Complementary Initiatives

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What is Future Cities?

The Future Cities Project has been set up to critically explore issues around the city. From the urban renaissance to the urban village; from sustainable development to under-development; from density to sprawl; from greenfield to green politics, the Future Cities Project seeks to explore why the terms of the debate - especially around cities - have become so fraught. We recognise that all questions around "the city" seem to be more intractable and less clear cut than they once were. But does that mean that city questions have become more complex, or have we become less confident to answer them? Architecture has become more about process, than product - evidenced by the fact that we have interminable quangos and debates about the housing shortage and yet, year on year, fewer and fewer homes are built.

Buildings are now blamed for everything; from global warming, increasing the flood risk, exacerbating demographic fragmentation, personal and societal ill-health, the despoliation of nature, and condoning irresponsible architectural arrogance. Meanwhile, urban design is currently charged with encouraging social engagement, building communities, regenerating value (values), kick-starting economies and engendering a sense of well-being. Can this differentiation be true? If so, is it desirable? And why has the debate taken on such an instrumental turn?

The project of The Future Cities Project is, to a certain extent, to return to first principles, and critique the rise of determinism, instrumentalism, dogmatism and didacticism in architecture, as well as the malign influence of sustainability, the precautionary principle and risk-aversion within the broader social and political environment in which we all operate


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