Members of the Section of Urban Design co-led Track 2, Track 3 and Track 5 of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), which was held at TU Delft between 25-27 November 2021. Titled “From Dichotomies to Dialogues: connecting discourses for a sustainable urbanism”, this edition of IFoU seeked to question and overcome apparently conflicting urban design and planning approaches in each track.
Track 2: Cities are dynamic places in constant transition. The main elements of urban morphology, buildings, parcels and streets, landscape, open spaces and technical infrastructures form urban configurations shaped by local production of space. The configurations they build on multiple scales form, together with social, ecological and economic processes, complex systems. The adaptivity of these elements depends on their scale and related speed of change. An analytical and designerly approach to urban form acknowledges this complexity in the tension between object and process. This dialogue will question what spatial qualities will form the durability of place, what qualities contribute to its adaptivity and what disruptive transitions are necessary for our cities to afford eventual adaptations necessary to deal with current and futures crises.
Track 3: Change came into its own. Today we experience and acknowledge the nexus of ecology, culture and politics as a moving objective, defined by local realities placed within global developments. Large-scale change is no longer a distant probability but an approaching condition, which forces us to accept instability and envision sustainability transitions as the ground of future inhabitation. When looking closer into atmospheric, water (riverine, maritime, deltaic), and land systems and their inherent uncertainties we realize the agency that local sensitivities, culture and planning regimes have in defining the success or failure of sustainable development. This dialogue will question what the real ground of present and future urbanization is, imagining adaptive and transformative change as material and ecologically sensitive practices to site, context and culture.
Track 5: In the Age of the Anthropocene, people and ecosystems have been battling for their fair share of space in ever-urbanizing landscapes. Yet, it has become clear that seeking and building synergies with nature is the only sustainable strategy of urban development. In this context, urbanism needs to consider human well-being and biodiversity on an equal footing. Urban space needs to be designed, planned, governed and used as a place for dynamic socio-ecological encounters and dialogues. Let us explore and be explicit about ways in which we can better steward nature in cities while providing high quality environments for citizens.