Academia and industry increasingly recognise the need for multifunctional urban spaces. But how do we meet this need? Emerging responses point to the promise of transdisciplinarity. We critically reflect on this claim by analysing the role of transdisciplinary practice in the successful conversion of a Sydney laneway into a multifunctional urban space. We trace the co-existence of different disciplinary practices throughout the project stages, to better understand how much transdisciplinarity contributed to its success. A tentative explanatory framework emerges from our analysis and is offered to map the enabling conditions, disciplinary dynamics and strategies that allowed this laneway’s transformation into a multifunctional space. Enabling conditions were the municipality had institutionalised a concern for the environment; an organisational change programme ensured the project’s independence from the capital budget; and an environmentally aware community group played a core role. The disciplinary dynamics observed were diverse. Planning and design were transdisciplinary, but implementation and maintenance were not. Finally, practitioners used various strategies to bring actors together: they understood the political nature of the organisation; they recognised the different types of actors involved in the project, and then used appropriate language to communicate ideas and to manage risks and expectations.
- Multifunctional landscapes
- Transdisciplinary practice