Report: International Congress Berlin 2005

International Congress of the Council for European Urbanism

30 Years of the European City — Review and Prospects

Ber­lin Decla­ra­ti­on: Buil­ding Brid­ges

Berlin — September 8–10 — 2005

Rapporteur’s Report

About the CEU

The CEU (Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism) was for­med in Bru­ges in 2002, offi­ci­al­ly foun­ded in Stock­holm in 2003 and published its Decla­ra­ti­on on Edu­ca­ti­on in Viseu in 2004. The CEU stri­ves to impro­ve the qua­li­ty of cities, towns, vil­la­ges and the coun­try­si­de across Euro­pe, pro­tect local iden­ti­ty and avo­id urban sprawl. The CEU’s aims and objec­tives are sum­ma­ri­sed in its Char­ter (www.ceunet.org)

Introduction

The inau­gu­ral World Con­gress of the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism was recent­ly held in Ber­lin (Sep­tem­ber 8–10, 2005), hosted by the CEU’s Ger­man Chap­ter and sup­por­ted by the Ger­man Federal Minis­try of Trans­port, Buil­ding and Hou­sing and the Office of the Sena­te of Ber­lin.

The Congress theme

The CEU’s Inau­gu­ral World Con­gress took as its the­me “30 Years: The Euro­pean City — Review and Pro­s­pects”. Refer­ring to the move­ment for Cri­ti­cal Recon­struc­tion of the mid 1970s, the Con­gress con­s­i­de­red the pro­gress of the Euro­pean City sin­ce that time.

In 1975 the Euro­pean Coun­cil initia­ted one of the most suc­cess­ful urban deve­lop­ment pro­gram­mes in urban histo­ry. Its mot­to was ‘A future for the past’ and during its cam­pai­gn the con­cept of the Euro­pean city was reborn. It was based on the view that the city con­sti­tu­ted a com­mon inheri­tan­ce that must be pro­tec­ted, a tra­di­ti­on that must be care­ful­ly deve­lo­ped and ser­ve as an examp­le for a bet­ter city, both in Eas­tern and Wes­tern Euro­pe.

The Con­gress exami­ned the issu­es facing the Euro­pean City sin­ce 1975 in two parts: The first part loo­ked in detail at Ber­lin as an examp­le of struc­tu­ral chan­ge in urban deve­lop­ment. The focus was on what has hap­pen­ed in Ber­lin over the last 30 years and what is inten­ded for the future. Pre­sen­ta­ti­ons were made by a num­ber of urban experts on Ber­lin and its recent deve­lop­ment histo­ry and prac­tice. The second part of the Con­gress ope­ned up to examp­les of what is hap­pe­ning in cities inter­na­tio­nal­ly pre­sen­ted by a ran­ge of inter­na­tio­nal prac­titio­ners and theo­rists of the city.

Supporting activities

The main ses­si­ons were sup­por­ted by a series of pre-Con­gress bus and wal­king tours of Ber­lin urba­nism inclu­ding bus tours of Pots­dam, Plat­ten­bau radi­cal chic, the socia­list lega­cy, and the new sub­urb of Karow-North; and wal­king tours of the Wall, Span­dau­er Vor­stadt area, the new government area in Spree­bo­gen and Pots­da­mer Platz.

A lar­ge num­ber of panels dis­play­ing both Ber­lin and nume­rous inter­na­tio­nal examp­les of urba­nism expres­sing the aims of the CEU Char­ter were shown at the Con­gress.

A num­ber of salons, recep­ti­ons and side-mee­tings on rela­ted topics were also held during the Con­gress and results of some of the­se dis­cus­sions have been appearing on the Euro-Urb Dis­cus­sion List sin­ce the Con­gress.

Speakers

The Con­gress attrac­ted some emi­nent Ger­man and inter­na­tio­nal speakers inclu­ding Dr. Man­fred Stol­pe, the Federal Minis­ter for Traf­fic and hou­sing of Ger­ma­ny, the UK’s Depu­ty Prime Minis­ter, the Rt. Hon. Mr John Pres­cott, Mr John Nor­quist, Pre­si­dent and CEO of the Con­gress for New Urba­nism, Dr Inge­borg Jun­ge-Rey­er, Sena­tor for Urban Deve­lop­ment Ber­lin and Dr Hans Stim­mann, Direc­tor of the Ber­lin Sena­te Admi­nis­tra­ti­on of Urban Plan­ning.

Key questions and ideas

The Con­gress orga­ni­sers took the view that the exchan­ge of ide­as and infor­ma­ti­on was more important than ever, not only wit­hin but bey­ond Euro­pean bor­ders. Key ques­ti­ons posed at the Con­gress were:

  • What are the important tra­di­ti­ons of and per­spec­tives on Euro­pean Urba­nism?
  • How will Euro­pean urba­nism con­ti­nue to deve­lop?
  • What are today’s trends and best prac­tice methods, and what are their pos­si­bi­li­ties for suc­cess or fail­u­re in future?

The rapporteur’s report

This rapporteur’s report descri­bes some of the key the­mes and argu­ments made over the two days of speakers and panel ses­si­ons and goes some way toward ans­we­ring the ques­ti­ons posed above. This report is divi­ded into Day One (Ber­lin rela­ted) and Day Two (Inter­na­tio­nal examp­les). It pre­fi­gu­res a lon­ger Con­gress Report that should appe­ar in the com­ing weeks and does not claim com­ple­te coverage of the ses­si­ons but a brief sur­vey of some key points made, the­mes explo­red and con­clu­si­ons reached.

Day One: Learning from Berlin

Day One was sub­tit­led ‘Ber­lin: An Expe­ri­ment in Euro­pean Urban Deve­lop­ment’ and in my ope­ning remarks I poin­ted out that our speakers and par­ti­ci­pants con­sti­tu­ted an embarr­ass­ment of riches, with emi­nent theo­rists and prac­titio­ners of urba­nism too nume­rous to name, but toge­ther offe­ring an unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­ni­ty to grapp­le with issu­es in Euro­pean Urba­nism, pro­vi­ding us with the bene­fit of tho­se with deep exper­ti­se covering many urban the­mes and are­as. Day One in fact con­sti­tu­ted a mas­ter class in Berlin’s urban ite­ra­ti­ons, from its role as a 19th cen­tu­ry rail­way city through the deve­lop­ment of tenement typo­lo­gies to moder­nist inter­ven­ti­on which were them­sel­ves chal­len­ged by cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion based on urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal rea­dings in the 1970s and 80s.

In his Con­gress Intro­duc­tion, Pro­fes­sor Harald Keg­ler noted that:

ever­y­bo­dy knows about the mill­en­nia of tra­di­ti­on in the cul­tu­re of Euro­pean urban con­struc­tion. Howe­ver, in the cour­se of urban moder­ni­sa­ti­on in the 20th cen­tu­ry, this tra­di­ti­on went off the rails — in the tru­est sen­se of the word. The so-cal­led new city was a city based on visi­ons. It was the one of cars and mass accom­mo­da­ti­on, tech­ni­cal gigan­tism and was­te of energy…technological ideo­lo­gy domi­na­ted both east and west, despi­te all poli­ti­cal ant­ago­nisms”.

By the midd­le of the 1970s, Pro­fes­sor Keg­ler repor­ted, the Coun­cil of Euro­pe had laun­ched its ‘Future for our past’ pro­ject and the move­ment that beca­me known as cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion began to cri­tique the tech­no­cra­tic approach to cities. This move­ment pro­vi­ded a jum­ping off point for the Inau­gu­ral Con­gress as again we con­si­der how to app­ly the les­sons of con­tex­tua­lism to today’s urban pro­blems. For Pro­fes­sor Keg­ler, bridge buil­ding was a key meta­phor for the Con­gress — bet­ween Berlin’s past and its future and bet­ween the city and wider world. As he noted, a new way of under­stan­ding is com­ing in, gai­ned from the stu­dy of the tra­di­ti­ons of the Euro­pean city.

The ses­si­ons in Day One con­s­i­de­red in detail Berlin’s urban expe­ri­en­ces sin­ce the 1970s. Ber­lin was stu­di­ed both over time and at many sca­les, from the very local to the broad­ly regio­nal. The city — both east and west — was unders­tood as an open expe­ri­men­tal field rather than a clo­sed labo­ra­to­ry of urba­nism, in which soci­al move­ments from below may have been as influ­en­ti­al as more top-down initia­ti­ves.

Pro­fes­sor Harald Boden­schatz next took par­ti­ci­pants on an eru­di­te and beau­ti­ful­ly illus­tra­ted tour of ‘Ber­lin in the con­text of Euro­pean City Deve­lop­ment’. He show­ed how Berlin’s rapid urba­ni­sa­ti­on had led to the deve­lop­ment of a series of high­ly den­se, com­pact urban neigh­bour­hoods with a fabric com­po­sed of stre­ets and squa­res (on a model brin­ging to mind to this wri­ter the figu­re grounds of Camil­lo Sit­te). Pro­fes­sor Boden­schatz show­ed too that the urban struc­tu­re of Ber­lin by the mid 19th cen­tu­ry was alre­ady diver­se, with typo­lo­gi­cal dis­tinc­tions bet­ween poor and rich are­as and more spa­cious neigh­bour­hoods com­po­sed of vil­las coun­ter-poin­ting tenement hou­sing and indus­tri­al ‘zones’.

The ‘tran­sit ori­en­ted deve­lop­ments’ of the 1890s were a par­ti­cu­lar plea­su­re to obser­ve as were the famous Taut and Wag­ner desi­gned hou­sing esta­tes of the 1920s. We con­s­i­de­red the archi­tec­tu­re of Hil­ber­sei­mer, in the con­text of the Bau­haus group, with each inter­ven­ti­on try­ing to out­do the other in over­co­m­ing the now dis­pa­ra­ged heri­ta­ge of tenement typo­lo­gies that had pre­vious­ly domi­na­ted urban hou­sing are­as across the city. Over and under­ground rail­way infra­st­ruc­tu­re was seen to play a cri­ti­cal part in struc­tu­ring Berlin’s ‘metro­land’ in the 19th and ear­ly part of the 20th cen­tu­ries, just as exclu­sio­na­ry zon­ing domi­na­ted the urban arma­tu­re post war and today major infra­st­ruc­tu­re inter­ven­ti­ons again have a pro­found impact on sha­ping the city.

