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Minimum.... or Maximum Cities?

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  • UserAnna Minton (Author, Ground Control); Spencer de Grey (Foster + Partners); Marcial Echenique (Professor of Land Use and Transport Studies, University of Cambridge); Peter Guthrie (Professor of Enginee
  • ClockThursday 26 November 2009, 09:00-17:00
  • HouseDepartment of Architecture, University of Cambridge.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ye ZHANG.

What is the future for cities? Are they expanding at an ever-increasing rate or are they being abandoned and shrinking into oblivion? Are cities polluted, overcrowded and anonymous, or are they dynamic centres of innovation and culture? Are they sociable or anti-social? Well, it depends who you read because each description reflects the confusion about the state of the world’s cities. Anxieties over urban space within western cities, and fears over the dynamic growth of megacities in the developing world have altered the way that we see the benefits and drawbacks of urbanisation. It has been said that a culture of shrinkage is set to develop; or alternatively, that the city will have finally swallowed the world.

So one year on from the economic crash, how should we seek to reinvigorate our urban centres? Some welcome the current mood of caution as appropriate for hazardous times. Others argue a lack of belief in the benefits of an urbanised future is a cause for concern. So should the priority be to dampen expectations and settle for minimising potential problems? Or should we be more ambitious and experiment with new ideas and technologies that could maximise future gains? Are our creative talents best employed in seeking a ‘minimum’ city as a means to retrench, rethink and rebuild? Or is a ‘maximum’ urbanism the answer, based on expansive cities for a dynamic and globalised planet?

From transport systems to energy grids, from social networks to economic activity, this is the forum in which to debate the implications of min/max alternatives. And given the often fraught debates over lifestyles, liberties, aesthetic values and technologies, to clarify the architectural and cultural attributes that can best help address the urban future.

Sessions include:

· The Anxious City: The Dilemmas of Growth

· The Agile City: Local Ties versus Global Reach

· Powering the City: Innovations in Energy

· The Future City: Rewriting the Rule Book

This talk is part of the Minimum.... or Maximum Cities? series.

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