Epilogue: towards a future research agenda
The chapters in this edited volume all testify to the capacity of strategic projects to bring about effective change by intervening concretely in space and society. They show how strategic long-term visions for socio-spatial transformation result from the confrontation of different social and spatial challenges, potentials, needs, ambitions, claims, interests and bodies of knowledge (scientiﬁc, practical and local). The main challenges addressed in this book are how strategies and concrete actions can be linked, how relevant actors (including non-conventional actors and disadvantaged groups) can be involved and empowered and how the most adequate planning instruments, whether existing or yet to be created, can be mobilized. These challenges, throughout this book referred to as action orientation and socio-spatial innovation, have been explored through a set of different thematic dimensions, namely socio-spatial innovation, design and spatial quality and sustainability. The chapters on socio-spatial innovation have shown that strategic spatial projects, if taking into account a broad set of local and other needs and ambitions, do not only lead to spatial transformations but also have a positive impact on need satisfaction and social relations in particular areas. They transform existing governance arrangements and trigger the emergence of new ones by involving and empowering different actors, including non-conventional and disadvantaged groups, in visioning, in decision-making processes and in implementation processes. In this way they facilitate collective learning among all involved actors. This requires, as shown in the case studies on Angus Locoshops in Montréal and the First Quarter in Antwerp, the mobilization of tools other than traditional spatial planning instruments and requires close attention to the institutional frames in which planning instruments (understood narrowly as technical tools) are embedded.