One of Pro­fes­sor Bodenschatz’s most inte­res­ting points — and one later echoed by other speakers — was the remar­kab­le simi­la­ri­ty bet­ween the urban deve­lop­ment tra­jec­to­ries of east and west. Despi­te being the glo­bal capi­tal and sym­bol of the cold war, both sides of divi­ded Ber­lin were caught in the grip of the same tech­no­lo­gi­cal­ly dri­ven ideo­lo­gy of moder­nism in city plan­ning and archi­tec­tu­re. Post 1970 the same pro­cess of mor­pho­lo­gi­cal­ly infor­med rene­wal and rein­ser­ti­on of urban fabric chal­len­ged the ear­lier tabu­la rasa stra­te­gy of who­le­sa­le demo­li­ti­on and rede­ve­lop­ment. We heard how re-uni­fi­ca­ti­on was reflec­ted in the phy­si­cal deve­lop­ment of the city — in a pro­cess descri­bed as eupho­ria, fol­lo­wed by sobe­r­ing up and final­ly para­ly­sis.

Pro­fes­sor Boden­schatz cited Spa­nish Squa­re in the mas­si­ve resi­den­ti­al area of Hel­lers­dorf, Rob Kri­er and Chris­toph Kohl’s work on Potsdam’s new town, and the recon­struc­ted urban grid of the Plan­werk Inmen­stadt as nota­ble efforts in rege­ne­ra­ti­on broad­ly fol­lo­wing the path of cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion today.

Par­ti­ci­pants next con­s­i­de­red in review the the­me: ‘Good­bye to Moder­nist Urban Deve­lop­ment in Divi­ded Ber­lin’. We loo­ked at Ber­lin in many ways:

  • as a repo­si­to­ry of collec­tive memo­ry
  • as a pionee­ring, cul­tu­ral city
  • as a site for spa­ti­al chan­ge reflec­ting eco­no­mic trans­for­ma­ti­on and rest­ruc­tu­ring
  • as a seat of poli­ti­cal power
  • as a shrin­king city see­king to grow again
  • as deba­ting the merits of place wars or beco­m­ing a net­work city.

Erhart Pfo­ten­hau­er sug­gested that exclu­sio­na­ry spa­tia­li­ty was dead but that this was sim­ply the star­ting signal for a new moder­ni­ty in which reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on repla­ced demo­li­ti­on as the mode of rede­ve­lop­ment. The sto­ry of Berlin’s inner sub­urb, Kreuz­berg, show­ed it beco­m­ing ‘an open air muse­um of reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on models’ and thus a para­digm of this approach. It was sug­gested that a new grammar of the city was ther­e­by crea­ted in which princi­ples covering issu­es as diver­se as urban design, finan­cing, gover­nan­ce, and soci­al inclu­si­on were all inte­gra­ted wit­hin a series of indi­vi­du­al rege­ne­ra­ti­on pro­jects.

In this and later ses­si­ons in Day One, rege­ne­ra­ti­on was a key the­me: in the cent­re, in the sub­urbs, on the urban edge, and wit­hin the regi­on. After­noon Ses­si­on Chair, Pro­fes­sor Hil­de­brand Mach­leidt noted that fair­ly radi­cal post war visi­ons wit­hin a Cor­bu­si­an para­digm had led to an urban expan­si­on of Ber­lin cha­rac­te­ri­sed by mas­si­ve dor­mi­to­ry sub­urbs, spa­ghet­ti junc­tions, super grids and the loss of agri­cul­tu­ral land. Howe­ver, fol­lo­wing an initi­al exo­dus to the sub­urbs the­re was a more recent revi­val of the idea of the city as a place to live and again cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion was view­ed as a key shift under­pin­ning this chan­ge of heart.

The litt­le known (else­whe­re) histo­ry of urban deve­lop­ment of the 1980s East Ber­lin was explo­red by Coun­cil­lor Doro­thee Dubrau and others, and we learnt about the activism that cha­rac­te­ri­sed tho­se who stood out against the mas­si­ve urban deve­lop­ment ‘moder­ni­sa­ti­on’ pro­cess rol­led out under a plan­ned eco­no­my. Cou­ra­ge­ous attempts to esta­blish urban design gui­de­li­nes were descri­bed, both to revi­ta­li­se the inner city and over­co­me the mono­to­ny of mas­si­ve edge city hou­sing esta­tes. As Heinz Tib­be noted, the­se oppor­tu­nities also posed chal­len­ges as rene­wal tur­ned away from lar­ge hou­sing esta­te con­struc­tion as a method, with the pri­va­ti­sa­ti­on of soci­al hou­sing for pri­va­te inves­tors and the over pro­vi­si­on of office space as unwel­co­me con­se­quen­ces.

With Ber­lin beco­m­ing the new capi­tal, as Flo­ri­an Maus­bach exp­lai­ned, key public buil­dings have crea­ted both a new urban arma­tu­re and a new cent­re of gra­vi­ty to the east. Dis­cus­sing ‘The New Ber­lin: City Deve­lop­ment sin­ce the Wall: Results and Con­clu­si­ons’ we heard about a series of major infra­st­ruc­tu­re initia­ti­ves at the cent­re and in the inner ring in which the public realm has been taken serious­ly at the big sca­le as in Pots­da­mer Platz and ‘urban repair work’ at the small sca­le as at Hacker­scher Markt whe­re a ‘gas­tro­no­mic quar­ter’ had been revi­ta­li­sed in ways that sui­ted resi­dents, busi­ness and visi­tors.

In a ses­si­on in which dis­cus­sion of archi­tec­tu­re rather than urba­nism was domi­nant, it was noted that the 1990s saw a con­text of tre­men­dous pres­su­re to hand out buil­ding per­mits alt­hough the­re was still a focus on cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion. Chris­toph Satt­ler poin­ted out that the com­pact city was still an expli­cit aim, with the term ‘Euro­pean city’ based on exis­ting ground plans begin­ning to be used pro­gram­ma­ti­cal­ly as the basis for new deve­lop­ment, rather than ‘hys­te­ri­cal high-rise inten­si­fi­ca­ti­on’. For­mal gui­d­ance was pro­vi­ded but with free­dom wit­hin that for dif­fe­rent archi­tec­tu­ral signa­tures. In fact, some speakers argued that it was only the dia­lo­gue the buil­ding has with the street that mat­te­red, not its height. Dr Mat­thew Har­dy remin­ded par­ti­ci­pants that the Con­gress the­me was a review of the moder­nist pro­ject using cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion as both cri­tique and alter­na­ti­ve approach. Dr Har­dy spik­ed the noti­on pro­po­sed by ano­t­her speaker in this ses­si­on that new deve­lop­ment in Ber­lin nee­ded to be ‘of its time’ archi­tec­tu­ral­ly, arguing that this was short­hand for defi­ning moder­nist style as the only appro­pria­te archi­tec­tu­ral respon­se.

Day One also dealt with urban issu­es in outer Ber­lin, on the peri­phe­ries and in the wider regi­on. Chief among the­se was the rede­ve­lop­ment of the ‘sla­b­urbs’, lef­tover public hou­sing on a mam­moth sca­le that was still being built well into the 1970s and now requi­red who­le­sa­le rege­ne­ra­ti­on into more huma­ne urban fabric. With vacan­cy rates over 20%, and well over a mil­li­on hou­sing units stan­ding empty, this is no small pro­blem. Dr Hei­ke Lieb­mann exp­lai­ned how some East Ger­man pre­fa­bri­ca­ted hou­sing esta­tes were being recon­fi­gu­red both spa­ti­al­ly and in terms of hou­sing typo­lo­gies, to les­sen the blocks’ mas­si­ve bulk and res­hape them into lower rise (six storey), more diver­se forms that re-used buil­ding mate­ri­als and con­tri­bu­t­ed to rede­ve­lo­ped street pat­terns. A fasci­na­ting aspect of this pro­cess was the way that resi­dents them­sel­ves had moved into and desi­gned apart­ment ‘shells’ to suit their own needs rather than being pas­si­ve reci­pi­ents of preor­dai­ned hou­sing types.

Chris­toph Kohl descri­bed the crea­ti­on of a new town in Pots­dam on which he worked with Rob Kri­er. Pots­dam New Town is based on sound urba­nist princi­ples to crea­te a place with its own genus loci. Key to the approach was the brea­king up of lar­ge sites into smal­ler plots to allow a fine grain of archi­tec­tu­ral respon­ses from a ran­ge of prac­titio­ners wit­hin a strict urban mas­ter plan frame­work. As Chris­toph Kohl said, making a new sub­urb that felt fami­li­ar was ‘not a ques­ti­on of abi­li­ty, more of metho­do­lo­gy’.

Pro­fes­sor Undi­ne Gise­ke show­ed how a new type of regio­nal park in Ber­lin-Bran­den­burg was being crea­ted using princi­ples of land­s­cape eco­lo­gy and public access; and com­bi­ning tra­di­tio­nal green­space uses with more pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tu­ral and ‘ever­y­day’ land­s­capes on the urban edges of the Ber­lin conur­ba­ti­on.

From a very full round­ta­ble dis­cus­sion that clo­sed Day One, the com­ments made by John Nor­quist stood out as memo­r­able. John Nor­quist, ex Mayor of Mil­wau­kee, and now pre­si­dent and CEO of the CNU, argued that for Ber­lin to get invol­ved in place wars with other Ger­man and Euro­pean cities was dan­ge­rous and sil­ly. Ins­te­ad, he said, Ber­lin should con­cen­tra­te on making life bet­ter for its citi­zens and net­work with other towns. He argued that design is a good use of a Mayor’s time. “In a demo­cra­cy it’s bet­ter to crea­te beau­ty with the peop­le”.

Themes from Day One ‘Berlin: An Experiment in European Urban Development’ — in Summary

A num­ber of the­mes see­med to emer­ge from the detail­ed dis­cus­sions in Day One and some are cap­tu­red below:

Ber­lin pro­vi­des a mas­ter class or urban approa­ches over time and at many sca­les from the buil­ding to the regi­on. A 20th cen­tu­ry histo­ry of lar­ge sca­le moder­nist inter­ven­ti­ons was right­ly chal­len­ged by cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion. In fact, the city has been a labo­ra­to­ry for soci­al move­ments from below as well as trans­for­ma­ti­on from above.

Ber­lin can be unders­tood in many ways:

  • as a repo­si­to­ry of collec­tive memo­ry,
  • as a site for pro­found struc­tu­ral eco­no­mic chan­ge,
  • as a seat of poli­ti­cal and cul­tu­ral power, and
  • as a shrin­king city eco­no­mi­c­al­ly chal­len­ged and in deba­te about its future.

