Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

El surgimiento del proyecto urbano

Nuno Portas


The article outlines some of the substantive features of recent notions on urban design schemes, or rather on ways of actuating local policies though design schemes.

The point is made that the notion of the urban design scheme is too closely linked to the image aspect of exceptional or prestigious metropolitan mega-projects, promoted by public initiatives or incentives and which generally concentrate on advanced transport, technology, business or leisure facilities. Rather, the aim should he to extend the notion so as to include a wider range of schemes of varying size and complexity, for which the public powers must retrieve not only the strategic initiative but also the operational capacity to improve or transform the more problematic questions of creating an evenly-balanced arrangement. The accompanying synoptic chart is an attempt to cross reference the subject, the occasion and the territorial position (the chart is used by a team from the Porto University Architecture School to classify some well-known examples of waterfront redevelopment schemes in a number of European cities).

Indeed, although the intervention programme establishes the aim and scope of the project, it is the manifestation of an anticipated or unexpected opportunity that makes possible the choice of operating method adopted for its realisation, with the time scale and resources clearly defined. It is the reconciliation of these two decision-making levels that enables the executive project to take on its architectural form, which is the increasingly important third dimension in the culture and mediatic transformation of city planning policies. Urban design in this sense is not at odds with a process of repetitive or adaptive planning even when it guides from the bottom up the reformulation of regulatory instruments on the basis of the same process of involvement and agreement. In the mean time it increasingly represents a relative concentration of resources in a limited space, so that it needs to be assessed in terms of its catalytic or synergetic effects in relation to policies concerning the redistribution of public resources regionally.

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