22 May 2005
Welcome to Portland, Oregon. We are so pleased that the International Federation for Housing and Planning chose Portland as the first American city in which to hold the annual spring conference.
As you look around, I think you'll agree with me that you came to the right place. Portlanders share your passion for the exchange of ideas, for collaboration and for green sustainable practices. Portland is justifiably known for its innovative urban design, green buildings, and extraordinary parks and open spaces. It is praised for its livability.
You and I both know that livable cities are actually the product of thoughtful planning and thoughtful planners. A livable city is the result of the inspired collaboration between smart ideas and caring and engaged citizens, a collaboration that brings energy and life to our best neighborhoods and keeps them from being the hollowed out cores that plague too many American cities.
In Portland, a key element of good planning is doing things the Portland way. That means bringing citizens into the process at the front end when their concerns and hopes and ideas can inform and shape the projects that they will be asked to live with for decades to come. This community dialogue is the foundation upon which Portland is built and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is often messy, often loud, but it's always good.
Through this dialogue, Portlanders have infused the act of city building with their creativity, innovation, and more than just a bit of common sense. They are the experts who know how it is to live, work, and play in the places and spaces around them. Their involvement in the process keeps them involved and passionate about their city and makes Portland a vital and dynamic place.
Good planning also means being a good steward of the environment we have inherited and the world we will pass on to our children. Portland is a leader in sustainable development. We now have nearly 40 certified green buildings, the most LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings in America. Our River Renaissance initiative is aimed at bringing environmentally sensitive urban designs to the shores of our Willamette River. We are adding to our light-rail system, which is relieving congestion and pollution in our downtown. We have over 700 miles of bike trails and paths in our city, and our green investment fund gives grants to cutting-edge green building projects.
So welcome to the city of Portland. We look forward to sharing ideas with you, and your expertise and commitment to building excellent communities.
Thank you for being here.
22 May 2005
Ladies and gentlemen, IFHP members, esteemed hosts, representatives of the local and regional authorities, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this IFHP Spring Conference here in Portland, Oregon. The IFHP is delighted with the opportunity to organize this year its Spring Conference in America in this country and especially in this fascinating city of Portland.
We have had some changes in our governing body in the last months and a new strategy for the external activities of the Federation, with the intention to try to create a real worldwide organization, is fulfilled by holding our first event here. As you know, IFHP has a long history. Since its establishment in 1913, it has organized many congresses and smaller events all over the globe, but not many in North America.
When, in 1925, spatial planning was just beginning to develop as a professional and scientific discipline, the IFHP went to New York for its 9th International Congress. Appropriately, the theme was “Progress in Planning.” It was 40 years later in 1968 when the IFHP organized the 29th World Congress in Philadelphia, on “The Good City for Social Well-being, for Economic Efficiency and for Artistic Value.” It took almost 30 years before IFHP returned to this part of the globe. In 1994, it was in Edmonton, Canada, for the 42nd World Congress “Habitat 94: New Frontiers in Housing and Planning.” Now, 10 years later, here we are in Portland for the 2005 Spring Conference, our first major event this year.
There have been major developments in the meantime; from “Progress in Planning” as a discipline to “The Intentional City,” the theme of this conference.
The theme is not very different from previous IFHP Congresses in the USA as you can see, but the world has changed a lot in the last 80 years and the theme has remained amazingly topical in this period. “The Intentional City” reflects a strategic ambition. It covers planning and all other facets of urban development – the economy, culture, mobility, health, social structures, and the environment. It's a broad approach, including in particular the intriguing relation between local values and the global context. Can the values of civic quality and environmental health survive? And more importantly, develop further into urban assets using the vehicles of economic and urban growth?
Obviously, progress requires improvements in quality. Quality must really be the main and strategic goal for any city, both for local reasons and to survive in the context of global economic competition. Intentionality in city building has always been the major challenge in urban planning. How can one adapt accepted values in the light of every day urban governing practice?
However, these days we are perhaps less aware of where the urban future lies. It is less predictable where we are heading. We have no final picture to strive for and so we are perhaps less certain that we are able to achieve our goals. The major factors are developed in a complex relation system where we are one of the actors, but nobody has the capacity to control the global processes of decisions. This process is determined by the interplay of globally operating political and economic powers, sometimes disregarding the typical local values that we are focusing on in this conference – the quality of the urban life, human and environmental health, the values of culture and identity and, of course, the maintenance of economic vitality.
The complex and delicate urban processes we face today require us to do more than make significant buildings, brilliant infrastructures or public spaces. The goal of urban excellence implies a much broader context; social capital, shared identity, and community responsibility mean that we must achieve both intentional and spontaneous or organic successes. These things are inseparable. To support all this, we need growth as a spring board for change. And growth depends on management, design, site development, a fundamental understanding of the ecological footprint, and a vision of values for the future.
This is what I hope this conference will help us to better understand: How can we integrate sustainability in our mobility and transport policies? How can we reduce or eliminate poverty by stimulating the top economic sectors? How can we enhance differentiation while making the city more compact? How can we stimulate diversity and local identity without losing the train of innovation and modernity? How can we clean up the environment while making use of economic development? How can we expand green spaces and use historic preservation to revitalize neighbourhoods and boost tourism?
I am convinced that the excellent program for this conference will permit us to learn a lot from each other. The problems are universal. The solutions are always tailor-made, but we should investigate each particular project to find rules that could be useful in our own new circumstances. And I am very pleased that we have this exceptional opportunity to learn from Portland, to see how the city shows us its strategic challenges and how it is dealing with them.
Finally, I would like to thank everybody involved with the preparation of this event, especially Arun Jain, who was the initiator, Gil Kelley and Susan Hartnett, who made it all reality, with the help of many others of course, and the staff of IFHP.
I wish you all an inspiring conference and a lot of joyful networking. Thank you.
22 May 2005
Thank you, and good evening.
My name is Gil Kelley and I'm the Planning Director here in the City of Portland. I'm so very lucky to be asked to lead the planning for such a wonderful city - a city I hope you will all come to know and appreciate in the coming days.
We are particularly fortunate to have the leadership provided by our newly elected Mayor, Tom Potter, who is with us this evening to officially welcome you. Many of you may not know that Mayor Potter has made it a centerpiece of his administration to reengage the community in creating a vision for Portland that looks forward 30 to 100 years into the future. We want to make sure that Portland is as unique, compelling, and "on the forward edge" as it is today. So we think this conference is extremely timely in helping us think about how we might plan for the Portland of the future. We want your help.
Thank you all for coming from so far away. We're really excited by this conversation and excited by the opportunity to talk about the future of cities. Perhaps tonight we can actually initiate a world dialogue about what it means to be an intentional city. That may be an old idea, as IFHP President Ventura said, but I think it's a very timely one, as well, and the word "intent" or "intentional" puts a real focus on our thought process here.
I would like to make a few remarks about the conference theme and sub themes. But before doing that, I would like to take a minute or two to thank the people who helped pull this together.
Particularly, I would like to thank first the IFHP Board for selecting Portland for this conference. As you heard, it's been many, many years since this organization has officially visited these shores and we're very thrilled that you chose Portland as your Spring Conference site this year. Thank you.
We also want to thank our sponsors. We have a number of private sponsors for the conference. Without their assistance this conference would not have been possible. I'd like to specifically thank the South Group, Ball Janik, Carol Investments, the Portland Development Commission, Azumano Travel, and Jake's Catering for being substantial sponsors of this event. They have been wonderful patrons.
I would also thank our agency and organization partners; the City of Portland is not alone in this effort. We are joined by the American Planning Association, TriMet (our local transit agency), Metro (our regional government), Portland State University, the Local Governments Commission, the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association. Thank you very much to those groups as well.
I would like to extend our particular gratitude to Elsbeth, Joke, and Renee, who really helped organize this from the IFHP side. Without them, we would have been lost in the woods on this one. Thank you very much. I would certainly be remiss if I didn't tell you that I would have virtually no possibility of succeeding from our side without Susan Hartnett from the Portland Bureau of Planning. Susan had a whole team of people behind her from the Planning Bureau, who are too numerous to mention right now, but just let it be known that this was a large team effort.