East and West Ber­lin have fol­lo­wed sur­pri­sin­gly simi­lar tra­jec­to­ries of moder­nism and tech­no­cra­tic inter­ven­ti­ons. Its re-uni­fi­ca­ti­on mean­while has crea­ted a new set of con­di­ti­ons (“eupho­ria — sobe­r­ing up — para­ly­sis”) and moved the cent­re of gra­vi­ty east­wards.

Rege­ne­ra­ti­on is a key the­me for Ber­lin at the cent­re, in the urban core, in the sub­urbs, on the peri­phe­ries and in the regi­on. Archi­tec­tu­re is being used to place brand the city.

Pro­s­pects for the future are on balan­ce good. Despi­te a ran­ge of shorter term — espe­ci­al­ly eco­no­mic — issu­es and pro­blems, the­re is cau­tious opti­mism about the medi­um to lon­ger term. Ber­lin seems to con­cen­tra­ting on impro­ving livea­bi­li­ty for its citi­zens rather than embar­king on ‘place wars’ with other cities and this is a good stra­te­gy for its via­bi­li­ty in future.

Day Two: Learning from the rest of Europe and the world

Day Two ‘New Per­spec­tives in City Deve­lop­ment: Euro­pe and Bey­ond’ began with an ope­ning state­ment from Dr Man­fred Stol­pe, Federal Minis­ter of Trans­port, Buil­ding and Hou­sing, who set the sce­ne for the very broad ran­ging dis­cus­sion to come. Dr Stol­pe intro­du­ced the Congress’s spe­cial key­note speaker, the UK’s Depu­ty Prime Minis­ter, the Right Honoura­ble Mr John Pres­cott, who­se lea­dership role in the UK covers a ran­ge of urban are­as in an inte­gra­ted way. John Pres­cott said par­ti­ci­pants had heard how Ber­lin, which was cut in two by fear and ideo­lo­gy for 45 years, had beco­me the focus of a remar­kab­le pro­gram­me of rege­ne­ra­ti­on and rene­wal. He sug­gested that Ber­lin show­ed how superb new archi­tec­tu­re can lift con­fi­dence in our cities and give peop­le a real sen­se of pri­de in whe­re they live.

John Pres­cott expres­sed soli­da­ri­ty and com­pas­si­on with Ame­ri­ca after the havoc of Hur­ri­ca­ne Kat­ri­na. He noted that as Euro­pean nego­tia­tor at the Kyo­to cli­ma­te chan­ge con­ven­ti­on, he was ful­ly awa­re that cli­ma­te chan­ge is chan­ging wea­ther pat­terns and rai­sing sea levels. He went on to say that the hor­ri­fic flood of New Orleans brings home to us the con­cern of lea­ders of coun­tries like the Mal­di­ves, who­se nati­ons are at risk of disap­pearing com­ple­te­ly. He said he belie­ved US Government resis­tan­ce to Kyo­to was wrong but on a recent visit to the US was delight­ed to see that city mayors are taking their own envi­ron­men­tal initia­ti­ve on Kyo­to.

In a wide ran­ging talk John Pres­cott poin­ted out some of the stark sta­tis­tics about cities, arguing that mass urba­ni­sa­ti­on is one of the grea­test chal­len­ges facing the world today. In Euro­pe, he said, we have crea­ted superb towns and cities, and not just for the last 30 years. Despi­te slums and pover­ty, Euro­pean cities offe­red safe­ty and secu­ri­ty to peop­le and gave rise to an asto­nis­hing expres­si­on of human crea­ti­vi­ty through magni­ficent art, cul­tu­re and archi­tec­tu­re. Then in the 20th cen­tu­ry we somehow lost our way: mil­li­ons of peop­le gave up living in cities. “They got in cars and left for the sub­urbs”.

John Pres­cott invo­ked Jane Jacobs’ sur­vey of the dis­astrous results of 20th cen­tu­ry plan­ning and urged us to redis­co­ver the art of making pla­ces whe­re peop­le can mix and meet. Jane Jacobs, said John Pres­cott, defi­ned what he calls sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities, whe­re soci­al, eco­no­mic and envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns are balan­ced, mee­ting the needs of exis­ting and future gene­ra­ti­ons and respec­ting the needs of others. This was not just about making buil­dings and public spaces look good. They have to feel safe and secu­re as well. Sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities must have good local eco­no­mies and trans­port ser­vices — pro­vi­ding jobs, schools, health and other ser­vice that are acces­si­ble to all. In 2003 John Pres­cott published the Sustain­ab­le Com­mu­nities Plan and he spo­ke of some of the spe­ci­fic initia­ti­ves to esta­blish sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities in the UK in exis­ting decli­ning urban are­as, in pla­ces suf­fe­ring low demand, on brown­fiel­ds sites and in major urban growth are­as like the Tha­mes Gate­way east of Lon­don.

To achie­ve sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities, John Pres­cott gave sup­port to impro­ve­ments in gover­nan­ce, to plan­ning sys­tems, to the use of design coding, and to end silo thin­king in government and admi­nis­tra­ti­on that was bad for cities. He congra­tu­la­ted the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism for orga­ni­sing such a major event at an important time in the deba­te on the future of cities in Euro­pe and across the world.

Audun Engh, from the CEU secre­ta­ri­at, then descri­bed the ways in which the CEU is taking for­ward a pro­gram­me of reform for urba­nism across Euro­pe. He sug­gested that the char­ret­te pro­cess (some­ti­mes know as enqui­ry by design) was key to impro­ving city deve­lop­ment pro­ces­ses in a com­mu­ni­ty based and respon­si­ve way. Char­ret­tes he said could be neu­tral on archi­tec­tu­ral style but nee­ded to be based on con­tex­tu­al urban design princi­ples as set out in the CEU Char­ter as a method for soci­al inte­gra­ti­on. Codes and gui­de­li­nes could be employ­ed to help mana­ge urban chan­ge in a pre­dic­ta­ble way. Audun Engh also spo­ke about the CEU’s sup­port for INTBAU’s pro­po­sed new Euro­pean School of Urba­nism and Archi­tec­tu­re which would take for­ward the visi­on set out in CEU’s 2004 Viseu Decla­ra­ti­on on Edu­ca­ti­on.

Fol­lo­wing Pierre Lacon­te on ‘Brussels: The Impos­si­ble Capi­tal of Euro­pe’, the rest of the morning on Day Two cove­r­ed a wide ran­ge of examp­les of pro­jects in two par­al­lel ses­si­ons, from a diver­si­ty of Euro­pean towns and cities. (I atten­ded the ses­si­on on per­spec­tives from Swe­den and the Nether­lands and would be hap­py to hear from anyo­ne who went to the Bel­la Ita­lia ses­si­on to fill in details for this report). I can say that the ‘Bel­la Ita­lia’ ses­si­on was devo­ted to recent urba­nism in Ita­ly inclu­ding ‘Recent Deve­lop­ments in Tra­di­tio­nal Urba­nism in Ita­ly’ from Pro­fes­sor Lui­gi Mol­lo; ‘A Suc­cess­ful Sto­ry: The Recon­struc­tion of the His­to­ri­cal Cent­re of Paler­mo from Pro­fes­sor Gio­van­ni Fat­ta; and ‘Urban Archi­tec­tu­re in Ita­ly: An Ali­ve Tra­di­ti­on’ from Pro­fes­sor Enri­co Das­so­ri.

Peter Elm­lund explo­red ‘Per­spec­tives in Swe­den: Bet­ween the Bal­tic Cor­ri­dor and Pre-Fab Con­ver­si­on’ while Mie­ke Bos­se and Peter Drij­ver con­s­i­de­red ‘Rand­stad’ and New Towns: Un-Modern Stra­te­gies for the Nether­lands’. As Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se noted, the Dutch Rand­stad, the Ruhr­ge­beit and con­nec­ted urban are­as in North West Euro­pe func­tion as “one big over­hea­ted city”. It is one in which super-moder­nist archi­tects are prac­tising and dor­mi­to­ry sub­urbs are still being built, but the­re are also others doing good work that is lar­ge­ly igno­red by the archi­tec­tu­re schools and glos­sy maga­zi­nes. Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se show­ed a ran­ge of the­se pro­jects and refer­red to a ‘flip-over book’, gui­ding a kind of urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal approach that deals with the stra­ti­fi­ca­ti­on or urban typo­lo­gies over time and gives prac­titio­ners con­tex­tu­al clues for their archi­tec­tu­ral lan­guage. Work shown inclu­ded tra­di­tio­nal stre­ets as well as intri­guing ‘cast­le’, vil­la­ge and big box wrap­ping typo­lo­gies. As Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se put it, the aim is to crea­te archi­tec­tu­re that is more invi­si­ble as an object.

In the after­noon of Day Two, under the direc­tion of Pro­fes­sor Wolf­gang Christ, we moved fur­t­her afield into eas­tern Euro­pe, with Tomasz Gamd­zyk and his col­league describing ‘The New War­saw: City Deve­lop­ment Per­spec­tives in Poland’. Again the twin tracks of moder­nism in Eas­tern and Wes­tern Euro­pe were well demons­tra­ted in rela­ti­on to a ran­ge of moder­ni­sa­ti­on pro­jects. Again the­re was a simi­lar cri­tique begin­ning to emer­ge to chal­len­ge the­se approa­ches from the late 197os onwards.

John Nor­quist, CEO of the CNU then most enter­tai­nin­gly and insight­ful­ly com­pa­red the 20th cen­tu­ry tra­jec­to­ries of Ber­lin and cities in Midd­le Ame­ri­ca, demons­tra­ting the dest­ruc­tive power of moder­nist ideo­lo­gy in both pla­ces. He traced the thin­king behind among other things mas­si­ve free­way buil­ding and who­le­sa­le urban neigh­bour­hood demo­li­ti­ons in both Ber­lin and Detroit to their pre-war intel­lec­tu­al ante­ce­dents and show­ed their dis­astrous effects on post war cities on each con­ti­nent.

The issu­es said John Nor­quist were the same in both pla­ces: sprawl. As he exp­lai­ned, when CNU for­med urba­nism was stig­ma­tised. Yet urba­nism is sophisti­ca­ted and com­plex. It crea­tes cul­tu­re whe­re­as sprawl is stu­pid. What else can you call a spa­ti­al arran­ge­ment that sites office buil­dings so that they have no pede­stri­an access and so makes it ille­gal to walk to lunch, or sites par­king so that cars have prime river­front views to enjoy all day?

John Nor­quist sug­gested that the Cor­bu­si­an deri­ved ide­al of towers in a green park is still seduc­tive even though it has now been con­clu­si­ve­ly shown that, for ins­tan­ce, big box, inte­ri­or facing malls don’t work. While big box deve­lop­ments are still popu­lar in the US they are now more like big depart­ment stores of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, again loca­ted in main stre­ets wit­hin pro­per urban fabric.

