Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cityscape awards architecture 2011

Over the last few years the Cityscape Awards have developed into the world’s premier Architectural Awards for the emerging markets.
This year, being  part of the judging committee,i got the chance to view  more than 120 entries in 15 categories spanning from residential to community planning - islamic architecture to enviromental design.

The entries displayed creativity, innovation, efficiency and enviromental sensitivities .It was a difficult process especially that the entries all had eye on innovation, creativity but also functionality. Most of the entries showed high interest in customising their concepts to the context they are working with especially when it comes to street level. Urban design has become a major driver in shaping the architectural elements of the building . The other main trend that i have noticed in the entries is the use of energy efficiency systems to improve the functionality of the building- Sustainability is no longer a trend - there is an increasing demand on it as an essential criteria of design evaluation by clients.

i was highly impressed by two categories:
1- the young architects category- the entries showed an edgy approach that brings optimism in the pool of futureregional  talent we have-  it also showed an increasing blurring of boundaries between architecture, urban design and planning which means that our educational systems need to be redesigned to tackle it more.
2- islamic architecture- although i have heard many debates on the qualifiers of islamic architecture, i have to say that the entries showed a transformation of the way islamic architecture is viewed- Some of the entries transcended the past meanings and presented it under a new light.

Design Awards have always been an effective tools to spread awarness over the importance of quality in designing of our built enviroment and more than ever, it represents an incentive to gain recognition.
It recognises Architects and community planners and their projects that have shown outstanding designs, performance, vision and achievement in key areas of architecture.thething about design is that when it is done with a holistic approach , it benefits on many dimensions the context and that is where the categories in the awards provide a direction on which one can perceive the value of the project For example a good residential project might be as beneficial to the community and a well designed mixed use conplex might contribute to the local tourism.

the shortlist is out and you can check it on below link 

just click to view  the Cityscape Awards shortlist 2011

I am looking forward for a heated deliberation .

Friday, August 26, 2011

a theoratical review of the elements of Planning system and the current trends in improving its design

Planning System Design

The creation and establishment of a planning system depends on the context drivers such as:

  • Legal system which is a byproduct of the  political governance system 
  • Institutional system  that stems from the government agencies mandates and  responsibilit
  •  Development Proces and its various actors
  • Existence of a defined urban planning professional bodies

Public administration efforts focused on managing new developments and improving the built environment through improving and defining the planning system. Local governments had no separate identity and were strictly controlled through a central system .presently, decentralization is happening progressively – central and local governments are partnering although power and responsibilities are being transferred, it more has to do with responsibility and expenditure .Resources and ability to make key decisions still lie with central governments.

A Systems  

The planning systems can be structured in three patterns:

1-Centralized pattern distributed in one or more planning tiers

2-Balanced responsibility distribution over different tiers

3-Decentralized system with high degree of autonomy on each tie

Planning operates within legal frameworks that are either Regulatory framework with strict public policies and rigid controls. Or Discretionary framework that are flexible and open

B Functions 
Planning systems differ in their scope, methods of operation from country. But, they are formed by three main functions:
Strategic planning-Focusing on long term vision that integrates the drivers based on an evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities  of the built environment and its different dimensions.

Plan Making  

Providing spatial frameworks based on which developments are planned on the national, regional, city, neighborhood and specific locations. Plans may have different content such as :Strategy ,Policy ,Statutory measures ,Project, Structure Land use, Settlement pattern,Housing, Retail, Leisure and Tourism ,New planned districts 

Development controls 

Legal and administrative procedures operating at the local level aim to control the location, form, character, activity of the urban development and may include the use permutations within the building affecting the site use.
Urban planning profession is now becoming more open to address beside land use infrastructure programs and integrate more with the sectoral processes responsible for urban finances. It is producing a more open, flexible and proactive planning that takes into consideration community inputs.

C Types of plans

 Structural plans:
 Originated in the United Kingdom – their flexibility and general guiding principles enable diverse solutions Operating usually at the regional and sub regional level, they are broad in scope covering in addition to land use, infrastructure, landscape, social considerations and economic goals as well as the institutional analysis. Structural plans require intersectoral integration and a robust financial analysis.

Master Plans:
Oldest version of city planning going to 3,000 BC, the plan aims at specifying at the municipality on  local level the land use zones for an administrative area whether it is a planned district or general zone. 

Local plans:
 Usually providing detailed and specific spatial design plans for a specific area, they focus on short term goals either putting in more controls where it is needed or specifying changes spatially where changes are about to happen .

Action Plans:
Based on community participatory processes outputs. It responds to an immediate need or negotiation over specific issue or challenge. They lack the legal status of a plan and in that case highly depend on the municipality management team to support it

D Range of Urban Planning Tools

Planning tools: techniques and information to plan transport, residential housing, landscaping

Information tools: baseline and periodical data as well as impact monitoring and exchange of information through networked

Policy Tools: general or specific guidelines or indicators

Fiscal tools either incentives such as tax relief or  disincentives such as tax subsidies, lifecycle costing, procurement policies

Decision making tools assessment, mediation sessions, workshops, stakeholder engagement

 Educational tools conferences, workshops, task forces, case studies, training,
Participatory tools:
  • §  Participatory mapping of settlements for inhabitants
  • §  Community lead socio economic analysis,
  • §  collective modeling of housing,
  • §  collective analysis of trends in life histories of residents,
  • §  collective goal and priority ranking,
  • §  inspirational individuals life stories,
  • §  formal community champions