Community Planning: Methods
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Urban design task forces are multidisciplinary teams of students and professionals which produce proposals for a site or neighbourhood based on an intensive programme of site studies, lectures, participatory exercises and studio working, normally lasting several weeks. They are an efficient way of securing high quality design proposals at the same time as providing a first-rate educational opportunity.

Task forces combine an academic and practical training in urban design with the development of realistic proposals for improving a site, neighbourhood or city.

Staff and student team members will come from a range of backgrounds, ages and, normally, countries.

The programme begins with academic input and skills training and then moves into engaging with the community and producing urban design proposals (see sample format ).

Task forces are likely to be organised by academic institutions in partnership with local agencies.

top: El Cerrito, California, USA, 1998, Richard Ivey.
Middle and bottom: Viterbo, Italy, 1994, Richard Ivey.
Public engagement

Public engagement
Finding out local views on the city.

Studio working

Studio working

Task force members prepare proposals in a temporary locally-based studio.


Task force members explain their proposals to local politicians at the final presentation.

  • Plan at least one year in advance in order to have time to secure support from all relevant local organisations and make the necessary logistical arrangements.
  • Cost dependent on numbers involved. Main costs: travel; accommodation; staff time; presentation materials. Cost for a 4-week event likely to be around US$130,000. Contributors: host city, student members, academic institutions. Scope also for sponsorship and international exchange funding.
Task force sample format
  1. Building a skill base
    Seminars, practical experience and visits for the team designed to develop skills in:
    • observational drawing and painting
    • urban analysis
    • local building crafts
    • measuring buildings
    • modelmaking
    • team working
    • participatory design
      (1 week)

  2. Small live projects
    Developing urban design proposals for small sites. These may be of real practical value but are primarily designed to develop skills in urban design, presentation and team working. (1 week)

  3. Public engagement on large live project
    Public lectures, meetings or workshops with various interest groups, action planning event (eg Community planning forum). (3 days)

  4. Studio working
    Developing urban design proposals. (2 weeks)

  5. Presentation
    Exhibition and public presentation of proposals with newsletter. (1 day)

  6. Publication
    Publication of book or report of proposals. (6 months)

    Ideal numbers: 20 - 30 students, 10 tutors
    Running time: 3­6 weeks
Sample poster for a task force
Recruiting team members.

recruiting team members

    'The task force is valuable because when people come from outside they have a special vision, with a certain objectivity, and they see things we don't see. That vision is very very good for developing new approaches.'
Yves Dauge, Mayor of Chinon, France, 12 August 1994.
    'Before the Task Force, all discussion about the future of the city what should happen, when and where took place in small rooms with one or two people. Now everyone is discussing it.'
Lorenzo Piacentini, engineer, Viterbo, Italy, 1994.
    'It was an absolutely exceptional experience. We were exposed to so many inspiring people and it was very intensive. It had a great influence on my life.'
Joanna Wachowiak, architecture student, 1994.
Thanks: Brian Hanson, Richard John

Last updated on: 8 July 2008