[Re]Thinking Cities

2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic!
new publication of The Journal of Public Space

The Journal of Public Space published ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’. This monumental publication of 280 pages witnesses the year we all lived on social distance dictated by COVID-19 health emergency, a measurement severely affected everyone’s access to public space and with it creating a range of impacts on different levels. Delft University of Technology, as a worldwide recognised leader in the field of urban design and public space, united with more than twenty universities globally to question; how can we face this unprecedented emergency and get prepared to its consequences, with specific regard to health disparity? Will public space restrictions stay in place after the recovery period? Should we just aim to return to a pre-COVID status quo, or for a ‘better normal’? And more generally, what will be the future of public space?

Maurice Harteveld, part of the scientific board, remembers how the situation induced by the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020 immediately brought together the global community of experts on the Design of Public Space; “I remember how the alarm bells didn’t stop anymore in the third week of April. Health situation worsened progressively in China, and a new decree imposing quarantine became in act in Northern Italy. Public space was abandoned there. Without doubt, we started to share local insights and form a global perspective on the issues arising from the pandemic for public space the current situation of public space.” Together with UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, this became an opportunity to collaborate to re-think how cities should be.

As the pandemic was moving across different continents and urban conditions, through shared online initiative public space experts across the world exchanged experiences of care, solidarity, entrepreneurship, academic perspectives, artistic interpretations, and creative practices of human resilience, engaging more than 100 speakers during 20 webinars from May to September 2020, and more than 2,700 registered attendees from over 80 countries, including representatives from UNHabitat. Global impact of the online initiative ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’ has been even broader by counting more than 72,000 page views in that same period. This publication encapsulates key learnings globally from the early stage of the pandemic, which stand relevant to this day when we face squarely the same issues as we step into gradually and navigate the post-COVID era.

Download full issue here

Conversations in the Anthropocene

Introducing the Anthropocene
Colin Waters is Secretary of the Anthropocene Working Group of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, the body investigating the Anthropocene as a potential geological time unit. His working group is putting forward a proposal towards the recognition of the proposed new epoch. They started in 2009 and up until last year, they were pulling together all information that was available. “For example the biological changes that have happened are irreversible. Once species are transferred across the planet, you can’t put them in a box and put them back in their indigenous state”, he has explained while being our guest in Delft: “Even things like carbon dioxide, this will last as a signal for thousands of years. Even if we are reducing our carbon emission immediately, we are still looking at emissions which are going to be elevated above natural levels for thousands of years. At the present, there is no indication that we are changing that trend.” The human impact may be like a meteorite impact. At the end of the Cretaceous Period when the dinosaurs became extinct, a spike of iridium (an extra-terrestrial element) changed the conditions on Earth. “You still find a layer of a few millimeters thick which is high in iridium, and we can use that as the basis of the start of the new Paleogene Period following the Cretaceous.” It has been “a state change, a game-changer, to a state which now is very different from what it was before and is not recreatable to a large extent either.” What is our share, as designers?

Architecture is perhaps one that we have not mined sufficiently in the past that can provide information that is new to us and help build the story that we are developing. – Colin Waters

Continue reading

A New Era is Upon Us

…So say geologists who have recently heralded the Anthropocene as the world’s youngest epoch, shaped extensively by human intervention: Erosion and sediment transport through mining and agriculture, changes in the composition of the atmosphere through global warming, and an alteration in the biosphere are among the most pressing effects of humanity on the planet (International Commission on Stratigraphy). At the same time, the growing societal volatility of recent years – the spread of terrorism, the ongoing refugee crisis, the shift towards populism – make it increasingly difficult to forecast the effects of our actions on the planet. This might indicate that our climatic dilemmas are matched by social conflicts. Will this new era herald our end? Or are we at the dawn of a new epoch that will see us better succeed in sustainably managing the planet?

We must consequently ask ourselves what, if anything, we can do as designers to face the challenge of planning in increasingly unpredictable times: How can we imagine the future of a place like Syria, that has just witnessed an exodus of unprecedented scales? How can we still imagine a world in balance with its surroundings, when the ideals of sustainable development are not embraced by the global population? These are the kind of questions we would like to discuss with a wide range of thinkers in this year’s Urban and Landscape Week.

Towards the Edge of the Anthropocene
incl. a symposium with lectures, and discussions as well as a short competition.

Programme:
16 October 2017
Keynote Lecture: Christophe Girot
Afternoon Lectures: Jan Willem Petersen, and Godofredo Pereira
Panel Discussion moderated by Maurice Harteveld

17 October 2017
Keynote Lecture: Colin Waters
Afternoon Lectures: Sabine Mueller, and Jan Jongert
Panel Discussion moderated by Maurice Harteveld

18 October 2017
Competition

19 October 2017
Keynote Lecture: Claudia Pasquero
Closing Event

Where:
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Berlage Rooms and Oostserre
Delft University of Technology

Tickets:
at Polis ticket service

Towards the Edge of The Anthropocene

A new era is upon us. For centuries mankind has sought to gain control over the world we live in. Now we are moving towards the end of a world defined by nature and the dawn of an age dominated by the human condition. The Anthropocene is coming and it is our turn to choose sides. More technology or more democracy? Social justice or environmental accountability? Further or no further?


Towards the Edge of The Anthropocene: [no]Further. Trailer, published by ‘Urban Landscape’ on YouTube

Coming soon! 16-19 October 2017