Last Friday March 26th, Thomas Stellmach took part of the discussion in the Masterclass The City as a Renewable Resource in the session Project, organised by the University of Venice.
After the presentations by Paola Viganò and Günter Vogt, Thomas Stellmach shared the virtual floor with the speakers, Aristide Athanassiadis and Margherita Manfra for a discussion.
The Masterclass explored the unsustainable and unfeasible models of urban growth, expansion and consumption contrasted with a paradigm shift that proposes the role of urban space as a renewable resource. It interprets the city-territory as a stratification of actions, practices, projects and policies.
Thomas Stellmach started by presenting the bridge between global challenges, such as rapid population growth, resource consumption and climate change, and the added layer of «the unexpected» when it comes to city planning. Exemplifying with his work together with UN-Habitat, he concluded that we are still looking at the city as an answer to complex social problems. He considered that the nuance is to shape the city in a way that it becomes renewable is the way urbanisation is developed.
As answer to the hazards of unpredictability that cities face especially in the Global South, Thomas looked back to resilience. Using a reference to the New Urban Agenda, in particular through Sustainable Development Goal 11, Thomas considered that UN-Habitat tries to transmit in a simple way the methodology which looks at the environment first when it comes to planning, and in the context of today, he considered we should go one step forward and look at cities as one system that can be integrated together.
This approach considers that space is relevant for planning projects, but it also needs to be addressed through its relation to legislation and the right governance approaches, as well as economy and financial flows. Finally he considered that cities need a systemic approach to look at themselves, «what we need to shape is a system that can absorb these changes, such as the integrated nature driven approach». Thomas mentioned that the struggle now relies in the implementation of these projects and in the local action.
After a question about the political dimension of the city project and the inter scalar and inter disciplinary dimensions of the project as ground of political decisions, Thomas considered that «it is impossible to plan without being political — the moment we draw a line, we take a decision to enfranchise or disenfranchise», and Paola Viganó added «Hence I would like to emphasise the ethical dimension of planning».
You can watch the whole lecture in this link, Thomas Stellmach intervention starts at 2:14:00.
We thank The Masterclass Team (Andrea Fantin, Alessia Franzese, Giacomo Magnabosco and Luca Nicoletto) for their kind invitation.