The barriers of participatory landscape design approaches based on experts’ opinions

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Production Management, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Nowadays, it is not acceptable to design an unchangeable plan, especially in landscape architecture where end-users should be at the center of any design. Much literature discusses the influence of public involvement in landscape design process and its necessity in today’s life. However, the implementation of public participatory design has proved to be challenging and even problematic in many cases in the world. Initiated, civic leaders and professional experts generally develop and manage open space planning and design with a relatively limited depth of public participation considering what is possible. The range of creativity from those who participate is limited for a range of reasons, premises and constraints, which will be discussed in the literature review. The need exists for landscape architects to work from an understanding of the ranges of participation and the ranges of creativity that can be elicited in order to deliver sustainable designs. For several decades the theories of public participation were discussed in Europe and America, but the application of this in many other countries remained under-researched. Of specific interest in this article, public participatory design has been used in Iran for the past few centuries (until a few decades ago) as a common solution. This practice has continued in many villages, however, public participation is not practiced often in Iran’s cities anymore and the few attempts at using it were not successful. So the aim of this article is to find the public participation’s barriers specifically in Iran and to classifying these barriers by Iranians architecture designers. Materials and methods: A mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods has been used in this study. First, main barriers were extracted from different literature, then they classified to five groups contains technical, cultural, social, economic and political. After classifying the barriers, these barriers have been assessed by interviewing Iranian landscape designers, with the help of Delphi method. The Delphi method is a structured communication technique or method, originally developed as a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts. The experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator or change agent provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgments. Thus, experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of their panel. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the "correct" answer. Finally, the process is stopped after a predefined stop criterion and the mean or median scores of the final rounds determine the results. In this research Panel of Delphi involves ten landscape architectures, six architectures and four urban designers whom work at laboratories and companies which depended to landscape architecture. Their assessment emerged in a table and its content validity ratio (CVR) was calculated and interpreted. Results and discussion: Main barriers were extracted from different literature, then they classified to five groups contains technical, cultural, social, economic and political. Each of these groups contain a few barriers and there are twenty two elements entirely. Technical barriers contain finding the right members who represent people and end users, the age of step which participating people in the design process, lack of experts knowledge and experience in public participatory landscape design, lack of people knowledge and experience in public participatory landscape design, inefficiency of public participatory landscape design methods, uncertainty of  how people ideas and decides affect the last decision and the design and not being a free and comfortable relationship between end users, employers and designers. Executive barriers contain increasing argues between participants of public participatory landscape design, inefficiency of executive systems and public participatory design time consuming. Cultural barriers contain unwillingness of people to involve in participatory design process, unwillingness of employers to involve in participatory design process, unwillingness of designers to involve in participatory design process. Social barriers contain lack of free time of contemporary society, divergent orientations and interests of contemporary society, division of contemporary society from social activity, lack of people power to prove what they want in participatory design process, selfishness at contemporary society and prioritization at making decision which depends on social outreach.Economic barrier contains high expense of participatory design process. Political barriers contain panic from public participation and wrong and inefficient policies. At last, technical and political groups of barriers got the highest rank in respect of experts’ opinions. From twenty two barriers, respectively, unwillingness of employers to involve in participatory design process, the age of step which participating people in the design process, not being a free and comfortable relationship between end users, employers and designers, wrong and inefficient policies and lack of people power to prove what they want in participatory design process distinguished as the most important barriers.  Conclusion: Based on the research foundations, we presented a few suggestions to improve participatory design process in Iran. In one hand, unwillingness of employers to involve in public participatory design process distinguishes as the first and main barrier. In Iran employers of public landscape designs are almost government. In the other hand, wrong and inefficient policies distinguish as the third barrier and in Iran this refers to government regulations. So these statements emerge the important role of government and its regulations in improving participatory design process and it shows that there is a need of promotion and correction in government’s regulations and policies. Developed countries have special regulations and policies which encourage public participatory landscape design and guide the process to be more efficient.


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