ISOCARP Cyber Agora #2: Virtual Public Planning Participation: Hype or New Normal?


14 July 2020,  12:00 – 1:30 PM UTC (2:00 – 3:30 PM CEST)


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Who can join?

ISOCARP members, Planners, Designers, Thinkers, Students, Decision-makers, everyone that has a passion for the city and city planning!

Who will host the session?

This time the event will be curated by Juanee Cilliers in collaboration with Tjark Gall (ISOCARP Institute).

What will we reflect on?

Technological advances have transformed the way we work, collaborate, and plan our cities of tomorrow. Although some planning and design practices have been leading the way for many years, COVID-19 has impacted on our business as usual: challenging everyone everywhere; forcing us to adapt – willingly or reluctantly. Some countries transitioned relatively smoothly into new processes or simply extended existing ones in response to these challenges. In other countries, topics such as basic internet coverage or digital literacy hindered broader public and stakeholder engagement in planning processes. While many questions remain unanswered, we know that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way offices functions, planners work and collaborate, and the way we interact with other disciplines, clients, stakeholders and the public.

To attempt making sense of current rapid developments, this Cyber Agora event will showcase the current stage of technology and best practices to plan and co-create places, activate citizens, and stimulate open discussions. Simultaneously, the event will reflect on the extent of the benefits associated with digital tools. Participants will engage with questions such as:

  • Is the crisis an engine for transformation and progress?
  • Are we overreacting with countless webinars and online virtual spaces to compensate for the inability to travel, meet, and connect in person?
  • How much of these technological advances will remain post-COVID-19?
  • What can we learn and should keep as best practice examples?
  • Can remote collaboration and public participation really replace its face-to-face pendant?

Following brief introductions, we will start with a presentation of keynote speaker: Tim Stonor (Space Syntax UK) to set the tone, highlight the importance of engagement, as well as the challenges and potential of the digital sphere. This is followed by three breakout sessions which focus on specific questions and topics:

  1. Session 1: Who? How inclusive can virtual planning be?
  2. Session 2: What? Can meaningful participation take place on virtual platforms?
  3. Session 3: How? How can technology help to support virtual participation?

In the end, we will gather back in the plenary session where each session moderator gives a short summary of their discussions before we open a Q&A session. After the formal part, everyone is invited to stick around on our Cyber Agora to learn more about ISOCARP, current activities, contribute to the topic of the next event, or just share ideas and stories – bring on you own preferred drink for a virtual toast!

We wish for the discussions to be initially unbiased yet provocative, optimistic yet realistic, and hopefully controversial enough to justify our very own digital format of the Agora – a format which needs to be intrinsically open for debate, opposing opinions, and a fertile ground for new ideas, movements or projects. Within our Society, jointly with others, digital as well as physical.

Who are the invited speakers?

  • Keynote speaker: Tim Stonor (Space Syntax UK)
  • Session 1:
    Moderator: Tjark Gall (ISOCARP Institute)
    Speaker: Mariana Fiuza (ISOCARP member)
  • Session 2:
    Moderator: Annemie Wyckmans (Professor at NTNU)
    Speaker: Javier Burón (
  • Session 3:
    Speakers: Lauren Ieden & Troy Hayes (Troy Planning)

How can I participate?

Everyone is highly welcome to participate in the event. If you have experience in the field, a strong opinion, or important questions that should be raised during debate do not hesitate to contact us at

  • Keynote Speaker: Tim Stonor

    Tim Stonor Managing Director, Space Syntax UK Tim Stonor is an architect and urban planner who has devoted his career to the analysis and design ...
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  • Breakout Session 1: WHO?

    How inclusive can virtual planning be? Tjark Gall (moderator, ISOCARP Institute) Mariana Fiuza (Public Sector Innovation Specialist at Teresina ...
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  • Breakout Session 2: WHAT?

    Can meaningful participation take place on virtual platforms? Annemie Wyckmans (moderator, Professor at NTNU, co-author of SCIS Citizen ...
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  • Breakout Session 3: HOW?

    Can technology help to support virtual participation? Lauren Ielden (Urban Planning, Troy Planning) Troy Hayes (Founder & Managing Director ...
    Read more
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