How can design contribute to climate adaptatation? Analysis of an international design workshop

Jeroen De Waegemaeker, Eva Kerselaers, Maarten Van Acker, Elke Rogge

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    Research question: The governance of any complex issue encounters multiple barriers. Yet, the governance of climate adaptation is characterized by additional barriers, unique to the adaptation challenge (Biesbroek et al. 2013). For example, there is a great tension between the long-term impacts of climate change and the short-term dynamics of politics and decision-making. Moreover, climate adaptation is confronted with a high degree of uncertainty, since climate projections accumulate modelling and socio-economic uncertainties. The
    adaptation-specific barriers emerge in various sectors, among which spatial planning and urban design. These fields are used to deal with so-called wicked problems. The complexities and uncertainties associated withclimate change, however, pose by far the greatest challenges that planners have ever been asked to handle (Susskind 2007). So how can planners and designer encompass the barriers to climate adaptation? Which skills do these professionals provide and which tools should be developed?

    Methodology: This paper analyses the international design workshop ‘Shifting Climate, Reshaping Urban Landscapes’. The design workshop is a period of close cooperation between multiple designers and stakeholders. It is a particular type of focus group, tailored to the fields of design and planning (Scott 2011). In this design workshop participants of diverse backgrounds worked in small groups on design proposals for the Lommel and Overpelt. These municipalities in the North of Belgium will need to adapt a changing water
    availability; wetter winters and drier summers by the end of the 21th century. The participants were informed on the local adaptation and spatial other challenges by stakeholders. In addition, the were assisted by three international master designers; Henri Bava (Agence Ter), Florian Boer (De Urbanisten) and Cees van der Veeken (Lola landscape architects).

    Findings: The research explores what barriers the participants of the design workshop have encountered and how they tried to encompass them. The paper zooms in on adaptation-specific barriers such as the gap in time perspective, the high dependency on scientific input and the high uncertainty. The research uncovers various strategies to deal with these barriers throughout the design process. For example, some participants scooped the local impacts through an energy intensive study of flood models. Other participants, however, rather employed historical maps and diagrams of the geophysical system.

    Significance for practical solutions: In such way, the research offers insights on the skills designers may bring to the adaptation table. In addition, the research discusses the potential surplus and pitfalls of a design workshop to the development of a local climate adaptation strategy.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    Aantal pagina’s1
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 2016
    EvenementAdaptation Futures 2016: Practices and Solutions - Rotterdam, Nederland
    Duur: 9-mei-201613-mei-2016


    CongresAdaptation Futures 2016
    Internet adres


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