International Conference
The New Urban Question
- Urbanism beyond Neo-Liberalism -

“The New Urban Question – Urbanism beyond Neo-liberalism” is the title of the 4th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) that will take place from November 26th to 28th, 2009 at Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). The theme of the conference is about the recovery of the discipline of Urbanism under the conditions of urbanization and urban transformation, ecological threats and economical crises.

The conference will be organized in the framework of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) by the Department of Urbanism, TU Delft and the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), the Municipality of Amsterdam the Municipality of Amsterdam and the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA) as well as other participating universities of the IFoU-network.

More than 35 years after the publication of La Question Urbaine by Manuel Castells the urban question has to be asked anew. In the meantime the world is experiencing the fastest urbanization in history of man. Never before has human society gone through a comparable process of urban growth, nor have cities expanded as today. Within a few decennia new mega-cities or even meta-cities arose that are confronting the world with new urban cultures, with increasing social contradictions and with new and unknown environmental threats. On the other hand, more than half of the urban population worldwide is living in middle-sized cities up to 500.000 inhabitants that have become the major catchment areas for future population growth.

For decennia urban development has been dominated by a globalizing economy and almost unlimited market demands. While economic power more and more became concentrated in global command centers, the influence of public planning decreased in the framework of governmental decentralization. However, the recent economical crisis has shown the limits of growth under the conditions of neo-liberalism. New models for urban development, new concepts for urban design and new approaches for planning and management are demanded that are able to guide the processes of extension and transformation of cities and regions, to bridge social contradictions, to combat segregation and fragmentation and to face the ecological challenges. With other words: The discipline of Urbanism has to be rediscovered.

The conference aims to generate an exchange between the academic and the professional debate, to investigate the phenomena of urbanization and regional transformation in different countries and continents and to discuss the role and the task of (public) planning and design. In this framework causes, reasons and dependencies of worldwide transformation processes will be analyzed and planning strategies and design concepts for a more identical and sustainable development of cities and regions will be explored. Both, research and design approaches are important issues. For that purpose, differing specialties and scales will be integrated: urban (and regional) planning and management, urban and architectural design, urban sociology, economy, geography and ecology.

Target groups
During the conference, scientific results, as well as design concepts and technical solutions will be presented; theoretical approaches will be discussed as well as professional experiences and best practices. With this in mind, the target group covers a range of different backgrounds: architects and urban planners; students and researchers from different disciplines; managers and politicians, all of whom are involved in or interested in design, planning and the management of the built environment.

Call for papers
Papers are invited for submission under the following sub-themes:

A.The new urban Economy

B. The Urbanized Society

C. Urban Technologies and Sustainability

D. The New Urban Form

E. The New Metropolitan Region

F. Changing Planning Cultures and Governance


A. The new urban Economy

A major effect of globalization is the increasing competition between cities and regions on global scale. To facilitate economic development cities are forced to make themselves attractive for investors and enterprises by investing in infrastructure, facilities and the development of attractive sites for new business. City branding and the development of Large Urban Projects play an important role in this framework.
However, in particular these projects also have a reverse side-effect in regard to urban sustainability. In many cases they are contributing to fragmentation and segregation , they are socially exclusive and barely leave space for non-commercial activities.
This session will discuss the effects of globalization, economical crises, competition and competitiveness on the urban structure and city form. In this framework the influence of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be analyzed as well as the role and potentiality of the local economy. Strategies for city branding will be discussed as well as strategies for the empowerment of small enterprise and grey economy.

Keywords: Globalization, urban economy, competitiveness, city branding, city ranking, fragmentation, large urban projects, foreign direct investment, empowerment.

B. The Urbanized Society

In this session the conditions of urbanized societies will be reflected that ‘are increasingsly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the self’ (Castells 1996). The session will discuss the spatial phenomena of new forms of living together and new urban cultures as well as the effects of social contradictions within the city and between city and suburbs. It will focus on societal organizations (and their spatial expression) in the new super agglomerations as well as in smaller cities, in developing countries as well as in developed countries. The influence of the network society will be discussed as well as the position of minorities in the city. Strategies to combat segregation, to generate a more integrated urban society and to create a new urban identity will be presented.

Keywords: Segregation or integration, community building, individualism and collectivism, political conditions, network society, new urban culture, generic city and identity

C. Urban Technologies and Sustainability

The session is focusing on sustainable urban technologies and infrastructures as well as related economical, social and political aspects. Special attention will be given to integrated solutions, which are based on so called Environmental Sound Technologies (ESTs), which encompass technologies that have the potential for significantly improved environmental performance. These technologies protect the environment, are less polluting, use resources in a sustainable manner, recycle more of their waste and products and handle all residual wastes in more environmentally acceptable ways than the technologies they substitute. Technologies can be differentiated into soft and hard technologies. Technical infrastructure, equipment and machines can be defined as hard technologies, while policies, regulations, economic instruments and strategies for management and governance can be defined as soft technologies.

Authors are requested to contribute papers, which are presenting solutions for extended lifecycles, sustainable water management and sanitation, energy and resource efficiency, comfort and health, and urban green.

