Sustainable London? The Future of a Global City

Date and time
Monday 24 November

5.30pm-8pm (GMT)

Location
The Centre for Creative Collaboration, Kings Cross

Sustainable London? The Future of a Global City

Discussant(s)

Anna Minton (UEL)
Dr. Ben Campkin (UCL)
John McKiernan (Platform-7)
 

“Sustainability is a term that has risen in prominance just as global cities like London are becoming even less sustainable. This important new book calls for a renewed emphasis on social justice in urban policy making. The authors remind us of the things that really matter in life and the political battles that need to be won over wages, housing, transport and the environment.”
Professor Jane Wills, Queen Mary University of London
 
“It’s no longer a surprise that the words ‘sustainable development’ at best are marginal adjustments, or more likely, cynical greenwash. Sustainable London explores the results in ruthless detail – seen in the ‘post-political’, socially cleansed ‘mixed communities’, complete with their ‘poor doors’ and ‘anti-homeless spikes’ – it is a way-marker which sets the agenda.”
Joe Ravetz, Co-Director, Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, University of Manchester
 
How is London responding to social and economic crises, and to the challenges of sustaining its population, economy and global status?
 
Sustainable development discourse has come to permeate different policy fields, including transport, housing, property development and education. In this exciting book, authors highlight the uneven impacts and effects of these policies in London, including the creation of new social and economic inequalities. The contributors seek to move sustainable city debates and policies in London towards a progressive, socially just future that advances the public good. 
 
The book is essential reading for urban practitioners and policy makers, and students in social, urban and environmental geography, sociology and urban studies.

South(Africa)-South(America): Segregation and Housing in São Paulo and Johannesburg

Date and time
Monday 23rd June

2pm-5pm (GMT)

Location
Exhibition Room, PBG07, Pearson Building, Gower Street, UCL (see www.ucl.ac.uk/maps for directions)

South(Africa)-South(America): Segregation and Housing in São Paulo and Johannesburg

Speakers

Marie Huchzermeyer (Architecture and Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand)

Eduardo Marques (Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of Sao Paulo)

Comments

Charlotte Lemanski (UCL Geography)

Márcio Valença (University of Natal, Brazil)


The final event of the Urban Salon year, 2-5pm on Monday 23 June, will be a South(Africa)-South(America) encounter, with a Johannesburg-São Paulo comparative exchange between Marie Huchzermeyer (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) and Eduardo Marques (University of São Paulo, Brazil). Commentators will be Márcio Valença (University of Natal, Brazil) and Charlotte Lemanski (UCL Geography).  The afternoon workshop will explore comparative experiences of segregation and housing policy in both cities. It will also provide an opportunity to engage with wider provocations as to the scope for building understandings of urban processes through such South-South intersections, perhaps side-stepping Northern based theorisations.

An Urban Salon – UCL Urban Lab Workshop

The programme will proceed as follows:

2pm -3.15pm:

The persistence of segregated urban form in South Africa: housing policy, the planning system and rights

Marie Huchzermeyer (Architecture and Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand)

State-assisted housing in post-apartheid South Africa is largely blamed for the perpetuation of segregated urban form. In this presentation, I demonstrate the scale of this housing delivery to destitute households, and locate it within the context of the country’s high level of inequality and poverty, and the extent of reliance on social grants. However, the cause of urban expansion in highly segregated patterns lies also with an unreformed planning system which has not empowered municipalities to direct new developments (whether private or state-subsidised) in accordance with officially adopted visions of compact and less segregated urban form. Given a transformative Constitution which entrenches socio-economic rights, the Constitutional Court has been called upon to rule on inadequacies in housing policy, in the planning system and in the realization of housing-related rights. In this sense, it has contributed towards shaping three emerging normative frameworks – housing policy, planning and rights, but not in a way that reaches far enough to reverse the dominant urban spatial form.

With commentary by Márcio Valença (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil)

3.30pm – 4.45pm:

Poverty, spaces and segregation in São Paulo, XXI century

 

Eduardo Marques (Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of Sao Paulo)

 

The presentation will discuss the changes in poverty, social structure and residential segregation in São Paulo in the 2000s. I begin with the description of the dynamics of poverty, the labor market and income inequality in the metropolitan region, as well as the changes in social structure. Following this, I analyze the spatial distribution of social groups in space, as well as their segregation patterns by class and race. The data show no signs of social polarization and some elements of professionalization, differently from what has been discussed internationally. The metropolis continues to be intensely segregated and structured around a clear pattern of avoidance between social groups. However, although the changes of the 2000s increased the exclusivity of the areas inhabited by elites, they also tended to increase the heterogeneity in the rest of the city, contributing to greater social mix in the intermediate spaces and the peripheries. The last part of the presentation will explore information on personal networks of poor individuals in the city, discussing their possible role in bridging segregated spaces and in integrating territorially isolated individuals.

