EXPLORATIONS IN PARTICIPATORY DESIGN FOR EQUITABLE CITIES Beatrice De Carli Architecture Sans Frontières International
The Newsletter No.7 of ASF-International focuses on questions of participatory design and planning in the construction of equitable urban environments. Including contributions from a diverse range of ASF member organisations, partners and friends, this issue of the Newsletter is understood in anticipation of a Networking Event on participatory design and planning that will be hosted by ASF-UK at 7th Session of UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia, next April 2014. .
The collection of articles presented in the Newsletter seeks to suggest how participatory practices may provide a critical approach to the interconnected physical, social, political and economic processes that together form the highly uneven urban landscapes of today. The focus of the articles is primarily set on the tools, methods and underlying principles of participation within processes of informal settlements upgrading and transformation – drawing from the authors’ experiences in Brazil, Ecuador, Kenya (ASF-UK), Vietnam (ACHR/UCL Development Planning Unit), India (ASF-Sweden), South Africa (1:1 Agency of Engagement) and Colombia (Universidad La Gran Colombia). At the same time the Newsletter encompasses broader reflections on the meaning and role of participation in uneven urban contexts – as derived from the experience of the design practice atelier d’architecture autogérée in France, and the collective Morar de Outras Maneiras in Brazil. .
These contributions span a wide range of positions and approaches to the theme of participation, including critiques to the concept of participatory design and calls for its radical reformulation. At the same time the articles collectively highlight that the potential emancipatory character of design and planning may reside exactly in the process of negotiating the power to produce urban environments that are in line with the aspirations, needs and desires of those inhabiting them. They thus highlight that the question of who participates in the process of spatial decision-making and city building, and how, must be at the forefront of any critical urban practice. Beatrice De Carli Architecture Sans Frontières International.