And finally to the Program Committee; there were about a dozen people on the program committee who took the initial ideas that Arun Jain and I had, worked them into a very special program, and indentified some excellent speakers for this conference. The committee members were Arun Jain, Al Burns and Joe Zehnder from the Portland Bureau of Planning; Malu Wilkinson from Metro; Bob Hastings and Drew Blevins from TriMet; Lavinia Gordon from the Portland Office of Transportation; Rob Bennett from the Portland Office of Sustainable Development; Robin Grimwade from the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation; Tim Smith, an architect and planner with SERA Architects; Ethan Seltzer from Portland State University; and Don Stastny, an architect with Stastny Brun Architects. So thanks to these folks for the work they did to make this an outstanding program.
I would also like to acknowledge Dave Siegel, who's our rapporteur for the conference. Dave has the unenviable task of summing this all up on the third day of the conference. On Wednesday, we're all going to be bending forward with ears open to listen to him. I can tell from the notepad in his hands that he is on the job already.
For those of you who don't know, we're very lucky to have Dave as a Portland resident. He's the newly elected president of the American Planning Association, a national organization, which is a sister organization to IFHP. His involvement started with APA here in Oregon at the state level, and he then moved on to the national level. He also is a senior member of a local planning, design, and engineering firm, Parametrics, where he manages a number of large scale planning projects. We're thrilled that you're here to do this for us, Dave. Thank you.
We think we've designed an informative and interesting program for you that will unfold over the next few days. We also hope that you get a chance to get out and see Portland and all it has to offer.
I want to share a few thoughts and show you a few images that might tease your brains a little bit to think about some of the conference themes.
As planners, we all like to think very broadly in terms of what is good for our communities-socially, economically, and physically-and to not dwell exclusively in any one of those zones. I think we also like to think deeply about what is best for our communities given their indigenous strengths and with an eye toward future trends. We also teach ourselves to think at different scales-of time and geography. I mentioned our 100-year visioning project but we also need to talk about the projects we're going to design and budget next year. We also need to talk about different scales of geography-from the neighborhood to the metropolitan or even regional scale. I would suggest that we should also be capable of thinking about scales of leadership-from individual, private, or neighborhood initiative right up to a largest scale of political, institutional and business leadership. I think that facility, that way of thinking, is even more in demand today than it has ever been. These notions of the urban planning thought process serve as the backdrop for our conference discussions.
We picked a fairly robust theme for this conference because in the end, it boils down to the people of the city or region deciding proactively - "intentionally" - about what their future should be. What is their vision for the future? What is the way they engage the whole community in that vision? How do they assign or take on the roles and responsibilities that are necessary to bring it to fruition? Especially, starting today? That's the notion behind our theme.
Let me turn now to some images to explain a bit more.
We actually think of Portland as an intentional city. This probably owes itself to a very long civic tradition here that goes back to the city's birth in 1843, as some of you heard me describe earlier this afternoon. I love the plaque in the middle of this image which says, "We planned, it worked." It is from the 25-year celebration, which we held two years ago, of our 1972 Downtown Plan. It really captures the value of placing thoughtful planning at the forefront of our community dialogue. We owe a great deal to our active citizenry here in Portland, to inspired leadership, and to our willingness to experiment and innovate. Much of our present success owes itself to the efforts in the early 1970s by the Portland City Council, the Oregon legislature, and Oregon Governor Tom McCall.
We know we are now, 30 years later, at a turning point where we need to pause and look forward again 30 years or more and think about what Portland wants to be in the light of the new set of challenges that we're facing. They are, perhaps, many of the same challenges that all of you are facing as well. We've picked three conference themes to describe those challenges and some potential responses to encourage us to speculate about what we all might do. And all of these are wrapped in the notion that every city wants to retain its individual character and sense of place within the expanding global community.
We’ve called the first subtheme Assuring Civic Quality, Achieving Urban Excellence. This idea can certainly be thought about in spatial or urban design terms. You see here in this image public spaces at two very different scales, Trafalgar Square in London and a street intersection in Portland where citizens have taken their own initiative to create a place for their neighborhood.
These pictures also depict the spectrum of leadership, as well. On the left side it is the government, in this case the national government of England, taking leadership to say, "Let’s create a great place with institutions around it that will give people a sense of history and so forth." On the right side, leadership has been brought down to the neighborhood scale, citizens taking their own initiative to say, "This is my neighborhood and I don't really even need a government to help me do this." So our intention in this theme is to think about this notion of civic quality, not just in physical design terms, but also in terms of social capital.
The next subtheme we've seized upon is the merging of human and environment health. These are very interrelated ideas. We're all struggling with these twin issues around the globe and they include many, many different dimensions. This conference subtheme goes beyond the notion of having a walkable city or a bicycle friendly city in providing for human health and civic interaction. It really tries to acknowledge the issues of global warming, infectious disease, food production, and even prevention or planning around the possibilities of natural disasters like the tsunamis that occurred recently in South Asia.
The final subtheme examines the realities of being in a global economy and recognizes that those who aren't part of this new economy are left behind. So what does it mean to create a viable niche for our cities or regions within that global economy? How do we build on our own inherent strengths and keep our local identity and democratic institutions in tact while participating in that global economy?
I should say that the conference theme and subthemes will be illuminated by speakers from Montpelier, Sydney, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Glasgow, Los Angeles, Ferrara, Suzhou, Vancouver, and Portland; from cities all over the world. We think we've got a very exciting lineup to explore these topics and we hope we can all learn from each other, as a part of this 3-day conference.
I want to leave you with a final set of images that raise the question "What is the future city?" Of course there is no one blueprint for the future city, but there are certainly very many dramatic possibilities, a few of which are illustrated here. (These are ones we might want to avoid.) The message is that through all of this rapid and dramatic global change, planners, and the communities in which we work, must continue to figure out what our cities ought to be and how we collectively bring about those desired transformations.
Thank you for listening.
Opening Keynote Speech by Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Executive Director, Global Communities Initiative, United States
"Beyond Problem Solving: The Intentional City"
Cities today are struggling with serious problems - traffic congestion, gang violence, crime, air pollution, a lack of quality affordable housing, the list goes on. Yet many mayors, councilors, and city managers don’t realize that their well intentioned attempts at problem-solving are probably only going to make things worse. City leaders need to understand the systems at work behind the problems, and design strategies and programs that address the underlying dynamics of complex city systems.
Healthy, thriving cities haven’t achieved their goals for a vibrant economy, an effective and responsive local government, a healthy environment, and safe and friendly neighborhoods because they have perfected the art of solving problems. They have learned instead to invest in assets that build the city’s capacity to meet people’s needs now and in the future. They have brought people together to express a shared vision for the city, and have collaborated successfully to design and implement strategies to realize their aspirations. In other words, they have transformed their cities into intentional cities, where people have a sense of community, a sense of shared values, and a clear plan for the future.
Building a sense of shared vision is not easy. People from all different walks of life, from every socio-political background, and with widely divergent views about current priorities and strategies have a hard time sitting in the same room together, much less coming to agreement about something as complex as a city. Examples of how cities have accomplished this by focusing on a long term time horizon and building on the city’s strengths and assets that people care about enough to pass onto their children and grandchildren will be used to illustrate how this is done.
A city’s assets satisfy important human needs that go beyond the basic material needs of food, water, clothing, and shelter. We have other needs that are also important, needs for economic security, health care, education, recreation, cultural expression, a voice in our government, and work that contributes to the greater community. Over time, cities have built systems that meet all of these needs, yet since they’ve been developed gradually, without a master plan, we don’t really understand how they work. If we don’t understand how they work, then it’s hard to know where we can invest or intervene to make them work better.
There are tools available to help city leaders map the complex, interrelated systems that operate underneath the surface, their hidden machinations inadvertently obstructing even the best-intentioned civic improvement initiatives. These tools chart processes like the flow of information, the creation and replication of values that guide decision-making, the ways in which citizens have a voice in government, the structures in place that regulate the distribution of wealth, and the flow of environmental resources and services. Once people understand the systems at work, it is much easier to use insights from system dynamics to find the leverage points that will help meet the needs of the whole community - which then eliminate the roots of some of the city’s most pressing problems.