 

With commentary by Charlotte Lemanski (UCL Geography).

Final wrap up commentary: 4.45-5pm: tbc

Debating High-rise Urbanism

Date and time
Monday 9 June

6-8pm (BST)

Location
G07, Pearson Building, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps)

Debating High-rise Urbanism

Panel

Dr. Andrew Harris, UCL Department of Geography

Justin McGuirk, Writer and director of Strelka Press

Dr. Richard Baxter, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London

Paul Scott, Make Architects

Professor Peter Wynne Rees, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and former City Planning Officer, City of London


London and the UK in general are witnessing an increased interest in popular debates around the recent spurt in high-rise buildings. While much of these have been rooted in the architectural discussion around its appropriateness as a design typology to a city like London (and other British cities), the discourse is not new to urban studies either where concerns around the practice of building skyscrapers have been set against the pressures of capitalist urbanisation, with high-rises seen as a symbolically and economically essential ingredient of the �entrepreneurial city�. While these are crucial dimensions of the debate, recently scholars have begun to diversify the dialogue by exploring aspects of everyday practices that explain how this specific urbanity is globalised and localised, ranging from the design and construction process to the more quotidian reality of high-rise living. It is in this context that this event by bringing together academics and practitioners proposes an inter-disciplinary engagement with the larger challenges and opportunities embedded within the production of high-rise urbanism to bring a more nuanced understanding to the debate.

Contact:

Dr. Pushpa Arabindoo; 

Urban comparativism: some reflections and challenges on how to actually do it

Date and time
Tuesday 3 June 2014
6pm

Location
UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room G07, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Urban comparativism: some reflections and challenges on how to actually do it

Speaker
Sara Gonzalez (Geography, Leeds University)

Discussant(s)
Loretta Lees (Geography, Leicester University)


There is a now an established literature on urban comparativism sparked by the works of Colin McFarlane and Jennifer Robinson. This work suggests that we need to move beyond traditional urban comparative approaches, often conceived within positivists frameworks and geographically limited to the Global North. The comparativist turn argues, however, that comparison should be broadened not to just to include different cities or moments within cities but also as an approach rather than simply as a method. This involves also learning from urban difference and thinking theoretically through urban comparison.

In this session I will present some reflections and challenges of trying to do comparativist research drawing mainly from two ongoing research projects/networks: one looking at the impact of the global financial crisis in 4 European cities and another a research network between Spanish, British and Latin-American universities looking at contestation in cities. The aim of the session is not to provide answers but to spark a discussion where we can think collectively how to best approach urban comparativism drawing from examples that I will present and that the audience will hopefully bring.

All are welcome. 

Imaging Collapse: the Aesthetics of Economic Downfall

Date and time
Tuesday 3rd June 2014

6pm (BST)

Location

UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room GO07, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (see www.ucl.ac.uk/maps)

Imaging Collapse: the Aesthetics of Economic Downfall 

Speaker
Mireille Roddier, Associate Professor, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, University of Michigan

Discussant(s)
Louis Moreno

Chair
Pushpa Arabindoo (Co-organiser Urban Salon)


Drawing from my proposed book project, Imaging Collapse is interested in expanding the lens through which extreme instances of urban blight and fiscal ill-being are portrayed, and to borrow from interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks in order to make sense of the ramifications of such accounts on contemporary architectural production outside of the claims generated from within the discipline. In particular, I would like to question four interdependent aspects of this production that seem worth probing: its reliance upon, contribution to, and naturalization of post-industrial ruin imagery understood through aesthetic and affect theories; its relationship to the relational aesthetics discourse coming from the art world; its capitalization by cultural institutions and the logics of curation, cultural power and recuperation; and its alleged role in creative class urban gentrification in light of the financing of architecture in an era of economic decline. While the focus of my work is not limited to Detroit, the city serves as a case study for many of its parts. It analyses and reveals the complications in much of the architectural work currently emerging out of socio-economically deprived urban contexts in the service of further production by asking: how do we negotiate the creation of architectural artifacts that are either intended for, or recuperated by, the cultural establishment, in a context marked by social violence on the general public.

The relationship between gentrification and public policy in Berlin – a conversation with London.

Date and time
Thursday 8 May 2014

6pm

Location
UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room GO07, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT. (see www.ucl.ac.uk/maps)

 The relationship between gentrification and public policy in Berlin – a conversation with London.

Speaker

Dr. Matthias Bernt (Department of Sociology, Helmholtz Centre, Leipzig)

 

Panel
Tim Butler (KCL)

James Fourniere (KCL)

Juliet Kahne (KCL)

Alan Latham (UCL)

Richard Lee (Just Space)

Paul Watt (Birkbeck).

