With 25 years of experience behind, the European Spatial Development Planning Network (ESPD) offers once a year a comprehensive intensive program on planning on the ground, that includes theoretical insights, the collection of data and the development of proposals for planning in a given city. The strong point of the program is its interdisciplinarity, with the participation of sociologists, architects, urban planners and geographers, both as tutors and as students. During two weeks, the students receive lessons on theoretical approaches to planning, are introduced to the city and to specific areas that act as case studies, they collect empirical information in this areas and finally, they develop their proposals for intervention. The students are grouped in different teams and work on specific aspects of the areas, including social sustainability, environmental sustainability and governance. After the first week of theoretical lessons and data collection, the second is mainly focused on the critical analysis of the situation and the discussion and preparation of proposals, with the support of the tutors, which guide the whole process.
The program has been developed in different European cities on a biannual basis throughout its 25 years of existence. This year I have had the great luck and opportunity to participate as a tutor in the current edition of the IP in Ankara. There, students analysed and made proposals for two areas of the city: The Dikmen Valley and the Ankara Citadel. Both cases are affected by current trends of development of the city, with public administration pressing for expelling population of squatted areas in order to build brand new buildings to substitute the self-made houses (geçekondus, which mean made by night).