Monday, November 15, 2010

Real Cities: A Symposium on Brazilian Urbanism Day 2


On the second day, at the Graham Foundation, Fernanda Barbara and Rosa Kliass presented their projects and Jorge Wilheim concluded the conferences with a philosophical presentation about “Urban Connections” in Global Cities. This initiated a conversation moderated by Linda Searl, Chair of the Chicago Planning Commission that included Jaime Lerner, Jorge Wilheim, Rosa Kliass, Fernanda Barbara and Fabio Valentim. Jorge Wilheim sent me his post-Symposium thoughts, which I would like to share with you:

“Urban connections are not only those linked to mobility. I started describing the new geography of global urbanization and the growth of cities and megacities, mainly in the so called “south”; after stressing that large cities are growing mainly because slums are growing (Mike Davis), I described the connections between cities globally as an archipelago of modern consumers: they are highly connected, consume the same products and have a common language, but frequently ignore the “sea” of non-consumers that surround these islands. Global connectivity is ensured and enhanced by technology and produce acceleration, speed and rapid transformations of all sectors of life. Looking inwards I described both material and non-material fluxes; and when considering the issue of urban mobility, underlined that we should always consider people’s way of life and the physical structures that support them and that can be appropriate or scarce. After speaking of vehicles and fuels for this century, I finished listing the main challenges and underlined expectations and hope.

During the debate with Lerner, Barbara and Kliass, we concluded that in designing and planning we deal with an inexistent material: the future and its space. We agreed that there must be respect for diversity and remember that “the public interest is not the same as the interest of all” (Rousseau) and that one can start working and changing the city even if we don´t have yet all the answers”.

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