Monday, 4 July 2011

Bertolini on Multi-level Perspectives on Urban Transition

Luca Bertolini (author with Tejo Spit of Cities on Rails SPON 1998), is talking in Perth about landscape pressure (especially on public transport) in urban transition. He says there are many approaches, including both carrrots and sticks, from political actors to social movements, which can be engaged in transition, the urban densification of the kind which we could say is occuring in King's Cross, and which is outlined in the chapter about King's Cross in the 1980s and 1990s in his book.

Bertolini gives the example of redevelopment and transition in Amsterdam, including the perhaps little-remembered unbuilt proposals for highway developments in the sixties even in the city centre. He mentions the roles of various actors in arriving at the present conditions of this now exemplary 'bicycle city' which is widely admired as a model city for sustainable development.

Just a few of the points which stood out to me - and which he promises to develop in his paper for the Congress (#WPSC) - are;
- exogenous development - the approach which puts development outside of the city, (Amsterdam South and beyond?)
- transition pathways - how these connect with environmental pathways
- necessity of cut and cover development in Amsterdam - which necessitated destroying and rebuilding infrastructure at enoroumous investment cost

The 'moments of change' Bertolini is discussing are a reminder, in my view, that there are difficult compromises to be negotiated between many actors (formal and informal) in redevelopment - and a continual balancing of stakeholder interests. The view of planners should indeed be widened, and rather than educating the public or planning students to "ask the right questions" - as one planning educator suggested yesterday - planners might do the harder work of observing a wider range of stakeholder views.