Sustainable cities meet the needs of their citizens today and enhance the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Reversing the pattern of deterioration in our communities isn’t easy - it can only be done effectively by making the whole system work better. This means building on our assets and strengthening the forces that add health and vitality to the places we love. This involves a completely different approach than a focus on narrowly defined problems, one that looks to build a shared sense of vision, enhance the best parts of our communities, to celebrate our successes, and to encourage new leaders to emerge who can take initiative and inspire other people to contribute in new ways.
First Plenary Session Keynote Speech by Professor Jon T. Lang, University of New South Wales, Australia
"The Intentional City: Applying Local Values and Choice in a Global Context"
We live in an era of globalization but also one of nationalism and individualism. Globalization refers to the universalizing tendencies of world financial markets and their demands. At the same time we inhabit a world seeing a rise in nationalism and the striving for the disaggregation of large geo-political units into smaller ones. It is also a world seeing the individualistic desire for corporations and individuals, including designers, to express their own identities through the decisions they make. These processes result in competing urban design ideologies implicit or explicit in the projects that have been recently completed or are underway around the world.
Many of the much-celebrated mega-projects of East Asia and elsewhere are products of the globalized economic markets. While each scheme is unique, they share many characteristics - uniquely shaped, often ‘glitzy’, buildings set in large open spaces that pay little heed to local climatic and/or cultural conditions. The qualities of every day urban life that make places interesting and enjoyable for a diversity of people are forgotten in the quest for a high social standing in the international business arena. In particular, the use of streets as the seams of urban life has been neglected. The high-status of the designs is obtained through the architectural aesthetics of buildings and landscapes and their association with what has been termed ‘signature’ designers. These urban designs should not be lightly dismissed. They are sources of pride for many local people and public officials alike. Much can be learnt from them. There are, nevertheless, increasing worries about the nature of the resulting environments and the long-term benefits that they will or will not provide and the opportunity costs that they will accrue.
It is not only international critics and local designers but also many local governmental officials who are now expressing doubts about the current urban design efforts stemming from the impact of the globalized economy on local worlds. It is thus worthwhile looking at other design paradigms that pay more attention to local traditions and are being used in a much less celebrated, and thus much less well-known, manner around the world. These paradigms include: 1) Revivalism, 2) Neo-Vernacularism, 3) the resuscitation of historic religious treatises as the basis for design, 4) Neo-traditionalism and its derivatives, the New Urbanism, and Smart Growth, and 5) the use of architectures and landscapes of abstract symbolism. Of these approaches the fourth seems to hold the greatest promise for the future because it relies on observations of how the world functions not dreams. It, however, like the other four approaches relies on past precedents. We are, however, creating environments for the future. A sixth approach has been advocated for a long time but has never been fully implemented. It is an argumentative problem-solving approach based on empirical knowledge.
A problem-solving approach to urban design based on a rigorous model of human motivations and the need to develop sustainable bio-genic environments appears to be the best way of moving ahead. Such an approach is based on the assumption that to obtain a local ‘sense of place’ one must design with nature - the climate, flora and fauna - of a locale in mind together with an understanding of the behaviour settings that exist within a culture (or might exist if the built environment afforded them). While panoramic views of dramatic skylines of tall fashionable buildings are a source of much civic pride, it is particularly at the ground floor level of cities and their precincts that a problem-solving, opportunity-creating approach to design is important. Provided the buildings are climatically appropriate almost any architecture, whether it includes local referents or not, is acceptable. At the same time, we have to deal with a changing and, in many ways, an increasingly diverse world. Designs have to be multi-functional and robust. The problem is that few designers work in a problem-solving mode and by all reports we, as a group, are totally disinclined to do so.
Planners and architects tend to design based on a set of generic solutions that form part of their design vocabularies. These generic solutions were devised largely in Western Europe and the eastern United States. They have, nevertheless, been applied worldwide in a diversity of situations for which they were never developed. Their application has been successful but at other times the results have been deemed to be failures on many dimensions of human experience. What we need is a much richer set of culturally and climatically appropriate generic solutions. Bits and pieces of such designs do exist and more are being developed by a multiplicity of practitioners and academics. There is a need to synthesize them, to analyze their strengths and deficiencies, to improve on them and to disseminate them. Who will carry out this task?
Speech I: Assuring Civic Quality, Achieving Urban Excellence by Professor Pi de Bruijn, de Architekten Cie., The Netherlands
"Zuidas European Space"
The Netherlands does not have a genuine metropolis. With around 750,000 residents, Amsterdam is a good bit smaller than its reputation might lead one to surmise. Through the whole of its history, the Netherlands, as a country which has been reclaimed from the water and still permanently defends itself against the water, has enjoyed a culture of co-operation rather than one of hierarchy: the union of forces as an effective instrument against the natural power of the sea.
In this context, Amsterdam has never had the opportunity to evolve into a city of world format, a status symbol, a concentration of economic, political and cultural significance. It has had to share power with The Hague as the seat of government, with the world port of Rotterdam, and with the important industrial cities and knowledge centres of Utrecht, Delft, and Leiden. For decades, this urban agglomeration in the west of the Netherlands has been referred to as the Randstad (literally: ‘margins of the city’) and is more or less a random chain of cities with a total of around 7 million residents around a green heart.
Now that the competition that formerly existed between countries has shifted to the regions, under the influence of the EU, an era offering new opportunities for the Randstad has begun. The mutual rivalry between the cities has given way to far-reaching co-operation at regional level, spurred on by rapidly increasing mobility. Innovative developments are occurring everywhere. Coincidence has made way for ambition. The Randstad is becoming the Deltametropolis, a name that expresses better the ambition to form an entity at a higher scale level. Work is being performed on scale enlargement in the fields of administration, economics, and spatial planning. Founded on historical cores, each with its own assets elevated to a higher level, an intentional metropolis that will be able to compete more effectively with other European regions is being created here.
The Deltametropolis has a powerful starting position. Its strategic location on the edge of the European continent, between London, Frankfurt, the Rohr district, Brussels and Paris, with good connections across the water, through the air, via a dense road network and a high concentration of railway lines and via internet, in combination with an enormous hinterland, offers excellent opportunities for global activity. Political stability, favourable tax regulations, international orientation and, last but not least, the presence of a well-educated workforce, offer an excellent climate for location.
Nevertheless, there are still a number of obstacles to be overcome in the contrast between the local scale level and the scale level of the intentional metropolis. The mobility pattern has evolved up to Deltametropolis level: the intensity of commuter traffic between the various cities is extremely high. On the other hand, the issuing of rules and the corresponding decision making mainly occur at local level. In the field of culture, there is also no ideal harmonization as yet. In administrative terms, an internationally important institution such as the Rijks Museum is a part of the urban district Amsterdam Zuid. As such it has been made subordinate to local interests in a rather embarrassing manner. Conflicting local interests can thus be an obstacle to the forming of the Deltametropolis as a whole.
Another area of tension that is linked to the contrast between local scale levels and the intentional network city is identity (branding). The Deltametropolis is an amorphous whole and, as such, lacks a clearly recognizable identity on an intentional scale. With its many historical centres, the Deltametropolis is a vessel full of identities, neither a powder keg nor a melting pot, but rather an accumulation of (international) cultural diversities. In the Netherlands, the integration of this diversity has always led to added value and political stability. For the branding of the Deltametropolis, these important local qualities will have to form a point of departure.
In order to give physical shape to both the scale level and the identity, the Deltametropolis needs a hyper-urban-centre environment as the engine of the innovation, a focal point that is a cut above the levels of the existing centres, not to replace these centres but to complement them. This will bring more cohesion to the region, which will lead to better yields and more efficiency. The best opportunity to realize this is to develop the Zuidas, comparable in size (around 3,000,000 m²) with the Rive Gauche and La Défense in Paris and the Docklands in London. Zuidas is a niche: a new hyper-urban area development embedded in existing urban tissue, with the airport and the inner city of Amsterdam at 5 minutes’ distance and excellent connections, in one of the most urbanized zones of Europe.
