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International Conference: Visual Communication in Urban Design and Planning

26. September 2019 9:30 – 27. September 2019 15:45 Uhr

Since the 1990s, the concepts and practices of planners have massively changed. At almost the same time, the development of digital information technologies has contributed to a shift in planning action and planning communication, which also modifies the ways of engaging publics. The relevance of participatory and cooperative (re)thinking, (re)planning and (re)shaping of urban spaces has become increasingly common but contested. Forming imaginations of urban futures within urban planning and participation, especially digitally produced visualisations play a decisive role in such processes. They are often regarded as instruments to promote participation by creating publicity, transparency and evidence, still it is debated whether they reduce or increase the ‘risk’ of citizen protests. Little is known about the past and actual use and the effects that specific modes analogue and digitised visualisation has on the actual urban planning and development processes. The conference reflects on how previous major transitions in visualization and participation during the 20th century have been perceived and discussed and what lessons can be learnt for the current transition of planning in the digital age.

Planning and urban design research focuses predominantly on professionally created representations by architects and planners who have employed digital information and communication technologies alongside analogue media for the last forty years. But the implementation of new (digitised) participatory instruments also enables citizens to visualise in order to make own ideas, knowledge and meanings visible and useable for urban planning processes. And finally, urban movements, civil society organizations and other political actors also use visual representations to push own interests and goals and to affect public spheres. Different disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, geography, history media and communication science examine the significance of visualisations in everyday lives such as mediatisation processes and the course of the Iconic or Visual Turn.

In examining the relevance of visualisations in urban planning and design, the conference discusses these topics from an interdisciplinary perspective. Within the broad framework of historical transitions and contemporary approaches four sessions will address the impact of visualisations and mediatised communication concerning (1) the change of the planner´s role in planning culture, (2) the relation of experts and the public sphere, (3) the practices of (digital) participation and finally (4) the general planning of urban futures. The contributions deal with these questions empirically and/or methodologically and theoretically.

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International Conference: Visual Communication in Urban Design and Planning

26. September 2019 9:30 – 27. September 2019 15:45 Uhr


26.09 2019 TU Berlin (SFB)


Introduction (MedPlan)

1st session: Visual Communication and the Planner’s Role

Open Discussion

Lunch Break

2nd session: Visual Communication and the Public Sphere

Open Discussion

Coffee Break

Evening Lecture (Bauhaus reuse)


27.09.2019 IRS Erkner

Morning lecture

Coffee Break

3rd session: Visual Communication and (digital) Participation

Lunch Break

4th Roundtable: What does digitisation really change for the planning of urban futures?

Wrap up and Closing