Participación y creación colectiva en la arquitectura de lawrence halprin. La metodología take part en los procesos participativos del proyecto urbano

  1. Blancafort, Jaume
Supervised by:
  1. María Elia Gutiérrez Mozo Director
  2. Juan Domingo Santos Director

Defence university: Universitat d'Alacant / Universidad de Alicante

Fecha de defensa: 11 September 2017

  1. Zaida Muxí Martínez Chair
  2. Pablo Martí Ciriquián Secretary
  3. Valentina Talu Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 493053 DIALNET lock_openRUA editor


Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) was an American architect who developed a long, fruitful and award-winning architectural and urban body of work. In his design procedures, he was a pioneer in the USA for introducing participatory processes allowing citizens to provide information, reflection, knowledge and proposals in urban designs. Halprin’s early experiments in incorporating citizen participation took place in the 1960s, coinciding with the democratic revision caused by the Free Speech Movement. From that time, participatory processes were assimilated in his modus operandi. Through the Take Part workshops, Halprin developed a methodology that allowed a broad consensus in the will of urban citizens. His participatory processes involved ordinary citizens, but also institutions, administrations, businesspeople and officials. The results of the participatory workshops were incorporated into his designs, ensuring the social and political success of the developed outcomes, as well as the professional recognition that was achieved. The practical definition of the Take Part method was an undertaking that lasted several years and incorporated various projects. The main goal of this research is to examine the praxis exercised in the Take Part processes of Halprin’s urban proposals and to define a methodology of application. This dissertation is structured in four main sections. The first one defines the theoretical framework and gives a general introduction to Halprin’s life and work and to the North American social, political and cultural context of the 1960s and 1970s. The second section, the central body of this research, gives a detailed description of four case studies that were paradigmatic, in concretizing the Take Part method. To do this, the original documentation produced by Halprin and kept in the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA has been consulted and analyzed. Of the four case studies, two were test and approach projects to the Take Part Process method; they are Seattle 1970 and Wilmington 1970. The other two, Yountville 1973 and Cleveland 1973, are projects of concretion and consolidation of the method that Halprin would apply from that time. The information about these case studies does not refer to the finished architectural product, but to the process of conceptualizing it. The research focuses on the design process with the aim of understanding it and adopting it to the present, as a further tool of design training. In this way, it provides a great amount of unpublished documentation that allows us to dissect the details of the activities carried out in the different Take Part workshops, and thus discover the methodology used, in detail. The third section reproduces the results of the developed research, which is the methodological description of the Take Part processes, the summaries of the different examples analyzed, and a complete bibliography of, and about, Lawrence Halprin. The last section, prior to the references, discusses the results obtained and points out new perspectives, contextualizes a critique of the processes studied from the contemporary praxis, to open up new means of application in today’s society, proposes new paths of research and details conclusions. Among these, it should be noted that the analysis of Halprin’s participatory projects reveals that participation is an inherently positive action for society. It is an effective methodology for the definition of urban design, its processes favor the common good, and recognition of results by the citizens themselves and their resolution depends on several determining factors, such as the quality of the professional who directs the process, and the representative sample of the participants or political positioning in relation to the participatory process. Lawrence Halprin was an active part of the movements that succeeded in changing Western society in the turbulent sixties and seventies in the USA, improving democracy and the quality of life of its citizens. Focusing his contribution on the field of architecture and urban planning, it is relevant to revisit and refer to his actions, especially at a time in Spain, when participatory processes in public life and in the political management of our society, are incorporated in a generalized way.