John Nor­quist also tal­ked about the spa­ghet­ti of major roads and free­way sys­tems that dama­ge many Ame­ri­can cities and spo­ke of his expe­ri­ence as Mayor of Mil­wau­kee in remo­ving a free­way and over­co­m­ing blight. In a con­text whe­re “balan­ced trans­port poli­cy means half asphalt and half con­cre­te” this was a major para­digm shift. Ins­te­ad of see­ing trans­port flows as den­dri­tic, the street grid should be approa­ched as a kind of urban wet­land soaking up capa­ci­ty in a more sustain­ab­le way. The sli­des of Detroit’s decli­ne, from a proud down town to a devas­ta­ted urban core, were a tes­ta­ment to the ter­ri­ble urban mista­kes of the post war years.

Geor­ge Fer­gu­son, of the Roy­al Insti­tu­te of Bri­tish Archi­tects, was equal­ly pas­sio­na­te about the need for urba­nism as a basis for good city form, in addres­sing ‘Urban Renais­sance in Eng­land’. He poin­ted out that what has beco­me New Urba­nism is actual­ly old urba­nism as prac­tised in Euro­pe for mill­en­nia. The city he said is a work of art alt­hough he ques­tio­ned the noti­on of the ‘wow fac­tor’ in making good pla­ces. He worried too about how to avo­id making pla­ces into urban deserts for secu­ri­ty rea­sons and the march of the chain stores making pla­ces all feel the same. Geor­ge Fer­gu­son used his home town of Bris­tol of an examp­le of suc­cess­ful urban renais­sance and clo­sed with some infor­ma­ti­on about the UK’s new Aca­de­my of Urba­nism, an initia­ti­ve of the RIBA, who­se 100 mem­bers aim to pro­vi­de lea­dership in order to pro­mo­te urba­nism in the UK’s cities in future.

Irit Sol­zi and Yodan Rofe then dis­cus­sed ‘Bey­ond Tel Aviv: Lega­cy and Chal­len­ges’, sho­wing that city’s won­der­ful Bau­haus archi­tec­tu­ral heri­ta­ge and the pro­blems of urban growth that it now faces. They demons­tra­ted that the flight to the sub­urbs is not just an Ame­ri­can issue but one facing coun­tries like Isra­el too. They noted the twin pro­blems of the ina­de­qua­te qua­li­ty of the hou­sing stock in tra­di­tio­nal cen­tres and towns and the out­da­ted plan­ning prac­tices that under­cut urba­nism. Isra­el, they repor­ted, had some way to go to catch up in app­ly­ing urba­nist princi­ples to its urban deve­lop­ment. Par­ti­ci­pants were for­mal­ly invi­ted to the Inau­gu­ral Con­gress of the Move­ment for Israe­li Urba­nism to be held in Beer-She­va on Decem­ber 12, 2005 fol­lo­wed on Decem­ber 13 by an urban design cha­ret­te with mem­bers from the com­mu­ni­ty, the muni­ci­pa­li­ty and the uni­ver­si­ty.

Next in this ses­si­on Pro­fes­sors José Bag­an­ha and Javier Ceni­cace­la­ya dis­cus­sed ‘Bil­bao and Lis­bon: The Ibe­ri­an Pen­in­su­la Set­ting the Mark’. They spo­ke of Spain and Portugal’s inheri­tan­ce of com­pact cities which show­ed the need for, and respec­ted, urba­ni­ty. Javier Ceni­cace­la­ya used the meta­phor of the school report card for ‘con­duct’. He dis­cus­sed how we might judge the civi­li­ty of pla­ces in the same way that he was jud­ged in terms of civi­li­ty as a school child. He decried the deve­lop­ment of the city as a ‘caco­pho­ny of objects’ and show­ed a num­ber of poor uncon­tex­tu­al examp­les that were inten­tio­nal­ly dis­rup­ti­ve of urban form. Jose Bag­an­ha fea­red the rash of golf cour­se cent­red ghet­toes for rich peop­le now emer­ging in Por­tu­gal and the increa­sing segre­ga­ti­on of soci­al (public) hou­sing. He asked whe­ther we were expe­ri­en­cing the ‘wow fac­tor’ or a ‘wow fac­tor pla­gue’ of archi­tec­tu­ral objects. As José Bag­an­ha said, we need con­vi­via­li­ty, and his beau­ti­ful water­co­lour wash line drawings see­med to distil the essence of this qua­li­ty.

Ray Gin­droz of the CNU Board also pro­vi­ded some distil­led essence, with very per­ti­nent les­sons from the expe­ri­ence of New Urba­nists in the United Sta­tes in brin­ging more urba­nist princi­ples to bear on the deve­lop­ment pro­cess. Among other things he noted the need to tack­le the issue of archi­tec­tu­ral style head on rather than deny­ing it was cen­tral to the urba­nist deba­te.

The day’s last ses­si­on was a podi­um dis­cus­sion on ‘Per­spec­tives for CEU’ led by Dr Mat­thew Har­dy and invol­ving Robert Adam, Peter Drij­ver, Dr Her­man Scheer, Micha­el Sto­jan and Pro­fes­sor Gabri­el­le Taglia­ven­ti. As Dr Har­dy noted in his intro­duc­tion to the dis­cus­sion, the CEU must deal with a series of chal­len­ges to the city espe­ci­al­ly in the area of envi­ron­men­tal sustai­na­bi­li­ty, inclu­ding decli­ning sup­plies of oil, not enough water or too much water. Just as the Con­gress had loo­ked back 30 years to see what could be lear­ned from the review of moder­nism in the 1970s, he asked the panel to look 30 years into the future and con­si­der what CEU should be doing to meet the­se and other urban chal­len­ges.

Nota­ble in this ses­si­on was Robert Adam’s point that one thing we do know is that we can­not be sure about what will hap­pen. In this lies an essen­ti­al para­dox. The fur­t­her for­ward we look the less cer­tain we can be. Past pre­dic­tions about ener­gy use such as tho­se made in the ener­gy cri­ses of the 1970s had not come to pass, so we should be very care­ful about being too pre­scrip­ti­ve about the future.

Among a num­ber of per­ti­nent points made, speakers agreed that CEU was well pla­ced to work with other part­ners in government and among urban sta­ke­hol­ders to pur­sue its Char­ter aims. Euro­pean cities had a long term urba­nist frame­work and tra­di­ti­ons, and the­re was gro­wing reco­gni­ti­on of the need to revi­ve tho­se tra­di­ti­ons and prac­tices of urban place making, which as the Con­gress demons­tra­ted, pro­vi­ded a valu­able basis for the future.

Pro­fes­sor Harald Keg­ler, Chair of CEU Ger­ma­ny, and Susan Par­ham, Chair of CEU Euro­pe, made very brief clo­sing state­ments and intro­du­ced the draft Decla­ra­ti­on of Ber­lin, the final form of which will be posted on the CEU and CEU Ger­ma­ny web­sites short­ly.

Themes from New Perspectives in City Development: Europe and Beyond — in Summary

The­re were a num­ber of messa­ges from the ses­si­ons in Day Two that seem worth sum­ma­ri­sing:

Cities mat­ter. Pro­found demo­gra­phic chan­ge will mean an urban future for many of the world’s popu­la­ti­on, making urba­nism increa­singly important. With this urban growth comes a ran­ge of sustai­na­bi­li­ty chal­len­ges that we have not yet come to grips with.

Wit­hin an over­all con­text of urban expan­si­on, cities are expe­ri­en­cing growth and decli­ne, with shrin­king and gro­wing both causing pro­blems and oppor­tu­nities for urba­nism.

Euro­pean cities are labou­ring under an inheri­tan­ce of moder­nist ideo­lo­gy. Sprawl is stu­pid. Detroit is a para­digm from the new world of what can go wrong. Urba­nism by con­trast is sophisti­ca­ted. It crea­tes cul­tu­re and qua­li­ty of life. And the­re are plenty of examp­les from the sca­le of the indi­vi­du­al buil­ding to the city regi­on that demons­tra­te that.

Urba­nism is hot. Urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal approa­ches like cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion are valu­able. Urban princi­ples need to be arti­cu­la­ted and fol­lo­wed to crea­te or retrie­ve fine grai­ned, human sca­led pla­ces, but a high urban den­si­ty alo­ne is not suf­fi­ci­ent for good place making.

Ber­lin and the other cities we stu­di­ed during the Con­gress demons­tra­te how action is nee­ded in all kinds of urban con­di­ti­ons from resha­ping public hou­sing through revi­ving public space to buil­ding new mixed use, sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities.

In so doing we should avo­id con­fu­si­on bet­ween moder­ni­ty and moder­nism as a style. The­re is lots of good work being done quiet­ly that doesn’t fea­ture in the archi­tec­tu­ral maga­zi­nes as it intends to be more or less invi­si­ble but makes a pro­found­ly posi­ti­ve con­tri­bu­ti­on to the urban fabric.

Pro­cess mat­ters. We must end silo thin­king and inte­gra­te across sec­tors and disci­pli­nes. We have a ran­ge of tech­ni­ques to call on for place making inclu­ding char­ret­tes and design coding. We also have a ran­ge of instru­ments to use inclu­ding new finan­cing, regu­la­to­ry and gover­nan­ce models and sys­tems. We should look cri­ti­cal­ly at the rules that affect urban space.

Our pro­s­pects look good. We can learn from the Ame­ri­can expe­ri­ence of the Con­gress for New Urba­nism to esta­blish alli­an­ces and ener­gi­se the urban deve­lop­ment pro­cess. Governments do see a key role for orga­ni­sa­ti­ons like the CEU and we must make use of this soci­al and poli­ti­cal capi­tal to pur­sue our Char­ter aims.

Edu­ca­ti­on mat­ters. We have to bet­ter teach our­sel­ves in order to more effec­tively sha­re our Char­ter messa­ge. CEU should con­ti­nue to work with part­ners like INTBAU, and like min­ded orga­ni­sa­ti­ons like the Aca­de­my for Urba­nism and the Sustain­ab­le Com­mu­nities Pro­gram­me to bring urba­nism into the main­stream of Euro­pean place making.

Final­ly, par­ti­ci­pants from many disci­pli­nes, tra­di­ti­ons and pla­ces sha­re a lot of com­mon ground and a high level of ener­gy to pur­sue more huma­ne urba­nism across Euro­pe in future. We need to build on that for the good of all.

