Network City Ruhr public participation process, Castrop-Rauxel, DE 2013

Netzwerkstadt Ruhr, Bürgerbeteiligung, Castrop-Rauxel, 2013


We consider it our social responsibility to design environments that enable people of all lifestyles and income classes to pursue the life they envision for themselves, while offering spaces for meeting and gathering which benefit us all; spaces of common ground which encourage inclusion and are truly public. This translates into projects that consider the connection between people and communities, as well as the built environment. We call this the principle of coexistence.

sound development

We know municipal budgets are limited and clients need to make the most of their investments. Project costing and profitability assessment are integral parts of our design development approach, and we take them into serious consideration from the get-go. Time and again, our experience has proven that extensive initial forethought lends to better decision-making in a project, which significantly reduces the threats that potentially raise costs and hinder implementation during later phases.

“Good design and cost-effectiveness are not competing, but complementary objectives.”

Our work process starts with a baseline fiscal assessment for the project. Next, we take a close look at the economic impacts of the project: relative costs that affect local business, people and the environment. Then, in the design development phase, we deliver strategic planning options and design proposals with the relevant numbers crunched to demonstrate their fiscal performance. The same rigorous economic principles apply to our own internal work and accounting processes.
Sound development means we deliver strategies that fuel local and regional economic development, create jobs and contribute to our clients’ return on investment.

sustainable design

We recognize that the term ‘sustainability’ has become ubiquitous in our field; so we do not use this word loosely. We are dedicated to finding solutions for form and function that live up to our value for ‘coexistence’ with the natural environment, too. Our commitment to sustainable design means planning with extended longevity in mind—from a financial, social and ecological standpoint. This holistic perspective includes people, economy, infrastructure, energy, risk, ecology, biodiversity and salient current issues around climate impact and resource management.
Our leading work in planning and design draws on best practices such as multi-functionality and flexibility of spaces, mixed-use programming, walkable street patterns and adequate density—approaches that we believe drive good city-making.
Our goal is to deliver sustainable design solutions combining well-tested planning tradition with the latest innovations that reflect our clients’ identity as stewards of green growth, CO2 reduction and resilience towards climate change.

structured creativity

Our aim is to create innovative yet functional design solutions. We are neither interested in cookie cutter solutions nor in operating as a black box producing accidental designs. This requires the seemingly conflicting combination of creativity and rationality. The TSPA process thus includes phases of imagination and brainstorming, which harnesses the full creative power of our team. In this phase, the team is allowed to temporarily set aside the restrictions of the project context. This leads to a wealth of design options, including surprising and outside-the-box solutions. In a second step, these options are submitted to critical rational judgement, assessing which of these can provide a feasible way forward within the confines of the project requirements. We call this structured creativity. This marriage between rationale and free inspiration means we deliver solutions that are at once novel, innovative and pioneering, yet comprehensively thought-out and readily feasible.
These solutions are validated by a diverse network of professionals at the top of their field whom we coordinate with regularly. Partnering with this expert community, we can provide specific expertise as needed in each individual case leading to nuanced solutions, ensuring that our deliverables meet our clients’ most stringent expectations. We always combine our global perspective with local knowledge by partnering with planners who are intimately familiar with the local context. In the context of the developing world this also ensures that we contribute to building up local planning capacity.


We see the client as a partner, and keeping a channel of dialogue open throughout the project duration ensures that the deliveries are well thought-out and meet all expectations. Frequent communication with our clients is a key element to that. The way we pride ourselves on maintaining positive rapport with our clients and professional partners also applies to our local stakeholders. TSPA embraces the rich insight that is gained through community engagement, which helps to identify well in advance any challenges and risks that might otherwise be overlooked. Local involvement also presents meaningful opportunities to gain buy-in. Our aim is to foster genuine engagement for all parties involved by facilitating a space for open discourse and effective negotiation. Cooperation with the public sector, nonprofits, investors and the community ensures greater consensus and buy-in that paves the path towards successful project outcomes.
Our expressed value in collaboration is readily seen in the way we effectively work with stakeholders to promote participation, uphold inclusion, maintain transparency and, last but not least, conduct assessment regarding the planning outcomes and stakeholders’ overall experience in the process.

thinking ahead

The rapid urban growth of cities in developing economies as well as the transformation of urban life in post-industrial societies demands that we plan with foresight and flexibility in mind. Foresight matters because we know the scale of urban challenges cannot be answered within a five or ten year timeframe but rather with robust plans that look ahead 20 or 30 years. Flexibility matters because the future simply cannot be predicted; building in flexibility to our plans and designs is one of the key reasons they can hold up to change in the long run. We make plans with a grand and clear vision, which can strategically adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining purpose and direction. Our approach achieves this by including into our design the appropriate instruments according to each planning challenge, including:

  • vision – a clear image of what the project aims to achieve, to motivate and build consensus;
  • strategy – the path of actions and decisions to achieve implementation and development of the design;
  • agenda – an action list and roadmap for key projects;
  • policies – a framework of rules that facilitate decision-making and further development.

The smart combination of these elements is what we call thinking ahead to achieve practical results that endure the ever-changing urban environment.

practical results

It’s clear that results matter. We are not interested in providing generic and predictable products, but see each project as a unique challenge that demands thorough investigation and specific, customized answers. This attention to detail is the basis for delivering excellent, practical results. Our projects are a complete package that not only include the design, but also the narrative to support it, with historical and cultural context behind them and coupled with visionary concepts ahead of them, plus the viable strategy to bring them to implementation.

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