Co-production as a Planning Strategy. Insights from Implementing Urban Climate Shelter in Schoolyards



co-production, participatory governance, urban regeneration, climate change adaptation, planning practices




Cities play a crucial role in advancing climate ambition, given the challenging objective of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C. European cities are exploring planning and designing solutions to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and address the impacts of climate-induced extreme events, including challenges arising from elevated temperatures and the intensification of the Urban Heat Islands (UHI) effect. Despite the ongoing efforts of cities, there is a need for improvement in integrating local climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

Urban Climate Shelter (UCS) is an initiative that aims to transform schoolyards from traditionalist approaches, based on impervious surfaces and low-albedo materials, to more sustainable, natural, and resilient approaches, which are beneficial for adapting cities to climate change and citizens' quality of life and health. This initiative draws inspiration from best practices found in recent years, with a specific emphasis on the "Refugis Climàtics" in Barcelona and "OASIS - Schoolyards" in Paris. Both projects prioritize a participatory approach, involving tasks distribution and engagement of both adults and children. It advocates for bottom-up approaches, engaging diverse stakeholders, and stimulating citizen participation beyond those with specialized knowledge.

The paper aims to explore UCSs in schoolyards, portraying them not only as cooling islands but as spaces where co-production becomes tangible. Fostering active participation in co-design and co-production processes proves essential for translating policy into physical results, with the alignment of science, policy, and practice serving as a powerful catalyst for development. In addition, co-production integration faces challenges within various planning systems, emphasizing the need for a deeper understanding of urban governance. The measurement of co-production becomes imperative as a tool for promoting good governance.

UCS's approach transcends mere physical transformations, they signify a shift towards fortifying governance structures and raising awareness about how urban spaces can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This marks a departure from traditional approaches, introducing experimental governance initiatives that embrace new patterns of interaction and deliberately allow for some level of conflict. The essence lies in recognizing that schoolyards extend beyond their conventional role and can evolve into spaces for broader community use. Through participatory co-production and co-design involving citizens, solutions are customized to meet their needs and preferences. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and active engagement within the community, aligning with the principles of an experimental governance model that encourages diverse planning practices.

Author Biographies

  • Bruna Pincegher, Politecnico di Torino, DIST, Responsible Risk Resilience Centre

    Research Fellow, Politecnico di Torino, Responsible Risk Resilience Centre (R3C), Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST)

  • Ombretta Caldarice, Politecnico di Torino, DIST, Responsible Risk Resilience Centre

    Assistant Professor in Urban and Regional Planning, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, Politecnico di Torino

  • Maria Pizzorni, University of Southern Denmark

    PhD candidate on 'Multi-risk assessment of urban flood and drought' at the UNESCO Chair on Urban Resilience, Section of Civil and Architectural Engineering, Department of Technology and Innovation (ITI), Faculty of Engineering (TEK), University of Southern Denmark.

  • Nicola Tollin, University of Southern Denmark

    Professor with special responsibilities in Urban Resilience at the UNESCO Chair on Urban Resilience, Section of Civil and Architectural Engineering, Department of Technology and Innovation (ITI), Faculty of Engineering (TEK), University of Southern Denmark.


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