City 2.0: Forging a new urban outlook?

Manchester Salon Discussions

Monday 18 June, 6:45pm start

Alastair Donald, Mindy Gofton, Martin Bryant and Lisa Raynes will introduce a discussion on the lure of the social city and what role it can play in regenerating city space.

‘Open source cities’; ‘smart cities’; ‘intelligent cities’. The choice of prefix may change, but enthusiasts seem increasingly convinced that digital technologies are transforming not only the nature of communication, but also the way we design, build, use, and interact within cities. On awarding the TED 2012 prize to The City 2.0, the organisers disputed the idea that this city of the future was a ‘sterile utopian dream’. Rather, they argued, we are seeing a real-world upgrade, tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom to create places of ‘beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life.’

There are many other claims made for new technologies. Hewlett Packard’s version of City 2.0 asserts that the Information Age is reinventing the city for scalability and sustainability. IBM argue that intelligent technologies are turning neighbourhoods into ‘manageable ecosystems’. According to engineers Arup, new malleable systems increase citizen awareness of the relationships between activities, neighbourhoods, and wider urban systems. Unlike the inflexible, monolithic 20th century city, the Smart City, they say, is a place that citizens collectively modify.

In search of a present-day utopia The heritage of the modernists

“Many people dream of a better world; Howard, Wright and Le Corbusier each went a step further and planned one. Their social consciences took this rare and remarkable step because they believed that, more than any other goal, their societies needed new kinds of cities.” Robert Fishman

“The world’s greatest happiness lies in action” Le Corbusier

Modernist planning, nowadays, equals authoritarian disaster, anti-social displacement of whole neighbourhoods, grey concrete buildings and large, uninspired open space – the Great Blight of Dullness, in the sarcastic words of Jane Jacobs. Indeed a lot of large-scale modernist projects didn’t quite work out the way their inventors had planned them on the drawing board. It may be en vogue to mock or discard the attempts of Ebenezer Howard, Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright to rebuild and reinvent the urban fabric and take the highly unsanitary 19th century slums well into the 20th century. Yet, there are good reasons to defend the project the modernists had in mind. Not all of their recipes worked, to say the least, but these urbanists may have had a quality lost to contemporary urbanism. The quality to dream, to formulate a vision and seek for big solutions. Read More

The online image of Manchester

Internet has now invaded our everyday life. If one is looking for an event, some music or a park to rest, a short click on google will do it to find everything one needs together with a lot of superfluous information. The internet with around 7.82 billion websites in March 2012 ( is the most democratic and at the same time the most chaotic medium, if not google would keep it sorted. This web giant influences the way we search and receive information. Google became a marketing and PR-tool for private persons, companies and even cities. And with the world wide web, the online reputation becomes increasingly important.
Read More

Phone card Tallinn

The best offer is Zen card that you can buy from most kiosks. There is a start-package that costs 2.95 and includes 3 euros worth of call-time. At the moment there is a campaign where buying 1 start-package gives you two additional sim-cards that are not charged, which you can then give to other members of your group. If you charge it with at least 10eur (you buy a charging card worth 10 eur), you can call and text other Zen users for free. If you load 15 eur you can also surf the internet for free (providing you have that kind of a phone). More info from, use google translator.

Renting flats and buy/sell other stuff

Additionally to finding flats from all of the other real estate pages (use google translate or ask teachers if there is no english option), there is also a site
This is the Estonian Craig’s List where additionally to finding a flat you can buy/sell furniture, bicycles, electronics ect.
Regarding the commission for finding a flat, its usually 1 months rent that goes to the real estate company. It is possible to find some commission free flats/rooms straight from the owner through Soov page or EKA list, but in the majority of cases you are also required to pay the commission fee.
Always try to understand your rent contact requirements, if there is no english version, let someone local check it.
Please note that communals are always extra to rent and they depend a lot on the type of the building and central heating choices. Always ask of fix beforehand the monthly average for communals with the owner or the real estate company.
Finding a place for only 10 weeks is possible, but it is good to write to the real-estate agent/company directly, as they might know some places for short term rent, that are not listed. Old town is most expensive area, for cheaper options look for places in Kesklinn (city center) area, that are still in walking distance.

Urban exploration in Manchester

We use cities every day: their streets, benches, parks, buildings. But we never really know what’s behind their façades. The stories, told by derelict or abandoned buildings, distant places or the network of underground sewers and canals are documented by urban explorers. They dive into the past, all with their own motivations and expectations. What is this act of urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) and how is it being used?
Read More

Media and the City – Seeking Participation in the Futureeverything Festival

Media and The City is the theme of this year’s group projects for the 2011/2012 Polis block in Manchester. The broad theme has given us (8 students with 3 small groups) creative licence as to what we can explore, research and present; with a specific look at Manchester and the myriad of mediums manifest in this city. The theme is purposely apt, due to the changes that have occurred in Manchester recently. This last year has seen the opening of the new BBC headquarters: Media City in Salford Quays. The move from what many perceived the BBC to be as a ‘Londoncentric’ institution to ‘The North’ has determined the decentralisation of the BBC. Only time will tell how it will change the landscape of Media in Manchester and perceptions of The North, as well as creating local jobs for local people and possible subsequent gentrification in areas of Salford – if at all!
Read More

EKA mailing list

Since it seems impossible for many to subscribe to the EKA Foorum (go have a try here) there is a mirror on google groups here. Google translate will help for the most part.

Putting your city on the map – (Re)Defining Manchester?

Manchester was the heart of the industrial revolution. Cotton form the city travelled to every corner of the world. Inventors and businessmen flocked to Manchester – hoping to make their mark in the world’s first industrial city. Then, through much of the twentieth century, industrial decline led to urban decay and the city centre was devastated by an IRA bomb. Yet, at the start of the 21st century, a culture of creativity and business drive has put Manchester on the world map again.
(Center for Cities, 2010)

FutureStory: Manchester‘ might read like an advertising gimmick, but it also offers an interesting view on new and creative businesses that are shaping Manchesters’ future economic development.

Soja – ‘On the spatiality of human life’

Edward Soja talks about regional urbanisation at the Urbanismweek 2011 in Delft, the Netherlands.