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Urban Age © Catarina Heeckt, Urban Age/LSE Cities

Intelligent Urbanization: Report from the Urban Age Conference 2016

Isabella Bayer
Isabella Bayer
Exhibition Manager EXPO REAL

By 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. What will these cities look like? Which developments and who exactly will characterize these cities? How will the central challenges of the urban age – social inequality, climate change, urban growth and governance – be felt by urban citizens?

In the context of the Urban Age Conference, presented by LSE Cities, UN Habitat III and the Alfred Herrhausen Society as part of the 15th Biennale of Architecture in Venice, over 40 experts from 25 countries from the fields of politics, architecture and city planning discussed this and more on July 14 & 15, 2016. The role of architecture in the urbanization process as well as the role of the city itself as an important social transformation tool were discussed in an inspiring round of discussions and interesting talks on urban planning approaches to expansion and densification.

Alejandro Aravena, biennial director and Pritzker Prizewinner 2016 sees cities as “shortcuts towards equality” offering great opportunities for architectural concepts.

Besides Aravena, the speakers included further biennial players such as architect Kunlé Adeyemi as well as Harvard professor and architect Rahul Mehrotra. Sociologists Saskia Sassen and Richard Sennett addressed the social aspects of urbanization. Richard Sennett (LES and NYU) sketched the three basic principles of “Open City” planning, focusing on the coexistence of people of mixed social backgrounds, ethnic groups and political preferences. “Porous borders instead of boundaries, mixed uses that are synchronous rather than sequential and planned incompleteness in urban planning.”

Political decision-makers presented their views on the subjects of governance and administration. This included Jean-Louis Missika, vice mayor of Paris, who presented the “Reinventing Paris” project as part of the series “Who owns the city”. Enrique Penalosa, Bogotá’s mayor, called for the rethinking of mobility: “Protected bikeways in every street are not a cute architectural feature, but a right, unless we believe only those on a motor-vehicle have a right to safe mobility.”

The subject of the urban future also features in the INTELLIGENT URBANIZATION FORUM in Hall A1 at the EXPO REAL 2016 – with trend-setting exhibition concepts from Barcelona Campus Diagonal-Bèsos and Berlin TXL Urban Tech Republic as well as interesting events as part of the conference program.


Find out more about our conference program.

More about Urban Age.

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