To achieve the desired character of this greater scale level, high density, multipurpose use of space, and far-reaching function intermingling (43% working space, 43% residential space, and 14% facilities) will be applied as instruments in the Zuidas: shops, galleries, larger and smaller commercial services, places of entertainment, museums, and theatres. In this way a lively urban environment with an abundance of social and cultural stimuli is generated. The station, transformed into an underground multifunctional traffic hub, forms a primary source of dynamics and assigns the entire area an international allure. The active public programming of the plinths promotes vitality and informal contacts in public space, a basic condition for a successful centre. The scale level requires long-term consideration. Accordingly, sustainability is an important factor. To a certain extent, this can be realized by an intermingling of functions guaranteeing a liveable area in the long term, by flexibility allowing an interchange of residential and office functions, and by the efficiency of multiple use of space.
The scale-level adjustment is relatively easily realized. The potential of the Zuidas clearly rises above the local scale. It is a top location with the ambition to supplement the level of business activity up to supranational level. In the future, the Zuidas will be able to compete with the International Business District in Frankfurt, Brussels, Barcelona, and Milan in this domain. The issue of identity is a more difficult matter. The Zuidas will have to avoid becoming a global pastiche. It is not so readily defined. The best manner for the Zuidas to characterize itself is to exploit the local qualities, not only of Amsterdam but also of the entire Deltametropolis, including Schiphol airport. In this way, the Zuidas brings a sharper focus to the amorphous Deltametropolis while simultaneously reinforcing the competitive position of the entire region at European level. The Zuidas has the ambition to be a metaphor of modern society, an open society that is founded on local values, one that can stand its ground in a global context, offering opportunities to play a vital role in this world.
Speech II: Planning for Human and Environmental Health by Dr. Howard Frumkin, Emory University, United States of America
The way we envision, plan, build, and inhabit cities has many implications for human health and well-being. These implications operate at different spatial scales, from the regional scale to the very local scale of sidewalks and neighborhood parks. By incorporating health considerations into planning land use and transportation, Intentional Cities can provide many health benefits to their residents. These benefits include opportunities for physical activity, protection from injuries, clean air, reduced noise levels, contact with nature, opportunities to promote mental health, and opportunities for social interaction and community-building, all of which have direct and important health benefits.
Physical activity may be either utilitarian or recreational. While both have health value, utilitarian physical activity is more sustainable and may offer broader public health benefit. At a time when sedentary lifestyles are becoming more common, the prevalence of overweight is rising, and health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and depression remain common problems, physical activity is a pressing public health goal. Neighborhood design features that encourage walking and bicycling include good sidewalks and paths, the presence of nearby destinations such as stores, schools, and workplaces, the presence of other pedestrians on the streets, safe interactions between pedestrians with motor vehicles, and effective traffic control. At a larger spatial scale, the presence of mass transit and mixed land use facilitate and encourage walking.
Protection from injuries is an important public health goal; in many countries injuries are the major cause of death in young people. Injuries are divided into two categories: unintentional and intentional. Unintentional injuries include those related to motor vehicles. Good design can reduce the amount of time "at risk" in motor vehicles by reducing the need to drive, and can protect pedestrians and bicyclists. Intentional injuries, resulting from acts of violence, can also be influenced by environmental design, through such techniques as surveillance ("eyes on the street"), territoriality, and access control.
Clean air promotes respiratory and cardiovascular health. However, heavy dependence on motor vehicles in many cities results in substantial contributions to air pollution, including ozone, particulate matter, and others. Reducing motor vehicle travel through effective planning is therefore a way to improve air quality and promote health. Moreover, planning to separate sources of air pollution (such as busy roadways) from vulnerable targets (such as schools) is a way to reduce the health burden air pollution.
Noise is well recognized as a cause of physiological stress. Unfortunately cities can be noisy places, but good design can help reduce noise exposure.
Contact with nature offers a range of benefits for both mental health and physical health. These benefits appear to arise both from viewing natural scenes and from entering such scenes, through "green exercise," visits to parks, and so on. Good city design offers ready access to parks and other green spaces.
Opportunities to promote mental health exist at several levels of city design. For example, if children are able to explore their environments independently-an opportunity that depends on safe ways for them to move around-then they develop navigational skills and independence. Physical activity is effective in the treatment and prevention of depression.
Opportunities for social interaction and community-building not only promote mental health, but they promote overall health and well-being as well. Evidence shows that mortality rates rise as levels of social capital decline. Intentional cities can promote sense of community in many ways-by reducing commute time (to give people more time with family and friends), by providing venues for socializing, by permitting continuity of residential location across the lifespan.
These health benefits redound differently for different groups, including some-such as children, the elderly, the poor, and people with disabilities-that are uniquely vulnerable and for whom health is a special concern. Planners and health advocates need to pay close attention to the needs of subpopulations as they work to create healthy places.
This presentation provides an overview of planning approaches to optimizing health in the urban context.
Speech II: Creating a Niche in the Global Economy by Kevin Kane, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, Scotland
Cities exist in a world where globalisation impinges increasingly on their current and future development. The nature and structure of city economies, their look and feel and investment "offers" are all deeply affected by what is termed "globalisation".
The extent to which cities can intentionally seek to mediate a position in the wider global economy and urban network is a major issue for city / city region leaders and policy makers. Even large cities are small in comparison to the force unleashed by globalisation and globalisation presents cities with economic opportunities as well as real constraints on their development trajectories, planned or not.
What do we mean by globalisation? In essence, it revolves around the integration of markets at a regional and global level with production, research, product development, manufacturing and investment sourced across the globe. It is associated with the proliferation of global consumer brands and the use of advanced ITC to manage dispersed functions and enterprises and is driven by the deregulation of world trade and the strengthening of regional and global agreements (from technical standards, commercial law to human rights) that seek harmonise legal regimes within individual jurisdictions.
Recent academic work has identified that cities in different world regions (the US, Europe and the Pacific Rim) have very different exposures to globalisation - though all cities are impacted. What this research shows also is that no longer can we simply conceive of cities and their hinterlands solely as geographically connected but that, in a global age, cities have "hinterworlds" that map their individual global footprints.
Given the complexity of the processes and impacts of globalisation, can and how can cities and their leaders and policy makers respond? Clearly, any city that wants to chart out a chosen development path needs to engage with globalisation. Cities need to make themselves "sticky places in slippery space" as Markusen termed it (i.e. make itself attractive to global capital). In particular, the attraction and development of advanced producer services - financial and business services, management consulting - is seen as a touchstone of success in a globalised world.
In seeking to attract global capital, the development of deliberate and intentional (economic) development strategies - that mirror corporate planning and visioning strategies - is a powerful signal that a city is open for global business. Such a focus leads to the increasing importance of such upstream issues as the creation of highly skilled and educated workforce and the development of high quality business infrastructure - be it innovation parks, vibrant downtowns, good air connections and research universities.
Increasingly, in an attempt to distinguish themselves, cities are seeking to move beyond the development and delivery of urban "products" (critical though these are) to "branding" themselves; to create visibility and global customer loyalty. Again, cities are seeking to promote approaches developed by global companies themselves.
However, globalisation is not only about the flows of global capital, it is also about global flows of labour. Clearly cities do not compete (at least intentionally) for illegal immigrants, however many are starting now to focus on the attraction of mobile and highly skilled and educated workers. Indeed, some commentators, notably Richard Florida, argue that in a globalised knowledge economy, that capital follows labour, a reversal of the traditional economic location theory. This people-led thesis provides opportunities for cities to develop the city less as a centre of production but one as a city of consumption. A more "people centred" approach to city development, is one that emphases those tangible and intangible assets that attract knowledge workers. This tends to put the focus on the quality and authenticity of things (housing, downtowns, culture, environmental sustainability, recreational opportunities, work / life balance etc.) rather than simply seeking to project an image that attracts global capital.
Globalisation and its impacts on cities will increase as world trade becomes more deregulated. Cities are coming to terms with globalisation, as they have done in the past to industrialisation and other mega trends. One thing is for sure; globalisation has made cities important again and reinforced their roles as critical knowledge nodes in the global economy.
To flourish, successful cities will accept globalisation and draw on their economic history and territorial assets and try to make the linkages with the evolving global economy in ways that help create the conditions for greater prosperity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. Cities are that are resilient, confident and active will no doubt win out over those who leave it entirely to the market.
