Traditional Architecture Group
A Linked Society of the Royal Institute of British Architects

Subscribers Newsletter No 38

24th December 2015

In this issue


Council for European Urbanism Symposium

Defining the "New Urban Agenda"
in a Changing Climate

Berlin, November 27-29, 2015
Peter Kellow Tag Communications Secretary attended
the conference as TAG representative and gave a talk entitled "Good City Form" (see below)

Conference Focus:
The world is increasingly recognizing the dimensions of a deep environmental crisis, and urgent action is now necessary. Several seminal international events are occurring this autumn:

- The United Nations is hosting Habitat III on the rapid (and too often sprawling) growth of cities in 2016
- The UN Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted at the October UN summit and general assembly in New York City
- The UN conference on climate change, COP21, is taking place in Paris in December.

Cities, their structure, and their development, are increasingly at the center of the agenda, which Habitat III has termed the “New Urban Agenda.”

What is the role of architects and urbanists in this urgent agenda?

Many questions remain in filling out this “new urban agenda.” What is the role of urban morphology? How does “genetic” information (patterns, types, etc) translate into built structures and environments? How do global patterns express themselves in local form?

We will explore all these questions, with the aim of concluding on our own version of a “new urban agenda” – with concrete next steps. What must we do? How can the CEU as an organization facilitate the actions needed?


Friday, 27 November: Keynotes and Opening

18:00              Welcome
                        Aljoscha Hofmann, DFG Fellow, Center for Metropolitan Studies, TU Berlin and Director, CEU Germany   

18:15                Defining the New Urban Agenda for COP21 and Beyond
                        Michael Mehaffy, COP21 Participant/Presenter; Academic Chair, Future of Places Forum (partnership of UN-Habitat, Project for Public Spaces and Ax:son Johnson Foundation); Architecture Faculty Member and Researcher on climate change and urban form, TU Delft; Board Member, Council for European Urbanism, and Chair, INTBAU College of Chapters.

                        What is the “New Urban Agenda” as the UN defines it? What is the role of cities, and of those who shape them? What are our core premises (theories, practices, suppositions) for “good city form,” and how do we achieve it? Michael Mehaffy will give a briefing of current UN activities, the current needs, and the opportunity (and need) for the CEU to help to shape the agenda.

18:45               The Role of the Architect-Urbanist: Toward a Hippocratic Oath for the Built Environment
Joanna Alimanestianu, Co-founder, CEU; Visiting Professor, University of Notre Dame; Architect and Urbanist based in Brussels and New York.

Saturday, 28 November: Symposium


9:00            Whatever Happened to Urbanism?  The Berlin Story
                        Harald Bodenschatz, Professor, Technical University Berlin and President, CEU Germany

Harald Bodenschatz discusses Berlin's example, and the work at TU Berlin to address automobile-dominated, functionally segregated planning.

Listen to sound recording

9:30            Main Streets: Key to a Sustainable and Just City Region?
                        Aljoscha Hofmann, Director, CEU Germany

                        What has happened to main streets in the age of the automobile?  What role does their restoration need to play in the “New Urban Agenda?” Aljoscha Hofmann describes the work at TU Berlin on this issue, and the lessons from Berlin.

Listen to sound recording

9:45             The Bundesplatz: Transforming the Automobile-Dependent City
                        Christian von Oppen, TU Berlin, CEU Germany

                        What is necessary to transform an automobile-based area into a more mixed-mode, mixed-use urban form?  What about an existing dense area like the Bundesplatz?  Christian von Oppen presents a case study.

Listen to sound recording

10:00             Dialogue: Building the Post-Automobile-Based City

Listen to sound recording


11:00               Good City Form: Formal, Informal and Picturesque
                        Peter Kellow, UK-France architect, regular author with American Arts Quarterly, and member, RIBA, AWG, TAG, and INTBAU.

                        What is the role of picturesque planning in new urban projects such as the settlement of Poundbury?  Is it possible that Poundbury “got it wrong” in interpreting the work of Sitte, for example, as a simulation of medieval form?  Is there also a role for more overt “top-down” forms, exemplified by the town of Seaside, Florida?  Peter Kellow will discuss these issues, and their potential effects on the successful function of cities.

Link to video

11:15                 Understanding the “Urban Genome” and its Generative Effects
                        Hillel Schocken, Professor, Tel Aviv University and architect; Co-founder, Movement for Israeli Urbanism

                        Despite their obvious great variety,  the elements that generate the form of cities are often common across the globe.  So too are the requirements they must meet, including the spatial requirements for human movement and experience.  There is a close analogy to the workings of genetic processes in nature.  In effect, there is a kind of “geome” at work in cities, and we need to identify it, and understand its workings, its variations and its capabilities.

11:30               Retrofitting Existing Morphologies: What Are The Opportunities and Challenges?
                        Alessandra Fidanza, Architect, Environmental Advisor, Researcher at TU Berlin
                        Italian Member of the UN-Habitat Panel of Experts for the New Urban Agenda         

                        Existing urban morphology often provides a ready platform for low-carbon, high-quality urban activity and redevelopment.  Historic districts especially already perform well on many metrics, and can be improved with retrofitting. But there are many challenges to achieve the great potential of these districts.  Alessandra Fidanza discusses the issues in this area of work.        


14:00              Changing Urban Codes: Case Study in Transforming Modern Arab Cities
                        Duane Phillips, DPZ-Europe

                        One of the most important parts of the “operating system” is of course the set of zoning codes.  uane Phillips reports from one of the most challenging environments, the rapidly developing cities of Arabia.

Listen to sound recording

14:15                Involving the Public: Places for People, BY People
                        Arne Sødal,  Sødal Architects, Oslo

                        It is not enough to plan for people as a top-down act by experts.  It is vital that people are involved in the development of their own community.  But what does this mean in practice?  ArneSødal discusses case studies from a number of community development projects in Norway.

Listen to sound recording

14:30              Economics Lessons: Getting Good Projects Built
                        Christian Lasserre, Developer, Brussels, Belgium

                        Economic feasibility is a critical dimension of good urban development. Christian Lassere, a developer based in Brussels, discusses the strategies to exploit, and where necessary, change these elements.

Listen to sound recording

14:45               Dialogue: Toward an Agenda for Reform

Listen to sound recording


16:00              The Revival of European Urbanism: How Far We've Come, How Far We Still Have To Go
                        Liam O'Connor, Architect-Urbanist, UK

                        The revival of urbanism in a new context – a “new urbanism” by any other name – has been under way for several decades now.  What are the lessons of the last three decades?  What are the challenges ahead? 

Listen to sound recording

16:15                The Stockholm Charter, The Oslo Declaration and Beyond
                        Audun Engh, Board Member, CEU and Secretary, INTBAU

                        The Council for European Urbanism was founded in 2003, and a charter was signed in Stockholm that year.  Five years later the important Oslo Delaration on Climate Change called to action all those working in the built environment.  Where are we today?  Audun Engh, a long-time board member, presents an overview as preparaiton for a group discussion and development of a new document for 2015, on “the New Urban Agenda.”

Listen to sound recording

16:30              Dialogue: Declaration of a “CEU New Urban Agenda”  

Listen to sound recording