prove to be especially useful with regard to the selection of "actors".

The workshop method

After defining the social system (or network) within which "actors" should operate, and after selecting a representative forum to communicate and work with, workshops can play their strategic role in achieving a consensus. In the case of innovation, a shared understanding may take the form of a consensus among stakeholders about the preferred direction of innovative development and about the first steps to be taken.

As part of an innovative and "actor"-oriented planning process, a range of interventions or contact "moments" can be organised with the selected "actors". The workshop method is a useful tool for making interventions, but what does such a tool look like? Two conditions or moderators are needed to devise a successful workshop method (Mayer 1997: 309):

  • a process leader or facilitator
  • a work procedure. The process leader can be the project manager or an expert. The experiences and reflections described in this paper lead to proposals for the improvement of the work procedure.

The starting point for our workshop method is the Environmental Maximization Method (EMM), described in the Poptahof case (Duijvestein 1996). The EMM can be improved by adding elements of the so-called "scenario" development workshop (Mayer 1997). The scenario workshop is a flexible participatory method and can be defined as a meeting (or a series of meetings) of a number of people with different backgrounds. Scenarios are techniques to formulate a logical sequence of events in order to show how the future may evolve from the present (Mayer 1997: 101). After the "actor" selection, brain storming is used as a technique to support the debate and argument between the participants. In a scenario development workshop, the participants construct the scenarios via discussions and group work. The participants may be scientific experts, stakeholders, public policymakers and/or citizens (Mayer 1997: 100).

A workshop-method that reflects our present understanding is given in Figure 5. The scheme should be seen as a general tool, to be adapted to the individual situation.

"Actor" selection requires more attention. Our experiences clearly demonstrate this point. The S2N approach suggests that in structure planning the stakeholders committed to water and traffic should be selected first, together with the politicians and professionals responsible for creating long-term conditions for both economic and ecological development. Obviously, these committed stakeholders to water and traffic are not necessarily the persons responsible for these sectors.

Figure 5. Four stages of a workshop method

 

  • A first step towards a shared understanding of the decision process follows. This may involve discussion with experts on the constraints and opportunities of the problematic environment.
  • The next step aims at increasing individual commitment and awareness. This may assume the form of brainstorming, inviting individual participants to clarify their dreams and nightmares, or their expectations. Themes for the next step may emerge from this brainstorming.

The first round of subgroup discussions aims at generating thematic proposals using all the available professional knowledge. That is why disciplinary subgroups are formed. In Figure 5 four subgroups are represented. Two groups focus on generating solutions for the issues related to water (blue) and traffic (grey). Here, flows are the starting point. Discussion of area and "actor" aspects draws on the flow perspective. Discussion of flow and "actor" aspects draw on the area perspective. Another option is to have three subgroups all starting with water and traffic questions, one starting with the actor perspective, the second with the flow and the third with the area.

A plenary session with presentations from the first round of subgroups follows. It is important that there is no vote. The opportunity must be given to enhance the proposals through discussion and by comparison with other ideas.

Next is the second round of subgroup discussions. At this stage the aim is to generate alternatives where the challenge is to integrate issues relating to flows, areas and "actors". Working in multidisciplinary groups is essential at this stage.

Again, the results of the second round are presented in a plenary session. Then the planning proposals are passed to professionals for impact assessment and feasibility studies.

Further steps in the planning process are not elaborated here. Of course it can always be seen as desirable to engage in a new cycle of improving planning proposals.

 

References

 

Bryson, J.M. & B.C. Crosby (1993), Policy planning and the design and use of forums, arenas and courts. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design. Vol. 20.

Duijvestein, C.A.J. (1997), Ecologisch Bouwen. Technische Universiteit Delft.

Eijk, P. van (1997), Toetsingsdocument en toelichting milieukwaliteit Schalkwijk 2000+. Gewestelijk Milieubureau, Haarlem.

Eijk, P. van (1999), Herstructurering naoorlogse stadsdelen: de relatie stad/land en watersystemen als conditionerende factor. In:Planologische discussiebijdragen 1999, deel 1. Stichting Planologische Discussiedagen, Delft.

Engel, P.G.H. (1995), Facilitating Innovation; An action-oriented approach and participatory methodology to improve innovative social practice in agriculture. Dissertation, Wageningen.

Engel, P.G.H. & M.L. Salomon (1997), Facilitating innovation for development; A RAAKS toolkit. Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam.

Faludi, A. (1987), A decision-centred view of environmental planning. Pergamon Press, Oxford.

Fisher, F. & J. Forester (eds) (1993), The argumentative turn in policy analysis and planning. Duke University Press, London.

Flyvbjerg, B. (1998), Rationality and power. Democracy in practice. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, London.

