Enquiry-by-Design

Definition

An Enquiry-by-Design is defined by deliberative democracy scholar and practitioner Janette Hartz-Karp as "an intensive, interactive forum, over 2 – 4 days that aims to produce non-binding urban design and planning visions for complex projects" (Hartz-Karp 2004). Similar in procedure to a Charette, the Enquiry-by-Design method is used in more specific instances of urban design such as single-sight redevelopment. 

Problems and Purpose

Enquiry-by-Design is used in cases where an urban redevelopment project is thought to have postitive, regenerative effects on the community. This creates a win-win situation between the government or other imlementing body and the citizenry: where the former requires an urban area be altered, the latter will most likely be keen to have a say in the process. The Enquiry workshops bring together a technical team and a consultation group to develop a both a mutually satisfying design and a feasible implementation strategy (Hartz-Karp 2004). It is therefore suggested that the Enquiry-by-Design method be employed in cases where interrelated urban challenges are being discussed; while the technical team could adequately address the immediate design concerns on their own, the consultant group is necessary to ensure the design fits in with the broader goals of the community. For example, the Enquiry-by-Design method was used in Bassendean, Australia to redesign a train station which, it was hoped, would provide an "attractive and safe focal point, as well as [a] catalyst for further renewal of the Bassendean town centre area" (Parry, 2016). 

History

The Enquiry-by-Design process has been used in both Australia, New Zealand, and England (ESD: Enquiry by Design). 

Two case studies are available on Participedia:
The Bassendean Train Station Enquiry-by-Design in 2001 at http://participedia.net/en/cases/bassendean-train-station-enquiry-design
and the comprehensive, long-term community planning of Port Hedland in 2004 at http://participedia.net/en/cases/port-hedland-enquiry-design.

Participant Selection

The method used to select participants can vary from case to case and is primarily determined by the scope of the project and the level of actual or anticipated contention among stakeholders. The Bassenden case used a random selection method, public advertisments and targetted invitation of key stakeholder groups. In contrast, the Enquiry-by-Design in Port Hedland used a telephone survey prior to the event followed by a random sample, public advertisments and the establishment of a steering group made up of stakeholders, local councils representatives and members of the regional development commission (Parry 2016). The technical team is usually comprised on "multidisciplinary experts including local and state government representatives and consultants such as urban designers, economists and architects, notionally around 20 people" (NCDD 2008). 

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

The Enquiry can last anywhere from 2-4 days and is attended by members of the technical team and the consultation group. The first half day is dedicated to briefing members of both groups on the event process, the design principles and project scope. As well, a discussion of the community values is held which, it is expected, both teams will take into consideration in their decision-making. This time period may also include brief presentations on specific issues by technical experts. 

The rest of the first day and the morning of the next are dedicated to the development of urban design concepts by the technical team. Depending on the complexity of the project, it may be useful for smaler sub-teams to conceptualize and brainstorm ideas which are then fed back to the main team for consideration.

At the end of the second day, the technical team meets with the consultation team and relays their work thus far. The consultation team then takes the rest of the day to independently review the progress and suggest any changes.  

The technical team takes the final 1-2 days to incorporating the consultation team's advice into its final design plans which are again reviewed by the consultation team before the final report is written. The final report is to contain "the process, the community's input, the technical team's response,  and implementation strategies" (Hart-Karp 2004). 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The novelty of the Enquiry-by-Design process lies in what Hartz-Karp terms a "live environment" which "provides immediate feedback to the Technical Team developing the plans" (Hartz-Karp 2004). The final report is thus far more complete than those of other processes such as citizens' juries or consensus forums since it is not only a measure of public opinion but an amalgamation of public opinion, technical know-how and stakeholder approval. In short, the final report, presents the convening body with a 'ready-to-go' implementation plan - both technically feasible and community approved.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The enquiry-by-design method is unique in providing multiple instances for the collection of feedback from the participants. At the end of each of the technical team's two working days, the consultation team is provided with a report not only of the design plans but of the procedure followed to create them. The consultation team is to assess all aspects of the technical team's work and may therefore provide 'live' feedback on the procedure itself. The enquiry-by-design's success hinges on the ability and willingness of the technical team to take in and act on the consultation team's advice.

As well, the enquiry-by-design method is meant to include all stakeholders - including lay community members - from conceptualization to design to implementation. While the final report is a the product of technical design and community consultation, and could, in theory be placed solely into the hands of officials for implementation, the enquiry process demands that the report be distributed to all participants for further consideration and consensual development of further action plans (Prince's Foundation 2008). Practitioners looking to use the enquiry-by-design method should take seriously the continued engagement of the original technical and consultation teams during and after the implementation process if the totality of positive, regenerative effects of the design are to be actualized. 

 

Secondary Sources and External Links

Hartz-Karp, Janette: "Breakthrough Initiatives in Governing With the People: The Australian Experience," National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. 2004.

NCDD Resources Center: "Enquiry-by-Design" (2008). http://ncdd.org/rc/item/2961

Parry, Lucy: "Bassendean Train Station Enquiry-by-Design" (2016). http://participedia.net/en/cases/bassendean-train-station-enquiry-design

Parry, Lucy: "Port Hedland Enquiry-by-Design" (2010). http://participedia.net/en/cases/port-hedland-enquiry-design

The ESD, Ecologically Sustainable Development: "Enquiry by Design". http://www.ecologicallysustainabledesign.com/about-esd/enquiry-by-design

The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment: "Enquiry by Design" (2008). http://www.princes-foundation.org/sites/default/files/enquiry_by_design_...

Notes

Parry, Lucy: "Consensus Conference" (2010). http://participedia.net/en/methods/consensus-conference

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