Urban Age | Istanbul Conferences
“Following a year of in-depth research, the Urban Age Istanbul conference confronts the social, spatial, economic, political and environmental narratives of contemporary urban life. By bringing over 80 experts and civic leaders from over 20 cities in 14 countries, the conference will catalyse an interdisciplinary discussion about a city that lies at the intersection of histories, cultures and continents. Participants include architect Richard Rogers; sociologist Çağlar Keyder; Josef Ackerman, Deutsche Bank; New York transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan; Kemal Derviş, Brookings Institute; political economist Saskia Sassen; planning professor İlhan Tekeli; and sociologist Richard Sennett.”
This is how The Urban Age describes their next conference in Istambul. The Urban Age is a six-year sequence of international conferences held in cities across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe between 2005 and 2010. This is the last of a serie of conferences that previously had taken place in New York City, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Berlin, Mumbai and São Paulo and will serve as a forum about how the city is studied, planned and managed in the 21st century.
Testing subjects like environment, transport, security and urban governance, the research held by The Urban Age had been operating as a mobile laboratory, testing and sampling the social and physical characteristics of global cities through expert presentations and testimonials, research, site visits, GIS mapping and informal information exchange. They choose Istambul as the final point of this project because Istanbul is the economic and financial heart of one of the world’s 20 largest economies. It is also one of the biggest and modern megacities, full of contrasts, with a urban landscape thatl is constantly changing. It is a perfect case of study, with a rapid growth with relatively little effective planning, serve as an example of the major problems that urban sprawl is developing in many countries and cities around the world: high unemployment, an increasing informal sector economy, uncontrolled and illegal land occupation, the spread of slums, bad transport congestion, and air and water pollution. Surrounding towns were absorbed into Istanbul as the city rapidly expanded outwards.
All of these characteristics mentioned above are the common ground of globalization and urban sprawl and it’s easy to see that we can be talking about Istanbul, but also could well be talking about São Paulo, or indeed Mumbai.
We can read at the Urban Age City Survey: “Despite Istanbul being over two millennia old, whereas São Paolo was essentially shaped in the nineteenth and twentieth century, it is more similar to São Paulo than to many other European or Middle Eastern cities in terms of its social, economic and urban development. Both cities are located in countries that have similar positions in most of economic and social indicators: HDI (Human Development Index), life expectancy, adult literacy rates, unemployment and poverty.”
Also, as Saskia Sassen quotes in the document Towards an Urban Age: “The urban footprint of the global corporate economy keeps expanding; we can measure this expansion in kilometres and in growing densities.” This point is what makes really important the research about all of these urban economies.
The conference will take place on 4–6 November 2009 and will follow a year of research and analysis of the key issues focusing Istanbul’s recent growth, including how its transcontinental terrain has established the city at the centre of the Turkish economy.