4. Informal Planning

Photo by Chiara Certomà

Urban (social, spatial and political) planning is one of my long-lasting and deeper interest and constituted a file rouge amongst my researches on different topics. I started working on planning by digging deep into the hidden rationality of planning, even in those cases in which only the progressive face of power is apparently involved, to unveil the dark side of planning which is unavoidably present in the form of a disciplinary power. Elaborating on Flyvbjerg’s concept of “real rationality” I aimed to show it as the product of biopolitical technologies (disciplining of non-human further than human life), which makes it possible to control the “uncivilised” instincts of society through urban planning. My preliminary exploration of the constituency of public gardens planning in Europe lead me close to the elaboration of the informal planning concept which I conceive not as the climax of the liberatory power of urban counter-culture, neither the consequence of a progressive inclusion of alternative practices in the neoliberal institutional planning practice, rather as the expression of an emerging and transactive/fluid governmentality. Informal planning refers, thus, to collectively organised and structured initiatives aimed at designing the form and functions of public spaces and services in the absence of a legal definition, guidance and funds provided by the public or private sector. This allows the entering of informal actors in institutional planning processes and the redefinition of what is urban, and for whom.

On this research line see, for instance:

Certomà, L.Chelleri and B. Notteboom (2019) “The ‘fluid governance’ of urban public spaces. Insights from informal planning practices in Rome”, Urban Studies, 57/5, 976-995

C. Certomà and B. Notteboom (2017) Informal planning in a transactive governmentality. Re-reading informal planning practices through Ghent’s community gardens”, Planning Theory, 16/1;

C. Certomà (2016) “A New Season for Planning’. Urban Gardening as Informal Planning in RomeGeografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 98, 2 ;

C.Certomà (2015) “Expanding the ‘dark side of planning’. Governmentality and biopolitics in public garden planning”, Planning Theory