Intentional City Case 1: Curitiba, Brazil by Dr. Clara Irazábal, University of Southern California, United States of America
"Curitiba in Perspective: How Intentional Urban Design, Planning, and Politics Created a ‘Model City"
Curitiba, Brazil, has been referred to as an environmentally sustainable "model city" and an example of both a successful urban planning process and a large array of creative urban design projects. This presentation examines some of the most important urban design and planning projects and processes in Curitiba since the 1960s, discusses the city’s deserved praise, and contrasts it with some of the current urban governance and planning problems the city is facing. Curitiba’s planning process has been shaped by the accommodation of diverse interests around a political project, the media dissemination of a particular city image, and the permeation of material gains to the lower-income classes. An increase in urban problems and inequalities, the deficiencies of institutional structure and coordination at the level of metropolitan planning and governance, and the increasing challenges to government and planning institutions by citizens demanding greater accountability and participation, threaten to subvert the future progress of planning processes. It is argued that the inclusion of more effective citizen involvement in decision-making in Curitiba is the way to relegitimize and continue the processes of urban design and planning that had a brilliant start in the 1960s and a commendable implementation record from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
In 1965 the municipality of Curitiba opened a public competition for a new Master Plan (Plano Diretor), approved in 1966. By this time, Curitiba had almost 470,000 inhabitants. The Plano Diretor conceived urban growth in radiating lines expanding from the city center, and employed integrated transportation and mixed land use principles. Other pillars of the plan were the management of growth, promotion of industry, improvement of the environment and of quality of life in the city. The Plano Diretor has guided development in Curitiba ever since its inception, and instituted creative approaches to shaping the urban fabric. One of the institutional proposals derived from the new Plano Diretor was the creation of the Institute of Urban Research and Planning of Curitiba (Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba, IPPUC) in 1966 to implement the plan and to develop all complementary projects. The creation of IPPUC was particularly important, as IPPUC was able to bypass the bureaucracy of city departments, and provided a political means for injecting flexibility and dynamism into the planning process.
The epitome of Curitiba urban policy--achieving much more benefit for much less investment--has been the transportation program (Cervero, 1995; Ravinovitch and Leitman, 1993). Since 1974, the transit network has evolved, and today's Integrated Transportation Network (RIT) is stretching out to include the metropolitan area. Another areas in which Curitiba has won recognition are the management of solid waste and recycling programs. According to government estimates, Curitibanos recycle near two-thirds of their garbage, with programs that make the city cleaner and provide jobs, income for farmers, and food and transportation benefits for the poor. Other innovative measures were used to deal with problems of historic revitalization, urban design, slum housing, creation of jobs and maintaining a favorable job-housing balance.
The development of Curitiba’s planning project since the mid 1960s has been mainly shaped by the conjunction of three elements: the accommodation of diverse dominant interests around a single political project; the massive media dissemination of a positive city image; and the permeation of some material gains to the lower-income classes. Today, however, there are at least three factors that are causing some cracks in the governance model of Curitiba and threatening to undermine some of the successful urban programs enacted. These include the increase in urban problems and inequalities; the increasing challenges to government and planning institutions by citizens demanding greater political accountability and democratic participation; and the deficiencies of institutional structure and coordination at the level of metropolitan planning and governance.
Concluding, Curitiba can justifiably be considered a model of urban design, planning, and management within Brazil, and even internationally. The city has used intentional urban design, planning, and politics to create a ‘model city’. The urban solutions it has employed are creative and cost-effective. Some of its programs, plans, and policies have been effectively used as examples in other cities in Latin America and beyond and the potential to continue learning from the city’s experiences remains significant. The politics involved in such urban design and planning processes and some of the paradoxical results for the spatial and social fabric of the city, however, have not received equal attention and are yet to be further critically assessed. Notwithstanding Curitiba’s fine accomplishments in the areas of urban design and planning, the analysis of the politics of development in Curitiba provides some evidence that too little and low-quality participation is starting to delegitimize the planning process. Indeed, in current local governance practices, the interaction between governmental leaders and citizen groups has not yet amounted to a creative, respectful, and productive dialogue. Curitiba’s government would have to involve citizens in the planning process in a more thorough way before the city’s development dynamics lose momentum. Curitiba could become an example of a brilliant planning process losing legitimacy, if current local practices of poor interaction between government leadership and citizen involvement persist, and if more attention is not paid to address issues of social and spatial inequalities. It is expected that Curitiba proves itself again as an intentional city when addressing these challenges and can then continue offering guidance and inspiration to many cities around the globe grappling with similar issues.
Intentional City Case 2: Suzhou, China by Shao Jianlin, Suzhou Municipal Government, People’s Republic of China
I. A Glimpse of Suzhou
a. A city of profound historical and cultural origin: Suzhou has a historical record of over 4000 years. Since the city was built 2500 years ago, while inheriting precious cultural legacies from different historical periods, today it still stands on the original site and maintains the unique flavor of "small bridges over flowing waters and common households along lakes and canals".
b. A well-known tourist city: Suzhou boasts not only picturesque landscape but also numerous historic legacies, both of which make the city world-renowned. Suzhou is the "land of fish and rice" in the south Yangtze River area, which also greatly enriches the natural scenery in this region.
c. One of the key cities in the Yangtze River Delta: Suzhou enjoys well-developed economy. In 2004, the city’s GDP reached 345 billion yuan, ranking No.4 among all cities in China, and financial revenue 22 billion yuan, ranking No.6. The powerful economic support has turned Suzhou into one of the key cities in the Yangtze River Delta.
II. How We Plan Our City
a. Strengthen regional integration, and promote coordinated development of urban and rural areas: to integrate spatial resource and adjust regional distribution, in a bid to form a cosmopolitan and modern city frame.
b. Construct a sophisticated transportation system: to set up a convenient transportation system with a regional network of expressways and rail traffics.
c. Highlight the city’s distinction: while the old city proper follows the design of "gardens in the city with artificial rockeries and waters", the outskirts area is to be built into "a city in the garden with real mountains and lakes".
d. Enhance the ancient city preservation: establish the planning strategies of "protect ancient city, construct new districts" and confirm the principle of "protect the ancient city in all-around way".
III. What We Have Achieved
a. Rapid economic development and much-improved people’s life: From 2001 to 2004, the city’s GDP increased from 178 billion yuan to 345 billion yuan, and the GDP per capita from 3,590 USD to 7,000 USD. The social and cultural works progressed in all-around way and people’s life has been rapidly improved.
b. Effectively-protected ancient city proper: the double chessboard pattern of "the water and land extending in parallel, and canals and streets adjacent to each other" has been well preserved. The overall protection of the old city has been carried out: the building heights are under control; the traditional architectural style and color has been well preserved.
c. Well-protected ecological resources and pleasant living environment: a harmonious co-existence of man and nature is achieved through protecting and exploring ecological resources. Today people of Suzhou are enjoying a more livable city.
d. Upgraded city image: a city pattern we call "one bird, two wings" has been established with the ancient city proper in the middle persisting in its simple and elegant style while Suzhou Industrial Park and Suzhou New District constructed on its two sides as the two wings of the old city. Meanwhile by extending the city space northward and southward, an even larger-scale framework has taken shape with the ancient city at the center and five districts scattering around. Every district is separated by green belts yet closely linked with a convenient transportation system.
IV. Challenges We Currently Confront in the Process of City Development
a. Gradually diluted geographical advantage: the ever-improved regional transportation system has greatly facilitated connections among cities, which has yet diluted Suzhou’s geographical advantage. Meanwhile the constant increase in labor cost in the wake of the city’s fast economic growth has also weakened Suzhou’s geographical advantage.
b. Imbalance between economic and cultural development: as Suzhou’s economy develops rapidly, the unique natural and cultural charm of the city have not been enhanced correspondingly. The city has been focusing more on economic and industrial growth than cultural development.
c. Even more serious contradiction between man and land: not really affluent in land resources, Suzhou is now facing with the even more serious contradiction between man and land, as economic growth results in a large consumption of land, while due to relatively low average investment ratio, the land’s economic returns has not been fully explored.
d. Economic and industrial structures to be diversified: different regions from the municipality have similar industrial structures, which has impaired the regions’ comparative advantages and weakened their competitive ability. The competition is very tough among cities in the Yangtze River Delta.