Susan Par­ham 24th Sep­tem­ber 2005

nter­na­tio­nal Con­gress of the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism
Ber­lin — Sep­tem­ber 8–10 — 2005
Rapporteur’s Report

About the CEU
The CEU (Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism) was for­med in Bru­ges in 2002, offi­ci­al­ly foun­ded in Stock­holm in 2003 and published its Decla­ra­ti­on on Edu­ca­ti­on in Viseu in 2004. The CEU stri­ves to impro­ve the qua­li­ty of cities, towns, vil­la­ges and the coun­try­si­de across Euro­pe, pro­tect local iden­ti­ty and avo­id urban sprawl. The CEU’s aims and objec­tives are sum­ma­ri­sed in its Char­ter (www.ceunet.org)

Intro­duc­tion
The inau­gu­ral World Con­gress of the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism was recent­ly held in Ber­lin (Sep­tem­ber 8–10, 2005), hosted by the CEU’s Ger­man Chap­ter and sup­por­ted by the Ger­man Federal Minis­try of Trans­port, Buil­ding and Hou­sing and the Office of the Sena­te of Ber­lin.

The Con­gress the­me
The CEU’s Inau­gu­ral World Con­gress took as its the­me “30 Years: The Euro­pean City — Review and Pro­s­pects”. Refer­ring to the move­ment for Cri­ti­cal Recon­struc­tion of the mid 1970s, the Con­gress con­s­i­de­red the pro­gress of the Euro­pean City sin­ce that time.

In 1975 the Euro­pean Coun­cil initia­ted one of the most suc­cess­ful urban deve­lop­ment pro­gram­mes in urban histo­ry. Its mot­to was ‘A future for the past’ and during its cam­pai­gn the con­cept of the Euro­pean city was reborn. It was based on the view that the city con­sti­tu­ted a com­mon inheri­tan­ce that must be pro­tec­ted, a tra­di­ti­on that must be care­ful­ly deve­lo­ped and ser­ve as an examp­le for a bet­ter city, both in Eas­tern and Wes­tern Euro­pe.

The Con­gress exami­ned the issu­es facing the Euro­pean City sin­ce 1975 in two parts: The first part loo­ked in detail at Ber­lin as an examp­le of struc­tu­ral chan­ge in urban deve­lop­ment. The focus was on what has hap­pen­ed in Ber­lin over the last 30 years and what is inten­ded for the future. Pre­sen­ta­ti­ons were made by a num­ber of urban experts on Ber­lin and its recent deve­lop­ment histo­ry and prac­tice. The second part of the Con­gress ope­ned up to examp­les of what is hap­pe­ning in cities inter­na­tio­nal­ly pre­sen­ted by a ran­ge of inter­na­tio­nal prac­titio­ners and theo­rists of the city.

Sup­porting activi­ties
The main ses­si­ons were sup­por­ted by a series of pre-Con­gress bus and wal­king tours of Ber­lin urba­nism inclu­ding bus tours of Pots­dam, Plat­ten­bau radi­cal chic, the socia­list lega­cy, and the new sub­urb of Karow-North; and wal­king tours of the Wall, Span­dau­er Vor­stadt area, the new government area in Spree­bo­gen and Pots­da­mer Platz.

A lar­ge num­ber of panels dis­play­ing both Ber­lin and nume­rous inter­na­tio­nal examp­les of urba­nism expres­sing the aims of the CEU Char­ter were shown at the Con­gress.

A num­ber of salons, recep­ti­ons and side-mee­tings on rela­ted topics were also held during the Con­gress and results of some of the­se dis­cus­sions have been appearing on the Euro-Urb Dis­cus­sion List sin­ce the Con­gress.

Speakers
The Con­gress attrac­ted some emi­nent Ger­man and inter­na­tio­nal speakers inclu­ding Dr. Man­fred Stol­pe, the Federal Minis­ter for Traf­fic and hou­sing of Ger­ma­ny, the UK’s Depu­ty Prime Minis­ter, the Rt. Hon. Mr John Pres­cott, Mr John Nor­quist, Pre­si­dent and CEO of the Con­gress for New Urba­nism, Dr Inge­borg Jun­ge-Rey­er, Sena­tor for Urban Deve­lop­ment Ber­lin and Dr Hans Stim­mann, Direc­tor of the Ber­lin Sena­te Admi­nis­tra­ti­on of Urban Plan­ning.

Key ques­ti­ons and ide­as
The Con­gress orga­ni­sers took the view that the exchan­ge of ide­as and infor­ma­ti­on was more important than ever, not only wit­hin but bey­ond Euro­pean bor­ders. Key ques­ti­ons posed at the Con­gress were:

• What are the important tra­di­ti­ons of and per­spec­tives on Euro­pean Urba­nism?
• How will Euro­pean urba­nism con­ti­nue to deve­lop?
• What are today’s trends and best prac­tice methods, and what are their pos­si­bi­li­ties for suc­cess or fail­u­re in future?

The rapporteur’s report
This rapporteur’s report descri­bes some of the key the­mes and argu­ments made over the two days of speakers and panel ses­si­ons and goes some way toward ans­we­ring the ques­ti­ons posed above. This report is divi­ded into Day One (Ber­lin rela­ted) and Day Two (Inter­na­tio­nal examp­les). It pre­fi­gu­res a lon­ger Con­gress Report that should appe­ar in the com­ing weeks and does not claim com­ple­te coverage of the ses­si­ons but a brief sur­vey of some key points made, the­mes explo­red and con­clu­si­ons reached.

Day One: Learning from Ber­lin
Day One was sub­tit­led ‘Ber­lin: An Expe­ri­ment in Euro­pean Urban Deve­lop­ment’ and in my ope­ning remarks I poin­ted out that our speakers and par­ti­ci­pants con­sti­tu­ted an embarr­ass­ment of riches, with emi­nent theo­rists and prac­titio­ners of urba­nism too nume­rous to name, but toge­ther offe­ring an unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­ni­ty to grapp­le with issu­es in Euro­pean Urba­nism, pro­vi­ding us with the bene­fit of tho­se with deep exper­ti­se covering many urban the­mes and are­as. Day One in fact con­sti­tu­ted a mas­ter class in Berlin’s urban ite­ra­ti­ons, from its role as a 19th cen­tu­ry rail­way city through the deve­lop­ment of tenement typo­lo­gies to moder­nist inter­ven­ti­on which were them­sel­ves chal­len­ged by cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion based on urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal rea­dings in the 1970s and 80s.

In his Con­gress Intro­duc­tion, Pro­fes­sor Harald Keg­ler noted that:

ever­y­bo­dy knows about the mill­en­nia of tra­di­ti­on in the cul­tu­re of Euro­pean urban con­struc­tion. Howe­ver, in the cour­se of urban moder­ni­sa­ti­on in the 20th cen­tu­ry, this tra­di­ti­on went off the rails — in the tru­est sen­se of the word. The so-cal­led new city was a city based on visi­ons. It was the one of cars and mass accom­mo­da­ti­on, tech­ni­cal gigan­tism and was­te of energy…technological ideo­lo­gy domi­na­ted both east and west, despi­te all poli­ti­cal ant­ago­nisms’.

By the midd­le of the 1970s, Pro­fes­sor Keg­ler repor­ted, the Coun­cil of Euro­pe had laun­ched its ‘Future for our past’ pro­ject and the move­ment that beca­me known as cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion began to cri­tique the tech­no­cra­tic approach to cities. This move­ment pro­vi­ded a jum­ping off point for the Inau­gu­ral Con­gress as again we con­si­der how to app­ly the les­sons of con­tex­tua­lism to today’s urban pro­blems. For Pro­fes­sor Keg­ler, bridge buil­ding was a key meta­phor for the Con­gress — bet­ween Berlin’s past and its future and bet­ween the city and wider world. As he noted, a new way of under­stan­ding is com­ing in, gai­ned from the stu­dy of the tra­di­ti­ons of the Euro­pean city.

The ses­si­ons in Day One con­s­i­de­red in detail Berlin’s urban expe­ri­en­ces sin­ce the 1970s. Ber­lin was stu­di­ed both over time and at many sca­les, from the very local to the broad­ly regio­nal. The city — both east and west — was unders­tood as an open expe­ri­men­tal field rather than a clo­sed labo­ra­to­ry of urba­nism, in which soci­al move­ments from below may have been as influ­en­ti­al as more top-down initia­ti­ves.

Pro­fes­sor Harald Boden­schatz next took par­ti­ci­pants on an eru­di­te and beau­ti­ful­ly illus­tra­ted tour of ‘Ber­lin in the con­text of Euro­pean City Deve­lop­ment’. He show­ed how Berlin’s rapid urba­ni­sa­ti­on had led to the deve­lop­ment of a series of high­ly den­se, com­pact urban neigh­bour­hoods with a fabric com­po­sed of stre­ets and squa­res (on a model brin­ging to mind to this wri­ter the figu­re grounds of Camil­lo Sit­te). Pro­fes­sor Boden­schatz show­ed too that the urban struc­tu­re of Ber­lin by the mid 19th cen­tu­ry was alre­ady diver­se, with typo­lo­gi­cal dis­tinc­tions bet­ween poor and rich are­as and more spa­cious neigh­bour­hoods com­po­sed of vil­las coun­ter-poin­ting tenement hou­sing and indus­tri­al ‘zones’.

The ‘tran­sit ori­en­ted deve­lop­ments’ of the 1890s were a par­ti­cu­lar plea­su­re to obser­ve as were the famous Taut and Wag­ner desi­gned hou­sing esta­tes of the 1920s. We con­s­i­de­red the archi­tec­tu­re of Hil­ber­sei­mer, in the con­text of the Bau­haus group, with each inter­ven­ti­on try­ing to out­do the other in over­co­m­ing the now dis­pa­ra­ged heri­ta­ge of tenement typo­lo­gies that had pre­vious­ly domi­na­ted urban hou­sing are­as across the city. Over and under­ground rail­way infra­st­ruc­tu­re was seen to play a cri­ti­cal part in struc­tu­ring Berlin’s ‘metro­land’ in the 19th and ear­ly part of the 20th cen­tu­ries, just as exclu­sio­na­ry zon­ing domi­na­ted the urban arma­tu­re post war and today major infra­st­ruc­tu­re inter­ven­ti­ons again have a pro­found impact on sha­ping the city.

