Thursday 10th July, 15.30-17.00, chaired by Wil Zonneveld (Delft University of Technology), Michael Neuman (University of New South Wales) & Verena Balz (Delft University of Technology).


Many recent planning reforms across the world have led to shifts in planning regimes, often seeking to balance statutory plan-led with development-led approaches. The wish to simultaneously create and respond to future development opportunities has inspired new planning modes with normative and persuasive agenda-setting approaches, often involving many actors. In various countries, including the Netherlands, regional design, the imagination of spatial metaphors and the ‘art’ of making spatial representations, has emerged as a powerful tool in capacity- and consensus building for regional development. On occasion of the 2014 AESOP conference this practice will be discussed in a round table session. The central question will be concerned about the role that regional design has in planning.

Investigations of practices that resemble regional design in various European countries indicate that they share characteristics. Regional design takes place in a multi-actor setting and aims at the allocation of institutional capacity for development. Analyses however also indicate that regional design is sensitive towards specific institutional settings and planning systems. Dutch regional design cases have, for instance, been strongly influenced by the flexibility of indicative planning frameworks and the room for interpretation that governments provide through these. A brief comparison of practices in various countries makes also apparent that imaginations of possible futures may have different orientations. They may seek for capacity, depending on planning systems and cultures, in professional, political and/or administrative domains.

The organizers of the round table invite scholars from various regional-metropolitan settings with an interest in planning, design, visualisation and governance. The main aim of the round table is to compare experiences and knowledge on emerging regional design practices in countries and to reflect on the performance of such approaches under differing planning regimes. More broadly the discussion seeks to enhance attention to a practice that often evolves in the shadow of formal planning but does, through rendering distinct development desirable, influence important planning decisions nevertheless.

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