Future Cities
Dr. Rachel Armstrong | March 23 2012
For the first time in human history we are witnessing the advent of megacities – seemingly endless urban expanses that house more than 10 million densely packed inhabitants seeking jobs in these economic hubs of activity, some of which even warrant their own buildings. But these cities are not the product of ingenious design. Megacities spread like weeds across the landscape straining already stressed modern infrastructures to breaking point and causing potentially life threatening issues such as, crime, homelessness, waste & resource management, disease, traffic congestion and pollution. By the middle of this century there will be another third again of people taking up residence in cities and we are facing a crisis caused by human design – or lack of it. The future of humanity depends on the prosperity of cities and many stakeholders are exploring new ways to create buildings, finding fresh approaches to managing information to help find order in chaos and encouraging biological systems to revitalize the health of our cities - as an attempt to change the pathway to catastrophe that we’ve already set in motion through global industrialization and relative urban prosperity. 

This event explores some of the issues that our future cities are facing and proposes a way forwards through a new way of thinking about cities that we have called Reflexive Urbanism. This is a synthesis of technologies (both virtual and actual), contextual urban strategies and theories of urbanism that imbue the environment with lively infrastructures at all scales of the city.  These urbanisms are highly dynamic, chemical and responsive. Reflexive Urbanism is the prelude to NIBC convergence, which will be deployed to solve the biggest issue of this century - Megacities and their environmental impact on our climate.  This approach embraces new technologies, dynamic infrastructures, ‘agile’ architectures and alternative forms of economics to harness the radical creativity possessed in urban environments.  This change is brought about by over-prescribing top-down imperatives, systems of control or scientific/engineering abstractions. Reflexive Urbanism works with the messiness of cities, their vibrant natures and their inherent subversion, to identify new solutions for the practice of the built environment in a resource constrained world. 

Reflexive Urbanism proposes that cities of the future are not made but evolved. These cities do not operate like machines but behave according to surrealist agendas operating through a portfolio of advanced, combined technologies. The portfolio of new tools, which are hybrids of synthetic biology, augmented reality and complexity chemistry, sets the scene for a new group of materials and architectural interventions that blur the distinction between building and landscape and constitute synthetic urban ecologies. These living technologies can evolve the city fabric in conjunction with its community operating at many scales ranging from the micro scale, to the city. Importantly these architectures result from the strategic applications of living technologies and are based on real world experiments. from their materials, infrastructures and communities.
Uniquely this event brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from academia and business that will be invited to engage with some of the biggest challenges that we face today – to research, experiment and propose alternative approaches to the rejuvenation and sustainability of our future cities.
For more information please click here. For the conference timetable and full biographies for all the speakers, please download the PDF Future Cities.
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