The editors of TPR have selected ‘Minding the gap: the professionals’ view on the interaction between urban design theory and practice’ by Hooman Foroughmand Araabi as the Featured Article for the latest issue.
It will be free to access for a limited time here.
When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, the author stated the following:
Minding the gap
This paper looks into the ways in which the theory and practice of urban design interact and identify reasons why there are sometimes gaps between the two. A set of interviews with leading theorists and influential practitioners helped me to analyse the key factors and mechanisms that are (in)forming both theory and practice. Understanding these mechanisms will enable professionals (both academics and practitioners) to more purposefully progress the field of urban design. So, the paper minds the gap in two senses, first by drawing attention to gaps between theory and practice and second by presenting thinking on how to do something about those gap(s)!
This paper shares a wide range of findings. For example, it is evident that knowledge does not pass seamlessly from one party to another. Practitioners are busy developing their own knowledge that is situated, site-specific and practical whilst academics, in turn, are busy producing outcomes for reaching a high level of academic measurements. Nonetheless, the paper reports positive and provocative findings about the interactions between theory and practice.
Even though the interviewees were all English language speakers, the paper provides inspiration for urban designers globally. The readers can compare their own experiences with those of the professionals described here. This paper aims to be a first step in revisiting urban design as a profession, understanding its relation to more fundamental theories (such as social sciences) and finding effective ways to better link practice back to theory.