STS and Planning: Research and practice intervening in a material world
Location 118
Date and Start Time 02 September, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 5


  • Marko Marskamp (Institute for Geography and Sustainability- Université de Lausanne) email
  • Jonathan Metzger (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) email
  • Julio Paulos (ETH Zurich) email
  • Monika Kurath (ETH Zurich) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

By way of paper contributions, the track brings together STS inspired research on planning issues that looks beyond the ready-made plan or the planned territory, and instead enquires into the socio-material and situated practices of planning as a technical and political project of city-making.

Long Abstract

The field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has opened up the world-making practices in science to sociological inquiry. This track proposes to inquire the city-making practices in urban planning and their effects across territories. The track considers cities as the object ,and not simply the loci of science and technology, through investigations of the knowledge, tools and politics of planning. This view is opportune as scholars of planning observe how planning shifts away from a rational and technocratic exercise to a complex and communicative arena in the last decades.

Adopting the hybrid lens of STS in the study of planning practices brings insight into how planning is transformed into a technical project or deliberative process. In turn, this perspective enables to address some of the tensions between governance and democracy. Specifically, the attention to both the social and the material is productive in order to account for the role of artifacts in framing and performing the planning dialogue. Moreover, the STS perspective seems particularly adept to investigate a discipline that is, after all, concerned with the nexus of the built and social environment.

In this sense, the track not only seeks to open the black boxes of planning, but also aims to engage a discussion on its re-assembling to include more diverse and reflexive ways of implementing planning. The proposed track therefore invites theoretically and empirically based contributions that address the specific hybrid practices through which planning understands, governs and shapes cities, built environments and territories.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


After informality: policy experts and the urban technopolitics of rehousing interventions

Authors: Marco Allegra (University of Lisbon)  email
Antonio Ascensao (University of Lisbon)  email
Roberto Falanga (Institute of Social Sciences)  email
Ana Ferreira (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)  email

Short Abstract

How are sets of policy expertise assembled? To what extent policy experts make a strategic use of their professional status? This paper addresses these questions through an observation of the technopolitics underlying the development of a large Portuguese program for the eradication of slums.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the way experts' knowledge and practices in planning and housing policy contribute to the technopolitics underlying the process of integration of poor and migrant populations in a democratic society. Drawing on preliminary work of the research project exPERts (; start date April 2016) on the Portuguese Special Rehousing Program (Programa Especial de Realojamento, PER; 1993-present), we address the nexus between experts' practices and policy paradigms; spatial planning and urban governance; and social policies in the field of poverty and marginalization.

The PER (the largest public housing program implemented in democratic Portugal, enacted with the primary aim of eradicating slums in Lisbon and Porto) has had a considerable impact on urban and regional development in the country. However, many tension points emerged over the course of its implementation, such as the definition of the problem of informal settlements through sanitary language; the "civilizing mission" attached by the state to this policy tool; the use of unverified census data to regulate access to the program; the import of outdated paradigms of intervention favoring large-scale, modernist rehousing policies.

This paper will address two crucial democratic and theoretical questions: (i) how are sets of policy expertise (including professional profiles, paradigms of intervention, techniques, practices) assembled to support the policy process?; (ii) to what extent does the role of experts (e.g. civil servants, advisers, researchers) extend and adapt beyond the boundaries of their professional training, and amount to a strategic use of professional knowledge and status in the policy process?

Assembling BRT: Planning controversies of the material and operational

Author: Malve Jacobsen (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main)  email

Short Abstract

Planning projects are controversial processes, performed by diverse (non-)human actors in hybrid practices. Taking the case of the planning and implementation process of an intra-urban bus system, this paper discusses controversies of models being assembled and put into socio-material practice.

Long Abstract

Modifications are an integral part of planning projects and often go along with controversies. Controversies evolve in hybrid forums and can act as effective apparatuses for exploring social and technical uncertainties (Callon et al. 2001). In order to understand planning and implementation processes, we need to ask: How are plans assembled and what happens when models are put into socio-material practice, when they interact with the social and built environment?

Within the prolonged process of planning and implementing the intra-urban bus system Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) since the early 2000s, numerous controversies on the material and operational emerged. Debates are ongoing, especially on the operational design of the system and the question whether local transport actors or international public-private partnerships should provide service. In contrast, the initial design of the physical infrastructure - described by actors in Dar es Salaam as a 'copy' of the so-called best-practice model TransMilenio from Bogotá - has not been changed extensively.

