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Biennal Roma 1997

Urban challenge in Europe: the second Biennial of Towns and Planners in Europe

The effects of the process of European integration are now perceptible also on the level of the cities. This was the opinion of the European urban planners who accepted the invitation of INU to the Second Biennale and the First Survey of European Planning held at Rome in September 1997.
Over 100 cities and over 1000 planners from all over Europe testified to the fact that the European territory is characterised both by phenomena of urban concentration and by sprawling development around the traditional nuclei of the towns.
On the analytical plane this is an observation that confirms that made by the European Commission (GD XVI), a careful observer of developmental trends in the EU's territory.
Besides, on the local level, the opening of markets is forcing cities to measure themselves against new forms of strategic action, of which urban planning is just one component.
The major cities are thus boosting the competitive advantages of their traditional sectorial specialisations, while lesser cities are producing new circuits and collaborative forms of networking, embodying the response of numerous local communities to the globalization of the economy and giving rise to empirical experiments that go beyond the insights provided by certain recent theoretical assumptions.
Among these cases are the experiences of solidarity on the social level, both intraurban and interurban, concrete manifestations of that social project that has always been at the core of European urban civilisation. The reassertion of the principles of urban identity and environmental sustainability also constitute two precise directions by which cities are transferring onto the physical space the traditional value of history and the more recent value of the compatibility between urban society and environmental resources.
It is a fact that European urban-planning culture is today showing itself to be very careful about the innovations produced by the process of convergence within the EU and capable of itself constituting the original ground of elaboration, capable of moving from the particular to the general.
With this presupposition European urban planners have fixed an objective for themselves: the construction of a common review as the product of their collective reflection, to be organised using the new instruments made available by information technology.