A personal journey towards a planning yet to come

Louis Albrecths

The environmental crisis, the energy crisis, the persistent unequal development, the financial crisis, and the subsequent economic crisis to name only a few of the crucial issues of our times are causing an outcry for change, even structural change, in our society.

There is growing evidence that the problems, challenges and opportunities that our cities, city-regions and regions are facing cannot be tackled adequately by traditional spatial planning.
A lot of traditional planning is about maintaining the existing social order rather than challenging and transforming it, and
it fails to capture the dynamics and tensions of relations coexisting in particular places.
One of the key challenges for planning in this respect is to analyze critically what type of planning is suited as an approach to deal – in an innovative/emancipatory and transformative way – with the problems and challenges developing and developed societies are facing and is able to make new ideas and concepts `travel' and translate them into an array of practice arenas, which in turn will transform these arenas themselves, rather than merely being absorbed within them.
A growing literature and an increasing number of practices, all over the world, seem to suggest that strategic spatial planning may be looked upon as a possible approach able to cope with the challenges our society is facing and to embed structural changes that are needed. But at the same time critical comments and reactions are raised on the theory and the practices of strategic spatial planning.