In a few days from now, a group of 20 young planning professionals from 4 continents and 15 countries will explore the opportunities of the New Kristiansand. In a few days these urban and regional planners and landscape architects will do their very best to make an analyses and diagnosis of Søgne and Songdalen and Kristiansand. They will come as a group of flying doctors and they will bring many enthusiastic and fresh ideas for the future development of New Kristiansand. They are eager to meet and exchange their observations and suggestions with the inhabitants of New Kristiansand.
To my experience, every time a group of young planning professionals comes together and meet for the first time, something magical happens. Although they have different cultural backgrounds and experiences, they immediately throw themselves into the location and start to explore, discuss, sketch, discuss again, and introduce ground-breaking ideas. In a sense, the young planning professionals represent the global society and cities and communities that are in transition all around the world. We notice that in many countries, the way we plan and manage cities is in transition from government to governance. National government policies are applied more selectively than before; focusing on a limited set of national (and sectorial) interests for which the national government will take responsibility and ensure it achieves results. This leaves cities and regions to take their own responsibilities, delegating more to local authorities and thus opening the way to dialogue and cooperation in spatial planning decision-making with individuals, businesses, interest groups and community organisations.
Together We Make New Kristiansand
The international young planning professionals will draft under the unifying motto ‘Together We Make the New Kristiansand’ a vision for 2030 in which the ambition for the New Kristiansand is described as one of the coolest city in northern Europe that is green, safe, prosperous and circular with a minimum claim on water, soil, natural resources and fossil fuels. The centrepiece of this vision will contain inevitable challenges for 2030 and necessary principles for the cooperation among all actors and stakeholders involved to work together on the New Kristiansand. Those principles address the growing trend in urban planning to encourage kind of urban activism: people – after all, ‘what is the city but people?’ – bring an area or a building (back) to life. Local government has no other role than to assist these place-makers in achieving their aspirations. This makes that planners and designers are negotiators between demand and supply and mediators between opportunities and resources. Now public and private partners may have insufficient funds for location and real estate development, individual initiatives and small businesses become key to the revival, temporary reuse and subsequent redevelopment of urban areas, finally providing positive energy to a new urban culture
“Green Nordic City”
Presently and from a distance, my strategy for the young planning professionals workshop would be to frame New Kristiansand as an economically competitive “Green Nordic City”. This brings several inevitable challenges such as strengthening the network of cities with public transport, the transition towards an energy neutral economy and built environment and on focussing spatial development to contribute to a safe, resilient and robust ecological system. Other challenges are ensuring a healthy environment and anticipating on new technologies in the built environment. All these challenges stimulate and advocate making cities lively, liveable, walkable, sustainable and healthy and to stimulate local initiatives.
It Is All About Identity
Interestingly enough, I noticed that regional and urban planning is all about local identity, local culture and identifying and improving specific qualities of regions and cities. We as planners can help cities and communities to recognise and retrieve time- and place-bound identities and qualities in order create new functions, experiences and destinations. In this way a former shipping yard can be transformed into an attractive residential or recreational area. In order to do so we need to define future stories and experiences. We also need to engage partners to develop spatial strategies and organise place-making processes. I cannot wait to see what the young planning professionals have in mind for New Kristansand.
The young planning professionals workshop is organised by ISOCARP, the International Society of City and Regional Planners. ISOCARP has 600 active members in 80 countries. Under the motto ‘Knowledge for Better Cities’ ISOCARP promotes liveable and sustainable cities through workshops, congresses and publications. In the past 25 year, ISOCARP has organised well over 50 Young Planning Professionals workshops worldwide, most recently in Xi’An, China, and Portland, Oregon, USA. For the first time we (ISOCARP) come to Norway to organise a workshop in Kristiansand and Bodø. Results will be presented at the world congress in Bodø 1-5 October.
Martin Dubbeling is an urban planner and designer at connectingcities.eu, in the Netherlands, and President-Elect (2018-2021) of ISOCARP the International Society of City and Regional Planners. Together with prof. Zeynep Enlil from Turkey, Martin Dubbeling will lead the Kristiansand Young Planning Professionals workshop.