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Planum News_03_New Urban Languages_Tales and images of spatial justice

24 June 2015 – 26 June 2015

International Conference
New Urban Languages:
TALES AND IMAGES OF SPATIAL JUSTICE | Discussing New Urban Languages of Equality, Justice and Sustainable Development

Delft, The Netherlands
• Delft University of Technology 
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment | Department of Urbanism

Politecnico di Milano

DAStU |  Department of Architecture and Urban Studies

3rd International Conference NEW URBAN LANGUAGES 2015

24th-26th June 2015
Delft University of Technology
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment | Department of Urbanism

Architects, urbanists, designers and planners often dodge issues of democracy, justice and redistribution and concentrate instead on the technical or aesthetic aspects of their activities. This is not acceptable. Justice and fairness in urban development must be continuously and critically discussed, or else we risk failing to meet the social dimension of sustainability. This is described by Larsen (2012), among others, for whom "for sustainability to occur, it must occur simultaneously in each of its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental".
But spatial interventions, plans and designs do not happen in a vacuum. They happen in real governance structures, in which there are power struggles, disagreement and continuous negotiation. In short, urbanism happens in political arenas. [...]
The recent financial crisis has highlighted at least one convergence: cities all over the world are becoming more unequal and socially and spatially fragmented, even in the developed world. This is very bad news, as it is widely accepted that economic growth alone is not enough to promote well-being: equity is important too. There is plenty of data showing correlation between inequality in a society and economic success. And more evidence showing that inequality is socially and economically unsustainable in the long run. But we must leave the dry world of statistics and try to understand inequality where it happens: in space. In order to advance the discussion, we need to explore some key issues of spatial inequality and its antidote: spatial justice.
In this conference, we want to explore the concept of spatial justice and its implications for urban planners and designers. We also wish to understand in which ways we can describe, imagine and represent spatial justice, in a time in which the representation of reality can be used to distort, embellish, and falsify it.

The debate will be structured in four connected sessions:

I. The informal city and its discontents: critical analyses on informal urban practices and the design and planning responses given to it
The debate on urbanization and housing being currently conducted by many architects and urban designers in European schools seems to rely on one main assumption: as many governments seem unable or unwilling to promote access to adequate housing, citizens must thus take the problem in their own hands. The result is the praise of informality as a way of urbanization and housing provision. [...] This session seeks to elaborate a critique of this position and discuss the role of planners and designers in housing and urban development in the Global South today. 

II. The city of the rich (and the city of the poor): political organization of space and spatial segregation
[...] In the last years new forms of spatial segregation have redefined in European and non European cities new geographies of spatial inequalities and new languages of distinction and privilege, through exclusive residential projects, gated communities, etc.. The session is aimed at the exploration of the theoretical and empirical conditions of these new forms of segregation and self-segregation, and at the analysis of the spatial and social consequences of these processes in terms of political citizenship. [...]

III. Utopian images of spatial justice: are architects and planners designers of the just city?
Architects, designers, urbanists and landscapers have traditionally arrogated themselves great powers in promoting social change. [...] Architecture and urbanism have been fuelled by utopian images of progress. But the reality of poverty and increasing inequality has exposed such ambitions as fallacies. [...] Designers must seek a much more realistic role for themselves in contributing for change. This session will explore images of justice and redistribution through the work of architects and designers who have achieved or inspired change.

IV. Multiplicitous Representations of the Thirdspace. Visual thinking the spatial justice between the real and the ideal city
The modern proliferation of multiple tales of the city is increasingly being played through the pervasive language of images. [...] This session aims to discuss the concept of Thirdspace (Soja) as a catalyst for images of the 'real city'. In Thirdspace, issues of spatial justice require innovative ways to be represented. On the other hand, Thirdspace requires/uses visions of imaginary and imaginable cities, images of ideal cities and utopias that are linked to a long Western cultural history. These images may be a virtual ground for experimentation and change.

April 20, 2015 | 
Abstract due
May 5, 2015 | 
Notification acceptance
May 5, 2015 | Registration Open
May 30, 2015 | 
Registration Closed
June 4, 2015 | 
Full Paper submission


• Roberto Rocco, Department of Urbanism, TU Delft
• Rossella Salerno, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano
• Daniele Villa Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano
• Frank Eckardt, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
• Javier Ruiz Sanchez Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Grupo de investigación: Paisaje Cultural. Intervenciones contemporáneas en la ciudad y el territorio

• Jan van Ballegooijen, Delft University of Technology
• Matteo Bolocan Goldstein, Politecnico di Milano
• Antonella Contin, Politecnico di Milano
• Marcin Dawbroswki, Delft University of Technology
• Frank Eckardt, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
• Ana Maria Fernandez Maldonando, Delft University of Technology
• Luca Gaeta, Politecnico di Milano
• Andrea Giordano, Università di Padova
• Sofia Morgado, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa
• Gabriele Pasqui, Politecnico di Milano
• Paola Pucci, Politecnico di Milano
• Roberto Rocco, Delft University of Technology
• Rossella Salerno, Politecnico di Milano
• Javier Ruiz Sanchez, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
• Daniele Villa, Politecnico di Milano

Conference Website


Event schedule:

  • Start: 06-24-2015
  • End: 06-26-2015.