linear partnership

Imagine, what if citizens themselves could change not only their own neighborhoods and be essentially limited to local affairs, but if they could also initiate and work out their own large-scale urban visions…

And what if they were willing and had means to organize, advocate, and even be in charge of these projects…

Would it not challenge the very last frontier of top-down urban planning?

This is just what the Linear Partnership is about.

what is the issue?

There is a common and rarely questioned conviction that the bottom-up approach is appropriate for local-scale affairs only, while large-scale and perspective planning always requires some kind of top-down policy…

This is truth and can be easily seen that large-scale urban projects have always been directed mainly by top-down government or government supported large developer decisions and investments, whereas grassroots activists could most often influence nothing but  l o c a l  initiatives.

But although many reasonable arguments can be made in favor of this restrictive concept, it remains a real limitation which should be recognized as unfavorable for public life development. Not to mention the fact that, after all, even governments are very often incapable of developing large-scale urban projects.

It is worth trying to turn things around.

3 steps towards
large-scale planning
from the bottom-up


This is, in fact, the very heart of every bottom-up urban action. But, unfortunately, spatially limited.

Since local initiatives are driven mainly by personal resources and place-based identity, they are essentially appropriate for solving local-scale issues and influence local-scale developments only.

LP - local initiatives 650



For dealing with more extensive spatial goals, kind of partnerships embracing all concerned stakeholders are being set up. But they have limitations as well.

Local partnerships are able to reach more, but remain bottom-up unless the planning visions keep, more or less, community scale. Otherwise, the larger the scale of planning becomes, the weaker the sense of identity and personal ties become and the projects lose their bottom-up character.

LP - local partnerships 650



However, if only bridging connections could be built between numerous independent local initiatives and partnerships, the new organizational structure would come into play.

By focusing on given linear urban scheme, these partners could address supra-local issues and advocate for large-scale urban visions. But yet, the new linear community itself would consist of relatively small number of partners thus would be able to keep its bottom-up character.

LP - linear partnership 650

why linear?

Among all urban planning schemes, linear ones—that are supra-local yet slimline—are especially promising. This is because they are large-scale (significant length) and local (slight width) at the same time. Thus, they combine advantages of both scales. Due to this unique feature, without being all-embracing and total, they can successfully play a role of coherent key elements of urban spatial structures and form their main backbones.

Thereby, linear urban schemes are much more about linking than about monopolizing; much more about networking and giving development opportunities than about ruling and imposing all-out regulations. And such is the Linear Partnership itself.


The organizational goal of the Linear Partnership is to assemble all people, institutions and organizations that identify themselves with subsequent stretches of given linear urban scheme, that is to say, to assemble all subsequent local leaders.

Then, if the large-scale vision had been created by the group, it would also have a chance to be supported by them all. By acting together, within subgroups, or even separately, they could contribute to the vision.
The Linear Partnership itself serves as an organizational backbone. It reaches its large-scale goals by employing  and combining resources of the partners, but at the same time it allows the partners to reach their particular goals (if only compatible) by putting them on the Partnership’s agenda.
Besides, a leader of that partnership, who would be a representative of the coherent vision, might play a role of a trustworthy partner to public authorities, business leaders or some academic supporters. The Linear Partnership might then become a influential partner contributing to broader cross-sector partnership.
The Linear Partnership can refer to any kind of linear urban features:

  • urban paths shaped by terrain topography: waterfronts, embankments,
  • urban schemes: streets, routes, axes,
  • urban infrastructure facilities: tracks, overpasses, aqueducts,
  • urban developments: housing projects, commercial areas, industrial sites, historical fortifications,
  • or any combination thereof.
This kind of partnership may collaboratively work to promote common goals: lifting functional attractiveness of these paths, protecting their cultural heritage, boosting desirable urban development, and improving quality of public spaces around them.


The Linear Partnership model is a subject of observation and research conducted by Artur Jerzy Filip and part of his PhD thesis. However, the study is based on experience and knowledge of many urban activists, entrepreneurs, government representatives, planners, and academics, to whom the author is very grateful for both trust and openness.



Artur Jerzy FILIP, an architect and urban planner. In 2010-2012, in accordance with the Linear Partnership methodology, he has initiated and developed the “Warsaw Cultural Trail” bottom-up project (thanks to scholarships granted by the City of Warsaw and by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland). Now he is preparing a PhD dissertation which considers American bottom-up partnerships advocating for large-scale urban developments. Thanks to the Fulbright Commission Award, in the years 2015-2016 he was working as a visiting researcher at the Pratt Institute in New York City.


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