|The 7th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards 2008|
Winners and Special Mentions
7th European Urban and Regional Planning Achievement Awards 2008
ECTP, the umbrella association bringing together all the main national institutes and associations of planners in Europe, considers the Awards a fundamental initiative to assess the state of the art of spatial planning in Europe, to reward outstanding examples of planning solutions and to promote the dissemination of good practice among practitioners, decision-makers, stakeholders and citizens.
The Awards started in 1990/91 when they were jointly organised by the Directorate-General for Regional Policy of the European Commission and ECTP. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate actively in the 1997/98 series as a member of the international jury, and it is a special occasion for me now to come back to Dublin, which received an Award ten years ago and which is now a vibrant European capital.
The European Urban & Regional Planning Awards are organised every two years and consist of two stages. During the first stage, all member associations of ECTP run their national competitions or organise special selections to identify the most successful examples of good and sustainable planning achievement. In the second stage, the ECTP international jury assesses the national entries, identifies relevant categories and selects outstanding examples to be chosen as category winners or to be given a special mention. I would like to thank all members of the 2007/8 ECTP International Jury, namely Roger Smook (The Netherlands), Rachel Kenny (Ireland), Kaliopa Dimitrovska Andrews (Slovenia), Istvan Schneller (Hungary) and Petter Wiberg (Norway).
In particular I am grateful for the huge contribution to the Chair of the international jury Roger Smook and Rachel Kenny, serving on the jury for the third consecutive time and bringing her long, valuable experience to the group. My special thanks also go to the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) and to its President, Mr Andrew Hind for having hosted both jury meetings and organised the final Awards ceremony in Dublin with the sponsorship of the national Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and the local authority, Dublin City Council.
Philip Jones of IPI must have a special mention for his great job as jury secretary and for having managed the organisation of the whole event.
Readers will find here the jury assessments of the winning entries and of those who deserved a special mention. I would like to add that those which did not receive an Award still represent interesting examples of today's planning practice in Europe, showing the variety of solutions adopted and most of all the commitment of planners to achieving a sustainable future for Europe's towns and territories.
A proper planning process is one that seeks integrative solutions, wide participation and accurate information, and can connect the present to a shared vision for future development. No matter at what scale the planner is asked to intervene, what remains fundamental is the ability to identify the strengths and opportunities of a particular territory, to collaborate with all the actors involved and to select the best scenarios for development. It is also crucial to present those scenarios in such a way that decision-makers and the lay public can understand them easily, and in a way that will facilitate their implementation.
ECTP is convinced that the Awards represent the best way to disseminate good practice and to stimulate research into innovative planning schemes and achievements, raising awareness among professional planners. The Awards are our way of for illustrating ECTP's planning principles for achieving a sustainable, competitive and cohesive Europe.
The Jury decided on five categories for the awards, as follows:-
Winners were awarded in four of these categories, but the Jury decided that no entry was worthy of winning in the city planning category. However, two Special Merit awards were given in this category. In the case of the public participation category, the Jury decided that two equal winners were justified. A further Special Merit award was given in the environmental / sustainability category.
Category: Cross-Border Planning / Regional Planning / Territorial Cohesion
The Green Metropolis - tri-national regional development project (Germany / Netherlands / Belgium)
Category: Urban Region
Category: Public Participation in Planning
Stonebridge , London (UK)
Category: Environmental / Sustainability
Ecocity of Sarriguren (Spain)
The Jury's citations on the winning entries are as follows:-
Winner in category: Cross Border Planning / Regional Planning / Territorial Cohesion
GREEN METROPOLIS (Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium)
The Jury was much impressed with the way in which this development project was able to co-ordinate disparate and sometimes contradictory planning policies and differing planning cultures, over three States, into an overall co-ordinated and holistic vision. The Jury feels that this is a prime example of successful Territorial Cohesion. The project, in the Jury's view, shows innovation in the way in which it provides a flexible framework to bring together various local projects and ideas, and directly involves individual stakeholders and citizens. The Jury also considers that this project exhibits best practice in the redevelopment and regeneration of a large post-industrial urban agglomeration and landscape, which will be of relevance to so many similar socially, economically and environmentally-challenged areas within Europe.
The role of the planner as a facilitator in crossing administrative and indeed national boundaries is to be applauded. The Jury particularly noted the legibility and environmental accessibility of the Green and Metropole Routes as axes connecting the new centres, and the natural landscapes. The Jury commended the approach of this project in strengthening the role of neighbouring Regions as an effective interface between the national and regional levels.