Keywords: Extended Lifecycles, re-use and recycling, material efficiency, waste management; Water and Sanitation, resource oriented sanitation, water efficiency, rainwater and sewage management; Energy Efficiency, transport and mobility, building services, energy production and transformation; Comfort and Health, urban setting and public space, air quality, nutrition; Urban Green, urban agriculture, greened buildings, greened public space

D. The New Urban Form

Drastic changes in society: fast urbanization, changes in the relation between the urban and the rural, globalization, economic changes and the need for more sustainable solutions for spatial problems – the themes of the other sessions in the conference – all lead to new urban forms or new forms of urbanism.

In this session the emphasis is on spatial design on all levels of scale and the cultural aspects thereof. It will concern itself with – the values of – public life and its accommodations in exterior and interior public or collective space, with local identity and tradition and with the new needs our environment is confronted with. What can the spatial form of compact or dispersed cities in large regional networks be? What models are available or can be developed for urban transformation and extension accommodating rapid growth or shrinkage? What design strategies are being defined for these problem fields?

Keywords: urbanization, urban-rural, globalization, local identity, urban design, culture, public life, exterior and interior public space, compact cities, dispersed cities, network cities, rapid growth, shrinkage, design strategies.

According to different interests of contributors, the theme “The New Urban Form” is dedicated to two sub-topics, which are:
D1. The Transformation of the Urban Form is aiming at the question to what extend globalization, economic changes and the need for more sustainable solutions are transforming the urban form.
D2. The Design of the New Urban Space is focusing on design concepts and design principles.

E. The New Metropolitan Region

The process of urbanization and urban transformation generates a new kind of spatial form that Castells is calling the metropolitan region: ‘urban constellations scattered throughout huge territorial expanses, functionally integrated and socially differentiated, around a multicentered structure’ (Castells 2005). Sometimes these regions even are crossing the borders of nation states. For a long time it was expected that the increasing importance of regions would result in new (governmental) planning institutions which would be able to organize spatial development in a coherent way and to play a role in international competition. However, it seems to be difficult to translate the new regional reality into fruitful models of governance as well as into spatial structures which can provide a recognizable and attractive identity to the region. In contrary, most of these metropolitan regions are characterized by a lack of identity and citizen participation, by a weak political accountability and by the absence of an effective administration (Sassen 2001). On the other hand, the necessity of coordination on regional level causes new approaches of collaboration and new types of planning.

In this session new approaches and new models of planning on regional level will be discussed as well as new types of planning institutions and societal organizations. Special attention will be given to the role of design on regional level.

Keywords: regional collaboration, planning and design, regional planning institutions (public and private), regional associations, regional identity, participation, integration and fragmentation.

F. Changing Planning Cultures and Governance

The transformations in our cities and urban agglomeration triggered by globalization demand a review on the various planning cultures. Each city/region must be prepared to act earlier, effectively and with high level of competitiveness. The need to drive the urban dynamic in an energetic responsible manner also demands an integral strategy with active participation of all stakeholders. The uncertainty and risks caused by climate change requires the adoption of preventive measures on the planning framework and new environmental regulations. The withdrawal of the state requires rethinking of the bottom-up approach process on spatial planning and careful analysis of its implications and potential. The processes of metropolization, the economic new parading of the regions and the functional urban networks open up questions on crossing border planning perspectives. The need to address global challenges in a strategic manner posses questions on the interplay between the local and the global. How a global strategy to deal with crossing borders challenges and climate change risks could fulfill the needs of a local governance role and cope with social problems?
How these new challenges can be addressed in a coordinated manner among various stakeholders? What is the role of the citizenry?

Keywords: Planning Culture, Governance; State retrieval, state and society, new managerial strategies, sustainable development, urban poverty, top-down and bottom-up urban strategies, Global governance.

The theme “The New Urban Form” also focuses on two sub-topics, which are:
F1. New Approaches of Urban Governance concentrates on policies, tools and instruments for a more efficient, more integrated and more sustainable urban development.
F2. Changing Planning Cultures is exploring the recent changes in planning approaches and methods as cultural changes, related to the changing societal systems.

New announcement
Conference Program
now with detailed program of the parallel sessions, poster presentations and project presentations

Conference proceedings are now available

Only 25 seats for the daily entrance registration of Day 1 conference in Amsterdam
Student participation for Day 1 of the conference in Amsterdam is FULL now. There is still vacancy for Day 2 and Day 3 of the conference in Delft.

Opening Date:
November 26th, 2009

Conference Dates:
November 26th-28th, 2009

Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam
Delft University of Technology

Organized by
International Forum on Urbanism

Delft University of Technology

Berlage Institute, Rotterdam

in collaboration with

Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM)

Municipality of Amsterdam

as well as other participating universities of the IFoU-network:

Beijing University of Technology

Chinese University of Hong Kong

National University of Singapore

Seoul National University

Taiwan University Taipei

Tarumanagara University Jakarta

Tongji University Shanghai

Tsinghua University Beijing

Universita IUAV di Venezia

University of Tokyo

UPC Barcelona
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