The controversial assembling of DART shows the complexities of planning and implementing projects. Through following the temporal, physical and spatial traces of DART, we come closer to the research object itself. Thereby we see DART as an assemblage of materials and objects, knowledge and ideas. DART is a discursive and political process, which is shaping the city and is being shaped by the city.

Assessing the Noise: Urban Soundscapes and Livability in Singapore

Author: Sulfikar Amir (Nanyang Technological University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents a qualitative approach to examine complex neighbourhood urban soundscapes in Singapore. It also discusses possible remedies and abatement measures for noise, and relates these to urban planning, policy, design and regulatory trends.

Long Abstract

As Asia's urban-regions continue to rapidly expand both horizontally and vertically the issues of ambient and site-specific noise pollution become increasingly important in debates about livability, public health and economic productivity. While broad discussions about livability have in recent years focused on greening and sustainability in many Asian cities, the issue of noise pollution has arguably been downplayed in the drive for outright quantitative growth. The city-state of Singapore — which is seen by many as a role model for economic productivity and urban livability— has recently began to explore how noise is perceived not just at the measurable quantitative level, but also at the more subjective, yet crucial, qualitative level amongst local neighbourhoods. This paper presents a qualitative approach to examine how Singapore residents and community members perceive (or ignore) site-specific noise or vibrations from a variety of sources; and how and why noise is situated in relation to complex neighbourhood urban soundscapes. Our exploratory study also examines possible remedies and abatement measures for noise in the Singapore context and relates these to policy, design and regulatory trends in cities elsewhere. This study will not only contribute to the research on social-psychological perceptions of urban noise and quality of life in urban Asia, but also seeks to relate the perception of soundscapes to quality of life, public health and productivity considerations.

BREEAM Communities: evaluating a new sustainability standard for master-planning

Author: Lewis Sullivan (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation describes the (often unsuccessful) attempts by BREEAM Communities (a neighborhood sustainability assessment tool) and associated actors to intervene in the master-planning of 5 developments in the UK. The effectiveness of STS in studying marginal cases and actions is also discussed.

Long Abstract

Tools for assessing and certifying the sustainability of neighborhoods and cities have proliferated in recent years (1). BREEAM Communities is one such tool (2). These tools do not only assess and certify sustainability, but (among other things) organize, frame, and otherwise participate in the work of developing a 'sustainable' urban master-plan (3,4). In the case of their building-level counterparts these interventions seem to result in more sustainable outcomes (3,5,6). Whether this is the case at the neighborhood scale is not well understood.

To address this gap, this research conceptualizes BREEAM Communities as both an artefact and an assemblage of (varyingly (im)mutable) knowledge-claims and qualculative requirements, together with an ensemble of Assessors, spreadsheets, external standards, emails, and so on. Then, through interviews, observations, and documentary evidence (collection of which will be finalized in April of this year) from five case studies in the UK, associations between this BREEAM-ensemble and other actants are traced. Questioning focuses particularly on 1) its embeddedness and agency in the assembled networks of a development, 2) the mobility and mutability of inscribed knowledge-claims when translated into local development instances, 3) its participation in negotiation, deliberation, and otherwise (in-)qualculative events throughout the development, and 4) the (temporary) stabilization of those interventions.

The report presents results from this study, exploring how a new standard might (or might not) disrupt existing, obdurate assemblages in urban design and discusses the effectiveness of STS away from highly controversial and/or successful actants.

De-centring the planner: on fragmentations, expectations and demonstrations in urban politics

Author: Julio Paulos (ETH Zurich)  email

Short Abstract

The focus of the proposed paper discusses and compares the technologies, modalities and trajectories of planning in Zurich and Vienna. To do so, it rethinks the performative logics of the planning exercise by portraying the situated, allocated and enacted framings of the city in the displacement of politics.

