Main theme - ”Built environment and architecture as a resource”
Many cities worldwide are in the process of developing resilient strategic frameworks for the future to adapt their physical structures to the challenges of tomorrow. The aim of this conference is to discuss how cities, neighbourhoods, buildings and citizens can become resilient, and what role architects and urban planners may play in this process.
The built environment with its infrastructures, buildings, spaces and landscapes is a relatively slow-transforming socio-technical assemblage. This is due to the large resources it takes to found and change physical constructions. The existing built environment will remain for a long time. For this reason society in general and architects and urban planners in particular need strategies, models and technologies to meet the transformation pressures caused by climate change, demographic change, social segregation, and macroeconomic fluctuations that manifest themselves in congested urban regions as well as in shrinking cities.
It is noteworthy that some definitions of the term “resilience” suggest that the built environment not just returns to its original state after changes, but instead reaches a renewed state, which is even more resilient than the original. According to this idea, the new state should open up new possibilities for better resource efficiency, better economic profitability, better technical resistance and, particularly, new opportunities for social regeneration and evolving lifestyles as well as new cultural values.
Based on this, the built environment is more likely a resource than a hindrance for future development. Our building stock and infrastructure include a vast amount of public wealth that is not valued only by gross floor area. High quality architecture creates values that cannot be measured by economic indicators only. What kind of values are we able to create by architectural design and planning? What kind of design strategies, models, tools and technologies are needed in order to help architects, planners, decision makers and property developers treat the built environment as a resource? Do new or alternative modes of economy - for instance shared economy - in society regenerate our mind-sets and practices?
A research field as wide as described above requires multidisciplinary and extensive methodological approaches. We encourage the participants to tackle the theme of the symposium from fresh and diverse standpoints. Theoretical and practical approaches are equally welcomed, as well as spatial and temporal explorations through different architectonic scales and epochs. Papers can be submitted as either scientific articles or academic essays. These will be reviewed according to thematic relevance, quality and scientific standards. We invite scholars and practitioners from architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning to submit papers within the following thematic tracks: Theory and its uses, Spatial and social interaction / co-creation, Transition and time and Circular buildings and cities.
Theory and its uses
What kind of theorizing is needed to meet the future challenges? To fully cover the built environment and architecture as a resource in society, this issue should be addressed as widely as possible. Traditionally, the city and its built environment are usually understood as users of resources, but they should be seen also as the producers of new ones. Every site has potential resources - values and qualities - that can be investigated and developed by design. And besides the economic and material resources, we should include also the social ones. The qualities of the built environment and architecture as well as people’s everyday lives must be identified as important assets in this discussion. To understand this complex socio-technical system in society with its functions, flows and causations, we must enhance not only new and applied research but also basic research. From this understanding, new tools for architectural design, urban planning, decision-making and research should be achieved.
Spatial and social interaction / co-creation
In what ways are the possibilities for social interaction changing in today’s urban environments? In recent decades, various types of urban activism have brought new life to city cores. Spontaneous pop-up events have sometimes even evolved into more organized regularly occurring happenings. At the same time, citizen participation has reached a level where individual groups may come up with urban planning scenarios that offer an alternative to the official versions developed by professionals. In addition, co-creation has increasingly become a part of the official planning process, with collaborative charrettes and new GIS platforms offering citizens a possibility to voice their opinions. Discussions are continued in the social media, which thus complement the traditional urban spaces as a scene of social interaction. Augmented reality is bringing its own layer to this interaction and the experience of the urban environment. The city is everybody’s business, and the ways of participation are constantly developing. We welcome papers that critically discuss the theme or use it as a lens to reflect on past or present changes in how society understands and defines the city and its urban environment.
Transition and time
Is there a peaceful path to the urban reform of our time? The early modernists wanted to break away from the burdens of history and begin a new era of architecture. The transformation of cities in the twentieth century was radical and visible. Since then, architecture has created its own "modern" urban layers. As we today to some extent use cities differently from the past, the activities of planning and design have increasingly become re-planning, re-designing and re-using the existing environment. This development is not necessarily linear. The current challenges of sustainability may require just as big a reform as that faced by the early modernists. One important difference remains, however: instead of adopting a totalizing vision of the city, we have to get along with the existing urban diversity. The solution may rely on radical innovations, but it would be a great benefit if we also recognised the existing urban environment as a set of valuable resources. How this would be possible, is an open field for new ideas and approaches. We call for papers that will take these matters into critical consideration.
Circular buildings and cities
Will our current architecture stand the test of time? With cities growing as ever, the globe is running out of vital resources such as, for example, sand, due to the cradle-to-grave nature of modern construction. At the same time, buildings are discarded after unprecedented short life spans. This obviously unsustainable situation calls for both reactive and proactive approaches to the way we build our buildings and cities. The idea of circularity fosters the perspective of a new architecture that is timeless, flexible, adaptive and/or structurally designed for deconstruction, relocation and, eventually, recycling. It also views existing buildings as an undervalued stock of spatial and material resources whose life cycle claims are extended in one form or another. At the city scale, circularity takes into account not only sustainable inflows and outflows of building materials but also those of water, traffic and other infrastructure systems. This thematic track embraces studies into dynamics of cities and stocks, helping to understand the larger behavioural patterns underlying our everyday environments.