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City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations: The Case of Hermosillo

City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations: The Case of Hermosillo

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We collaborated with the Inter-American Development back to publish the book “City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations: The Case of Hermosillo.” In an increasingly urbanized world, cities have become fundamental platforms for innovation and change, particularly in developing countries. In these contexts, emerging cities are taking center stage. Planning for the growth of such cities is thus a priority if our purpose is to ensure enhanced quality of life for future generations. Building on a range of insights and tools emanating from the fields of urban planning, urban design, ecological urbanism, education, and public policy, this book gathers a set of visions for the resolution of contemporary urban problems in intermediate cities.

This publication summarizes the outcomes and lessons learned from the Fall 2017 course titled “Emergent Urbanism: Planning and Design Visions for the City of Hermosillo, Mexico.” Taught by professors Diane E. Davis and Felipe Vera, this course asked a group of twelve students to design a set of projects that could lay the groundwork for a sustainable future for the city of Hermosillo—an emerging city located in northwest Mexico and the capital of the state of Sonora. Part of a larger initiative funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the North-American Development Bank in partnership with Harvard University, ideas developed for this class were the product of collaboration between faculty and students at the Graduate School of Design, the Kennedy School’s Center for International Development and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Extract from “Afterword: From Theory to Practice” by Felipe Vera

In 1983, Donald A. Schön published the first edition of “The Reflective Practitioner.” Thirty-five years later, we sense a significant gap between practice and academia, as if thinking and doing were actions from different domains. On the one hand, the realm of reflection is committed to exploring the boundaries of imagination and critical thinking, resisting to accept the normative tendency of reality. On the other, the realm of practice is committed to making things happen, many times hampering reflection in the anxiety of accepting rules and navigating reality.

In his seminal book, Schön (1983) argues that “competent practitioners usually know more than they can say. They exhibit a kind of knowing-in-practice, most of which is tacit.” In a certain way, this phrase summarizes our vision at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the reason why we approached Diane E. Davis, Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), and invited her to embark on this project.

This project emerged from a strong conviction that the gap between practice and research must be bridged, and that we need to explore new ways of engaging both with reality and with academia. In this sense, this has been a great opportunity for the IDB’s Housing and Urban Development Division (HUD) not only to learn, but also to explore a format for doing things in a more nuanced and provocative manner. The Hermosillo project was, therefore, an experiment concocted out of three main ingredients: a city facing a turning point in its development; an academic with vast knowledge, insights, and energy; and students coming from all over the world with a variety of visions to help us reflect and decide how to best advise Hermosillo.

Advising a mayor is always a very difficult task; it not only requires grounded and realistic thinking, but also imagination. Going from an idea to its materialization is a difficult process that becomes even more difficult given political interests, limited time, and resources. Inviting the GSD to help us put together an Action Plan for Hermosillo was, in a way, an attempt to close the gap between two scopes of action: what we do in the field, in our daily interaction with governments, municipalities, and other international agencies, and the GSD’s capacity to test ideas, innovate, create, and imagine that which is still not there. As a result of this collaboration, we are taking many lessons with us that we believe will help us think about how to better assist other emergent cities in Latin America in the future.

…read more and download the digital publication here.

DATE: 2019 / EDITORS: Diane E. Davis and Felipe Vera, with Andreina Seijas and Diego Arcia / AUTORS: Bermudez, Tomas; Davis, Diane E.; Gallego-Lizón, Tatiana; Benton, Sarah; Blanco Blanco, Andrés; Razu, David; Arcia, Diego; Silva, Enrique; Soto Laveaga, Gabriela; Barrios, Douglas; Santos, Miguel Ángel; Santamaría, Juan; Segovia, Rubén; Silva, Jorge; Tomateo, Claudia; Vera, Felipe; Castro, Cesar; Joseph, Neha B.; Tzemou, Konstantina; Álvarez, Patricia; Kofman, Theodore ; Matthew, Samuel; Ramirez, Aaron; Seijas, Andreina; Summers, Claire; Wolf, Kate; Zwetzich, Diana; Tato, Belinda; Toledo, Jorge; Vallejo, José Luis; Chávez, Adriana; Stagno, Daniel / PUBLISHERS: IADB and lots of architecture –publishers (EDITOR IN CHIEF: Florencia Rodriguez / CEO: Pablo Gerson / EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Isabella Moretti / EDITORS: Renée Carmichael, Daniela Freiberg / GRAPHIC DESIGN: Mariam Samur / AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTION: Natalia La Porta)

Learn more about collaborating with us here.

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