Participation: Empowerment in Practice

Traditionally, decisions about design and planning have incorporated limited public input. This top-down process has been questioned at various times in the twentieth century through alternative participatory strategies. But the promise of participation has not been realized at a large scale. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in a world of rapid urbanization, expanding informal settlements, and increasing debates about the social relevance of the design and planning professions, it seems timely to take a new look at the possible role of participation in planning and design. This exhibition presents a number of contemporary participation case studies, situating these examples in the context of influential books on this subject and materials from the Loeb Library’s Special Collections.

Andres Lepik, 2012 Loeb Fellow