One of Pro­fes­sor Bodenschatz’s most inte­res­ting points — and one later echoed by other speakers — was the remar­kab­le simi­la­ri­ty bet­ween the urban deve­lop­ment tra­jec­to­ries of east and west. Despi­te being the glo­bal capi­tal and sym­bol of the cold war, both sides of divi­ded Ber­lin were caught in the grip of the same tech­no­lo­gi­cal­ly dri­ven ideo­lo­gy of moder­nism in city plan­ning and archi­tec­tu­re. Post 1970 the same pro­cess of mor­pho­lo­gi­cal­ly infor­med rene­wal and rein­ser­ti­on of urban fabric chal­len­ged the ear­lier tabu­la rasa stra­te­gy of who­le­sa­le demo­li­ti­on and rede­ve­lop­ment. We heard how re-uni­fi­ca­ti­on was reflec­ted in the phy­si­cal deve­lop­ment of the city — in a pro­cess descri­bed as eupho­ria, fol­lo­wed by sobe­r­ing up and final­ly para­ly­sis.

Pro­fes­sor Boden­schatz cited Spa­nish Squa­re in the mas­si­ve resi­den­ti­al area of Hel­lers­dorf, Rob Kri­er and Chris­toph Kohl’s work on Potsdam’s new town, and the recon­struc­ted urban grid of the Plan­werk Inmen­stadt as nota­ble efforts in rege­ne­ra­ti­on broad­ly fol­lo­wing the path of cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion today.

Par­ti­ci­pants next con­s­i­de­red in review the the­me: ‘Good­bye to Moder­nist Urban Deve­lop­ment in Divi­ded Ber­lin’. We loo­ked at Ber­lin in many ways:

• as a repo­si­to­ry of collec­tive memo­ry
• as a pionee­ring, cul­tu­ral city
• as a site for spa­ti­al chan­ge reflec­ting eco­no­mic trans­for­ma­ti­on and rest­ruc­tu­ring
• as a seat of poli­ti­cal power
• as a shrin­king city see­king to grow again
• as deba­ting the merits of place wars or beco­m­ing a net­work city.

Erhart Pfo­ten­hau­er sug­gested that exclu­sio­na­ry spa­tia­li­ty was dead but that this was sim­ply the star­ting signal for a new moder­ni­ty in which reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on repla­ced demo­li­ti­on as the mode of rede­ve­lop­ment. The sto­ry of Berlin’s inner sub­urb, Kreuz­berg, show­ed it beco­m­ing ‘an open air muse­um of reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on models’ and thus a para­digm of this approach. It was sug­gested that a new grammar of the city was ther­e­by crea­ted in which princi­ples covering issu­es as diver­se as urban design, finan­cing, gover­nan­ce, and soci­al inclu­si­on were all inte­gra­ted wit­hin a series of indi­vi­du­al rege­ne­ra­ti­on pro­jects.

In this and later ses­si­ons in Day One, rege­ne­ra­ti­on was a key the­me: in the cent­re, in the sub­urbs, on the urban edge, and wit­hin the regi­on. After­noon Ses­si­on Chair, Pro­fes­sor Hil­de­brand Mach­leidt noted that fair­ly radi­cal post war visi­ons wit­hin a Cor­bu­si­an para­digm had led to an urban expan­si­on of Ber­lin cha­rac­te­ri­sed by mas­si­ve dor­mi­to­ry sub­urbs, spa­ghet­ti junc­tions, super grids and the loss of agri­cul­tu­ral land. Howe­ver, fol­lo­wing an initi­al exo­dus to the sub­urbs the­re was a more recent revi­val of the idea of the city as a place to live and again cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion was view­ed as a key shift under­pin­ning this chan­ge of heart.

The litt­le known (else­whe­re) histo­ry of urban deve­lop­ment of the 1980s East Ber­lin was explo­red by Coun­cil­lor Doro­thee Dubrau and others, and we learnt about the activism that cha­rac­te­ri­sed tho­se who stood out against the mas­si­ve urban deve­lop­ment ‘moder­ni­sa­ti­on’ pro­cess rol­led out under a plan­ned eco­no­my. Cou­ra­ge­ous attempts to esta­blish urban design gui­de­li­nes were descri­bed, both to revi­ta­li­se the inner city and over­co­me the mono­to­ny of mas­si­ve edge city hou­sing esta­tes. As Heinz Tib­be noted, the­se oppor­tu­nities also posed chal­len­ges as rene­wal tur­ned away from lar­ge hou­sing esta­te con­struc­tion as a method, with the pri­va­ti­sa­ti­on of soci­al hou­sing for pri­va­te inves­tors and the over pro­vi­si­on of office space as unwel­co­me con­se­quen­ces.

With Ber­lin beco­m­ing the new capi­tal, as Flo­ri­an Maus­bach exp­lai­ned, key public buil­dings have crea­ted both a new urban arma­tu­re and a new cent­re of gra­vi­ty to the east. Dis­cus­sing ‘The New Ber­lin: City Deve­lop­ment sin­ce the Wall: Results and Con­clu­si­ons’ we heard about a series of major infra­st­ruc­tu­re initia­ti­ves at the cent­re and in the inner ring in which the public realm has been taken serious­ly at the big sca­le as in Pots­da­mer Platz and ‘urban repair work’ at the small sca­le as at Hacker­scher Markt whe­re a ‘gas­tro­no­mic quar­ter’ had been revi­ta­li­sed in ways that sui­ted resi­dents, busi­ness and visi­tors.

In a ses­si­on in which dis­cus­sion of archi­tec­tu­re rather than urba­nism was domi­nant, it was noted that the 1990s saw a con­text of tre­men­dous pres­su­re to hand out buil­ding per­mits alt­hough the­re was still a focus on cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion. Chris­toph Satt­ler poin­ted out that the com­pact city was still an expli­cit aim, with the term ‘Euro­pean city’ based on exis­ting ground plans begin­ning to be used pro­gram­ma­ti­cal­ly as the basis for new deve­lop­ment, rather than ‘hys­te­ri­cal high-rise inten­si­fi­ca­ti­on’. For­mal gui­d­ance was pro­vi­ded but with free­dom wit­hin that for dif­fe­rent archi­tec­tu­ral signa­tures. In fact, some speakers argued that it was only the dia­lo­gue the buil­ding has with the street that mat­te­red, not its height. Dr Mat­thew Har­dy remin­ded par­ti­ci­pants that the Con­gress the­me was a review of the moder­nist pro­ject using cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion as both cri­tique and alter­na­ti­ve approach. Dr Har­dy spik­ed the noti­on pro­po­sed by ano­t­her speaker in this ses­si­on that new deve­lop­ment in Ber­lin nee­ded to be ‘of its time’ archi­tec­tu­ral­ly, arguing that this was short­hand for defi­ning moder­nist style as the only appro­pria­te archi­tec­tu­ral respon­se.

Day One also dealt with urban issu­es in outer Ber­lin, on the peri­phe­ries and in the wider regi­on. Chief among the­se was the rede­ve­lop­ment of the ‘sla­b­urbs’, lef­tover public hou­sing on a mam­moth sca­le that was still being built well into the 1970s and now requi­red who­le­sa­le rege­ne­ra­ti­on into more huma­ne urban fabric. With vacan­cy rates over 20%, and well over a mil­li­on hou­sing units stan­ding empty, this is no small pro­blem. Dr Hei­ke Lieb­mann exp­lai­ned how some East Ger­man pre­fa­bri­ca­ted hou­sing esta­tes were being recon­fi­gu­red both spa­ti­al­ly and in terms of hou­sing typo­lo­gies, to les­sen the blocks’ mas­si­ve bulk and res­hape them into lower rise (six storey), more diver­se forms that re-used buil­ding mate­ri­als and con­tri­bu­t­ed to rede­ve­lo­ped street pat­terns. A fasci­na­ting aspect of this pro­cess was the way that resi­dents them­sel­ves had moved into and desi­gned apart­ment ‘shells’ to suit their own needs rather than being pas­si­ve reci­pi­ents of preor­dai­ned hou­sing types.

Chris­toph Kohl descri­bed the crea­ti­on of a new town in Pots­dam on which he worked with Rob Kri­er. Pots­dam New Town is based on sound urba­nist princi­ples to crea­te a place with its own genus loci. Key to the approach was the brea­king up of lar­ge sites into smal­ler plots to allow a fine grain of archi­tec­tu­ral respon­ses from a ran­ge of prac­titio­ners wit­hin a strict urban mas­ter plan frame­work. As Chris­toph Kohl said, making a new sub­urb that felt fami­li­ar was ‘not a ques­ti­on of abi­li­ty, more of metho­do­lo­gy’.

Pro­fes­sor Undi­ne Gise­ke show­ed how a new type of regio­nal park in Ber­lin-Bran­den­burg was being crea­ted using princi­ples of land­s­cape eco­lo­gy and public access; and com­bi­ning tra­di­tio­nal green­space uses with more pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tu­ral and ‘ever­y­day’ land­s­capes on the urban edges of the Ber­lin conur­ba­ti­on.

From a very full round­ta­ble dis­cus­sion that clo­sed Day One, the com­ments made by John Nor­quist stood out as memo­r­able. John Nor­quist, ex Mayor of Mil­wau­kee, and now pre­si­dent and CEO of the CNU, argued that for Ber­lin to get invol­ved in place wars with other Ger­man and Euro­pean cities was dan­ge­rous and sil­ly. Ins­te­ad, he said, Ber­lin should con­cen­tra­te on making life bet­ter for its citi­zens and net­work with other towns. He argued that design is a good use of a Mayor’s time. “In a demo­cra­cy it’s bet­ter to crea­te beau­ty with the peop­le”.

The­mes from Day One ‘Ber­lin: An Expe­ri­ment in Euro­pean Urban Deve­lop­ment’ — in Sum­ma­ry

A num­ber of the­mes see­med to emer­ge from the detail­ed dis­cus­sions in Day One and some are cap­tu­red below:

Ber­lin pro­vi­des a mas­ter class or urban approa­ches over time and at many sca­les from the buil­ding to the regi­on. A 20th cen­tu­ry histo­ry of lar­ge sca­le moder­nist inter­ven­ti­ons was right­ly chal­len­ged by cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion. In fact, the city has been a labo­ra­to­ry for soci­al move­ments from below as well as trans­for­ma­ti­on from above.

Ber­lin can be unders­tood in many ways:

• as a repo­si­to­ry of collec­tive memo­ry,
• as a site for pro­found struc­tu­ral eco­no­mic chan­ge,
• as a seat of poli­ti­cal and cul­tu­ral power, and
• as a shrin­king city eco­no­mi­c­al­ly chal­len­ged and in deba­te about its future.

East and West Ber­lin have fol­lo­wed sur­pri­sin­gly simi­lar tra­jec­to­ries of moder­nism and tech­no­cra­tic inter­ven­ti­ons. Its re-uni­fi­ca­ti­on mean­while has crea­ted a new set of con­di­ti­ons (“eupho­ria — sobe­r­ing up — para­ly­sis”) and moved the cent­re of gra­vi­ty east­wards.

