The transformative capacity of regional design

Lukas Gilliard, Fabian Wenner, Alain Thierstein, Nadia Alaily-Mattar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses how regional design introduces a transformative perspective on spatial development. It argues that regional design complements statutory regional planning within the setting of governance processes and that it represents a new methodology emerging as a reaction to the current political inability to re-scale unfit governance structures, with the objective of more effectively steering the development of metropolises. The proposition of a design exercise at regional scale shifts the discourse from issues of formal governmental reorganisation towards methodologies for imagining alternative spatial futures. It does so by proposing a complementary method for formulating regional plans that is interdisciplinary and design-based, similar to urban design but on a wider spatial scale. Design as a process of synthesising can identify and visualise future regional development challenges and convey the need for spatial interventions. The chapter argues that regional design is, therefore, a problem-solving as well as a problem-finding methodology, which should be impact-oriented and strategic. It should operationalise the inter-scalar, relational notion of space. The product of the regional design exercise should encourage debate rather than present an end solution or a master plan. It is, however, complicated by the multiple knowledge domains involved in this process, as well as by extensive, multi-scalar actor networks, fuzzy responsibilities and complex interrelations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShaping Regional Futures
Subtitle of host publicationDesigning and Visioning in Governance Rescaling
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030235734
ISBN (Print)9783030235727
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Planning education
  • Regional design
  • Regional governance
  • Regional planning


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