 

Chair
Professor Loretta Lees (Co-organiser Urban Salon)


Over the last years, an increasing number of scholarly contributions have become interested in the interrelation of gentrification and public policies. Thereby, the idea that public policies today have become a main driver of gentrification has become a somewhat commonly understood fact.

This talk takes issue with this view. It explores the changing interrelation of gentrification and public policy in the neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg (Berlin) and argues that while demise in the face of market forces is clearly visible here, the scope of relations between public policies and gentrification is much wider and more complex. The reason for this is the double-character of housing as a commodity and a social right which leads to highly unstable and contradictory regeneration policies. 

Against this background I call for more awareness to varying national and local policy contexts in gentrification research.  I argue that what is widely coined as “gentrification” is in fact an umbrella term for fairly disparate socio-spatial formations which are marked by different policies and state structures and result in different dynamics of regeneration and population change. 

Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism

Date and time

Thursday 5 December

6pm (GMT)

 

Location
UCL Gower St., Pearson Building Exhibition Room, G07

Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism

Speakers
David Madden(Sociology, LSE)

Paul Watt(Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck, University of London)

 


David Madden (Sociology, LSE) on Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism

 

Abstract

New York City has the largest and arguably most successful public housing program in the US, operated by NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority). While other US cities have demolished their public housing, NYCHA has maintained its public housing stock and largely resisted privatization; there has been no widespread redevelopment or “Right to Buy” in New York. But I argue that an examination of housing policies and neighborhood development in New York demonstrates that NYCHA has nonetheless undergone neoliberalization in various ways. New York’s public housing is, I argue, being reregulatedrecontextualized and decollectivized, such that it is becoming increasingly enmeshed with the politics of dispossession that is directed towards working class and poor New Yorkers. Drawing on ethnographic and historical data, I discuss the ways in which these processes have impact NYCHA’s tenants and the spaces in which they live, and conclude with an analysis of some of the contradictions of public housing in a privatizing time.

Paul Watt (Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck, University of London) on The Class Transformation of Public Housing in London: From Gentrification Buffer to State-led Gentrification

 

Abstract

This presentation sets out a developmental and conceptual framework for understanding the shifting inter-connections between public (council) housing and gentrification in London. It argues that council housing played a key role as a buffer against gentrification in London during the 1960s-80s. During this period, certain inner London councils, notably Camden and Islington, used the municipalisation of private rental housing as a deliberate policy strategy to counter first-wave “pioneer” gentrification. However this buffer role has been diminished under neoliberalism. This occurred partly via the 1980 Right-to-Buy policy, but more recently by New Labour’s regeneration policies, including stock transfers to ‘not-for-profit’ housing associations, demolitions and the sale of estates/land to developers. Contemporary shifts in council housing can be considered as a key constituent part of third-wave, state-led gentrification in London. The presentation develops the notion of a ‘state-induced rent gap’ – whereby the physical public housing stock has been inadequately maintained while land values have risen. Finally, the presentation will examine how the transformation of public housing is negatively impacting on London’s low-income population and is thereby exacerbating social inequalities. The paper draws upon a range of data sources, including interviews with estate residents and young people living in temporary accommodation.

 

 

Further details TBA.

De-centring global urban studies: learning from small cities in Africa

Date and time
Thursday 21 November 

6pm (GMT)

Location

LSE Houghton St., Old Building RoomOLD.3.21

(Maps and Directions: http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/findingYourWayAroundLSE.aspx)

De-centring global urban studies: learning from small cities in Africa

Speaker
Mathieu Hilgers (Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Free University of Brussels)

Discussant(s)
 Deborah Potts (Geography, King’s College London) and Ryan Centner (Geography and Environment, LSE)

Chair
Hyun Bang Shin, LSE


Over the last decade there has been a major scholarly push in urban studies, led by research in the South, to decentre the field, to contest Western analyses, and to produce studies that discuss and critique dominant theories. This presentation participates in this dynamic by focusing on cities that are home to the invisible urban majority in Africa. Today, half of city-dwellers worldwide live in urban areas with populations of less than500,000.  In Africa, 60% of people live in such small and mid-sized towns.Nonetheless, in academic work, Africa’s lesser cities are relegated to a double periphery which reflects the importance attributed to them: the peripheral status of Africa in the world, and that of smaller cities within Africa. Drawing on long term fieldwork in numerous cities and discussing scholarly research in many disciplines this talk constitutes a first step to theorize these cities as structurally relevant in the global age but also as specific in that ‘the way they “do” city-ness is distinctive, while still recognizably urban’ (Bell and Jayne 2009: 695). 

 

 

Bios:

Mathieu Hilgers is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Free University of Brussels and visiting fellow at University of London.His current research focuses on the neoliberal expansion in the global South and analyses the relationship between capitalism, urbanization and state building. He is the author of numerous articles (published in Theory, Culture and Society, Social Anthropology, Theory and Psychology, L’homme Revue française d’anthropologie) and has published and coordinated several books, the most recent (together with Eric Mangez) entitled “Social Field Theory. Concept and Applications” will come out in 2014, Routledge.

