The Urban Age “Shaping Cities” conference (July 14-15) investigated how people, institutions, policymakers, investors and designers affect the physical form of cities, and how this impacts on the way we live in them. The conference was jointly organised by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft. It was integrated with the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (28th May - 27th November 2016).
Organised by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society, the 2013 Urban Age conference investigated the impact of large scale urban development projects on the social, economic, political and physical make-up of cities.
The conference was held in the Olympic City of Rio de Janeiro in October 2013 and acted as a platform for exchange and debate amongst over 150 policy-makers, academics, urban designers, architects, and representatives of NGOs and local community groups building on the Urban Age's network established through previous conferences held since 2005 in New York, Shanghai, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Berlin, Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Chicago, Hong Kong and London.
International speakers and local representatives from Rio de Janeiro exchanged experiences on the design, governance and delivery of a number of significant projects in a range of world cities -- including São Paulo, Santiago, Medellín, Bogotá, Antofogasta, Mexico City, New York, Detroit, Washington DC, Cape Town, Mumbai, Hong Kong, London, Hamburg, Barcelona and Stockholm. In addition to investigations of on-going projects in Rio surrounding the Olympics sites, the Bus Rapid Transit system and favelas improvement programme, the conference featured international projects including the Olympic Games and Legacy projects in London, Barcelona and The Netherlands; the HafenCity and IBA initiatives in Hamburg; The High-Line and East River waterfront redevelopment in New York City; the Hammersby development in Stockholm, the Transmilenio bus system and ciclovías in Bogotá, the cable-car and arts projects in Medellín as well as the Complexo Alemão, Parco Madureira, Porto Maravilha and other initiatives in Rio. In addition, economists, planners and social commentators debated the causes for the current wave of large-scale city transformations and their impact on local communities. City mayors and policymakers reflected on the best models of ensuring sustainable urban governance.
From 4-6 November, the Urban Age Istanbul Conference gathered over 400 people together to explore the vast and complex challenge of contemporary city making and the interconnected issues of the impact of the global economic condition on world cities, the effect of climate change on urban sustainability and the role of urban design in creating socially cohesive environments. Over 100 innovators of urban change from 15 countries, half a dozen mayors, renowned scholars and authors side-by-side with architects and developers leading major urban regeneration projects around the globe offered presentations about urban transformations and policies, urban pasts and futures.
The Urban Age Istanbul conference offered a mirror to reflect on issues of critical importance with the world's leading experts of urban change. The impact of ever-increasing and unequal sprawl on carbon emissions and sustainable city living, the exponential increase in car ownership and the debilitating effect of uncontrolled growth on basic urban infrastructure - such as public transport, water and sewer systems - are analysed in the context of a deep historical urbanism, emerging local governance structures, a challenging global economy, and new forms of multi-polar politics.
Chairman of the Deutsche Bank's Management Board and Chairman of the Alfred Herrhausen Society's Board of Trustees, Josef Ackermann opened the conference with the Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbaş and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. They were joined by highly respected international experts including Kemal Derviş, former finance minister of the Turkish government and Vice-President of the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics and urban sociologists Richard Sennett and Çağlar Keyder to discuss the relationship between the global economy and urban development.
Alongside many local and regional speakers, presentations were made by the world-renowned architect Richard Rogers, New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Saskia Sassen, the world expert on global cities from Columbia University. Turkey's most eminent planning historian İlhan Tekeli will reflect on Turkish cities, alongside leading architects and designers in Istanbul including İhsan Bilgin and Korhan Gümüş. Mayors and civic leaders of Washington DC, São Paulo, Barcelona, Bogotá and Istanbul joined policymakers, planners and architects from London, Rotterdam, the Hague, New Delhi, Philadelphia, Berlin, Beirut and Mexico City.
In parallel to these activities, the third annual Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award, created to encourage people to take responsibility for their cities and to form new alliances to improve the lives of urban citizens, recognized a unique initiative in the Istanbul metropolitan area. Following an open call for entries and review by an independent jury, the winner of the $100,000 USD award was announced on 4 November 2009 at a reception inaugurating the Urban Age Istanbul Conference.
Urban Age believes urban leaders can learn from each other to find better local solutions to global challenges. This is accomplished by advocating high standards for the built environment as well as intelligent city governance and management structures. A focus on the context of regional and national perspectives has expanded Urban Age's impact through research and events in India (2007), Brazil (2008) and the Eastern Mediterranean (2009); a worldwide summit in June 2010 will discuss the results of Urban Age's investigation and summarize a new urban agenda for global cities.
In India, Urban Age examined how the largest democracy on earth negotiates considerable urbanisation and economic development. India's urban society is experiencing the effects of increasing affluence coupled with persistent social inequalities and a scarcity of resources ranging from personal living space to transport and drinking water. Climate change and other escalating pressures further compound urban developments in India, making its urban agenda a global issue. Evaluating policy and project specific effects, the Urban Age India Conference helped draw the links between events and developments in India's urbanised areas with trends worldwide, widening the lens from the local to the global.
Urban Age utilises a dynamic framework for analysing important comparative data between and within cities. The investigation in India encompass Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore; findings from these cities are synthesised with existing and enhanced information on Urban Age cities in other countries to identify optimal delivery mechanisms for desired developments within given timeframes.
The Urban Age India research began in December 2006 with an initial thematic screening that helped determine how Urban Age could support best practices and urban policies in India. Over 50 experts in Mumbai and Delhi, including the National Minister of Urban Development, the Advisor on Urban Affairs to the Prime Minister as well as representatives from municipal governments and experts in the private, academic and NGO sectors all identified Urban Governance, Planning and Design as a widely-debated arena calling for comparative research on the metropolitan scale.
Research on India consisted of two modules, both with a particular emphasis on Mumbai. The first module, urban governance, comparing constitutional foundations of city governance, geographic boundaries of different jurisdictions, and responsibilities of agencies at the local, regional and national levels. The second module, planning, city design and transport, identified delivery mechanisms at the interface of land use, density and urban design with transport, mobility and accessibility.