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Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation
Conference

© University of Luxembourg

Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation
Conference

02.02.2012 – 04.02.2012
Luxembourg

The three-day conference on Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation is the first event of the future Master in Architecture at the University of Luxembourg, organised by Carole Schmit and Bart Lootsma. It presents in each session a mix of internationally leading architects, writers, curators and academics. Its goal is first to open up the panorama of issues the new Master will deal with and then, during debates, raise crucial issues to focus on by research and design work done in the coming years.

Day 1: Globalisation
Global developments have an increasing impact on cities, regions and also on architecture. Globalisation is an important field of research because cities and regions compete on a global scale and increasingly need to specialise themselves. Global migrations have consequences on the growth and shrinkage of regions. The prices of building materials depend more and more on a global market. Differences between rich and poor, just as well as between different cultures, produce conflicts that, as a consequence of asymmetrical warfare are more and more fought out in cities. Architecture plays an important role in these conflicts. Iconic buildings try to lend cities a new logo or identity, but architecture is also often used as a tool in these conflicts: in an attempt to stabilise them or as a catalyst to start up processes of change. Last but not least, encouraged by the rise and growth of new cities and regions, a new kind of architect has emerged, that works from the beginning on a global scale. But what could be the real chances and tasks for architects in a globalised world? What new tools and attitudes should they bring in?

Day 2: European Urbanisation
The European tradition of urbanisation is characterised, among others, by a special relationship between historical substance, specific trajectories of urban planning and design and more recent interventions, and also by an intense, sometimes fraught relationship
between communal and regional policies, public housing, public spaces, urban planning and design. Still, within the European Union, many different national and regional traditions coexist. The`leitbild`of the European city is extensively discussed and used by some as a
guideline for future plans; others interpret the hybrid forms of contemporary urbanisation as a challenge to the traditional building culture and claim for developing innovative concepts. These tensions between traditional and modern worlds indeed shape identities and, in the course of time, have become embedded in laws and regulations. What does this mean, concretely, for our urban environment as a constructed reality? Are the issues at stake the same for the whole of Europe or do they differ from region to region and from place to place? Should we build upon local traditions and maybe even reinforce them or should new, European strategies and laws be developed to cope with urban development?

Day 3: Architecture
The last decades, the role and meaning of architecture seem to have changed a great deal. Probably never in history we witnessed such a multiplicity of styles and approaches that not only follow each other more rapidly but also exist simultaneously next to each other. This
hollows out the traditional architectural debate. Globalisation makes architecture increasingly footloose and less dependent on the home market. New, digital cad-cam design and building processes have taken off, be it not always in the way architects originally hoped they would. Blogs publish the most recent architectural highlights quickly all over the world. Services like Google Image Search and Flickr are equally consulted world-wide and deeply influence the visual production of architecture, making architecture definitively part of the culture industry. At the same time, the market becomes more dominant and defining than the public sector, producing a fierce competition among architects. In Europe, since the privatisation of the housing market and the obligatory European competitions for public buildings, architecture seems to be under strong economical pressure and architects seem to loose political terrain in the field of long-term planning processes. How do these changes manifest themselves in the architectural production today? How can architects regain influence in the processes of urbanisation?

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