V. About Our Future Planning
a. Better protect historical and cultural heritages, build Suzhou into a world-class city of history and culture: the profound cultural origin of Suzhou is the core of the city’s future development. By better protecting it, we plan to build Suzhou into a world-class historical and cultural city combining both ancient and modern civilizations.
b. Strengthen the protection over natural landscape resources, build Suzhou into a world-renowned tourist city: to protect and reasonably explore the city’s natural landscape resources, in a bid to create a better environment for future development and build Suzhou into a world-renowned tourist city.
c. Upgrade city functions, intensively use the land, and construct a global new and hi-tech industrial base: to upgrade city functions, more efficiently use the land, and adjust development strategies, so as to transfer the city from a "manufacture base" to a "manufacture center".
d. Strengthen regional integration and coordination, confirm the city’s position as a key city in the Yangtze River Delta: properly handle the relations with Shanghai, the leading economic city in the Yangtze River Delta, coordinate development among the different districts, and further confirm Suzhou’s position as a key economic city in the Yangtze River Delta.
"The Intentional Results of a Non-Intentional City: The Case of Milano"
Analyzing what is taking place and will possibly take place in Milano in the next years is indeed relevant.
The interesting aspects are not to be found in the few relevant projects which have induced groundbreaking changes and which are examples to be followed. Rather, what I wish to present is the great number of small and medium scale reasonable answers given by a variety of actors to a changing reality.
The lesson that can be drawn from Milano is an incremental and diffused slow-pace pattern of change aiming to solve both new problems posed by globalization and transformations in the local economy and society. Continuous answers have been given over the years. Their quality has never been extraordinary and the process has often been slow. But many times they eventually resulted in solutions which are sounder and more realistic that the ones taken in other European cities. They also showed a greater flexibility and ability to adjust to changing situations. One might say that Milano is renewing itself as a whole through innumerable actions which do not correspond to intentional policies but in fact result into intentional outcomes.
How did this happen?
Milano is a very ancient city located at a strategic crossroad between southern and northern Europe. It flourished in Roman times and since then has always played an important role in connecting European cultures and markets. Milano has been a major industrial and banking center in the 19th and 20th centuries. More recently the city re-invented its role becoming a major post-industrial pole, specialized in fashion, design and communication. Milano’s history shows a continuous flow of change and adjustments always based on previous experiences, and a fixed and human capital that accumulated over the years. It can be said that the development strategies of the city are based on continuity and the use of existing human resources and diffused know-how more that on changes and innovations resulting from sudden and far-sighted political decisions of an elite.
In recent years Milano capitalized on a solid social structure, a diversified economy based on large, but also small and medium-scale enterprises and a pragmatic culture. Continuity has been an asset and at the same time a potentially negative factor. In fact, in order to save its well established performances Milano has lost most of its entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit and drive.
It also lost its role of intellectual leadership and ability of substantial innovation. This is a major problem in a phase of economic stagnation as it is the case for Italy at present.
In the next 10-20 years Milano will take advantage of a number of major changes in the European infrastructure system. It will be at the center of three main roads, rail and cable axes - Corridor 5, running east to west from Kiev to Lisbon and passing through Milano; the north-south "Two Seas" Corridor connecting the ports of Rotterdam and Genua (that will play a strategic role with reference to China and India) and the north-south Berlin-Palermo Corridor. In addition it will be reached by two high-speed train lines running east to west to Hungary and France, and north to south to Germany and Southern Italy. This means that accessibility to Milano will further improve and that its metropolitan area will play an important role in Far-East-Europe relationships and in the process of growth of the 25 member European Union. Some present choices anticipate this new scenario.
The Milano International Fair is moving west to new areas in the metropolitan area. This change will make it the largest Fair in Europe. New research and advanced industrial developments have been planned in the eastern part of the metropolitan system. A reorganization and expansion program for the airport system has been planned. In addition a strategy for a better integration between Milano and the nearby lake and mountain district (where the Lake of Como and the Lake Maggiore make for a unique environmental and landscape resource) in order to improve the quality of life in the area has been suggested.
Inefficiencies though are still relevant especially in metropolitan transportation and in health and social services.
So far Milano seems to have been successful in finding its distinctive way to answer the challenges of globalization. This has been reached thanks to its ability to make a niche for itself in the global economy more than in assuring civic quality and in planning for human and environmental health. These are the challenges ahead. Will they be met successfully relying on the traditional "Milanese" attitude of being unintentionally intentional?
"Reinventing Vancouver for People - A City by Design"
Vancouver is in a dramatic transformation, through a deliberate process conceived and choreographed by the municipality, in strong collaboration with the development industry and citizens. It has come to be known as the "Vancouver Model." The basic planning theme is "living first": a strategy to entice tens of thousands of residents to come back to live in the core city, including families with children, at high densities and foregoing their dependence on the private automobile.
The strategy depends on two key factors:
(1) creating complete communities with all the services and amenities needed by people near their homes on a day-to-day basis; and,
(2) an absolute requirement for excellence in urban design and architecture creating comfortable, attractive environments that people enjoy living in. With new residents come all the other activities, including jobs, entertainment and culture, that are desired in the contemporary city. This is "new urbanism" at its best.
But, this is also a "counter-intuitive" city in the North American context, that does not have freeways and is decreasing the volume of commuters coming into the city centre; that uses congestion to motivate a shift in travel modes to transit and walking; that depends on strong planning and discretionary regulation to shape the built environment; that has de-politicised the development approval process; that requires developers to pay the costs of civic infrastructure and amenities demanded by their customers; that mandates a social mix in every community; and that involves its citizens throughout the planning and development management process. The result is that Vancouver has the fastest growing residential downtown in North America, creating a 24-hour city, re-creating the image of the city and fostering a vibrant, robust economy. As importantly, the transformed city is praised and supported by its citizens. This presentation will illustrate why and how this process of change has happened, highlighting issues that continue to be tackled and suggesting lessons for others who want to create the intentional city on their own terms.
25 May 2005
As President of the American Planning Association, representing our 37,000 members, I want to say how pleased and proud we are to have been among the sponsors of the IFHP Spring Conference 2005. The attendance was encouraging, and I found the presentations to be engaging, interesting, and very much talked about after the sessions, all very good signs of a successful conference. This was the first IFHP conference I’ve attended, and I was honored to be selected as the conference’s General Rapporteur, a role which is capped by providing a summary overview of the topics and issues discussed at the conference. I will do my best to fulfill the expectations of this role.
To set the stage, conference participants had the opportunity to explore Portland, a living laboratory of good planning, in absolutely wonderful weather. The fact that many throughout the world think that Portland is always shrouded in rain and rainbows helps to keep the "real" Portland a well-kept secret. As a resident of the host city, I asked every delegate to promise not to share the secrets of "Oz" . . .
Introduction and Context
The theme of the conference was "The Intentional City". If you take a look at the term planning, it pretty much implies intentionality. It's a method of proceeding toward a desired end state with analysis and foresight. As a verb, "planning" guides, directs or constrains future actions in order to achieve future goals. It empowers people to express their views. A "plan" is also a noun-an official statement of policy and action for achieving a desired end stage. So again, intentionality implies planning, it implies forethought. And planning implies local action to effect change and to achieve desired outcomes in terms of civic quality, prosperity, sustainable development, and a healthy environment. Our challenge, and the challenge of all the speakers and those people who attended the conference, is to consider local desires and local influences concurrently with consideration of more global impacts and outcomes.
Beginning With the "Bottom Line"
At the risk of beginning with a conclusion, I will begin with the "bottom line". The sub themes for the conference centered upon the following topics: Assuring Civic Quality, Achieving Urban Excellence; Planning for Human and Environmental Health; and Creating a Niche in the Global Economy. The overarching question was threefold:
Through a series of engaging speeches and sessions, several key themes emerged:
How these themes were positioned, and in which context, is described in the summary that follows.
I. Keynote and Plenary Remarks: Local Values, Civic Quality, Healthy Design, Economic Prosperity
Beyond Problem Solving: A Systems Approach
To create an intentional city, as we were advised by Gwendolyn Hallsmith at the conference’s opening session, is to understand the systems behind problems and how they work. Rather than just chasing problems and addressing them incrementally, we were advised to look at things as a whole, as a sort of a civic infrastructure, if you will. The twin objectives of capacity building and public empowerment (empowering your community to build a shared vision and to identify desired outcomes) are central toward the creation of an intentional city. Outcomes base planning is something that we all hear about more and more, so rather than just, say, taking the forecast and developing a plan to meet that forecast, what do you want to be in the future? How do you want to grow and how do you want to get there? Once the community has identified that vision, it is critical for planners and decision makers to proceed with prioritizing and determining appropriate points of intervention where one can make a difference, and then building teams to accomplish critical tasks, because there is strength in numbers.