Long Abstract

While the planning department - conceived as the figurative institution for the development of urban territories - has progressively gained in relevance and established as a prominent component and passage point within city governance structures, the allocated role of the planner has seemingly become less obvious. The operational characteristics of planning range from deliberative policy-making to normative agenda-setting, often mashed up in political discourses, technical narratives and expert-driven scenarios. The emphasis of this inquiry lies on the multiplicity, asymmetry and modalities of the planning exercise. In other words, by making (urban) politics into an empirical question, this contribution traces the distribution of planning activity within governance networks, by rethinking the framings of planning practices in political machineries and examining through what means and back-loops human and non-human actors shape and stabilise socio-technical arrangements. Following an irreductive approach and drawing on post-ANT's pragmatic-experimentalist strands within STS, the proposed study will compare the technologies and trajectories of zoning-related phenomena embedded in the wider contexts of the local planning procedures in Zurich and Vienna. The observed evidence is described, reviewed and discussed by drawing together three comparative repertoires: (i) an analysis of disruptive moments relative to the emergence of relevant urban issues, (ii) an understanding of the nexus between innovation and expectations within planning practice, and, (iii) a review of public platforms as performative and mobilising persuasion tools of urban development.

Environmental assessment at work in translating sustainability into planning

Author: Shula Goulden (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)  email

Short Abstract

This paper investigates planning for sustainability, considering how expertise, values and politics are cast into environmental assessment tools used by planners, and how the technical attributes of these tool go on to determine future material structures as part of a hybrid practice of planning.

Long Abstract

Advancing sustainability principles in planning involves the articulation of values, ideals and politics into a socio-material process of interventions. Based on a qualitative case study on the application of building environment assessments to planning policy in Israel, this paper considers how environmental assessment for buildings can both frame and perform sustainable planning. Using the lens of "standards", as conceptualized by STS, the research suggests that environmental assessment tools do not only reflect embedded politics and compromises between different stakeholders. When successfully mobilized, their weight, legitimacy and presentation of expertise all contribute to the persistence, diffusion and uptake of particular sustainability approaches, beyond that which might have occurred with other, more localized tools. This approach builds a common sustainability agenda and also enables tools developed in one geographic or institutional context to travel between cities and countries, as mobile definitions of sustainability.

Responding to this track's inquiry into how planners work with artefacts to set conditions for intervention, the research presents a hybrid perspective on planning goals that takes into account the interaction between planners and assessment tools. The choice and use of tools as outlined here is suggested to have an epistemic impact on definitions of sustainability within the planning process. This analysis of the impact of environmental assessment tools within planning isn't simply a deconstruction, but a call for more reflexivity and awareness of the possible black boxing of concepts such as sustainable construction or urban sustainability and their potential impact on local expertise and planning.

Expert knowledge and lobbying tactics: the politics of participation in urban planning in Hackney Wick, London

Author: Isaac Marrero-Guillamon (Goldsmiths, University of London)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the 'expertification' of community participation in the planning process in Hackney Wick, London. It considers how the deployment of expert knowledge and lobbying tactics resulted in the enactment of 'para-democratic' structures of participation.

Long Abstract

This paper discusses community participation in the planning process in post-Olympic Hackney Wick. Informed by STS approaches to politics (e.g. Marres, Callon), it looks at the entanglement of groups, interfaces, objects and tactics involved in the process. The discussion is framed around a campaign for sustainable affordable workspace which took place in the context of the development of the new Local Plan for the area. The advocacy work of a local group, The Unit, with both the local authorities and developers, in statutory and non-statutory forums, will be discussed. The analysis centres on the use of expert knowledge and lobbying by community activists and considers the implications of these 'technical forums' (Callon) in terms of the enactment of 'para-democratic' structures of participation. The very notion of 'community' will also be investigated as a performative effect of the actions carried out by the groups involved. The paper is based on ethnographic research conducted with community groups in the area between 2011-2015.

Following the Code: Studying the hybrid zones of land-use planning in Vancouver (BC)

Author: Marko Marskamp (Institute for Geography and Sustainability- Université de Lausanne)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is a methodological reflection on ethnographic field research on zoning in Vancouver (BC) that puts forward to follow the zoning code and decenter the planner when studying land-use planning with STS. It extends this reflection to the politics of zoning as a 'parliament of zones'.

