A charrette (often spelled charette and often called design charrette) is an urban planning technique for consulting with stakeholders and involving them in the physical design or planning of the community. Charrettes are typically intense, possibly multi-day, events involving municipal officials, developers, and local residents. A charrette promotes joint ownership of solutions to problems and attempts to diffuse traditional confrontation between residents, developers, and local government officials.
A design charrette is an intense collaborative effort used to create a detailed design or plan for a specific issue or geographic area. While there is flexibility as to how to conduct a charrette, it is generally an involved process where the main activity takes place over several days, and the entire charrette planning process can be months in duration.
It is best used to address a specific problem or situation. The results are used as part of, or to complement, an overall community planning process. For example, a charrette might be used to develop a park or to reach consensus on a park design. Another use might be to reach consensus on a downtown façade theme.
To conduct a charrette, the community needs to involve one or more professionals from one of the following disciplines:
In addition, the community’s citizens, stakeholders, and local planning department staff are also involved. Often low-cost, or free, assistance to do a charrette may be available from the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects . Assistance and more detail can also be obtained from the National Charrette Institute .
Illustration from National Charrette Institute Web site illustrating the process used during the second phase.
Normally a charrette has three phases. First is a one- to nine-month planning process of research, education, and charrette preparation. Second is a one- to four- (or more) day charrette, which is the central transformative event in the entire process. The third phase is the implementation of the designs and/or plans generated by the charrette.
According to the National Charrette Institute (NCI), the following key strategies are essential to a successful NCI Dynamic Planning Process and NCI charrette:
For more detailed information, visit the National Charrette Institute Web page: .