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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