Long Abstract

Planning scholars have problematized with STS the hybrid of human and non-human in planning practice, yet other hybrids that have long been pertinent to the planning community-and STS for that matter-have received little attention. Invoking STS, this paper aims to turn the apparently technical and inherently political nature of planning into an empirical question, and considers the methodological implications of such a move. Grounded in ethnographic research on zoning in Vancouver (BC), the paper sees land-use planning as a form of network ordering, an uncertain process of overcoming resistance, that culminates in the zoning code. Through this lens, the research started with the shadowing of planners in the planning office but soon turned into the following of the zoning code in many places and with many appearances. Following the code in rezonings, the rational standardization and political administration with zoning is opened up as the socio-material negotiation of a specific and locally situated zone. This negotiation of uses-and implied users-observed in rezonings is the basis for a discussion on how a Latourian 'parliament of zones' could be a way of taking hybrids more seriously in planning.

Marble and Portuguese rocks: spot-making practices in brazilian street skateboarding

Author: Pedro Ferreira (UNICAMP - Universidade Estadual de Campinas)  email

Short Abstract

This paper proposes a reflexion on the socio-material and situated city-making practices of Brazilian street skateboarders – with special attention to the agency of marble and Portuguese rocks as skateboarding surfaces –, as presented in the published specialized media.

Long Abstract

"When these creatures raised in prisons made of Portuguese rock, crooked transitions and rough edges where released on smooth floors, perfect curves and marble benches, the damage was done." These words were used by Douglas Prieto (skateboarder and editor of the Brazilian skateboarding magazine Cemporcento Skate) to describe the experience of an increasing number of Brazilian street skateboarders, "creatures raised in prisons made of Portuguese rock, crooked transitions and rough edges", who travel to Europe in search of "smooth floors, perfect curves and marble benches". The city of Barcelona is considered to be one of the main European street skateboarding cities, mostly due to its "smooth floors, perfect curves and marble benches". This paper will address the role of artifacts - with special attention to the agency of marble and Portuguese rocks as skateboarding surfaces - on this kind of socio-material and situated city-making practices of Brazilian street skateboarders, as presented in the published specialized media (mostly, the two main Brazilian skateboarding magazines at this moment: Tribo Skate; and Cemporcento Skate). More specifically, street skateboarding will be here understood as a technical-political hybrid "spot-making practice" ("spot" being the usual term for a place used for skateboarding): the activation of specific built environments by the distributed agencies of human bodies, material objects and environments. Going clearly beyond the planned territory, this paper will intend to highlight the ways in which the spot-making practices of Brazilian street skateboarders may contribute to the understanding of the varieties of city making processes.

Neighbourhood Planning: inversions and reversions

Author: Andy Yuille (Lancaster University)  email

Short Abstract

“Neighbourhood Planning”, introduced by the Localism Act 2011, promised to partially invert relations of power and expertise in English land use planning. I explore how social and material orderings are (re)produced through this new process, and to what extent this promise is being delivered.

Long Abstract

Planning in England in the early 21st century is perceived by many as a remote, technical, expert-dominated, top-down process which excludes communities from real participation in shaping their futures. Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the UK Coalition Government in 2011 as a partial antidote to this, giving communities the ability to prepare statutory land use plans for their "neighbourhoods" - areas covering from a few hundred to tens of thousands of residents. Its stated aims included increasing local control, democratic accountability and the role of local, experiential knowledge, partially inverting the roles of 'lay' communities and 'expert' planners and other professionals. Drawing on STS resources and perspectives, I explore the situated practices involved in this new process through ethnographic studies of two groups preparing Neighbourhood Plans. A number of features emerge from these practices which will be of interest to imagining a more diverse and reflexive future for planning. In this paper I outline an inter-related selection of these features and their implications for the way that planning is done:

• The hybrid and iterative processes of translation and representation involved in the production of neighbourhood knowledge and policy

• The relations of power and authority between 'lay' steering groups, consultants and other 'experts'

• The disciplinary force of 'evidence' and its contestable meanings

Networks "on the RUN": networks of cities and retiology

Author: Luc Tripet (University of Neuchâtel)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses a project of networking of cities in Switzerland, the RUN, and argues that the network operates as a retiology, in other words as a progressive ideology that overcodes relations between cities.

