A Virtual Charrette for Planning Skylands


I. What is a Charrette?

The term “charrette” comes from a French word meaning “little cart.” During the 1800’s, architecture students at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) at the University of Paris would have presentations of their work, like an art exposition. Proctors from the school would come to the students’ homes with a small cart (a “charrette”) to collect their assignments and deliver them to the school. Then as now, many of the students would work on their projects until the last minute, and would actually jump into the cart to finish their work during the journey to the school. 

Today, “charrette” has come to be a common term in community planning. It is a version of what many call: “community consultation”.  But we step it up a notch.  Think of it as an intensive effort with both designers and the community working together on the journey to a successful plan. In a sense, we are all “in the cart” together.

Design happens in a public forum, or in this instance, a public virtual forum (more on this below), to encourage a wide variety of ideas from both citizens and design experts. This process allows for a diverse group of citizens and stakeholders to offer immediate feedback to planners and designers as they design the master plan.  It also builds a sense of ownership because the community and the design team are “in the cart” working on the plan together.

 DPZ CoDesign (DPZ) has used the charrette methodology successfully to engage citizens and stakeholders in the design of master plans for 4 decades.   In many parts of the world, over the years, we have continued to refine and re-craft our public engagement techniques, and adapt them to the local culture and municipal requirements.  The advantages of public charrettes are well documented.  For Clarence City and Hobart residents and stakeholders, it is our hope that the Charrette in the master planning of this important site can specifically offer the following benefits.    

  • Input from all stakeholders can collectively be  organized and presented.
  • The shared experience of the Charrette can build broad support for the vision.
  • A multi-day series of interactive meetings, transparent design sessions, public review sessions and presentations builds trust in the process.
  • The various design disciplines work in concert to produce a set of polished documents.
  • A better final product emerges through the assimilation of many ideas in a dynamic, collaborative process.

II. How will the Charrette Work?

The charrette will be led by Marina Khoury, Partner at DPZ CoDesign. Over the following 11 days, Marina will lead a design team of town planners, architects, and an illustrator to hear your ideas and help integrate them into the master plan.   On the charrette schedule you will notice there are a series of meetings which include Topic Focused Meetings, Public Presentations, and Internal Team Meetings. 

Topic Focused Meetings

These are shown in blue and are technical meetings that focus on key issues or components of the master plan. The topic for each is listed on the calendar, so that community stakeholders  can choose which ones they would like to join, listen and provide input. 

Each of these meetings will be held via zoom and the public is encouraged to participate in one of four ways: 

  • Watch the live meeting online.
  • Join in the conversation online during the live meeting.
  • Watch the meeting recording at your own convenience.
  • Provide additional feedback on the online engagement platform specifically related to that topic. 

Public Presentations

These are shown in red, and are more formal presentations where Marina will present work to date.  These presentations will also be streamed online for public viewing and participation. Like the Topic Focused Meetings, these presentations will also be recorded for viewing later. Each of the presentations will be accompanied by a survey, which we hope all stakeholders will take a few moments to fill out.

  • An opening presentation will provide a summary of the research and analysis performed to date from Phase  1. This presentation will also include the results of a market study commissioned for the site and conducted by Macroplan. Additionally, best practices of development used by the team as the starting point of the design of the Skylands master plan will be highlighted. 
  • A mid-charrette presentation will include preliminary master plan options, character illustrations, and marketability findings and updates.   Stakeholders will be provided with multiple days in which to provide feedback and input on the plan options.  
  • A closing presentation will include feedback received to date on the plan options, revisions to the plan and a preferred plan moving forward. 

Internal Team Meetings & Live Design Sessions

These are shown in green and are typically held in the morning (US time) to ensure each designer / team member is clear on their objectives and tasks for the day. This is also the design team’s opportunity to review the public input and feedback from the previous day with the Client team. These meetings are internally-focused and are not the primary ways for the public to interact with the team. 

Finally, when not in meetings or presenting, the DPZ team will be actively drawing and each designer will have a live camera mounted on their drafting tables, or will make their computer screens visible during multiple hours of the day.  In this manner,  those willing to endure the time difference between Tasmania and the Eastern USA (14 hours) can watch the designers sketch and draw live.  This is the fun part for all those interested in seeing how master plans come alive.