360 ° Livable Urbanism

The Importance of Making Cities Places - Planning towards livable cities

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    The rational and strategic thinking of the interdisciplinarity in urban planning

    Mikkel Sølbeck
    May 15, '17 9:08 AM EST

    The scientific theory is essential in terms of examining different problems in the society. To know how to approach a problem and built up an argumentation in relation to the planning outcome. The theory is vital due to the conscious of the planner to have a factual argumentation and ethic relational to the practice of the government.

    But in practice it is hard to grasp the complexity and dynamic of planning as the process spans over numerous disciplines. So how can we as planners in practice comprehend the multidisciplinarity in planning with an open-mind towards a better development of our cities? 

    Insight to rational planning theories

    In a historical perspective the rational theories have emerged after the great depression and the industrialization. The experiment after the great depression was primarily guided by the Keynesian economics. The planning process was discussed in terms of the functionality. The discussion was debating on how the society should rebuild the environment after the war by involving the government or if it should be non-influential in the process.

    The perspective of positivism is that a universe is causally ordered, where there is only one fact. The positivism is related to a quantitative method to measure the phenomenon by using collective techniques. Quantitative techniques are not always relational to the phenomenon and not always measurable.

    The political system and culture is complex and is far more demanding in terms of the quantitative method. The system is not always acting rational, which creates barriers for identifying quantitatively problems and actions.  

    Viewpoint behind the planner in an operating system

    The Scandinavian planning system operates as a society, where the authority balances the values and interest of the majority of the public through spatial development. Ideally the municipalities are trying to create a functional basis for the life of the citizens.

    The happiness of life is relatively not measurable; it differs for each person and is not always built on logic behaviour. The unlogic behaviour and values differs relational to the background of the specific person or society, which creates a certain identity and characteristic. The identity and social background strongly reflect the specific perspective of a given problem, which creates a non-neutral value based standpoint to operate as a planner.

    In this regard the specific planner acts on a rational basis through the perception of what is best for the citizens, but this is as a standpoint of life, which is created through daily life process and experiences. This of course also relates to the professional background of the planner how we in practice try to implement planning and consult in the process based on best-practice perception.

    A mix of professional disciplines a knowledge sharing platform

    The planning practice is nowadays a very complex process, which for sure sets a wide set of disciplines, which again correspond relational to each other. This creates a multispectral set of disciplines that cannot always be obtained by the planner in the learning process due to the amount of knowledge and competencies. In practice the planner will interact with other planners with a different set of discipline, this creates some barriers of focus and perspectives on what best stimulate the planning outcome.

    It is vital that the planner interact and learn from other planners here by creating a perhaps a more defined and rational thinking of how planning should be processed. It is vital that the planner opens the mind for other angles on how to do things in practice.

    Consequently, it can add significant value if the mix of disciplines have a common relational understanding of planning with the outcome of a knowledge sharing platform adding insightful value to the planning process.         

    A dynamic ongoing process of human interaction

    The rationality of planning is limited in terms of complex problems, where there are unknown factors involved.

    The spatial development process can be based on rational perspective, where the structures of the cities can be understood as a dynamic system. This is measurable in some planner’s opinion, but again the human being can sometimes act irrationally and this is not always long term durable.

    Le Corbusier is the frontier and promoter of the functionalism. The functionalism is ideally great to create certain functional patterns, but in practice it can create non-diversity in the urban environment. It can result in a non-consistent base of life. The functionalism approach also creates a fragmentation of the individual function, which had in some cases led to ghettoization creating problems such as segregation and gentrification.

    In practice the theory is not always applicable in a certain context. The consciousness of the local context is essential due to the local factors, which is depending on many aspects such as culture, religion and traditions etc.           

    The visionary strategic basis for planning 

    As a response to rational theories the planners applied the strategy planning. The strategic planning is not only focusing on the specific strategy, but instead trying to iterative deliberate the process in a critical adaptive perspective on the organizational tier. The iterative process results in an open-minded approach towards new better alternatives instead of strictly formulating documents, but on a more visionary flexible basis.

    In the visionary basis, it is crucial, that the planner can identify the outcome of tendencies and factors in a long term perspective and hereby build a strategy that benefits the society in relation to the future. 

    The strategic planning has been progressed to a more cooperative method, where the focal point is to create door path between different stakeholder and private actors to reorient the planning process. In a collaborative strategic planning the actors and stakeholders behave under unknown or hidden agenda. The decisions making process is not always measurable due to the subjective perspective on the outcome. This method should ideally create a better platform for participation and involvement of different actors and stakeholders.    

    The different approaches to developing strategies are in practice mixed together to some extent. The organizations often tend to implement an umbrella of different strategies as method to mix certain characteristics in ways that reflect the circumstances to predict the future without the need to react to unforeseen factors.

    The interdisciplinary collaboration in the organization requires open-mindedness towards new perspectives and angles from other professions and the local people with insight into the local context. We have to expand our standpoints by dyamic collaboration to broaden the deliberation process and iteratively move towards better planning practice.

    Mintzberg, Henry. "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning:." The Free Press, 1994.


    • Hello Cagri,

      Thanks for the pleasant comment. Indeed, planning is very complex that’s why we have to collaborate and share open-minded perspectives on how to practice urban planning and developments of our cities and land.

      Kind regards


      May 16, 17 4:53 am  · 

      Thats really great rational and strategic thinking it work in a great way the planning and developments are so important for every country.

      Nov 11, 17 8:10 am  · 

      There are decades of interdisciplinary research since the 1960s that have been invested in the interplay between humans and their surroundings called Environmental Psychology from the effects of micro-climate mapping to queuing patterns in every possible context and for "reasons" this information and expertise largely benefits political action groups and monopolistic corporate interests above that of the public good.

      Relatively speaking, little and infrequent use of that body of knowledge or expertise is shared in terms comprehensible at the public science level, and an appalling number of urban planners and constituents engaged in community development express complete ignorance of the science, even expressing disdainful scepticism of its legitimacy which also serves the interests of illiberal anti-Democratic forces.

      Mar 11, 21 8:31 pm  · 

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360 ° Livable Urbanism is featuring articles with subjective approaches and theories on how to actively contribute as urban planners in today’s modern society with different thematic inputs to sustain and innovate the way we as highly diverse planners facilitate the process of planning towards sustainable cities in balance with the current policy framework, sectors, interest and other relevant aspects.

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