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Sustainability, Professionalism and Urban Design; A Learning Process

By : Martin Symes

Sustainable development requires change in who makes decisions as well as in their content. The field theory of behavioural change is used here to structure a discussion of professionalism in urban design for sustainability. Sustainability and professionalism (both concepts defined by their users) are channelled subjectively, there are barriers in cities, designers act as gatekeepers, learning takes place. There follow sections on cities, designers, learning and research. There is more wealth and more poverty. In addition the cultural diversity of the urban population is becoming ever more evident. Sustainability depends on the interaction between designers and users, on new forms of practice and on new forms of urban development. There needs to be more focus on the improvement of participatory decision-making, and on new forms of communication, in design practice. This argues against a too narrow interpretation of academic standards in schools of architecture and encourages the reevaluation and further development of pragmatic approaches and the transmission of practical skills. Business School methods could be used. A good deal of previous research could usefully be looked at again with the sustainability agenda in mind, including a better understanding of skills. In conclusion, professionals need more multi-disciplinary practice and greater participation in it by lay citizens.
Keywords: Sustainability, Professionalism, Cities, Designers, Learning.

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