How can citizens be involved in urban development or vice versa - how can they rather set their own impulses and involve the municipal actors in their ideas?
The "Participatory Planning" event in the "HFT meets IBA" series showed that traditional participation procedures are being rethought in the municipalities. The event was organised with top-class lectures by the planners Carolin Lahode and Sarah Sutter, both M4_LAB of the HFT, and Christina Simon-Philipp, Professor of Urban Planning and Urban Development and scientific director at M4_LAB.
Stephan Willinger from the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) explained that citizen participation is often only a small component of urban planning, which is often perceived as an unplanned and chaotic process. Instead of a hierarchical understanding in which planning sets impulses and citizens participate step by step, self-organised action from below could be taken. Citizens will thus become active as "informal city makers". Willinger cited the Platzprojekt from Hannover as an example. Here, based on an initiative of skaters, a fallow area in the industrial park has been converted into a container village. Various groups used the areas in a variety of ways as a cultural and leisure centre, as a place for founders, creative people, artists and families. Community projects were created, such as a sewing room, a surfboard laboratory, a garden, childcare or a school for refugees. The classic planning process had been reversed: Citizens produced their own ideas and involved the administration in their planning for a community-based urban development. At eye level
Martin Holch, Head of the Urban Renewal Department of the City of Stuttgart, highlighted the perspective of the Office for Urban Planning and Housing. Sometimes citizens are very sceptical and distrustful of participation processes moderated by the urban planning department. In his opinion, one element in the training of planners is missing - training in psychological and group dynamics processes. Holch explained that cooperation at eye level is very important for participants and stakeholders. Above all, the relationship level is important. Both sides should enjoy working together.
What opportunities does digitisation offer to involve citizens? The urban designer and journalist Rosa Thoneick presented the digital participation system (DIPAS) of Hafencity University Hamburg. This was used in urban cooperation for the planning of "Kleiner Grasbrook". On DIPAS, citizens can call up specialist maps and project information, access knowledge, leave contributions themselves and use many interactive map tools in 3D or 2D format. The digital tool does not replace the usual presence formats, but supports them, Thoneick stressed. In studies with more than 1200 users and in partially structured interviews, the fact that ideas can be addressed directly to the administration via the platform was positively evaluated, among other things. According to Thoneick, digital participation events offer the chance to create transparency, practice inclusion and also legitimize decisions. Above all, he said, it is also a matter of transparency in order to create trust - both digital and analogue. Citizens receive budget for projects
Prof. Dr. Julian Petrin, HFT Professor for Smart City Solutions since 2020, showed at the project "Deine Geest" in Hamburg how citizen participation can be promoted through so-called participatory budgeting in the project. Starting with a budget of one million euros that was made available to citizens for the Horner Geest park project, the city set up a process in several steps. First, ideas were collected, then 25 favourites were selected according to a specific voting: half of the votes came from the citizens, the other half from a jury of experts. In an in-depth phase, feasible projects were developed and finally it was decided which projects would be implemented. Citizens thus became co-owners of these projects, for example a mobile kitchen for barbecues in public spaces. Ultimately, the role of urban planning is not obsolete: "We are designers together with other designers and we are struggling for good solutions", Petrin emphasised.
After a brief overview of the various participation formats of the International Building Exhibition, the digital audience also had the opportunity to get involved in the discussion in the "Fishbowl". Hannah Pinell from the IBA '27 moderated. The question of whose task it is to participate and who is to be involved in the end was the subject of much discussion. Certainly not everyone can be involved on the same topic at all times. Nevertheless, a process should try to create opportunities for participation for each group. To this end, it is the task of urban planning and administration to find ways and means for individual participation that do one thing above all else - enjoy the work.