Rege­ne­ra­ti­on is a key the­me for Ber­lin at the cent­re, in the urban core, in the sub­urbs, on the peri­phe­ries and in the regi­on. Archi­tec­tu­re is being used to place brand the city.

Pro­s­pects for the future are on balan­ce good. Despi­te a ran­ge of shorter term — espe­ci­al­ly eco­no­mic — issu­es and pro­blems, the­re is cau­tious opti­mism about the medi­um to lon­ger term. Ber­lin seems to con­cen­tra­ting on impro­ving livea­bi­li­ty for its citi­zens rather than embar­king on ‘place wars’ with other cities and this is a good stra­te­gy for its via­bi­li­ty in future.

Day Two: Learning from the rest of Euro­pe and the world

Day Two ‘New Per­spec­tives in City Deve­lop­ment: Euro­pe and Bey­ond’ began with an ope­ning state­ment from Dr Man­fred Stol­pe, Federal Minis­ter of Trans­port, Buil­ding and Hou­sing, who set the sce­ne for the very broad ran­ging dis­cus­sion to come. Dr Stol­pe intro­du­ced the Congress’s spe­cial key­note speaker, the UK’s Depu­ty Prime Minis­ter, the Right Honoura­ble Mr John Pres­cott, who­se lea­dership role in the UK covers a ran­ge of urban are­as in an inte­gra­ted way. John Pres­cott said par­ti­ci­pants had heard how Ber­lin, which was cut in two by fear and ideo­lo­gy for 45 years, had beco­me the focus of a remar­kab­le pro­gram­me of rege­ne­ra­ti­on and rene­wal. He sug­gested that Ber­lin show­ed how superb new archi­tec­tu­re can lift con­fi­dence in our cities and give peop­le a real sen­se of pri­de in whe­re they live.

John Pres­cott expres­sed soli­da­ri­ty and com­pas­si­on with Ame­ri­ca after the havoc of Hur­ri­ca­ne Kat­ri­na. He noted that as Euro­pean nego­tia­tor at the Kyo­to cli­ma­te chan­ge con­ven­ti­on, he was ful­ly awa­re that cli­ma­te chan­ge is chan­ging wea­ther pat­terns and rai­sing sea levels. He went on to say that the hor­ri­fic flood of New Orleans brings home to us the con­cern of lea­ders of coun­tries like the Mal­di­ves, who­se nati­ons are at risk of disap­pearing com­ple­te­ly. He said he belie­ved US Government resis­tan­ce to Kyo­to was wrong but on a recent visit to the US was delight­ed to see that city mayors are taking their own envi­ron­men­tal initia­ti­ve on Kyo­to.

In a wide ran­ging talk John Pres­cott poin­ted out some of the stark sta­tis­tics about cities, arguing that mass urba­ni­sa­ti­on is one of the grea­test chal­len­ges facing the world today. In Euro­pe, he said, we have crea­ted superb towns and cities, and not just for the last 30 years. Despi­te slums and pover­ty, Euro­pean cities offe­red safe­ty and secu­ri­ty to peop­le and gave rise to an asto­nis­hing expres­si­on of human crea­ti­vi­ty through magni­ficent art, cul­tu­re and archi­tec­tu­re. Then in the 20th cen­tu­ry we somehow lost our way: mil­li­ons of peop­le gave up living in cities. “They got in cars and left for the sub­urbs”.

John Pres­cott invo­ked Jane Jacobs’ sur­vey of the dis­astrous results of 20th cen­tu­ry plan­ning and urged us to redis­co­ver the art of making pla­ces whe­re peop­le can mix and meet. Jane Jacobs, said John Pres­cott, defi­ned what he calls sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities, whe­re soci­al, eco­no­mic and envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns are balan­ced, mee­ting the needs of exis­ting and future gene­ra­ti­ons and respec­ting the needs of others. This was not just about making buil­dings and public spaces look good. They have to feel safe and secu­re as well. Sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities must have good local eco­no­mies and trans­port ser­vices — pro­vi­ding jobs, schools, health and other ser­vice that are acces­si­ble to all. In 2003 John Pres­cott published the Sustain­ab­le Com­mu­nities Plan and he spo­ke of some of the spe­ci­fic initia­ti­ves to esta­blish sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities in the UK in exis­ting decli­ning urban are­as, in pla­ces suf­fe­ring low demand, on brown­fiel­ds sites and in major urban growth are­as like the Tha­mes Gate­way east of Lon­don.

To achie­ve sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities, John Pres­cott gave sup­port to impro­ve­ments in gover­nan­ce, to plan­ning sys­tems, to the use of design coding, and to end silo thin­king in government and admi­nis­tra­ti­on that was bad for cities. He congra­tu­la­ted the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism for orga­ni­sing such a major event at an important time in the deba­te on the future of cities in Euro­pe and across the world.

Audun Engh, from the CEU secre­ta­ri­at, then descri­bed the ways in which the CEU is taking for­ward a pro­gram­me of reform for urba­nism across Euro­pe. He sug­gested that the char­ret­te pro­cess (some­ti­mes know as enqui­ry by design) was key to impro­ving city deve­lop­ment pro­ces­ses in a com­mu­ni­ty based and respon­si­ve way. Char­ret­tes he said could be neu­tral on archi­tec­tu­ral style but nee­ded to be based on con­tex­tu­al urban design princi­ples as set out in the CEU Char­ter as a method for soci­al inte­gra­ti­on. Codes and gui­de­li­nes could be employ­ed to help mana­ge urban chan­ge in a pre­dic­ta­ble way. Audun Engh also spo­ke about the CEU’s sup­port for INTBAU’s pro­po­sed new Euro­pean School of Urba­nism and Archi­tec­tu­re which would take for­ward the visi­on set out in CEU’s 2004 Viseu Decla­ra­ti­on on Edu­ca­ti­on.

Fol­lo­wing Pierre Lacon­te on ‘Brussels: The Impos­si­ble Capi­tal of Euro­pe’, the rest of the morning on Day Two cove­r­ed a wide ran­ge of examp­les of pro­jects in two par­al­lel ses­si­ons, from a diver­si­ty of Euro­pean towns and cities. (I atten­ded the ses­si­on on per­spec­tives from Swe­den and the Nether­lands and would be hap­py to hear from anyo­ne who went to the Bel­la Ita­lia ses­si­on to fill in details for this report). I can say that the ‘Bel­la Ita­lia’ ses­si­on was devo­ted to recent urba­nism in Ita­ly inclu­ding ‘Recent Deve­lop­ments in Tra­di­tio­nal Urba­nism in Ita­ly’ from Pro­fes­sor Lui­gi Mol­lo; ‘A Suc­cess­ful Sto­ry: The Recon­struc­tion of the His­to­ri­cal Cent­re of Paler­mo from Pro­fes­sor Gio­van­ni Fat­ta; and ‘Urban Archi­tec­tu­re in Ita­ly: An Ali­ve Tra­di­ti­on’ from Pro­fes­sor Enri­co Das­so­ri.

Peter Elm­lund explo­red ‘Per­spec­tives in Swe­den: Bet­ween the Bal­tic Cor­ri­dor and Pre-Fab Con­ver­si­on’ while Mie­ke Bos­se and Peter Drij­ver con­s­i­de­red ‘Rand­stad’ and New Towns: Un-Modern Stra­te­gies for the Nether­lands’. As Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se noted, the Dutch Rand­stad, the Ruhr­ge­beit and con­nec­ted urban are­as in North West Euro­pe func­tion as “one big over­hea­ted city”. It is one in which super-moder­nist archi­tects are prac­tising and dor­mi­to­ry sub­urbs are still being built, but the­re are also others doing good work that is lar­ge­ly igno­red by the archi­tec­tu­re schools and glos­sy maga­zi­nes. Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se show­ed a ran­ge of the­se pro­jects and refer­red to a ‘flip-over book’, gui­ding a kind of urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal approach that deals with the stra­ti­fi­ca­ti­on or urban typo­lo­gies over time and gives prac­titio­ners con­tex­tu­al clues for their archi­tec­tu­ral lan­guage. Work shown inclu­ded tra­di­tio­nal stre­ets as well as intri­guing ‘cast­le’, vil­la­ge and big box wrap­ping typo­lo­gies. As Peter Drij­ver and Mie­ke Bos­se put it, the aim is to crea­te archi­tec­tu­re that is more invi­si­ble as an object.

In the after­noon of Day Two, under the direc­tion of Pro­fes­sor Wolf­gang Christ, we moved fur­t­her afield into eas­tern Euro­pe, with Tomasz Gamd­zyk and his col­league describing ‘The New War­saw: City Deve­lop­ment Per­spec­tives in Poland’. Again the twin tracks of moder­nism in Eas­tern and Wes­tern Euro­pe were well demons­tra­ted in rela­ti­on to a ran­ge of moder­ni­sa­ti­on pro­jects. Again the­re was a simi­lar cri­tique begin­ning to emer­ge to chal­len­ge the­se approa­ches from the late 197os onwards.

John Nor­quist, CEO of the CNU then most enter­tai­nin­gly and insight­ful­ly com­pa­red the 20th cen­tu­ry tra­jec­to­ries of Ber­lin and cities in Midd­le Ame­ri­ca, demons­tra­ting the dest­ruc­tive power of moder­nist ideo­lo­gy in both pla­ces. He traced the thin­king behind among other things mas­si­ve free­way buil­ding and who­le­sa­le urban neigh­bour­hood demo­li­ti­ons in both Ber­lin and Detroit to their pre-war intel­lec­tu­al ante­ce­dents and show­ed their dis­astrous effects on post war cities on each con­ti­nent.

The issu­es said John Nor­quist were the same in both pla­ces: sprawl. As he exp­lai­ned, when CNU for­med urba­nism was stig­ma­tised. Yet urba­nism is sophisti­ca­ted and com­plex. It crea­tes cul­tu­re whe­re­as sprawl is stu­pid. What else can you call a spa­ti­al arran­ge­ment that sites office buil­dings so that they have no pede­stri­an access and so makes it ille­gal to walk to lunch, or sites par­king so that cars have prime river­front views to enjoy all day?

John Nor­quist sug­gested that the Cor­bu­si­an deri­ved ide­al of towers in a green park is still seduc­tive even though it has now been con­clu­si­ve­ly shown that, for ins­tan­ce, big box, inte­ri­or facing malls don’t work. While big box deve­lop­ments are still popu­lar in the US they are now more like big depart­ment stores of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, again loca­ted in main stre­ets wit­hin pro­per urban fabric.

