First Installment of UDISA Re-Imagine Urbanism Conference Debate Series Successfully Launches Key Urban Think-Tank

Online since 20.06.2016 • Filed under Industry news
First Installment of UDISA Re-Imagine Urbanism Conference Debate Series Successfully Launches Key Urban Think-Tank

On a cold winter’s morning, 200 urban designers, local and provincial government, architects, planners and students came together with one objective – to be a part of the opening day of the Re- Imagine Urbanism Conference and map out the future of African inner cities.

Ms Shaakira Karolia, Chief Economist in the Office of the Mayor opened the conference on behalf of the City of Tshwane. The City of Tshwane played host to this first instalment of the conference. In her  welcoming address, Ms Karolia pointed out key strategic issues of importance to the city and the pressures of migration into the city. She also pointed out that the City of Tshwane is a growing city, with the highest population of educated youth in South Africa.

The event provided a key platform for the meeting of minds as designers, government, students and international experts presented and deliberated on topical matters that needed to be addressed with regards to urban design.

Jeff Shumaker, Chief Urban Planner of New York City shared key learnings from the story of New York and how the challenges are far from over. There is an increasing demand for apartments. From his presentation, it was evident that transformation is possible and there truly is a need to re-imagine how we develop inner cities.

Professor Maria Fernanda-Dintl from Maria Fernanda Derntl from the University of Brasilia joined us as a keynote speaker to share her research on the capital city Brasilia. The celebrated Cape Town architect Piet Louw will give a South-African flavour to the keynote presentations highlighting the appropriate strategies and practices for the formation of African cities.

Dr. Anthony Naidoo, Senior Manager for Strategic Planning for the Gauteng City Region provided a provincial perspective on issues of urbanism, emphasising the great need for education and skills development initiatives in the Gauteng inner cities so as to improve the overall economic performance of the cities.

Some key presentations that piqued participants’ interest and led to thought-provoking panel discussions included Hein du Toit’s presentation which sought to demystify the first and second economy assumptions and how these impact on urban design. Ms Yasmeen Dinath from the Johannesburg Development Agency highlighted the need for collaboration between government and urban designers for successful development of the inner city. She also brought to the attention of conference attendees a responsibility to educate city dwellers on urban design and the impact thereof.

Over the course of the three days, delegates engaged in some key discussions and debates, with a tour to Marabastad being conducted on one of the afternoon’s. This was key for delegates to gain a first-hand experience of the inner-city and thus engage with the conference material accordingly. The final day of the conference comprised of a masterclass and workshops. Jeff Shumaker handled the master class where he delved deeper into the New York City scenario; the University of Pretoria courtesy of Marianne de Klerk, Dr. Carin Combrinck and Johan Swart who focused on the Marabastad inner city; TU Delft in the Netherlands with heritage specialists Prof. Marieke Kuipers and architect Job Roos highlighted some of their key projects and learnings; and the University of Witwaterstrand through the direction of Holger Deppe focused on the Johannesburg inner city.

The conference was made possible by the Urban Design Institute of South Africa that brought together key professionals and speakers; the City of Tshwane that proudly hosted local, national and international guests in its iconic city; and the historic Freedom Park which was the venue that provided a breath-taking backdrop for the event.

A huge thank you to all the delegates that packed the venue over the three days and showed a keen interest in the content that was covered. The energy and enthusiasm from the guests truly added to the overall success of the conference. We look forward to seeing you at the second Re-Imagine Urbanism Conference taking place next year. Stay tuned for more information.

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