Long Abstract

The network has become a dominant figure in spatial planning (Albrechts and Mandelbaum 2005) and in governance literature (Torfing and Sørensen 2014). Accordingly, regional policies based on networking between cities have flourished in Europe for two decades (Leitner and Sheppard 2002). In Switzerland the "network discourse" has a performative strength and is shared by politicians, planners and scholars (Conseil fédéral et al. 2012; Schmid 2014). Some regions are thus defined as being (or having to be) composed of networks of small and medium cities. My empirical case study is one of these so-called networks of cities, the RUN (Réseau urbain neuchâtelois), that gathers three cities in northwest Switzerland. Despite a strong interurban strategy, the cities experienced a "runaway" four years ago when the backbone of the RUN, an ambitious transport infrastructure project, was refused by the population. However the RUN is not dead, as the links and collaborations between the cities exceed the infrastructure network.

Drawing on a discourse analysis of the campaigning material of the RUN, I argue that this point raises an essential question about networking in spatial planning. The network is not only an "imaginative weakness" (Healey 2006) that fails to capture the complex relations between cities; it also operates as a progressive ideology, a "retiology" (Musso 2003), and "overcodes" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987) these relations.

Planning ecologies: issue publics and the reassembling of urban green trajectories

Author: Anders Blok (University of Copenhagen)  email

Short Abstract

This paper deploys a case study into ecological controversies over the Kai Tak harbor-front site in Hong Kong to suggest that a pragmatist issue-centered approach to politics - as developed around actor-network theory (ANT) - brings the contested trajectories of urban planning into focus for STS.

Long Abstract

While science and technology studies (STS) may provide fresh takes on the relational and material practices of urban planning, discussions so far have tended to downplay the question of how STS can help rethink the core political forms and institutional topology of contemporary planning. In this paper, I suggest that a pragmatist issue-centered approach to politics - as developed recently around actor-network theory (ANT) - has much to offer in terms of bringing the contested assemblages of urban planning processes into focus. I develop this claim by way of a (quasi-)ethnographic case study into 20 years of planning controversy over the future of the Kai Tak harbor-front site in Hong Kong, as seen from the vantage point of emerging concerned publics and their attempts to influence the trajectories of formal planning in this semi-democratic, executive-led polity. Over the years, shifting public assemblies of urban professionals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civic experts, artists and citizen groups have raised a variety of ecological concerns with what is otherwise officially framed as a 'green' and 'sustainable' development project. Tracing these ecological issue trajectories in and across the site bring to light how publics coalesce to contest and reshape the very political form and content of official planning practices, sometimes indirectly and sometimes in dramatic ways (as in the anti-harbor reclamation struggle). Taken together, I conclude, an ANT-inspired issue politics also helps recast planning itself in more ecological terms, as a power-laden trading zone with porous and shifting boundaries between institutional settings.

Planning resistance: exploring forces of resistance through everyday planning work.

Author: Pim Peters (Technische Universität München)  email

Short Abstract

Planners encounter ‘resistance’ not ‘stability’ when doing everyday planning work. Drawing from 4 months of ethnography in Munich’s traffic planning department I will explore material, technical and social forces of resistance transforming plans and projects throughout a planning process.

Long Abstract

It seems widely acknowledged that urban assemblages might resist being effectively (re)shaped through planning work. Existing conceptualizations, circulating through planning and STS, explain this in terms of stability. We may find this in the 'urban obduracy' of "fixed" urban structures (Hommels, 2005), the "remarkably stable" system of automobility (Urry, 2004), and "stable" regimes which resist a 'sustainable mobility transition' (Switzer, Bertolini, & Grin, 2013). Although valuable, these conceptualizations seem to lose much of their explanatory power when studying situated planning practices.

Based on 4 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the traffic planning department in Munich, I argue that, in situated planning practice urban assemblages hardly ever appear as stable. By contrast, their composition and the effects of imagined interventions are almost always complex and uncertain. Therefore, I suggest that the notion of (forces of) resistance (Latour, 1993) is more productive for understanding how projects are transformed throughout a planning process. Moreover, resistance elucidates relationality, it allows asking for whom, where, and when encounters between different entities engender forces of resistance. Exploring these questions from inside a planning office seems relevant, as it might help identifying if and how mundane (planning) devices and arrangements engender material, technical and social forces of resistance vis-à-vis particular policies or plans, and whom or what (should) hold(s) an opportunity to reassemble them. I will support these claims by presenting and thinking through a number of ethnographic vignettes, from my fieldwork in Munich.

