Imagining energy potential: a critical reflection on spatial scenarios in a participatory planning process

Clemens Bernardt, Alex van Spijk, Sandra van Assen

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Significant factors in the success or failure of energy transition arise from the spatial potential of places and their communities. Scenario planning appears to be an appropriate design instrument to enable architects to unveil, conceptualise, imagine, test and communicate this potential to stakeholders. This paper critically refelcts on the scenario as an architectural design instrument. Inscribed with political intentions, scenario planning may be a far from neutral design instrument. Instead of triggering communities to explore local energy potential, a scenario may have a normative effect on a community's imagination. The paper aims to define guidelines for the deployment of scenarios in an open, participatory planning process. To mediate in a local participatory planning process, we argue, scenarios should be situational, dynamic and open-ended, allowing or even triggering communities to (re)define the issues relevant to a place during the ongoing process of energy-transition. How, when and where should scenarios be deployed in order to enable communities to understand and develop their local energy potential?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventDynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand (DEMAND) Conference 2016: what energy is for - the making and dynamics of demand - DEMAND Centre, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Apr 201615 Apr 2016


ConferenceDynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand (DEMAND) Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleDEMAND 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • local energy transition; spatial scenarios; participative planning process


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