UN-Habitat’s Design Labs enters collaboration with the Dutch Creative Industries Fund

By on 09/16/2015
Downtown Yangon, Myanmar

Downtown Yangon, Myanmar

Nairobi 16 September 2015- On 15 September the Dutch Creative Industries Fund signed an agreement with UN-Habitat’s Global Network of Urban Planning and Design Labs to support cities with urban planning and design. Under the title “Designing a better urban future” Urban Planning and Design Labs will be established to support local governments in partner countries such as Myanmar, Mexico, the Philippines, Palestine and Ghana. The launch of the Labs is part the ongoing work of the Global Network of Urban Planning and Design Labs, an initiative mooted at the 25th Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat. The network aims to create temporary and permanent planning labs to support local governments with planning assistance to create feasible planning projects. As such, it brings together international and local expertise to exchange applied knowledge and create a global portfolio of sustainable urban planning projects. For this initiative, UN-Habitat will be partnering with Creative Industries Fund NL, a Dutch organization that aims to develop the Dutch design sector and support its international standing. Starting with a conference in Rotterdam on 3 December, four teams composed of architects, urban planners and landscape architects will examine the challenges of cities selected by UN-Habitat, and come up with planning and design proposals that translate UN-Habitat’s sustainable planning principles into practice. ‘Three-pronged approach’ The teams will be organized in one year planning labs selected from a pool of talented planners. The teams will work according to the ‘three-pronged approach’, which means that they propose plans that in addition to planning and design, have a legal and financial component. To accommodate this, the teams will also receive funds to hire legal and financial expertise. The labs provide an opportunity to help local governments overcome their countries’ challenges, which includes rapid urbanization, post-disaster planning, and planning of new towns and economic development. In this process, design plays a crucial role. “In many contexts, design arrives at the end of the planning process, after all the problems have exhaustively been defined and the goals have been set.” says Rogier van den Berg, project leader of the Urban Planning and Design LAB at UN-Habitat. “With the planning labs, we promote to integrate design throughout the planning process, since design explorations can actually also contribute to problem definition and goal-setting. And as clear plans ease political buy-in, design also has the capacity to accelerate governments’ decision-making processes where plans often end up in gridlock.” The labs’ collaboration with local planners, also gives local planners the chance to gain crucial expertise in a ‘learning by doing’ way. This unique collaboration gives Dutch urban planners and architects an opportunity to work on the future EU and the UN agenda on urbanisation. This Agenda will address inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban development globally.

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