Planning is a very dynamic field which according to the different circumstances changes in search of better solutions for the territory. However, what planning ought to be is still unclear to many… “is it supposed to focus on aesthetical issues? Purely on regulations? Just on law and policy? On sustainability?” The answer to these questions, and hence to the major one of “what planning ought to be?” is the field of study of many scholars and professionals in planning theory. The role of the planner in this respect, as one of the main agents within the system, is important in shaping this governing paradigm. Hence when trying to understand a planning system, one needs to look at it from both sides, firstly from the Institutional point of view and secondly from the agents one. However, there is also another important dimension which may not be neglected, Culture in general, from a country wide perspective as one of the main shapers of the reality of the agents and then in turn of the institution. Although, there is no clear cut definition regarding the field of activity of planning as it is dependent on a greater and broader context reflecting the different cultures, one shared issue among planners after the 1990s, which has also been enhanced by the talks on sustainability, regards participatory planning and public involvement in plans
Sustainable Development which as defined by the Bruntland report in 1987 “is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” is the most common and most used definition of the topic. However, the broadness and the vagueness of the definition have lead planners and others working on the topic in an open sea. Many projects and programs have focused on sustainability, and many have used this term to justify different proposals without even having fulfilled the basics of sustainability.
On the other hand, in a way another issue of sustainability has been included in spatial plans, development plans, local plans etc. Thus, one can say that efforts on sustainability have certainly not been absent, but their implementation still remains quite ambiguous or mostly on experimental grounds, especially in developing countries where institutional capacities and public awareness are still low. Hence, participatory planning is becoming a common approach in these countries to facilitate their sustainable development. In addition to this, the focus on urban regeneration and creating sustainable neighborhoods is another layer which has been taking central place in urban policy recently. Again participatory planning is a commonly used approach in this case. However, the processes of participation and community involvement need tools, interactive tools to gain the attention and the interest of the community members in order to establish a rapport’ between the planners, the private sector and the public.
The concept of govern-mentality, derived from Foucault’s work, offers a view on power beyond a perspective that centres either on consensus or on violence; it links technologies of the self with technologies of domination. This very important concept is widely used in understanding the modern state, and even planning, especially in participatory planning can play an important role in explaining and helping the formation of new ways of governing the territory and the self. Especially when going at the neighbourhood level, where the intimacy of the rapports are quite high, then it can become a key concept and powerful tool in understanding and in setting a framework for community engagement in the search of sustainable neighbourhood.
This workshop intends to raise awareness towards the topic of sustainable neighborhoods and change people’s attitudes towards their surrounding build and natural environment. It is believed that the first step towards the establishment of a new social ethos could start from very small actions taken by the self complementary to greater social interaction in order to have can have large impacts on the neighborhood or city scale.
The theme of the “Urban-Snakes & Ladders” Workshop will be the design of a community game which focuses on evidencing threats and problems of different neighborhoods in Tirana and finding small scale solutions which can be implemented by the inhabitants individually and in groups. The metaphor of the game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ will be used to assess the severity of the problems and threats at the neighborhood level as well as the impact of the actions that we (don’t) take at different levels.
The main actions that will be taken during the workshop are:
- Creative design of “Snakes and Ladders” board game by using different neighbourhood scenarios
- Defining actions that can be taken in different levels to support sustainable communities
- Drafting a guide book for game participants with actions that can be taken every day to support the cause.
The first step will be an accurate analysis of the conditions of two neighborhoods in the city of Tirana. After the field inspection the group will return to POLIS to perform the analysis of the area. For the field inspection each student will determine a path of his/her choice that covers most of the neighborhood and describe through different techniques ie. Drawing, animations, words etc. The selected path formed by the students could be a possible trail that can be used to form the game. After the inspections the students start analyzing the neighborhood, assessing the problematic, issues and threats that make this neighborhood non-sustainable. In the end in the groups the students will decide for the best trail and a classification of the problems/threats from the most severe one the least.
The second step would be to find possible solutions/potentials in the neighborhood that can serve as the “ladders” towards sustainability. The end of the second phase of the workshop should conclude with the design of a board game of snake and ladders of a size “4x4 m”. The two different teams switch boards and play on each-others neighborhoods, in order to test the game and to give recommendations for improvement.
The third phase of the workshop will comprise the design of a guide book on creating sustainable neighborhoods by using again the metaphor of the “snakes and ladders”. The small booklet will contain guidance varying from easy to do actions that start with the individual up to some small community activities. The final day of the workshop will be held on a field in the different neighborhoods, where the main aim will be the engagement of the community. Firstly, to play the game of snakes and ladders, where the inhabitants will engage in the activity with each other (the element of fun), secondly by going through the game they will learn about the problems, threats and possible solutions for improving their neighborhood. In addition to this, to all the participants of the game will be given a guide book with a “stimulus” of fulfilling the actions described.
MATERIALS NEEDED (to be completed):
2x large-wood plank (to serve as platform, but not necessary if found good cardboard)
Print of guide-books
BUDGET: 200-250 Euro
6-8 students per group
Day 1 - an introduction - introduction to the workshop topic
highlighting the idea of participatory planning
tools necessary for participatory planning
introducing the game of snakes and ladders and how it can be experimented as a tool for participatory planning.
Guidance for creating a sustainable neighborhood.
The theoretical overview in the first phase comprised some of the main concepts in planning theory and more in detail communicative planning, issues of govern-mentality and the role of the planner in society today. The latter is seen not just as an individual who utilizes his technical abilities in securing the public interest but also as an agent who mediates between the public, the private and the civil, thus requiring a large set of social skills and methods for interaction with a variety of actors from different spheres of society and different viewpoints.
The second theoretical insert of the workshop focused mostly on issues of urbanization, and moreover in detail about the challenges that our cities face every day. In the end a set of tools and methods were given to the students for analyzing neighborhoods that differ from traditional urban analysis processes. The methodology required focused mostly on catching the perceived feeling while walking through the area, as well as trying to demarcate some cultural factors as well as “habitual” that inhabitants create everyday which threat the urban milieu and the community. Primarily, it was used as a case study a methodology created by Cristian Nold, a designer who deals with emotional mapping. In the absence of a tool for measuring the emotions, the students were asked to use annotations in mapping their trail through the area.
Day 2 – neighborhood analysis, design the game
DAY 3 – design the game and prepare the board (test the game)
DAY 4 -– prepare the guide books.
DAY 5 -– finalize and print guide books.
DAY 6 - - play the game in the neighborhood