The Good City Conference

The Urban Transformations Consortium’s Conference on the theme of the ‘Good City’ was held in Oxford last week from April 18thto 20th. A variety of approaches to cities were presented with panel sessions devoted to healthy cities, shelter and ownership, labour markets and migration, environment and technology and social movements. These were contested with a series of more methodological and philosophic statements focussing around cities: the orderly city, the spontaneous city, the intelligent city, the self-sufficient city, the sustainable city and the imaginative city. Five keynote presentations were the highlights between the working sessions with contributions from different cities around the world: Detroit, Durban, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo and London. You can see the program by clicking here.

My own contribution was the last one where I drew from our work in CASA in London with my themes that the city can be read through the generic theme of information – not smart cities, or even intelligent cities or virtual cities but information cities. Thus is an old idea but it is increasingly necessary to think of cities as being the hubs of information flow as we transform headlong from a world dominated by energy to one of information. I had a go at starting my talk by walking through a little fragment of the city and explaining how information technology characterises what we see on the walk, in the past as well as the present, but as a prelude to the future. You can get my talk if you click here and on the image above.

 

Urban Clusters and Agglomeration

A new paper from our group. Click here for the paper and also for the issue of Environment and Planning B .

Abstract: Agglomeration economies are a persistent subject of debate in regional science and city planning. Their definition turns on whether or not larger cities are more efficient than smaller ones. Here, we complement existing discussions on agglomeration economies by providing a sensitivity analysis of estimated externalities to the definitions of urban agglomeration. We regress wages versus population and jobs over thousands of different definitions of cities in France, based on an algorithmic aggregation of spatial units. We also search for evidence of larger inequalities in larger cities. This paper therefore focuses on the spatial and economic complexity of the mechanisms defining agglomeration within and between cities.

In The Post-Urban World

This new book edited by Tigran Haas and Hans Westlund from KTH is a collection of interesting and somewhat oblique essays on the urban world we have entered. Lot of people you know writing here. Ed Glaeser, Richard Florida, Patrick Adler, Rahul Mehrotra, Felipe Vera, myself, Hans Westlund, Paul Knox, and Richard Sennett – and that is the first part. And then in two more parts: Jessie Poon, Wei Yin, Kaisa Snellman, Jennifer Silva, Carl Frederick, Robert Putnam, Kyle Farrell, Tigran Haas, Fulong Wu, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp, Edward Soja, Fran Tonkiss, Laura Burkhalter, Manuel Castells, Saskia Sassen, Susan Fainstein, Emily Talen, Michael Neuman, Nadia Nur, Nina-Marie Lister, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman. You can get a sneak preview using some Google Gizmo that is attached to the site.

In the last few decades, many global cities and towns have experienced unprecedented economic, social, and spatial structural change. Today, we find ourselves at the juncture between entering a post-urban and a post-political world, both presenting new challenges to our metropolitan regions, municipalities, and cities. Many megacities, declining regions and towns are experiencing an increase in the number of complex problems regarding internal relationships, governance, and external connections. In particular, a growing disparity exists between citizens that are socially excluded within declining physical and economic realms and those situated in thriving geographic areas. This book conveys how forces of structural change shape the urban landscape.

In The Post-Urban World is divided into three main sections: Spatial Transformations and the New Geography of Cities and Regions; Urbanization, Knowledge Economies, and Social Structuration; and New Cultures in a Post-Political and Post-Resilient World. One important subject covered in this book, in addition to the spatial and economic forces that shape our regions, cities, and neighbourhoods, is the social, cultural, ecological, and psychological aspects which are also critically involved. Additionally, the urban transformation occurring throughout cities is thoroughly discussed. Written by today’s leading experts in urban studies, this book discusses subjects from different theoretical standpoints, as well as various methodological approaches and perspectives; this is alongside the challenges and new solutions for cities and regions in an interconnected world of global economies.