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

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.

Neon: 100 years of the greatest light show on earth

Neon: 100 years of the greatest light show on earth  Peter Conrad celebrates a century of the medium that sells the raffish charms of America and has inspired film-makers and artists, from Hitchcock and Coppola to Bruce Nauman and Tracey Emin.

(as far as I know, there has never been a Polis thesis on ‘Neon’!

Interview with Andreij Holm

Gentrification, die Verdrängung ärmerer Bewohner/innen aus bisher preiswerten Wohnvierteln, hat sich zu einem ständigen Begleiter städtischer Veränderungen entwickelt. Doch nicht nur immobilienwirtschaftliche Interessen, sondern auch symbolische Umwertungen sind für die Veränderungen in den Städten verantwortlich.

Interview mit Andrej Holm, Sozialwissenschaftler und Aktivist aus Berlin.

Berlin’s burning cars a hot topic in forthcoming elections

More than 370 cars set alight so far this year with police saying some crimes are ‘politically motivated’ against gentrification

When the owner of the Mercedes locked their car on Wormser Strasse, Berlin on Thursday night, they probably knew it was risky. More than 370 cars have been set alight in the city this year, with the flashiest models being the chief victims.

Welcome to brand Manchester

Flop off the Pendolino, dodge the weekend hen parties patrolling Piccadilly station – and you emerge into a giant marketing jamboree. That’s not unusual in a city centre, except that what visitors to Manchester are being sold is Manchester itself.

Demolition gown wrong…


Simmel’s brain

The brains of people living in cities operate differently from those in rural areas, according to a brain-scanning study. Scientists found that two regions, involved in the regulation of emotion and anxiety, become overactive in city-dwellers when they are stressed and argue that the differences could account for the increased rates of mental health problems seen in urban areas.