World View Blog
If you are 30 years old, then 260 million people have moved from rural China into its cities during your life time. This amounts to more than half of the current EU population. 117M moved in the decade between 2000 and 2010. Environmental pollution in many of these cities is still terrible, and for many migrants the housing conditions remain well below acceptable western norms. However, a case can also be made that this has been the most successful mass-migration from the countryside in human history. But now serious questions are being asked, and reform is on the agenda.
Posted May 26, 2014 by & filed
“Architecture is for people”. This is how the new Danish Architecture Policy begins. The Danish government sees architecture as defining the country at home and internationally. It is about competitiveness, moving towards sustainability and social cohesion. The new policy depicts architecture as contributing to “the development of the welfare state”, and says that local authorities have a key role to play. “The municipalities set the overall goals and visions for an area’s physical development and implement the realization of the visions in a dialogue with the public and with market players.”
Posted May 6, 2014 by Share
Will the UN adopt a post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal addressing urbanisation and human settlements? The draft for the new goals will be agreed early in June, before going to the UN General Assembly for what is expected to be formal endorsement. Thus this month is crucial, and planners, other construction professions, urban researchers and civic bodies need to be making their voices heard quickly.
Posted April 21, 2014 by Share
I was in Botswana recently. Planning there is going through a significant transformation. New legislation that came into force in April 2014 will see significant devolution of planning powers to 16 District-level authorities. Twelve of these are rural. As planning goes local the challenge will be to deliver a more strategic and sophisticated form of planning, and to ensure that young planners beginning their professional careers in remote parts of the country get the support they will need to deliver the new planning system. RTPI accreditation of the planning programme at University of Botswana will support this significant transition.
Posted March 28, 2014 by
In May in Vienna there will be a unique event. It will bring together sixteen people who have been leading figures in the academic development of planning over the past decades – or fifteen and me to be more accurate! The Evolution of Planning Thought project seeks to collect an oral history of how ideas about planning have developed, and to do it before the Grim Reaper silences those who played leading roles. It’s international planning history through the eyes of those who created it.
Fifty years ago few people thought of planning as a discipline. Many planners trained on the job; there were some university courses but they were few in number and sought to deliver practical training rather than critical research. In the decade from the late 1950s through to the end of the 1960s planning schools began to change. New staff were appointed who saw themselves as career teachers and researchers; unlike the previous generation they often came from a social science background.
Posted March 17, 2014 by
Like many planners I am a fan of the movies, and especially fascinated by films where place is central to the narrative. Over the weekend I was lucky enough to see not one, but two films about cities. They have a lot of similarities but also many differences. They areFellini’s Roma and Terence Davies’ reflections on Liverpool, Of Time and the City. What do they tell us about today’s urban situation?
Of Time and The City
Of Time and the City is described as “a love song and a eulogy to Liverpool.” Davies was born in the city in 1945, and his 1988 film Distant Voices, Still Lives recreated the city and time in which he grew up. Made in 1988, Of Time and The City is less of a drama, more a visual, musical and poetic insight to place, class and time. It uses archive film overlaid with a personal narrative.
Posted March 10, 2014 by
The newly published third report on The State of African Cities shows how informal development is a key force in the continent’s urbanisation, yet also poses major dilemmas. The report’s sub-title “Re-imagining sustainable urban transitions” suggests both the need to come up with new answers, but also the elusiveness of solutions. Anybody interested in Africa, sustainable development or planning should read it and ponder what can be done.
Posted January 3, 2014 by
The celebration of the centenary of the RTPI this year, and the centenary of the International Federation for Housing and Planning in 2013 are reminders of the origins of modern urban planning, and in particular of the historic links between planning and public health. A century on, the time is ripe to look at the links between health and place globally. The illnesses and premature mortality which the founding fathers of town planning sought to eradicate by better housing, more open space and access to community facilities still stalk the billion people who live in slums today.
The case for preventative health care is a familiar one. It makes sense to keep people healthy. We also pretty much know how to do this. Diet and exercise figure prominently. What is less frequently discussed is the relation between health and place. Perhaps this is not surprising. A publication last year by the World Economic Forum remarked “Much of the current debate on the future of health is characterized by short-term and siloed thinking and entrenched positions. A short-term view encourages solutions that deliver immediate results and discourages conversations about more fundamental changes that might only bear fruit in the long term. A lack of cross-stakeholder dialogue constrains the finding of solutions outside the traditional approaches to healthcare.”
Health and urbanisation
How has the economic crisis impacted on migration patterns across Europe? This question is addressed in a new four-page ESPON Evidence Brief. The theme was also a central feature of the ESPON seminar in Vilnius on 4-5 December. Migration has been a priority concern of the Lithuanian EU Presidency. This is not surprising, given the scale on which this small country has been haemorrhaging people in recent years. It is estimated that a sixth of the population has been lost over the last 20 years. However, as we in the UK know, migration has become a hot political topic in many countries. For example there are concerns in countries around the Mediterranean about their “front line” position in relation to illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East.