In a city, everything is connected. Streets and parks, buildings and open fallows, memories, wishes, and all kinds of beings create a rich and continuously evolving process. Despite this relational reality, we tend to think of the urban in terms of contrasts: natural vs. built, center vs. periphery, physical vs. digital, humans vs. animals. Now we have reached a point where the loss of nature has become an existential question for humanity on this rapidly warming planet. Architecture and urban planning are at the core of creating new approaches toward ecologically and socially sustainable environments. To progress in this ambition, we must shift our thinking and see spaces, processes, and negotiations from a more-than-human perspective. The paradigm of human-centred design needs to be turned toward a more holistic and post-humanistic approach — to the City of Being(s).
Reimagining the everyday
The physical environment shapes our daily lives. Its form and allocated functions are inextricably linked to the city’s activity possibilities. Hence, the city and its structure should be adaptable and resilient enough to keep up with the changes occurring today and in the future. This, however, is rarely the case. The actors involved in making the city — citizens, planners, politicians, activists, and other stakeholders — all have diverse aspirations, goals, and desires, and they often speak a different language. To create a better future together, profound visionary work is required. A vast, less explored realm of alternative practices has the potential to help us, as humans, live and value our habitat differently. We must reinvent not only our ways of thinking and communicating but also our everyday. What is meaningful? What gives us joy? What do we share with others?
Rewilding the city
Cities are growing, but they are also becoming denser. Human settlements and infrastructure frequently encroach on green spaces and push nature into isolated islands within the urban fabric. This trend must be reversed. Instead of reducing green and blue spaces, we should bring nature back into cities. Radically rewilding urban areas would boost biodiversity while also benefiting water management, air quality, the soundscape, and visual beauty, resulting in well-being for all beings. Could the non-human world — animals, insects, and vegetation — be involved in the design process?
Being and Becoming
Rather than constructing new structures, we should cherish the existing built environment. We must nurture it — the built environment corrodes and breaks down, but its lifespan can be extended by maintaining, repairing, and modifying it. Innovative approaches to adapting city spaces and built structures are required. Being and becoming are intertwined in surprising ways in urban spaces. Could something be left unrepaired while remaining functional and beautiful?
Join The City of Being(s)
The 27th IFHP Urban Planning and Design Summer School invites students and professionals in urban planning and design, architecture, and urban studies to elaborate on city spaces as places of being(s). Relativity, everyday practices and negotiations, rewilding, and new approaches to heritage are just some aspects of the inspiring field of possibilities.
The IFHP Urban Planning and Design Summer School is based on an intensive workshop taking place in a Finnish case study city. This year we are collaborating with Pori, a coastal city in southwestern Finland. The workshop includes hands-on collaboration with diverse actors, such as professional designers and planners, stakeholders, and activists. Working in small groups, the participants make design proposals that answer real questions emerging from the given sites and their contexts. Students are encouraged to search for unique conceptual approaches and develop those toward an overall vision and a spatial design program in a semi-realistic manner. Every design solution should create both ecological and societal good.