 

Please do bring drinks or nibbles to share after the seminar, when there will be an opportunity for informal discussion and networking.

Learning from International Urban Planning Practice

Date and time
Thurs 17 October 2013
6pm (GMT)

Location

 UCL Gower St., Pearson Building Exhibition Room, G07

Learning from International Urban Planning Practice

Speaker

Rosanna Law (AECOM Design and Planning, London)

Robin Bloch (ICF GHK, London)

Discussant(s)
Mike Raco (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL) 

Camillo Boano (Development Planning Unit, UCL).

Chair
Jenny Robinson (Geography, UCL)


Rosanna Law will draw on the case study of the Doha Masterplan. Her article with Kevin Underwood, “Msheireb Heart of Doha: An Alternative Approach to Urbanism in the Gulf Region” (International Journal of Islam Architecture, 2012) can be found on the urban salon website (www.theurbansalon.org). 

Abstract

The objective of this article is to highlight some of the challenges faced by emerging Gulf nation states in modernizing their cities. The Msheireb Heart of Doha Masterplan is used as an exemplar project to offer an alternative approach in urban planning and regeneration in the region. The article describes how the challenges of land ownership, privatization, climate, social diversity and cultural relevance are dealt with in the masterplan, which seeks to create a modern Qatari homeland that is rooted in its local traditions and heritage. Towards the end of the article, reflections and evaluations are examined to prompt further thoughts and discussions. 

Robin Bloch will draw the lessons derived from a number of recent projects with DFID, the World Bank, GFDRR and EuropeAid. These include a guidebook on Urban Flooding (https://www.gfdrr.org/urbanfloods); a five city climate change adaptation planning initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean; urban and spatial plan making in Sierra Leone and in Ghana; and a new large-scale urbanisation research programme just starting in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation will argue that a new era of state-driven urban reformism has now emerged with which practitioners and academics need better to understand and engage.

Guidebook on Urban Flooding.  

 

Bios:

Rosanna Law is a Director/Senior Associate of urban design at AECOM Design + Planning, London. An architect-urbanist by training, Rosanna Law sees the crafting of places and spatial planning as an integral part of social policies. Her design leadership for the Msheireb Heart of Doha Masterplan has set a new benchmark for urban planning in the region. Global urban issues such as climate change, cultural diversity and rapid urbanization are consciously addressed through her masterplanning strategies in the United Kingdom, Russia and the Middle East.

 

Robin Bloch is a Technical Director: Urban Planning at ICF GHK, London, with responsibility for consultancy in Planning, Land and Economic Development. He is an urban and regional planner and economist, educated first in South Africa, and then at the University of California, Berkeley. His principal areas of expertise include urban and metropolitan spatial and land use planning; urban and regional economic development; and urban environmental management, resilience and sustainability. Robin has over 20 years of international experience of research, policy making and urban planning, at local, regional and national government levels in sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. He is a Visiting Professor in Urban Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and a Co-investigator on the Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure project, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada. 

Smart Cities and Speculative Urbanisms

Date and time
Tuesday 21 May 2013
6pm (BST)

Location
UCL Geography

Smart Cities and Speculative Urbanisms

Speaker(s)
Nerea Calvillo, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

Jennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of London

 


Nerea Calvillo, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

Test Bed Urbanism: Data, Machines and Conduits as the Inhabitants of Songdo

The city of Songdo (South Korea) has been promoted as the first smart city built from scratch. By looking at how the implementation of digital technologies has conditioned (or not) its urban design and built environment, this paper tries to identify some properties of this new territory. By defining this city as a test-bed, it is possible to question a broader logic of testing and big data that emerge as new forms of governmentality. What types of knowing and acting are facilitated by way of test-beds, and what makes them specific to our contemporary condition?

Jennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of London

Programming Environments: Environmentality and Citizen Sensing in the Smart City

A new wave of smart cities projects is underway that proposes and deploys sensor-based ubiquitous computing across infrastructures and mobile devices to achieve greater sustainability. But in what ways do these digital programs of sustainability give rise to distinct material-political arrangements and practices within cities? And what are the implications of these distributions of governance for urban citizens and ways of life? This presentation will consider the ways in which speculative smart city project proposals might be understood through processes of environmentality, or the distribution of governance within and through environments and environmental technologies. Revisiting and reworking Foucault’s notion of environmentality not as the production of environmental subjects, but as a spatial-material distribution and relationality of power through environments, technologies and ways of life, this paper further considers which practices of citizenship emerge through computational sensing and monitoring that are a critical part of the operations and imaginings of smart and sustainable cities.