The AESOP thematic group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures will hold its annual event on 4-6 June 2015, in Glasgow, Scotland. The event is meant to be an engaging and dynamic debate between the academia and the public sector on the complex relationship between place, power and policy. It is part of the Becoming Local series, with previous editions having taken place in Istanbul, Paris and Bucharest (for more info, please go to http://www.aesop-planning.eu/blogs/en_GB/urban-cultures-and-public-spaces).

The event is free of charge, however participants need to cover their own travel and accomodation. There will be two days of presentations, discussions and group work followed by a third optional day where we will be visiting and discussing Glasgow’s experience of waterfront regeneration and urban place making.

The event is co-organised by the AESOP Public Spaces and Urban Cultures group – http://www.aesop-planning.eu/blogs/en_GB/urban-cultures-and-public-spaces, Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre (SCKC) – http://www.sckc.org.uk – and Architecture and Design Scotland – http://www.ads.org.uk.

The organising team is consisted by Dr Georgiana Varna (University of Glasgow) and by Ceren Sezer (Delft University of Technology, Urban 4). The advisory group is constituted by Sara Santos Cruz (Assistant Professor in the Territorial Planning and Environment Division, Faculty of Engineering – University of Oporto, Portugal), Celia Ghyka (‘Ion Mincu’ University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest; Romania), James White (Urban Studies, University of Glasgow) and David Adams (Urban Studies. University of Glasgow).

Abstracts are welcomed until the 1st of April.

Public Spaces and Urban Cultures (PSUC) is a thematic group established under the umbrella of the Association of the European Schools of Planning (AESOP) as an initiative of Sabine Knierbein (Ass. Prof. – TU Vienna – Austria), Ceren Sezer (Architect and Urban planner – TU Delft, Urban 4 – the Netherlands) and Chiara Tornaghi (Reader – University of Leeds/ Coventry University – United Kingdom) in April 2010. The main aim of the group is to generate an international and an interdisciplinary exchange between the research and the practices on public spaces and urban cultures. By doing so, it aims to support research, planning, and a design agenda within and beyond the AESOP community.

Becoming Local (2013-2015)

The theme Becoming Local is the current umbrella theme that covers the group’s activities. follows the two previous themes: Public Spaces and Urban Cultures (2010) and Conviviality (2011-2013). It has been developed by Sabine Knierbein and Ceren Sezer with the new members of the core organisation team in 2013: Matej Niksic (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia), Nikolai Roskamm (Technical University of Berlin), and Tihomir Viderman (Vienna University of Technology).

The underlying rationale of the theme is the multifaceted aspects of public spaces, in which the processes of urban transformation are the most visible. Yet, these processes are not static or fixed in character, but present a plethora of permanent dynamics and flows. This is particularly the case in the context of international mobility and migration, accompanied and impacted by the global financial crisis and changes in the labour markets. In this context, public spaces perform more and more as a platform for changing cultural values and rituals that are displayed, contested, managed and commodified.

From this standpoint, Becoming Local approaches public spaces as arenas of conflict, negotiation and consensus among different the actors who shape the city. It also suggests that there is an increasing need for creative approaches and strategies to allow vulnerable and marginalised urban groups (beyond the so-called mainstream society) to take part in this process, either through individual or collective strategies.For this reason, the PSUC calls for exploring and rethinking relations among the concepts, meanings and people related to construction of (local) spaces and places, policies and practices, and everyday life. Three perspectives are suggested here to set up a dynamic framework to explore these issues in a dialectical manner:

  • Public space as an interface of both local and global processes;
  • The social production of meaningful places;
  • Material and immaterial dimensions of post-Fordist restructuring.

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