To Make Planning Relevant, Turn to Open-Source Methods

Urban planning is falling into obsolescence, according to this piece, but employing old bottom-up techniques that value input from a variety of sources will make it relevant again.
April 30, 2009, 10am PDT | Judy Chang
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"The lack of sufficient time to plan brings with it an atmosphere of higher risk. If planning is to remain relevant - economically, environmentally, socially, and politically - amidst the instability of the future, it must to be rethought in a manner that assumes risk and does not avoid it. Instead of simplistically putting all its eggs into a future based on past and present trends, urban planning must provide sufficient looseness within future scenarios while attempting to tilt the odds in favor of certain directions.

Cities must be strategized not just in terms of how they are intended to work currently, but also how else they might work under extremely different (unforeseen and inconceivable) circumstances. As such, similar to well-designed software, urban plans must posses a variety of alternative organizational patterns as opposed to not the standard one.

Furthermore, urban planning must balance top-down and bottom-up thinking as a means of creating a variety of plans of equal value. This will necessarily be multi-disciplinary. However, the versatility created - like diversified stock portfolios - will allow a given design strategy to spread the risk and decrease its susceptibility to failure or obsolescence due to change in conditions. Additionally, it will recognize the emergent intelligence of its citizens to give appropriate physical form to the pressures being placed on them - to be refined, not created, by 'higher-level' professionals."

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Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in re:place Magazine
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