Silo-busting is key to developing successful communities

Resistance to collaboration, a lack of a shared sense of purpose, and basic professional jealously can all lead to disastrous development outcomes for communities, according to a University of Dundee expert in urban design.

Dr Husam AlWaer, Reader in Architecture and Urban Planning at the University, is the organiser of a conference exploring how those with the ability to positively impact on communities can better work together to do so.

Integrative placemaking – addressing the ‘silos’ with collaborative approaches takes place at the University’s Dalhousie Building on Friday 28 February and will bring academics, policymakers and other stakeholders from across Europe together to address the issues inherent in their work.

“The places we live and work in are formed by interacting policies, designs and decisions over time but many of the statutory, policy and behavioural systems influencing them pull in competing directions,” said Dr AlWaer.

“It has become commonplace to blame ‘working in silos’ for failed places at different scales, whether the silos refer to competing or conflicting professional disciplines or authorities, client departments or organisations.

“At a time when Dundee and other post-industrial cities are attempting to rejuvenate their communities, it is vital that all involved in the process are open to collaboration and information sharing, share a common purpose, and avoid the jealousies and rivalries that have stymied progress in the past.

“This event will look at innovative approaches to silo-busting and to suggest new practices that might better align legislation, policies, design guidance, technical practice and decision-making to ensure better, more sustainable outcomes in a healthy planet.

“Working across silos requires transcending deeply entrenched discipline boundaries and cross-silo working is not the norm. Doing so requires not just a change of mindset but active management of the parties involved to raise their awareness and understanding of what is being required of them.”

The conference will address a number of issues, including how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be reconciled with national and local level programmes at city, town, and neighbourhood scale.

It also aims to explore how silo mindsets and behaviours can be challenged in order to move towards a more integrated approach in the planning, design, engineering and management of towns and cities that connects operational outputs with high-level objectives.

The event is organised by The Academy of Urbanism and University of Dundee in partnership with the Urban Design Group, RTPI Scotland and Architecture and Design Scotland.