- Towards an new professional profile and image    click here to open paper content35 kb
by    Wirz, Nicole & Grimaldi, Carolina | wirz.n@gmx.ch   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The theoretical study points out the needs for spatial planners to change their possibilities for spatial actions and the need for principles according to the changing role of the spatial planner today.
The theoretical study is based on the input of a two-day workshop („Die Rolle der Raumplanung im Zeitalter der Zwischenstadt“) held in Switzerland on April 8./9. 2005 with other 30 planners. I took part in this workshop that dealt about the role of the spatial planning nowadays. The results of the workshop are not resumed now . I want to pick out one aspect I brought in this discussion namely the „image of planners nowadays“.

Towards an new professional profile and image:
The image of the spatial planner nowadays is quite negative. The part of the economists criticises that spatial planning stops more than that it enables something. The actors of the environment criticize that spatial planning is about to be the handyman of economical interests. And society does often not know the role of planners. What are the reasons for this negative image? It may be due to the change of spatial planning.

The operating system of the Spatial planning with its roots in the post war period was ment as a „modern and scientific discipline“. It is based on the idea that needs for society and economy can be planned.
The operating system was conceived for one main actor – the public authority with the specialized support of the spatial planner.

As we can consider now the main forces and actors on impact of spatial planning are others: economical forces have globalised, location competitions have much increased the cruising radius of economy has enlarged, the complexity of the actions in space has risen also because of mobility, and the more and more the public authority hands over public tasks to private actors. At last the ecological damage and the consumption of resources have increased.
In respect of the space we can observe nowadays other processes and phenomena than when the actual planning system was implemented in law: such as e.g. the urban sprawl, the decreasing availability of land and the increasing damage on the environment.

We can clearly assume several essential conditions have changed in spatial planning today: spatial planning has become more complex and interactive because there are more actors involved in spatial planning. The relations oft the main actors such as economical or environmental forces are accentuated. The actions of private actors and economical forces have increased whereas the actions of public authorities have decreased. And we are confronted with different spatial problems nowadays.

The mission of the planner today deals more with developing space with several actors on specific demands than with planning and structuring the space for needs in advance. Considering the spatial problems we need to redefine our principles for these new challenge of spatial planning.
Today we can clearly make a resume that the ordering system of spatial planning has changed but we are still acting with the same instruments in a system that was thought to function different. So I think it is also the task of the planner to find new solutions to solve these problems.

So to adapt our profile according to today and for the future we may have to go on two directions: on one hand we have to define our principles to get a clear position and on the other hand we are challenged to find new tools or solutions and to change our operating system. On my point of view if we do one thing and forget about the other, we will not find the way towards an new professional profile and image.

(In the discussion / theoretical paper will be shown some directions, ment to be discussed in the workshop 3)
So there might be a bit of truth in the prejudice of the image of a planner ... but the role of the spatial planner was conceived to function differently. Today we have to achieve other tasks in an almost different system.
professional profile image principles changing operating system
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