Workshops on three European case studies


The three case studies - selected links

Workshop A: Metropoolregio Amsterdam

Workshop B: Metrobild Zürich

Workshop C: Ideenwettbewerb Zukunft Metropole Ruhr

Perspectives to be discussed

The conference ‘Shaping regional futures’ proposes a systemic view on regional design. Regional design shall be discussed from three interrelated perspectives:

  •  The regional setting as the specific context any design endeavour is embedded in
  •  The regional design endeavour that can be split up into the regional design strategy and the design process it arises from
  • The impact of regional design that can be conceived as three interrelated processes of regional development

This preliminary framework shall guide the discussion of the regional design case studies within the conference. The framework is neither complete nor exclusive – it provides a discursive structure for the conference that shall be debated, complemented and revised. The point of departure is not a fixed idea of what regional design actually isor what kind of expectations and impact regional design has to meet. The three interrelated perspectives shall promote a joint reflection on regional design from a performance perspective. We are looking for experience, presumptions and evidence from planning research, teaching and practice that breathe life into that framework, uncover interdependencies, uncertainties and ambivalence and demonstrate the limits of such an approach.  

Regional Design: What kind of setting?

Regional design takes place in a setting where a whole range of boundaries has become blurred. Being fuzzy at the edges relates to space, actors as well as to knowledge about spatial dynamics. Spatially it is virtually impossible to demarcate ‘the’ region. Spaces and places are connected in many different ways, leading to complex, multi-scalar inter-relations. The administrative borders of local and regional government can no longer match these relations. Formal supra-local planning does not deliver strong enough orientation about potentialities of space. Complexity of governance increases through a search for novel relationships between public, private and science-related actors. What constitutes valid knowledge is not self-evident in these new relationships, often even contested. Regional design – as a form of informal planning approach – then becomes a matter of creating institutional capacity – but how to demark the region in a situation of multi-scalarity?

Regional design: What kind of performance?

If indeed regional design is about creating institutional capacity, what does this entail? Does it relate to: a) a shared framing of territories; 2) the formation of actor networks; 3) bringing together different types of knowledge; 4) imagining trajectories of concrete spatial transformation? Can we develop a small set of criteria about the transformative power of regional design? Where, why and when does regional design depart from formal planning? And if so, what does this mean for design processes?

Regional design: What kind of design?

Regional design takes place in an urban reality, which is highly complex: many ‘things’ are connected with many other ‘things’ an many actors are connected with many other actors. This calls for systemic approaches. Nevertheless regional designs calls for being selective. But how to select sub-spaces, activities, themes, projects with magnitude and impact? Are there specific methods to be used that are more apt then others? And how to apply such methods in complex multi-actor and multi-scalar settings? How to bring the different language domains – verbal, visual, emotional – of regional design together?

Issues to be discussed in the workshops about regional design cases

  •        What key issues drive the case?
  •        What were the intentions?
  •        How was the region defined?
  •        How was the process organized?
  •        Which actors participated?
  •        What kind of impacts, from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’?
  •        Where there non-intended impacts such as ‘learning’ or ‘conflicts’?