Using GIS in Community Design Charrettes: Lessons from a Japan–U.S. collaboration in Earthquake Recovery and Mitigation Planning for Kobe

Habitat International, Volume 33, Issue 4, October 2009, Pages 310-318

Takahiro Tanaka, Daniel Benjamin Abramson, and Yoshito Yamazaki

“Charrettes have become popular in the urban design field, especially for use among multidisciplinary teams of professionals and non-professional community stakeholders seeking to incorporate a rich array of expertise in short visioning activities. Geographic Information Systems are among the technologies with potential to provide sophisticated spatial information to charrette participants efficiently. This article reports on a charrette carried out jointly by teams from Kobe University and the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, using GIS to inform urban design in three neighborhoods affected by the Great Hanshin–Awaji Earthquake of 1995 in Kobe, Japan. The article describes the charrette itself, and discusses the utility of GIS, given the challenges of disaster recovery in a context of undeveloped institutions for public participation, and with participants of different linguistic and educational backgrounds. In combination with electronically storable drawing technology, GIS proved useful in enlarging the multidisciplinary and cross-cultural reach of urban design; in incorporating new layers of pre-prepared expert data, and in combining such data with dynamically-generated “advice maps” and design ideas. For GIS-based charrettes to become more widely useful in community-scale design in Japan, however, additional property-scale data need to be available.”

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