Design Charrettes are intensive workshops aimed at solving a specific design or planning challenge. These workshops often bring together design professionals, officials, landowners and community members to consider the issue and create a plan.
Design charrettes are typically intensive workshops focused on a particular design or planning challenges. They may vary in length between several hours and several days, as well as in the number of people and type of work involved. In nearly all cases, the expected outcome is a specific plan or design. The National Charrette Institute (NCI) explains the history:
The French word, "charrette" means "cart" and is often used to describe the final, intense work effort expended by art and architecture students to meet a project deadline. This use of the term is said to originate from the École des Beaux Arts in Paris during the 19th century, where proctors circulated a cart, or “charrette,” to collect final drawings while students frantically put finishing touches on their work.
Charrettes are most useful for planning situations in which a specific physical plan or outcome is needed, and in which community members are capable of helping to devise it. They often include an exchange between stakeholders, who bring local knowledge and can offer feedback on design solutions, and design professionals, who listen to those ideas and feedback and create designs and sketches to address the issues.
Broader visioning and community character identification processes could be adapted for charrettes, but are not always well suited to charrettes because the many planning outcomes go beyond physical design. Most often, charrettes occur toward the middle or end stages of planning processes, after initial visioning stages are complete.