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The Process

Public Participation and Design in Contested Cities Since the 1960s
08 April 2011

During the two decades following the Second World War, the world embarked on massive building (and re-building) projects. In the United States these projects included Urban Renewal, highway expansion, public housing, and urban revitalization. The regional scale of these new enterprises often dwarfed that of earlier, more localized development, and often required significant demolition to accommodate it. By the end of the 1960s there the world had also seen an explosion in political awareness and demands for a more participatory democracy.

This combustible mix of events had a major impact on the design of urban buildings and communities. It was no longer a foregone conclusion that regional needs would trump local ones. Indeed, over the intervening years, the balance between local and regional interests has shifted dramatically, to the point where, in some contested cities, the prospect of any kind of large scale planning is impossible.

But as global and regional environmental imperatives become ever stronger, how will communities, cities, regions, and nations make their development choices? What are the prospects for achieving a better balance between local and broader concerns? Does design have a role to play? Can new decision making and scenario planning tools make a difference?

This conference explored how we got here, the nature and influence of the public process today, and how we might transform it to face the challenges of the new century.

Watch the whole conference below: