Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning

Article excerpt

Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning, Henry Sanoff New York, John Wiley, 2000, 306 pp., £44.50

Sanoff's new book on community participation aims to off er a comprehensive and practical review of how and why people should become involved in planning and designing environmental improvements. Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning is divided broadly into three parts. Part one (Chapter 1) considers the issues of who might be encouraged to participate, when, why and what might be the consequences. Part two (Chapter 2) then presents an outline of the some of the general techniques that might be employed, including techniques for strategic planning, visioning, charrettes, community action planning and research, participation games, workshops, postoccupancy evaluation, and visual preference or appraisal. Part three (Chapters 3-5) then provides examples from practice of how these various techniques have been adopted together in projects for educational facilities (schools), housing and more widely ranging planning and environmental improvement projects. In general the book must be viewed as an introductory text of value, in particular for students studying towards degrees relating to the built environment or environmental planning (architecture, planning, urban design, landscape and engineering).

The early chapters are the most useful and absorbing. For someone wanting to know why and how people might become involved in planning and design tasks the answers can be found here. The later chapters also off er some useful insights but were also at times very repetitive and a little heavy going. There are a lot of interesting examples here but stronger linkages between the earlier discussions and these practical experiences needed to be made. Instead the later chapters lack summaries, and the whole book lacks any obvious conclusion which was frustrating by the time the diverse case studies had been reviewed.

The book is maybe trying to be a little too ambitious in seeking to address every aspect of participation. This has led to a number of problems. …