What could be the role for the urban design and the designer now the long-term perspective seems to be under pressure by the focus on short time winnings? For Plandag 2011, Planning of the future, David Dooghe wrote a paper on how the role of the urban design and designer is shifting.


The paper starts from 2 observations:

- Technology is developing at a speed limit and some of these implications of technology in products have mayor influence on the urban tissue. What is new today is old tomorrow, so how to create a long-term perspective of the design?

- Due to the end of the welfare state the government is redrawing. This creates a shift in the commissioning of the building projects from the public to the private sector. However, the private sector has different interests than the public sector. Next to the shift in commissioning there is a shift from supplier market to a demand market, giving more power to the future resident of the house. Where there used to be one strong commissioner, the public sector, there is now an abundance of parties, each with different interests. How will this influence the role of the urban designer in the design process?

At the moment the major part of the redevelopment projects in the Netherlands use the tubula rasa approach. First there are no more investments (public space and buildings) in the area. Because of this, people move out and the area gets a bad reputation, which finally results in the demolishing of the buildings.

To attract new buyers, a lot of money is invested in promotion, activities, ...  with the goal to sell the houses and to start the rebuilding.

Within this tubula rasa approach there is no possibility to adjust to the external influences during the process, like technology or economy. Neither is the area inviting during the process, in order to more naturally attract future residents.

In the paper an alternative approach is given. By a strategic demolishing and rebuilding of the area in different parts and by the use of specific temporary functions, fitting for the new identity of the area, a more sustainable process is the result. By demolishing and rebuilding in parts, the adjustments, due to external influences, can be easier implemented. By use of specific temporary functions, the area stays more lively and therefor more inviting.

The urban plan should no longer focus on the final destination but on the steps needed to get there. The urban designer, as continuity in the process from drawing to rebuilding, takes care of the process and adjusts when necessary. By this the urban designer gets a central role in the process and the coalition of the different parties.

He/she does not focus as much on the final destination but on the steps how to get to that destination.

The paper is published (in Dutch) in the book: Planning van de Toekomst, Plandag 2011, Redactie: Geiske Bouma, Friedle Filius, Elke Vanempten en Bas Waterhout. ISBN/EAN: 978-90-808545-0-5