Thoughts: Why do we need Transversal Planning?

Urban regeneration projects are often a complex undertaking – complexity that people often take for granted. They often involve physical changes to buildings and neighbourhoods and related technical and engineering choices. But they also intervene in contexts of structural economic change, for instance when urban regeneration happens in areas of industrial decline or functional discontinuities. This means that urban regeneration has to anticipate and envision what types of economic activities it wants to foster and which ones not. Finally, urban regeneration has an important social element as it potentially affects the socio-demographic composition of neighbourhoods. This not only engenders the spectre of gentrification, but also more generally means that urban regeneration has to understand the preferences and habits of the local community.

The vast majority of urban regeneration programmes lack the tools to take the urban, engineering, economic and social dimensions into account. This claim is backed up by new scientific evidence produced by Stephan Kampelmann, Sarah Van Hollebeke and Paula Vandergert in the context of the TURaS* research on the urban regeneration programme of the city of Brussels. However, without finding ways to think more systematically about the multiple repercussions of urban regeneration, it is unlikely that they can be successful.

In order to address this challenge, OSMOS has developed the ‘Transversal Planning’ process that specifically addresses multi-dimensionality of urban regeneration programmes.  The process provides a practical way to collect the disparate knowledge of specialised disciplines (urbanism, engineering, economics etc) and condense the related narratives in comprehensive social-ecological system models that are co-created with the stakeholders.

The combined result contributes to urban regeneration projects that are more “systemic”, less conflictual and more sustainable in the long run.