Postcolonial Planning: How Histories of Technology and Planning can help re-shape Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies

Author: Kavita Philip (University of California, Irvine)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the politics of planning in late twentieth-century India. It closes with methodological reflections on the ways in which my research questions and methods in post-colonial histories of science and technology have been altered by an engagement with histories of planning.

Long Abstract

India's first Five Year Plan went public on December 7th, 1952, by which time, as one commentator noted, 'the plan which it purported to describe had been in operation for some twenty months.' India's planners, educated in the latest theories of development planning, envisioned rapid economic advance as 'conditional upon additions to and improvements in the technological framework implicit in a high rate of capital formation.' Technological assumptions shaped a 'master narrative' of Indian planning. But planning's messiness on the ground was noted by both planners and the people they targeted. There had even been calls for inter-disciplinarity in planning, and criticism of the state's technocratic illusions. In October 1952, 'Samaja Shastrajna,' writing to The Economic Weekly, had complained,: 'When will economists and the Government realize that economic reforms need to take into account the social constitutions within which economic factors operate? Only in India could the Government launch on a five year plan without consulting a single sociologist who has a first-hand acquaintance with the social institutions of the people.' A half-century later, despite calls for interdisciplinarity, planning analyses tend to cluster in familiar paradigms and departments, and to re-circulate abstract binaries between master plans and ungovernable subjects, technological knowledge and ground-level realities. This paper explores the politics of planning in late twentieth-century India. It closes with methodological reflections on the ways in which my research questions and methods in post-colonial histories of science and technology have been fundamentally altered by an engagement with histories of planning.

Practices and material arrangements in urban planning - a practice theoretical perspective

Authors: Anders Buch (Aalborg University)  email
Anne Katrine Harders (Green Building Council Denmark)  email

Short Abstract

This paper studies an urban development project in Copenhagen. Using a practice theoretical approach, the paper shows that the realization of visions is contingent on the involved practices and the prefiguration of the dominant practice architectures by material arrangements.

Long Abstract

A sustainable transition of our cities is more urgent than ever. For that reason, many urban development projects worldwide are assigned ambitious visions about contributing to the sustainable transition. However, it seems that the projects often lack ability to realize these visions and to actually contribute to a sustainable transition. On the contrary, the projects seem to strengthen the already unsustainable configuration of our cities. In this paper we will argue that there is no causal relationship between vision and reality in urban planning. With reference to a Schatzkian practice theoretical understand of human activity we claim that people act in indeterminate ways and that we must understand planning and strategy as it happens in constellations of social practices and material arrangements. Based on a study of an urban development project in Copenhagen this article shows that the realization of visions is contingent on the involved practices and the prefiguration of the dominant practice architectures by material arrangements. It is the main argument of the paper, that by focusing on practices and material arrangements we can understand better what happens in urban development projects between vision and reality, and that it is in this process and not the vision that urban development and transition has to happen.

Race, Water and Displacement in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Author: Erin Collins (American University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper theorizes urban topographical augmentation as a key modality of governance that has produced racialized and classed difference from the colonial period to the present in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Long Abstract

In this paper I analyze urban topography as an object of governance and a terrain of biopolitical differentiation. Drawing on archival research in Phnom Penh, Cambodia I argue that topography is a key organizing schema through which racialized and subaltern populations have been categorized and governed from the colonial period to the present. Colonial authorities carved the city's original dikes, shoring up the French Quarter against seasonal inundation and the 'swamped race' of the Khmer. Then, in the immediate post-colonial era, urban planners invited both water and the Khmer middle-class back into the city. In the aegis to 'build the nation,' they reclaimed vast tracks of land, built institutions, enhanced lakes, and expanded the city. Meanwhile, the urban poor and the rural displaced swelled a ring of informal settlements outside of Phnom Penh's outermost dikes. Subsequent transitions from socialist to liberal property regime involved the formation of a land market and the concomitant process of dispossession—processes that again deployed topographical difference to sort the urban population—congealing radically different opportunities for life and livelihood within the city.

Strategic, Tactical or Operational: Three Cultures in Zone Based Urban Planning

Author: Monika Kurath (ETH Zurich)  email

Short Abstract

Based on an empirical study of zone based urban planning in five Western cities, this contribution reframes the zoning code as a culturally framed norm that is continuously re-assembled at different places of urban change.

