1st Edition

The Spacemaker's Guide to Big Change Design and Improvisation in Development Practice

By Nabeel Hamdi Copyright 2014
    196 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book gives definition to participatory practice as a necessary form of activism in development planning for cities.  It gives guidance on how practice can make space for big and lasting change and for new opportunities to be discovered. It points to ways of building synergy and negotiating our way in the social and political spaces ‘in between’ conventional and often competing ideals – public and private interests, top down and bottom up, formal and informal, the global agendas which outsiders promote and the local needs of insiders, for example. It offers guidance on process, designed to close gaps and converge worlds which we know have become divisive and discriminatory, working from the detail of everyday life in search of beginnings that count, building out and making meaningful locally, the abstractions of the global causes we champion – poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, resilience.

    Practice – the collective process by which decisions are negotiated, plans designed and actions taken in response to needs and aspirations, locally and globally – we will see, is not just about being practical, but more. Its purpose is to give structure to our understanding of the order and disorder in our cities today, then to disturb that order when it has become inefficient or inequitable, even change it. It is to add moral value to morally questionable planning practice and so build "a social economy for the satisfaction of human need." Practice in these spaces ‘in-between’ redraws the boundaries of expectation of disciplinary work and offers a new high ground of moral purpose from which to be more creative, more integrated, more relevant, more resourceful – more strategic.

    Foreword  Introduction  Part I: Learning Practice  1. Deciding on Purpose - In Search of Beginnings  2. Learning and Practice - Understanding and Action  3. Learning How to Decide  4. Cross Cutting Themes - Ownership, Organisation and Asset Building  Part II: The Spacemaker's Guide to Becoming Strategic  5. Equity, Efficiency and Participation  6. Equity, Efficiency and City Form  7. Participation in Practice  Part III: Country Files  8. Cultivating the Top - The Million Houses Programme of Sri Lanka  9. Case Files - Learning from Practice  Part IV: Enablement and the Art of Improvisation  10. Embracing Serendipity - Finding Opportunity in Ambiguity  11. 'Yes is More': Getting Unstuck - Working with Troublemakers  12. Insiders out and Outsiders in: Practical Wisdom and the Co-Production of Knowledge


    Nabeel Hamdi is currently Emeritus Professor at Oxford Brookes University. After qualifying at the Architectural Association in 1968, Nabeel worked for the Greater London Council, where his award-winning housing projects established his reputation in participatory design and planning. From 1981 to 1990 he was Associate Professor of Housing at MIT, where he was later awarded a Ford International Career Development Professorship. Nabeel won the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour for his work on Community Action Planning in 1997. He founded the Masters course in Development Practice at Oxford Brookes, which was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2001. Nabeel has consulted on participatory action planning and the upgrading of slums in cities to international development agencies, charities and NGOs worldwide.

    Hamdi’s latest book The Spacemaker’s Guide to Big Change is a call for a new way of doing things. Hamdi’s work is relevant not only to planners and humanitarian workers but also artists and creative practitioners, who are looking for new ways to make a difference through their practice. Hamdi’s belief in and focus on the everyday and ordinary, and the particular in people’s lives, is a radical new starting point, that brings hope and empowers those of us who are ignored and overlooked. - Emma Chetcuti, Director, Multistory: a community arts organisation located in the Black Country in the West Midlands

    Hamdi is interested in activism and results. In this book he shows us how participatory practice can be a speculative as well as an integrative instrument in an inequitable world. These ideas, modes of engagement and insights are as relevant for intervening in our existing built environments as for imagining the sustainable form for places of human habitation in the future.- Rahul Mehrotra, Professor and Chair Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University

    Both philosophical and practical, this reflective book contains insights that go beyond participatory practice. The collected cases, references, and wisdom unpack the challenge of making change in the face of complexity and competing voices, and give encouragement that we can start small, where it counts, now, to achieve desired futures. - Jamin Hegeman, Service Design Network