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Theses on central themes
Urban Societies
Innovation and Tradition
The Built and the Natural
Space and Identity

 
Urban Societies
The Dialogue between civilisations is designed to show that the current process of globalisation not only involves economic, financial and technological factors, but that it also affects the worldwide basis of human culture, the spiritual dimensions of society, as well as their transformation and interaction.

The city develops by dismantling handed down forms and limits. Edge cities are being formed and old infrastructures are being converted. The modernisation and compression of historical city centres goes hand in hand with the privatisation of public space, while the reconstruction of residential areas is linked to the fencing off of 'Gated Communities' (New Urbanism?)

The downside of this development finds expression in the rapidly growing megacities in Asia and Latin America, whose economies clearly demonstrate the problems of social inequality while holding out the hope of reducing poverty and income differentials. The environmental problems of the urbanised regions in these countries deserve closer attention than has been the case in the past.

The future of urban societies requires reflective provisions for the living environment of society, reflective planning and reflective urban culture. It involves the need to preserve of local and cultural characteristics throughout the world.

Factors endangering the future development of cities should be defined with foresight and counterbalanced by a new and positive interpretation. Processes of reduction and impoverishment of urban living conditions must be stopped. A meaningful handling of the opportunities provided by modernisation and modernity must be made possible. This is the only way architecture can become a meaningful qualityfactor in the urban environment.

"The city - the way it is - is all we have". (Rem Koolhaas) But which city is meant? The planned city? The self-regulating city? The city committed to regional culture or the international city?

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Innovation and Tradition
Architecture develops the power of inner vision and is responsible for directing the future and actively influencing history. For this reason, innovation does not mean simply an increase in technology, but more critical reflection and an increase in sustainable and experimental concepts, which promote a symbiosis of technical, natural, historical, cultural, social and economical solutions, a symbiosis of nature and architecture, and of nature and the city.

Architecture as a resource reflects innovation and in its extensive quality it anticipates aspects of societal transformation. Energy-saving construction involving the use of solar power should be perceived as a challenge and the major, untapped potential it harbours should be exploited (not least for the developing countries).

Innovation means uniting the different dimensions of architecture as a potential for social identity and as a visionary challenge based on experience and experiments. Innovation must confront new materials, new technologies and new production methods (CAM).

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The Built and the Natural
Architecture, which is aware of environmental requirements, develops and implements energy-saving technologies and makes use of renewable energy wherever possible. The development of transformable architectural forms, which preserve what is valuable, goes hand in hand with a tolerable increase in urban density and the re-naturalisation of landscapes, wherever they can be freed from the scourge of urban sprawl. The built environment can be the most important feature of a country's wealth. With a view to preserving the built heritage, architecture tends to think in longer life-cycles. The preservation of cultural values assumes architecture's capacity to change.

A redefinition of landscape as an aesthetic, social and historical resource is advocated not least because it preserves historical patterns of the development of human civilisation in their natural contexts; these should be the starting point for a new discussion. By integrating natural elements and landscapes into the city, we may be able to grasp architecture and cities forming as parts of natural cycles (cyclical economies). Architecture must exert more than its current modest influence on the conception and disposition of urban structures, buildings and the use of materials and components and thus on the consumption of energy and materials. The goal of architecture is to achieve maximum flexibility without a loss of identity.

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Space and Identity
Architectural and urban developments, which are geared to long life-cycles and are marked by the history of civilisation on all continents, must be preserved. Aesthetics as an expression of social and cultural identity, which can be found in culturally conveyed architecture and given form and structure in public spaces, needs to be revitalised. The development from architecture to building culture must be seen as constituting progress from the form to the content, from the object to the environment, from the result to the basic position. Given the significance of design as a marketing instrument, an instrumental part of aesthetics has developed in its own right. Minimalist and symbolic architecture has established itself as an important alternative to the visual chaos of metropolises and megacities.

Ortega y Gasset, representing the opposite standpoint, has come to the conclusion that only humans are gifted with the ability to plan. Whether the ability to plan is a scientifically founded, irrefutable competence is a matter for debate. The same applies to whether 'being', conveyed direct and non-scientifically, is very expressive with regard to constructive thinking, which covers planning in a sense that includes building art and has identity as its goal: "Architecture is an art form, which produces magical things." (Joaquim Guedes) Contemporary aesthetics as a criterion for environmental quality and sustainable architecture should be redefined in connection with the creative use of new materials and technology, for example, in twelve project workshops on:

- Urban Planning and Economy
- Living and Working
- Culture and Communication
- Mobility and Infrastructure

Source: Draft of the report of the Scientific Committee, Editor: Reinhart Wustlich, Berlin 2001


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Last update: 01/03/2002