Long Abstract

By drawing on a recent turn in urban studies that use assemblage thinking and actor-network theory (ANT) for the analysis of urban phenomena and by using empirical material from a study that compares the cultures of urban planning in Amsterdam, Lisbon, Vancouver, Vienna and Zurich, this contribution discusses zone based urban planning as an assemblage of various actors, materials, artefacts and rules that continuously negotiate specific sites and places of urban change.

Following concepts, like epistemic cultures (Knorr Cetina 1999) and regulatory cultures (Jasanoff 2005), developed in science and technology studies (STS), this contribution

uses the analytical framework of planning cultures that focuses on socio-material interactions and assemblages of actors (human and non-human ones), arenas, issues and practices. Using the cases of urban development projects in the analysed cities, this study has identified three cultures in zone based urban planning. These different planning cultures contribute to individual configurations, framings and negotiations of the zoning code that either are used as a strategic, tactical or operational tool. Within this framework the zoning code is either flexibly or universally interpreted and thus conceptualised as an overarching framework, a modular tool, a flexible rule, a design instrument or as a context dependent framework, individually negotiated at specific spots and sites of urban change.

The Mathematization of Daylighting: architects' use of the daylight factor

Author: Alan Lewis (University of Manchester)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores British architects’ use of the daylight factor, considering how this metric shaped architectural practice. It shows architects did not routinely quantify daylight when designing dwellings, but knowledge of how to do so enhanced architects’ understanding of daylighting principles.

Long Abstract

British post-war planning guidance proposed that cities be rebuilt according to scientific principles. Mathematical tools were devised to determine built form; daylight levels within buildings were to be evaluated using a metric called the daylight factor. The daylight factor is still the principal metric used in daylighting guidance, despite recent calls to replace it with other metrics. This paper explores the role played by daylight-factor-based standards in shaping architectural practice. Focusing on housing, particular consideration is given to whether the Modernist ambition, for buildings to be designed according to mathematically verifiable principles, was realised in relation to daylighting. The paper draws on eleven semi-structured interviews with practising and retired architects, lighting consultants and a planning officer. Interviewees reported that planning authorities rarely required architects to prove that proposed dwellings achieved specific daylight factors. Architects interviewed for the study reported that they did not routinely evaluate daylight factors at the design stage. Interviewees described the process as time-consuming, and often unnecessary as windows can be designed without undertaking a calculation or a photometric model study. However, those architects who were knowledgeable about daylight factors reported that this knowledge enhanced their understanding of daylighting principles. In this way the daylight factor helped to establish objective standards, even though the post-war vision of architectural design as a form of computation was not realised. The paper's findings chart socio-material aspects of planning and contribute to the growing body of literature on the role played by standards in shaping urban form.

The Sense of Snow: Visual disability enacted in urban space

Authors: Helena Leino (University of Tampere)  email

Short Abstract

We focus on the enactment of visual disability in urban space. Our data consists of walking interviews with visually impaired people. We illustrate the multiple ways in which visually disabled people sense the city and how they interact with other dwellers and material elements in urban space.

Long Abstract

Cities enable and offer but also close and limit the ways in which the urban space is being used. In our paper, we focus on analyzing how visually disabled persons experience the urban environment in their everyday lives. The urban space includes stairs, cobblestones, railings, pedestrian crossings, bicycles, terraces, roadworks and so on. These material elements enact in interaction with urban dwellers. Simultaneously the elements either create possibilities or restrictions to use the city. Our goal is to break down the enactment of visual disability in urban space when walking in the city centre and interacting with the socio-material practices of urban space (Moser 2005, Galis 2011). Our data has been gathered via walking interviews (Ingold & Vergunst 2008) with visually impaired people in Finland. The data collection has offered a rich diversity of ways to sense the city. Our research illustrates the multiple ways in which visually disabled people interact with other dwellers and material elements they encounter in their daily activities. In the latter part of the paper we discuss the enactment of disability and how despite the overlapping enactments of experiencing the urban space the emphasis is often given to the visual observation. The analysis combines the perspectives of science and technology studies (STS) and urban studies.

Urban design controversies: Unlocking representation and multiplying the possibilities of public spaces

Author: Brais Estévez-Villarino  email

Short Abstract

The recently proliferation of performative and relational approaches in Human Geography are reanimating urban studies which, lately, have shown signs of exhaustion, predictability and repetitiveness.