Local Values and Choice vs. Homogenization
In his keynote speech at the first plenary session, Professor Jon Lang challenged communities and planners to apply local values and choice when looking at how to grow within a global context. Dr. Lang held that globalization's homogenizing impact upon design and quality of life is resulting in a loss of that sense of place-of locality-that we all hold so dear. He encouraged construction of a problem-solving approach to design, not just the (too often egocentric) "plug and play" or "design the iconic building and drop it in" approach that results in schizophrenic urban collections of buildings or (in the other extreme) in the monoculture of design. In looking at a variety of design paradigms, he held that the paradigm reflected under the general term of Smart Growth seemed to hold great promise for intentional cities, as it "relies upon observations of how the world functions, not dreams".
Professor Lang was encouraging planners and designers to observe how the region and the locality function together, developing a vision (there's that "V" word again) and moving it forward, creating a local sense of place. He promoted the development of climatically and culturally appropriate solutions, rather than going along with the trend of applying generic "internationalized" solutions.
Transformational Civic Quality
Professor Pi de Bruijn discussed the intentional transformation of the agglomeration of urban centers known as the Randstad into "the Deltametropolis", an international-scale metropolitan entity with a huge hinterland. He shared the story of how rivalry between municipalities was being put aside in order to achieve what is perceived as the larger public good, of developing a "hyper-urban area" capable of competing with major European trade centers, providing examples of efforts aimed at scale enlargement and increasing the area’s competitiveness. Among the challenges facing this transformation were overcoming the contrast of local scale development and actions with those on a more international scale. In pursuing the goals of larger-scale, high-density, multipurpose and mixed use development with a series of centers (while not losing sight of the need for addressing issues of sustainability), the largest challenge will be avoiding the "loss of locality" as the region exploits local qualities to improve its competitive position in the larger European and global context.
"Dumb Growth Isn’t Very Smart"
With this auspicious lead-in, Dr. Howard Frumkin reminded us that "smart growth is good for you", and that too often we're falling into the complacency trap of the status quo by replicating and/or not resolving the examples of "dumb growth" that abound in our communities. Smart growth coupled with quality design has many positive benefits to offer our growing and redeveloping communities, including cleaner air, reduced energy and land consumption, reduction in vehicle accidents, reduction in noise and stress, and increased opportunities for social interaction. Through an entertaining display of examples of "dumb growth", Dr. Frumkin conveyed the point that the negative effects of sprawl on physical and mental health are very well known and that the world needs more examples of density done right to help overcome the stigma that density has for many of us. In concluding his remarks, Dr. Frumkin stated that "the measure of success for a city is how well we meet the needs of our children. We need to learn from our experiences with "dumb growth", and create healthy and "smart communities" through the intentional application of smart growth principles.
Economic Niche Building: Scale and Branding
Kevin Kane, of Scottish Enterprise Glascow, spoke of the integration of markets at regional and global levels. He held that with increasing globalization, cities no longer have their economic hinterlands. Cities seeking to play in the global arena have a broader geography; they have "hinterworlds".
Communities wishing to break from the pack and choose their own path need to "act locally while thinking globally", and identify how to make themselves attractive to regional and global capital. To do this, and send a signal to the world of "here I am", communities need to demonstrate that they know where they’re going, and that they can demonstrate "intentionality". Mr. Kane proposed that cities need to reconfigure their concepts of space and role within the larger, global community. This is best done through a people-centered visioning and strategic planning approach. Creating a brand by envisioning a future, determining desired outcomes, and developing an action plan for showing stakeholders and investors that a community is "open for business" will demonstrate resilience, confidence and activity, better positioning itself for achieving their future in a globalizing economy.
II. Concurrent Sessions
The 2005 Spring Conference used three sub themes: Assuring Civic Quality, Achieving Urban Excellence; Planning for Human and Environmental Health; and Global Economic Niches.
Assuring Civic Quality and Achieving Urban Excellence
Concurrent sessions organized under the sub theme of Assuring Civic Quality, Achieving Urban Excellence focused upon civic ecology, processes, and governance. Some of the key issues raised included:
Planning for Human and Environmental Health
Our second sub theme was Planning for Human and Environmental Health, at the regional, the municipal, and the district or neighborhood level. Some of the key issues raised included:
Creating a Niche in a Global Economy
Our third and final theme addressed Creating a Niche in a Global Economy. The common focus of the presentations was that of how to respond to globalization with policies and projects, and the importance of finding your niche on the global or regional stage. Key issues raised included:
III. Where in the world . . .
The 2005 Spring Conference was capped by four case studies of intentional cities: Curitiba, Brazil; Suzhou, China; Milano, Italy; and Vancouver, Canada. Among the key themes discussed were the intentional and creative use of urban design, planning and public involvement to create quality communities; the politics of protecting culture and tradition in the face of rapid growth; and achieving livability by requiring design excellence. Four intentional cities, and four stories regarding the challenges and rewards (realized or potential) of the efforts to determine their own future.
I must admit that it was curious that the conference had no presentation regarding one of the "poster children" for successful, intentional cities-its host city of Portland, Oregon. The Portland metropolitan region is comprised of 24 cities, 3 counties, 130 special service districts and school districts, and about 370 square miles, under one regional government with overall planning and coordination responsibility (while maintaining local autonomy for daily governance and provision of services). Individual community and county comprehensive plans are coordinated within a larger, overarching regional plan, a plan developed through a broad-based public outreach effort that involved thousands of people in a very collaborative and very public process. The lessons learned through this planning process and the subsequent successes of the region’s planning partners in achieving the vision and their outcomes-based planning are the stuff of which textbooks are made. Perhaps another time…
Conclusions and Closing
What have we learned from this conference? My summary is as follows:
By way of a bottom line:
In closing, I offer these three words from the 2005 Spring Conference-EMPOWER, ENVISION and ACT. These are the three key ingredients for creating an intentional city-a city by design, not by accident or fate.
25 May 2005
I have two main objectives this morning, first, to reflect on the conference from an IFHP perspective and, then give our very warm thanks to those that made it all possible.
The principal purpose of the IFHP is to provide a platform, one which helps the exchange of information about housing and planning on an international basis. The extent to which we achieve that is how we judge success. I hope you feel that IFHP has fulfilled its purpose over these past four days. It strikes me that, as we come further into the 21st Century, this is going to become an even more important task, for a number of reasons.
The first is that globalization, and I know that is a contested term, is leading to the feeling that we are all facing similar challenges. These challenges are a lot more widespread and much deeper than they were before and, therefore, the value of talking to people in similar situations is enhanced. But that is just at one level. There is a deeper level, which is the greater policy emphasis we all need to give to the supply side. This should not be overemphasized, but large-scale, demand side measures, for example changes in interest rates and exchange rates, are less and less subject to even national control. But there is something that can be done locally about the supply side. Cities which improve their effectiveness and raise their efficiency are obviously going to compete better in the world than those that do not.
Therefore, the importance of what IFHP does working in the housing and planning fields, certainly needs more emphasis and is coming up the policy agenda in terms of trying to influence economic, environmental and social trends at the global scale.
But it goes even further than that, because the importance of IFHP is that it allows you to keep ahead of the game or certainly to keep up with the leading pack. Those concerned with urban policy cannot afford to miss out on the sort of discussions we have had at this conference. Otherwise, the cities represented here would have missed a trick as others improve their planning performance and their housing standards.
So, since I am the vice president of IFHP with special responsibility for membership, I would urge you all, if you accept what I just said, to join us.