Hal, A. van & S. Silvester (1998), Kansen voor duurzame stedenbouw, verkenning van innovatieve stedenbouwkundige plannen. Aeneas, Best.

Healey, P. (1993), Planning through debate; the communicative turn in planning theory. In: F. Fischer & J. Forester (eds), The argumentative turn in policy analysis and planning, Duke University Press, London.

Healey, P. (1997), Collaborative planning : shaping places in fragmented societies. Macmillan, London.

Healey, P. (1998), Building institutional capacity through collaborative approaches to urban planning. In: Environment and Planning A, 30, 1531 - 1546.

Jong, T. de (1998), Ontwerpen begint waar het waarschijnlijke ophoudt. In: Ontwerpmethodologie M. Eekhout (red)., Faculteit Bouwkunde, TU-Delft.

Kickert, W.J.M., H.J. Aquina & F.A. Korsten (eds.) (1985), Planning binnen de perken; Nieuwe zienswijzen op planning in het openbaar bestuur. Kerckebosch bv, Zeist.

Loon, P.P. van (1998), Interorganisational design; a new approach to team design in architecture and urban planning. Faculteit der Bouwkunde, Technische Universiteit Delft.

Mayer, I. (1997), Debating technologies; a methodological contribution to the the design and evaluation of participatory policy analysis. Tilburg University Press, Tilburg.

Pretty, J.N. (1995), Participatory learning for sustainable agriculture. World Development 23, 8: 1247 - 1263.

Rothengatter R en D. Moet (1996), Bouwen op draagvlak. VNG uitgeverij, Den Haag.

Sager, T. (1994), Communicative Planning Theory. Avebury Aldershot, Avebury.

Teisman, G.R. (1997), Sturen via creatieve concurrentie; een innovatie-planologisch perspectief op ruimtelijke investeringsprojecten. Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen.

Tjallingii, S.P. (1992), Ecologisch Verantwoorde Stedelijke Ontwikkeling. Dorschkamp-rapport 706. IBN-DLO, Wageningen.

Tjallingii, S.P. (1995), Ecopolis, strategies for ecologically sound urban development. Backhuys, Leiden.

Tjallingii, S.P. (1996), Ecological Conditions; Strategies and structures in environmental planning. IBN-DLO Scientific Contributions 2, Wageningen.

Wal , L.J.J. van der (1998), Duurzaam bouwen en stedelijke vernieuwing. Ingenieursbureau Milieu Rotterdam in opdracht van Ministerie van VROM, DGV/h/DB, Den Haag.

Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (1998), Ruimtelijke ontwikkelingspolitiek. WRR Rapport 53, SDU Uitgevers, Den Haag.

Wolsink, M. (1999), Ruimtelijke ontwikkelingspolitiek: koersverandering bij de WRR. Milieu 2, pp. 100 - 108.

 

Note: As part of of a postgraduate course on sustainable urban development, a workshop was simulated on 19-20 November 1998 at the Chalmers University, Gotenborg, Sweden. From this it was apparant that more investigation is needed to point up the "actor" dimension and communication aspects in the planning process.

WORKSHOPS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION
Paul van Eijk, Sybrand Tjallingii and Marleen van den Top

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

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Paul van Eijk is doing a PhD at Delft University for DIOC Ecological City; Sybrand Tjallingii is a senior researcher in ecology and planning in the Team "Urban Rural Interactions" of the "Alterra" organisation. Marleen van den Top is a researcher in public administration in the same team.  

Communication in
Urban Planning

Göteborg Conference Papers - Oct 1999
 

Workshops for Environmental Innovations (Eijk et al)

Communication and Urban Green (Lindholm)

Integrating Biodiversity (Gyllin)

User participation in Public Park Administration (Delshammer)

Making Outdoor Places for Children (Kylin)

The Home Street (Staffans)

Identification of ecological potentials (Guldager et al)

Evaluation and Dialogue (Sager)

A Communicative Planning Methodology (Stromberg)

Rationality Revisited (Lapintie)

Planning deconstructed and rebuilt as discourse analyses
(Orrskog)

 

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent"
(Birgersson)

 

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

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Menu of Conference Papers

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

CLICK A SECTION

Menu of Conference Papers

 

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

CLICK A SECTION

Menu of Conference Papers

 

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

CLICK A SECTION

Menu of Conference Papers
 
Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

CLICK A SECTION

Menu of Conference Papers

Introduction

The Strategy of the Two Networks

Workshops for environmental innovation

Experiences with workshops in planning for urban reconstruction

Schalkwijk District

Poptahof District

Workshop method

CLICK A SECTION

Menu of Conference Papers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menu of Conference Papers

European Research Network - Urban density and Green Structure

Proceedings of the Gothenburg Conference:
Communication in Urban Planning - Oct 1999

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