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Placemaking, urban design and power relations in a local government context : the case of Glenorchy, Tasmania

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Ancher, K 2007 , 'Placemaking, urban design and power relations in a local government context : the case of Glenorchy, Tasmania', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Redefining local government’s role in urban planning to incorporate a number of the principles of sustainability – participation in local affairs and the enhancement of quality of life chief among them – is both complex and dynamic, requiring Council staff and elected representatives to be highly skilled and communities to be highly responsive. In short, they must engage. This research investigates how place-making may provide a mechanism for people to work together in multi-disciplinary teams, share power and decision-making, develop skills and be part of processes to plan, design, construct and manage place. Place-making is a powerful expression of communities’ capacities to develop sense of belonging, confidence and worth. Focusing on one local government, the City of Glenorchy in the island state of Tasmania, Australia, three questions arise in this research: What is the role of the urban designer in collaborative place-making? What are the functions of municipal governments in such activities, given their central role in the management of settlements at the ‘small’ or ‘local’ scale? What might an understanding of the shifting operations of power provide in addressing these other questions, given that many urban designers are employed by local governments to ‘serve’ local communities in place? Using qualitative research methods, I investigate how elected representatives, Council staff and community members living or working in Glenorchy have addressed such questions. Four methods have been used to enlighten my research and data collection. The first was an interpretive analysis of a wide range of secondary literature. The second was the administration of two surveys, one involving Aldermen, Council staff, City of Glenorchy residents and another administered among participants and organisers involved in an event known as the 2003 Glenorchy Works Festival. The third was the use of in-depth interviews held with organisers of the Festival and included opportunistic conversations with Festival participants. Finally, using autoethnographic approaches I documented and reflected upon my own position as an urban designer in a discussion of a number of the place-making projects in which I was involved. My conclusions from these efforts are that place-making can provide a mechanism by which community engagement fosters cooperation among people working together in multi-disciplinary teams, sharing power and decision-making, developing skills and being part of processes to plan, design, construct and manage place. Nevertheless, one must always be mindful of power-over and its contingent operations through such forms of community engagement.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Ancher, K
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Copyright 2007 the author

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