The other aspect of the IFHP’s mission is to be international. We heard from our president, Francesc Ventura, on the first day how infrequently IFHP events are held in North America. This is a specific reason why it is important for you, particularly in these days of the internet, to join us. But I do not make this plea just for your benefit: it is for IFHP’s benefit, as well. I have had the privilege once of living and working in this country and have followed events here carefully over the last 30 years. American cities have a tremendous amount to offer the rest of the world in terms of the inventiveness and persistence they bring to meeting urban policy challenges which some, elsewhere in the world, might just turn their backs on. Therefore if you join IFHP, you can enrich us and help us become a more international society. (IFHP has been just a little too Eurocentric in the past, since that is where most of our members are from.)
IFHP has a tremendous upcoming program. Next year (2006) the equivalent of this meeting is to be held in Asia. More immediately, our annual Congress this year is in Rome, in October. "All roads lead to Rome" so there is really no excuse not to come.
I recall a group of tourists going around the Coliseum and one of them was heard to observe "If this has been here for over 2000 years, how come they haven't finished it yet?" The original version I heard of that story was that it was an America tourist, but I'm sure that is just an ugly rumor. But anyway, there will be a lot to learn. We heard earlier this morning about Milano. A city with a history does seem to develop a resilience and ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Following on from these IFHP reflections on the conference, the second major task is to thank all those who made it possible.
Obviously the first group is the City of Portland, Gil Kelley and his team. And I would put, as I know he does, the emphasis on the team, while he provides the essential leadership. Political support is also vital and Tom Potter, your mayor, has provided that in full measure.
But what we have really been impressed with is the depth of human resources here. Cities are more than collections of buildings; they are, more importantly, collections of people. The people that have led the study tours, the people who have chaired the sessions - all of you and all your Portland associates have impressed us enormously and we owe you a great deal of thanks.
It is invidious to mention individuals, but I would mention, two. One standing at the back there is Susan Hartnett. I would like to thank her identical twin sister, as well. You never see them together, as they need to be in two places at once, with the ability also to be in the right place at the right time. Thank you very much, indeed, Susan.
Every meeting of this type needs an inspiring genius and the second person I would like to mention is Arun Jain, sitting there near the front. I claim some credit in that when we held this equivalent IFHP meeting in London in 2002, Arun was our general rapporteur. We were very impressed by him. But evidently he was also quite impressed by us and decided to bring the conference to Portland. So, I would like to think that while Arun is the genius of the meeting - the intellectual inspiration of what has happened here - London was the genesis of this conference. Thank you very much, Arun.
You can characterize a conference like this as a vase of flowers. The City of Portland has designed this beautiful vase for us, but it is not complete. You need to arrange the flowers in it. At a conference the "flowers" are really the speakers; they add the essential decoration. We have had an absolutely marvelous array of speakers with, metaphorically speaking, all sorts of enticing fragrances and attractive colors and shapes, in terms of their ideas and presentations. All very different, but blending into an attractive, overall display.
Besides the flowers you also need, for those of you who know anything about flower arranging, some greenery, something to set off the main display. You have been an absolutely tremendous group of participants not just in the perceptive questions you have asked and the important points you have brought to the discussion, but also informally in the conversations that have taken place in the smaller gatherings.
I am coming to the end of the vase metaphor now. However, we still need somebody to paint this vase of flowers, to record it, so that it is not just we who benefit but others, and that also allows us to look back and remember. The person that has started to do that already is David Siegel, with his preliminary rapporteur’s report presented earlier today. I hope he will take this in the right way, as it is certainly intended with affection and admiration. To me he is the Toulouse-Lautrec figure of this conference. He is going to paint the masterpiece. He has done his sketches and is going to record for us this beautiful "vase of flowers".
In closing, as Gil Kelley, mentioned at the opening session there is a plaque in downtown Portland which records "we planned, it worked." Thank you again to everyone who helped make that quote also apply to the IFHP Spring Conference, 2005, in Portland.
25 May 2005
Thank you very much John and thank you all for attending.
I want to give particular thanks to the IFHP Board for honoring us here in Portland by holding the 2005 Spring Conference here. Thank you Arun, for your inspiration as well. We are very proud to have hosted the conference here and I know that those are the thoughts of our Mayor and City Council as well.
I think we have all learned a lot the in the last few days in this really wonderful exchange of international ideas. With your indulgence, I would just add a few reflections on the conference. I tend to think in threes, as many of the people in this room already know, and I came away with three big picture thoughts from these last few days.
One was nearly unspoken and that is a growing recognition by all of us about the undercurrents that are affecting our individual planning and city building efforts around the globe. Some of these were explicitly mentioned and others were only implied. One is the massive population shifts that are occurring now. We heard about cities in the Northern and Western hemispheres stabilizing or even declining in population while we saw other examples from the Southern and Eastern hemispheres where populations are exploding and the economies are shifting as well with that trend. We are all affected by this one way or another.
Similarly, I think we are all affected by this notion of global warming, which we really haven’t gotten our mind around, but is certainly driving much of the environmental thinking now. That’s a challenge none of us can escape now regardless of where we are on the globe. For that reason, I think our planning horizons are extending. It’s no longer sufficient to talk about 15 to 20 year plans, or even 30 year plans, but the common currency now is the 100 year look. I see that really gaining in necessity and acceptance around the globe, even as we make more short term strategies within that larger framework. Our speaker from Milan talked about centuries of incremental change, but even as he noted, Milan is thinking about some big moves to recapitalize Milan as part of a larger region, really extending out several decades of effort.
Thirdly, as part of that trend, we’ve heard that the economy of the world is indeed unifying in many ways and globalizing. That is having the effect of changing the lens of planning in many ways - from the city to the region, from the city to the metropolis - as the competitive unit in a global economy. That is affecting many of the examples we heard about from the Netherlands to China to Italy and elsewhere and it is certainly true in this region as well. This realization has not dawned on many places in North America but it will need to.
This "globalization of the economy" is also driving in some ways the monotonization of the culture. You heard many of the critiques about the architecture during the conference as being simply a sort of catalogue or picking the latest design from somewhere else on the globe, or putting their imprint on the city by clearing a large swath of land and erecting a monument. It’s not just the retail sector but also the city making sector that is going toward "off the shelf" design in a way which is having an effect on our cultural identity in many places round the globe.
We also heard that despite our huge advances in medicine and technology, in many ways our cities are unhealthy places to live and that there is a need for us to think about how we actually make cities the healthiest places to live. That will mean really looking at our paradigm of how we live and work and invest our time and energy to make human health a priority just as we think about the larger environmental health.
And finally, I think another undercurrent here that’s being recognized but will need to be fully recognized, is the complexity of decision making around the globe and the imperative for civic engagement. Perhaps it was sufficient at one point for planners and city officials to think rather magnanimously about getting citizen input, but that is no longer an option nor can it be considered a luxury. That in fact needs to become the way we plan our cities. Our opening speaker got to that point very convincingly in the Sunday evening session. But, I think we all have to think about what model works for us at whatever scale we’re working.
So, I think those are a number of the global trends that are affecting all of us.
The second point I wanted to make, and I’ll make this one much more briefly, is that, again stepping back, the ascendancy of the city or metropolis is taking place in this era of time. This was very striking to me. In fact, us being together here is sort of proving the point that in many ways it will be cities that determine the future of the globe and shape the future for the global citizens. That may be a more positive, affirming, robust model for thinking than thinking at the state, provincial or national level where there is more conflict than there is commonality. I’m very struck by the commonality in this room - in terms of our problems, our methodologies, and our willingness to share ideas and information. I think that the unit for reorganization that will make the most sense going forward is not our nations, but our cities and metropolises.
Finally, the importance of intentionality in city making has really been a value renewed here at this conference and I think our theme played out quite nicely through all the presentations that you heard. As Larry Beasley said toward the end of the conference today, "If you think it, you can do it and if you have will power, it will happen." Whether that happens incrementally over centuries as in Milan or as a bolder stoke as in Vancouver or Suzhou, it can happen but it begins with intentionality - that impulse to determine our futures. That was a very refreshing and reinvigorating message for us all to hear.
So, I want to thank you all of you for coming to Portland, and for those of you who are from Portland, for taking the time to come to this conference because certainly this discussion has reinvigorated our efforts to continually be an intentional city and engage in that effort. We are very happy that we turned the weather out for you and I hope that you can enjoy this afternoon. I’ve also heard that a number of you are staying on past today, so please take full advantage of what our city and region have to offer.
Thank you all for coming.