reSITE 2016 offered ideas about how to plan a 21st century city prepared for migration while luring new residents
reSITE and the City of Prague Institute for Planning and Development hosted reSITE 2016: Cities in Migration on 16-17 June 2016 at the Forum Karlin in Prague. The 5th annual reSITE conference and festival explored architecture, real estate development, human networks, public policy, public space and public transportation that integrates new residents sustainably and successfully. The conference registered a record 844 visitors from 23 countries, including 77 representatives of Czech and foreign media.
“It was a pleasure to be part of the conference - I thought it brilliantly well conceived, organised and executed: far better than the vast majority I speak at or attend.”
The chairman and founder of reSITE, Martin Barry, began the conference by asking two questions: "Where are you from?" and "Where are you going?" Barry explained how these questions can evoke deep and fundamental issues of urban migration for each of us. "Cities must plan their future, not drift there. As residents we want to imagine where we want to be in 20 years, we can be anywhere, and cities must understand how to plan the ideal cultural and business and built environment. Planning and design is essential." He emphasized the importance of a strong vision and smart urban planning for the next generation. The biggest stars gave lectures, like Professor Saskia Sassen; the director of NYC planning, Carl Weisbrod; the architecture critic, Michael Kimmelman; and architects Martin Rein-Cano and Mimi Hoang, who intermingled their emphasis on the needs of the people, communities, migrants, refugees and new residents in their concept of urban development, housing and public space. The Prague Institute of Planning and Development presented the ongoing Metropolitan Plan for Prague, and hundreds of people were involved in a giant board game to plan the ideal city, called “Play the City.”
“A fantastic event overall, where a very current issue was discussed by some of the best subject matter experts.”
The conference was opened on June 16 by world-renowned urban sociologist, Saskia Sassen, who dealt with major themes - relationships between economics, immigration and geopolitics and how the West should respond to the current migration crisis. "I am a migrant. Migrations are not often about search of better life, but about the search of a bare life." She pointed to the problem of invisible boundaries within cities that always arise when people cannot find affordable housing. According to Professor Sassen no city can be cosmopolitan or sustainable in the global economy without open arms to immigrant cultures.
“The best conference in the country.”
Politically provocative, visually and intellectually engrossing Martin Rein-Cano introduced the genesis of Superkilen park in Copenhagen, which is inspired by the diverse cultures of all residents in adjacent neighborhoods. “Migration has not only to do with immigrants, it also involves residents of the cities the immigrants move to.“ Rein-Cano also had something to say to Prague, "Tourists in Prague are pain in the a**, immigrants would be a much better contribution to the city."
“It was great being back at reSITE. Thank you for the perfect organization.”
The detail of the housing policy program of the City of New York was introduced by Carl Weisbrod, the Commissioner of New York City Planning, who brings more than thirty-five years of experience to the job, and who worked under Mayor Bloomberg and four other mayors both in the private and public sector. Prague Mayor, Adriana Krnáčová, attended the lecture. "Housing New York," which started in NYC in 2014, has the ambition to build 200,000 affordable housing over 10 years. Carl Weisbrod offered inspiration for any city, including Prague: "Right in the zoning plan, we determined that at least 25 to 30 percent of newly built dwellings must be considered ‘affordable.’ We do not want economically depressed sections of the city. These units must be included in market-rate development."
"I thank everyone for their support and participation. There is so much interest across all disciplines and professions, which gives us hope for a positive impact on European cities. We look forward to seeing you again at reSITE 2017 on June 22-23," concluded Martin Barry.
What does this mean for the design of public space, transportation, housing and public architecture?
How can real estate developers and politicians adapt their urban development plans to avoid creating isolated ghettos for new residents?
How have these challenges been met by other city leaders?
How have smart, 21st century leaders made integration a cultural and economic benefit?
reSITE Small Talks with Saskia Sassen
Urban sociologist, professor
• Columbia University
• London School of Economics
• New York