John Nor­quist also tal­ked about the spa­ghet­ti of major roads and free­way sys­tems that dama­ge many Ame­ri­can cities and spo­ke of his expe­ri­ence as Mayor of Mil­wau­kee in remo­ving a free­way and over­co­m­ing blight. In a con­text whe­re “balan­ced trans­port poli­cy means half asphalt and half con­cre­te” this was a major para­digm shift. Ins­te­ad of see­ing trans­port flows as den­dri­tic, the street grid should be approa­ched as a kind of urban wet­land soaking up capa­ci­ty in a more sustain­ab­le way. The sli­des of Detroit’s decli­ne, from a proud down town to a devas­ta­ted urban core, were a tes­ta­ment to the ter­ri­ble urban mista­kes of the post war years.

Geor­ge Fer­gu­son, of the Roy­al Insti­tu­te of Bri­tish Archi­tects, was equal­ly pas­sio­na­te about the need for urba­nism as a basis for good city form, in addres­sing ‘Urban Renais­sance in Eng­land’. He poin­ted out that what has beco­me New Urba­nism is actual­ly old urba­nism as prac­tised in Euro­pe for mill­en­nia. The city he said is a work of art alt­hough he ques­tio­ned the noti­on of the ‘wow fac­tor’ in making good pla­ces. He worried too about how to avo­id making pla­ces into urban deserts for secu­ri­ty rea­sons and the march of the chain stores making pla­ces all feel the same. Geor­ge Fer­gu­son used his home town of Bris­tol of an examp­le of suc­cess­ful urban renais­sance and clo­sed with some infor­ma­ti­on about the UK’s new Aca­de­my of Urba­nism, an initia­ti­ve of the RIBA, who­se 100 mem­bers aim to pro­vi­de lea­dership in order to pro­mo­te urba­nism in the UK’s cities in future.

Irit Sol­zi and Yodan Rofe then dis­cus­sed ‘Bey­ond Tel Aviv: Lega­cy and Chal­len­ges’, sho­wing that city’s won­der­ful Bau­haus archi­tec­tu­ral heri­ta­ge and the pro­blems of urban growth that it now faces. They demons­tra­ted that the flight to the sub­urbs is not just an Ame­ri­can issue but one facing coun­tries like Isra­el too. They noted the twin pro­blems of the ina­de­qua­te qua­li­ty of the hou­sing stock in tra­di­tio­nal cen­tres and towns and the out­da­ted plan­ning prac­tices that under­cut urba­nism. Isra­el, they repor­ted, had some way to go to catch up in app­ly­ing urba­nist princi­ples to its urban deve­lop­ment. Par­ti­ci­pants were for­mal­ly invi­ted to the Inau­gu­ral Con­gress of the Move­ment for Israe­li Urba­nism to be held in Beer-She­va on Decem­ber 12, 2005 fol­lo­wed on Decem­ber 13 by an urban design cha­ret­te with mem­bers from the com­mu­ni­ty, the muni­ci­pa­li­ty and the uni­ver­si­ty.

Next in this ses­si­on Pro­fes­sors José Bag­an­ha and Javier Ceni­cace­la­ya dis­cus­sed ‘Bil­bao and Lis­bon: The Ibe­ri­an Pen­in­su­la Set­ting the Mark’. They spo­ke of Spain and Portugal’s inheri­tan­ce of com­pact cities which show­ed the need for, and respec­ted, urba­ni­ty. Javier Ceni­cace­la­ya used the meta­phor of the school report card for ‘con­duct’. He dis­cus­sed how we might judge the civi­li­ty of pla­ces in the same way that he was jud­ged in terms of civi­li­ty as a school child. He decried the deve­lop­ment of the city as a ‘caco­pho­ny of objects’ and show­ed a num­ber of poor uncon­tex­tu­al examp­les that were inten­tio­nal­ly dis­rup­ti­ve of urban form. Jose Bag­an­ha fea­red the rash of golf cour­se cent­red ghet­toes for rich peop­le now emer­ging in Por­tu­gal and the increa­sing segre­ga­ti­on of soci­al (public) hou­sing. He asked whe­ther we were expe­ri­en­cing the ‘wow fac­tor’ or a ‘wow fac­tor pla­gue’ of archi­tec­tu­ral objects. As José Bag­an­ha said, we need con­vi­via­li­ty, and his beau­ti­ful water­co­lour wash line drawings see­med to distil the essence of this qua­li­ty.

Ray Gin­droz of the CNU Board also pro­vi­ded some distil­led essence, with very per­ti­nent les­sons from the expe­ri­ence of New Urba­nists in the United Sta­tes in brin­ging more urba­nist princi­ples to bear on the deve­lop­ment pro­cess. Among other things he noted the need to tack­le the issue of archi­tec­tu­ral style head on rather than deny­ing it was cen­tral to the urba­nist deba­te.

The day’s last ses­si­on was a podi­um dis­cus­sion on ‘Per­spec­tives for CEU’ led by Dr Mat­thew Har­dy and invol­ving Robert Adam, Peter Drij­ver, Dr Her­man Scheer, Micha­el Sto­jan and Pro­fes­sor Gabri­el­le Taglia­ven­ti. As Dr Har­dy noted in his intro­duc­tion to the dis­cus­sion, the CEU must deal with a series of chal­len­ges to the city espe­ci­al­ly in the area of envi­ron­men­tal sustai­na­bi­li­ty, inclu­ding decli­ning sup­plies of oil, not enough water or too much water. Just as the Con­gress had loo­ked back 30 years to see what could be lear­ned from the review of moder­nism in the 1970s, he asked the panel to look 30 years into the future and con­si­der what CEU should be doing to meet the­se and other urban chal­len­ges.

Nota­ble in this ses­si­on was Robert Adam’s point that one thing we do know is that we can­not be sure about what will hap­pen. In this lies an essen­ti­al para­dox. The fur­t­her for­ward we look the less cer­tain we can be. Past pre­dic­tions about ener­gy use such as tho­se made in the ener­gy cri­ses of the 1970s had not come to pass, so we should be very care­ful about being too pre­scrip­ti­ve about the future.

Among a num­ber of per­ti­nent points made, speakers agreed that CEU was well pla­ced to work with other part­ners in government and among urban sta­ke­hol­ders to pur­sue its Char­ter aims. Euro­pean cities had a long term urba­nist frame­work and tra­di­ti­ons, and the­re was gro­wing reco­gni­ti­on of the need to revi­ve tho­se tra­di­ti­ons and prac­tices of urban place making, which as the Con­gress demons­tra­ted, pro­vi­ded a valu­able basis for the future.

Pro­fes­sor Harald Keg­ler, Chair of CEU Ger­ma­ny, and Susan Par­ham, Chair of CEU Euro­pe, made very brief clo­sing state­ments and intro­du­ced the draft Decla­ra­ti­on of Ber­lin, the final form of which will be posted on the CEU and CEU Ger­ma­ny web­sites short­ly.

The­mes from New Per­spec­tives in City Deve­lop­ment: Euro­pe and Bey­ond — in Sum­ma­ry

The­re were a num­ber of messa­ges from the ses­si­ons in Day Two that seem worth sum­ma­ri­sing:

Cities mat­ter. Pro­found demo­gra­phic chan­ge will mean an urban future for many of the world’s popu­la­ti­on, making urba­nism increa­singly important. With this urban growth comes a ran­ge of sustai­na­bi­li­ty chal­len­ges that we have not yet come to grips with.

Wit­hin an over­all con­text of urban expan­si­on, cities are expe­ri­en­cing growth and decli­ne, with shrin­king and gro­wing both causing pro­blems and oppor­tu­nities for urba­nism.

Euro­pean cities are labou­ring under an inheri­tan­ce of moder­nist ideo­lo­gy. Sprawl is stu­pid. Detroit is a para­digm from the new world of what can go wrong. Urba­nism by con­trast is sophisti­ca­ted. It crea­tes cul­tu­re and qua­li­ty of life. And the­re are plenty of examp­les from the sca­le of the indi­vi­du­al buil­ding to the city regi­on that demons­tra­te that.

Urba­nism is hot. Urban mor­pho­lo­gi­cal approa­ches like cri­ti­cal recon­struc­tion are valu­able. Urban princi­ples need to be arti­cu­la­ted and fol­lo­wed to crea­te or retrie­ve fine grai­ned, human sca­led pla­ces, but a high urban den­si­ty alo­ne is not suf­fi­ci­ent for good place making.

Ber­lin and the other cities we stu­di­ed during the Con­gress demons­tra­te how action is nee­ded in all kinds of urban con­di­ti­ons from resha­ping public hou­sing through revi­ving public space to buil­ding new mixed use, sustain­ab­le com­mu­nities.

In so doing we should avo­id con­fu­si­on bet­ween moder­ni­ty and moder­nism as a style. The­re is lots of good work being done quiet­ly that doesn’t fea­ture in the archi­tec­tu­ral maga­zi­nes as it intends to be more or less invi­si­ble but makes a pro­found­ly posi­ti­ve con­tri­bu­ti­on to the urban fabric.

Pro­cess mat­ters. We must end silo thin­king and inte­gra­te across sec­tors and disci­pli­nes. We have a ran­ge of tech­ni­ques to call on for place making inclu­ding char­ret­tes and design coding. We also have a ran­ge of instru­ments to use inclu­ding new finan­cing, regu­la­to­ry and gover­nan­ce models and sys­tems. We should look cri­ti­cal­ly at the rules that affect urban space.

Our pro­s­pects look good. We can learn from the Ame­ri­can expe­ri­ence of the Con­gress for New Urba­nism to esta­blish alli­an­ces and ener­gi­se the urban deve­lop­ment pro­cess. Governments do see a key role for orga­ni­sa­ti­ons like the CEU and we must make use of this soci­al and poli­ti­cal capi­tal to pur­sue our Char­ter aims.

Edu­ca­ti­on mat­ters. We have to bet­ter teach our­sel­ves in order to more effec­tively sha­re our Char­ter messa­ge. CEU should con­ti­nue to work with part­ners like INTBAU, and like min­ded orga­ni­sa­ti­ons like the Aca­de­my for Urba­nism and the Sustain­ab­le Com­mu­nities Pro­gram­me to bring urba­nism into the main­stream of Euro­pean place making.

Final­ly, par­ti­ci­pants from many disci­pli­nes, tra­di­ti­ons and pla­ces sha­re a lot of com­mon ground and a high level of ener­gy to pur­sue more huma­ne urba­nism across Euro­pe in future. We need to build on that for the good of all.

Susan Par­ham 24th Sep­tem­ber 2005

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