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IV Biennal - Rotterdam 2001

Parallel Session 3: Cultural identities

Report: Petra Potz (Informationskreis für Raumplanung, Germany - member of the PIWP)

The participants discussed the question of which cultural elements determine identity and what the consequences of them are for urban planning. Numerous examples were discussed, for example from Rotterdam, Enschede, Almere, Antwerp. Copenhagen and Barcelona.
Special attention was devoted to the German projects with a strong social slant, oriented on a densely populated 19th century district with different cultures. The question is how a balance can be struck between these cultures without amalgamating them into one culture.
In Antwerp a cultural angle was seized in relation to innovation and to realise - with reference to the past - a new identity. Almere appeared to be a special case because it is a completely new city, without any history. Here the pioneering spirit determines the cultural identity. The example of Copenhagen shows the importance of partnership: participation is better than just looking on.
The examples show how important it is to connect the physical and the social aspects. Planning demands more than only technical skills and the non-physical qualities of a city should be much better exploited.