Winner in category - Urban Region
The Jury considered that this entry showed how a long term planning project, extending over a twenty year time horizon, has been successfully implemented. The commitment of the Drammen Municipal Council to the overall focus of the project was noted. The Jury felt that the project is an exemplar of best practice in planning implementation and the creative input of the planner in that it demonstrated how a particular infrastructural project - the relocation of road infrastructure - can be harnessed to achieve wider urban design and planning objectives. The Jury noted that the result was evidently popular with the citizens, and provided good examples of recycling and re-use of materials. In particular, the Jury was impressed with the final project which combined an enhanced natural environment with an excellent mixture of a traditional and modern, small scale and large scale built environment.
Joint Winners in Category: Public Participation in Planning
ROOMBEEK ENSCHEDE (the Netherlands)
The Jury was impressed by this project, in the way in which it combined the regeneration of an established residential district and a post-disaster site, innovatory public participation and social aspects. In particular, the Jury commended the role of public participation as the main axis of the project and this is what makes it an exemplar of best practice in planning for urban regeneration. Innovation is also seen in planning governance structures, whereby the planning process can respond to specific and sudden circumstances such as occurred in this case, in which the elected politicians agreed with the local discussion groups composed of the local people most directly affected. The Jury felt that this approach went well beyond the statutory requirements, and moved from participation to citizen empowerment. This, the Jury feels, is particularly noteworthy as a successful approach to crisis management.
The role of the planner in this project was seen by the Jury to be vital to the process, as evidenced through the quality, comprehensiveness and timeliness of the implementation.
STONEBRIDGE, LONDON (United Kingdom)
The Jury was impressed with the way in which this urban regeneration and reconstruction project was approached, in directly involving the residents of this area. It strongly commends the project for its exemplary approach to public participation, and noted the significant effort that this involved, within a challenging multi-cultural and difficult socio-economic context.
The role of the planner is evident from the inception of the scheme through to its ongoing implementation over a decade. In addition to providing new homes for residents, educational, employment and service provision was also addressed within the plan.
This project shows how an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving can achieve successful results that are welcomed by the citizen. What is particularly noteworthy is the long term and consistent focus of this gradual approach to regeneration.
Winner in Category - Environmental / Sustainability
The Jury felt that the merits of this scheme lie in its aspirations to create a sustainable and eco-friendly urban city, with attention given to high quality environmentally sound building design and construction, good quality public transport based accessibility and improvements in the social and economic profile of the area. Therefore the Jury considered that the project meets many of the principles set out in the New Charter of Athens.
The scheme offers an exemplar in its comprehensive approach to incorporating existing established proven technologies and philosophies in sustainable development. The Jury was particularly impressed by the fact that all practicable means of achieving environmental sustainability using renewable energy and green technologies were well orchestrated. The transformation of the technical necessities into a specific urban form is considered to be quite successful.
The Jury's citations for the three special merit awards are as follows:-
The Jury considered that this entry showed promise, in providing a coherent framework for the coordination of smaller planning projects, using the river/canal system as a uniting concept. It considered that environmental aspects were well catered for, and that in contextual terms the proposals fitted in well with the historical and cultural milieu. However, the Jury considered that the entry did not demonstrate significant evidence of public participation or buy-in by the citizens, and noted the preliminary nature of the project, since it is only an initial study, and has not reached the stages of final approval and implementation. Notwithstanding this, the Jury felt that the special merit in this project is that the approach demonstrated the role of the planner as facilitator.
The Jury was pleased with the comprehensive nature of this project, and considered that these studies provide an excellent baseline for coherent strategic and local planning for a metropolitan region. In the governance, historical and financial context of the location, the Jury felt that this approach was to be commended, and could be regarded in this context to be exemplary. The Jury was impressed by the analytical tools and methodology used by the entrants, which it regards as robust and credible, and which it felt justified the special mention award. The Jury felt that such evidence-based rational planning should be promoted, especially against a background of predominantly developer-led project implementation. It noted, however, that these studies represented the first stage of the planning process, and felt that its longer-term utility depended on whether or not such research would be influential at final plan-making and approval stage.
The comprehensive and holistic approach taken by the planners in bringing about the redevelopment of this brownfield site is to be commended. In particular, the jury was impressed with the ecological approach to the new built environment using renewable geothermal energy as well as the entrant's aspirations to create a socially diverse mixed use community, and considered that these approaches had special merit.
Recognition of the unique needs and gender issues facing women with families (whether relating to the availability of childcare or flexibility in work) as well as those from different socio-economic backgrounds is to be supported, and gender-proofing of plans as has been done in this instance is to be encouraged. However, the Jury was not convinced of the merits of the urban design and the architectural language used in the project as it felt that this was excessively rigid. The Jury therefore had concerns as to the long-term sustainability of the community/neighbourhoods created.