Shantou (China) – UPAT 2013

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Between 10 and 16 March, an ISOCARP Urban Planning Advisory Team (UPAT) workshop was held in Shantou (China). For this second UPAT workshop in China, Vice President UPATs Martin Dubbeling was able to select a large team with different nationalities and expertise. Team Leader Amos Brandeis from Israel was assisted by UPAT Rapporteur Markus Appenzeller from Germany/The Netherlands, Bijendra Jain from India, Michael West from the USA/Saudi Arabia, Guy Perry from France/Poland, Yana Golubeva from Belarus, Brechtje Spreeuwers from the Netherlands/China and Sofia Fernandes from Portugal. This team was selected out of a little less than 30 excellent applications from the ISOCARP membership.

This UPAT workshop was hosted by the Shantou Planning Bureau and the Institute of Urban Planning and Design of the Nanjing University. These institutions were awarded with the ISOCARP Award for Excellence for the integrated strategy and the focus on sustainability and organic transformation as proposed in The Shantou Strategic Development Plan. The task of the Shantou UPAT Team was to assist the Shantou Planning Bureau and the Institute of Urban Planning and Design of the Nanjing University with the organic regeneration of the historic and downtown of Shantou. The UPAT Team was invited to suggest practical visions, designs, implementing tools and steps for the built¬?up central city, with the historic downtown area as an “anchor”. The City of Shantou has adopted a comprehensive development strategy and spatial plan and is now seeking practical concepts, designs and solutions for specific sites and projects.

The results of the UPAT workshop were used as one of the planning products for the follow-up of the Shantou Strategic Development Plan, the Shantou Master Plan. The results of the UPAT workshop were presented and discussed at the international seminar “New Reform, New Planning, New Urbanisation” at the Nanjing University, April 4-7. This seminar focused on the necessary paradigm shift of planning in the Chinese new reform epoch and on the way this shift of planning should be applied in the Shantou Master Plan.

UPAT Shantou Presentation

Short report by Guy Perry

The Shantou UPAT was my first chance to work side by side with a range of ISOCARP members. It was an energetic, knowledgeable, ambitious and sometimes even competitive group. A mix of experienced and young planners from various parts of the globe made a creative cocktail of ideas that were innovative and pragmatic: a great base for taking on the real world challenges of a fascinating Chinese city and making a tangible contribution to its future.

The ISOCARP organizational team made sure that we felt welcomed by our Chinese hosts from the outset. Chinese academics and local government officials were truly keen to ensure we had the information and elements necessary to perform our analytical and creative task. They were sincerely interested in our opinions and our recommendations for their city. Government officials were remarkably aware of the UPAT participants backgrounds and would ask questions that were specific to our individual areas of expertise.

I believe that I made enduring new friendships with fellow ISOCARP members during our intense week-long exercise. At times the UPAT had the atmosphere for me of being back in a graduate school “charette”, but one framed by international experts in a fresh setting. I cannot imagine a better way to spend a week as a planner that lives to better our environments.

Because of the Shantou UPAT, my interest in China has been reignited to such an extent, that I have subsequently returned to China to begin work on other projects. My comfort level in working there today is in no small part due to my UPAT experience made possible by ISOCARP.

Short report by Sofia Fernandes

ISOCARP is a doorway for many experiences, especially in what concerns to International Urban thinking. The best way to be confronted with different contemporaneous issues , an organized and inspiring one to spread knowledge and ideas, and who knows, to plant the seed of change. Since being a member, I had the opportunity to contact directly with worldwide urban concerns, genuine solution development, extraordinary people and professionals.

This being my first UPAT experience felt like one of the best ways to change the intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this and last century. It is a direct and fundamentally optimistic way of working towards the new forms of urbanism, those of adaptation and resilience, permeable and sustainable. The Shantou UPAT was the result of a team-work ignoring the classical outdated parameters of hierarchy : young and experienced professionals joining efforts, opinions and knowledge. It was actually one of the best opportunities to confirm that united, it is possible to achieve solutions, not concerned exclusively with innovation, but most of all, adequate to the context and actual questions.

Because of the great results of each of the ISOCARP projects I was able to participate, it solidified my confidence in urbanism and in our profession as a way to change and improve our living environments.

Short report by Mike West

I was very pleased when selected to participate in the Urban Planning Advisory Team for Shantou, not only to take a break from my current routine, but also for the chance to get involved with a new and complex planning challenge, and to work with a team of experienced planners from around the world.

This was my first experience with an Urban Planning Advisory Team (UPAT), and Martin Dubbeling, Vice President of UPATs for ISOCARP, assembled a diverse and talented team of professionals, all of whom were eager to contribute their ideas for the Organic Regeneration of Old Town Shantou.

Together we explored old town Shantou, shared our observations, kicked around ideas, and  articulated a vision.  The team generated a tremendous amount of work and some exciting ideas, all within a shorter than expected time frame.  Cool under pressure,  and with the support of students from the Institute of Urban Planning and Design at Nanjing University, the team delivered and the UPAT was a success.

I was impressed by the team’s knowledge, expertise and resourcefulness.  It was a rewarding experience for me to have worked with some great people, make new friends, and I look forward to the next opportunity to participate in another ISOCARP initiative.

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