Long Abstract

The recently proliferation of performative and relational approaches in Human Geography are reanimating urban studies which, lately, have shown signs of exhaustion, predictability and repetitiveness. Different theoretical tools incited from Actor-Network theory (ANT) and Non-Representational theory (NRT) are broadening the objects of study of our discipline, expanding their political ecologies in favor of new possible and alternative articulations. Among other things, these approaches challenged the idea of public space as a self-evident container in which only a set of presupposed social and human dynamics might take place. Moreover, this sort of epistemological turn coincides with a crisis of political representation that has eroded the notion of delegation, questioning both the role and alleged neutrality of experts, and the authority and legitimacy of official representatives in the politics of urban design and decision making. Through the analysis of the controversy of the plaza Lesseps in Barcelona -a contentious case study of urban planning, which recent redesigning unfolded new forms of civic participation-, in my paper I want to rethink the the politics of public space, unlocking the fence which representation -in a very different ways- restricted its study but also its design.

Urban planning and techno-science: Exploring knowledge asymmetries and future imaginaries--The case of self-driving cars

Authors: Rider Foley (University of Virginia)  email
Michael Bernstein  email
John Harlow (Arizona State University)  email
Lauren Keeler (Arizona State University)  email

Short Abstract

Only 4 of 68 US cities address self-driving cars in their urban transportation plans. Many cities lack capacity to assimilate knowledge of emerging technologies. We interrogate if responsible innovation can address knowledge asymmetries to inform shared future imaginaries.

Long Abstract

Self-driving cars are an emerging technology anticipated to have disruptive, unintended consequences. The Victoria Transportation Policy Institutes estimates self-driving cars will comprise 30—50% of total vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. by 2040. President Obama promised an additional $4B USD in federal expenditures to continue supporting this research effort in 2016. Yet, only 4 out of 68 largest cities in the US explicitly considered the implications of this technology in their transportation plans. This suggests that even the largest US cities lack the capacity to seek and assimilate knowledge about emerging technologies into routine urban planning.

Responsible innovation (RI) is a framework built for diverse stakeholders to collectively govern technological innovation processes. RI scholars have primarily attended to scientists, engineers, research funders, and diverse publics using methods that include socio-technical integration research (STIR), scenario workshops, and citizen forums. However, scholarship on RI has yet to robustly engage with important stakeholders involved in urban planning efforts whose efforts reach far beyond funding allocations and laboratory decisions. The specific case of autonomous vehicles draws upon the expertise of urban planners who create plans for the future and engineering researchers who create artifacts for the future and confronts that with the knowledge and future imaginaries of engineers, automobile manufacturers, neighborhood groups and other epistemic communities. This paper aims to critically interrogate RI theories and methods i) among new stakeholder groups, and ii) for governance practices that extend beyond funding and laboratory decisions.

Voices for Nature: an STS approach to Planning Hearings on Off-shore Wind Farms

Author: Yvonne Rydin (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

This paper considers how nature was represented and given voice in the case of an off-shore wind power project. It adopts an STS perspective but departs from the Latourian proposition for a Parliament of Things. It suggests a more open form for giving voice, open to uncertainties and contingencies.

Long Abstract

Who speaks for nature? This is a question that has been repeatedly posed in environmental planning contexts as developments of all kinds are increasingly understood to generate a range of environmental impacts. Wind power projects are notable for generating such impacts and creating intense debates about their significance in relation to the benefits of the development. This paper considers the case of an off-shore wind power project and discusses how nature was represented and given voice. In doing so it adopts an STS perspective but departs significantly from the proposition put forward by a key STS exponent, Bruno Latour, for a Parliament of Things as the ideal benchmark for how nature should be given a voice. The paper begins with this exploration and critique of the idea of a Parliament of Things. This leads to an empirical investigation, following a development proposal for a major off-shore wind farm as it goes through the process leading - in this case - to a refusal to grant development consent. The case suggests that a more open form of opportunity for giving nature a voice in planning is possible, one that is open to the uncertainties of change and the contingent nature of outcomes. Rather than a grand proposal for new deliberative arenas, this considers planning as a set of institutional arrangements with regulatory and other intent but where deliberation, negotiation and consultation are possible in the gaps within the institutional framework.

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