New York. Shanghai. London. Mexico City. Johannesburg. Berlin. Mumbai. São Paulo. Istanbul. These cities will provide the testing ground for our urban future.
The late 20th Century was the age of economic globalisation. The first part of the 21st Century will be the age of the city, the ‘Urban Age.’ For the first time in the history of humanity, more than half of the earth’s population lives in an urban area. ...
In China, India, Africa, and Latin America, urban populations are exploding and cities are growing exponentially. At the same time, many developed cities are shrinking and being radically restructured as a result of shifting economic bases and new patterns of migration. With investment in urban real estate, infrastructure and renovation becoming the driving force behind economic growth, the physical and social landscapes of the city are being powerfully altered.
Urban policymakers are struggling to balance this massive growth in public and private investment with more sustainable forms of urban development. Questions regarding the shape, size, density and distribution of the city have become increasingly complex and politicised. The concept of the city has come to play a central role in the minds of civic leaders and urban policymakers. The design of the built environment, the distribution of urban density, and their impacts on social cohesion and quality of life are at the forefront of political discussions in towns and cities across the globe.
Politicians, investors, planners and architects are, in effect, becoming inebriated with cities. In this rapidly changing context, we need to understand the after-effects of this unprecedented urban shift. We need to come to grips with the social hangover that will result from a sustained investment in the physical restructuring of cities worldwide to avoid the disastrous human consequences of so much planning over the last 50 years.
These are the questions and issues that have lead to the creation of The Urban Age, a six-year sequence of international conferences held in cities across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe between 2005 and 2010. The Urban Age will construct the framework for a developing network of individuals that exchanges information, experiences and data, emphasising the relationships between concrete investment, design and building, and the economic, environmental, social, political and cultural processes that shape city life.