Today is #WorldTownPlanningDay 2018 and I feel it is important to reiterate the crucial role planners are playing across the world in shaping sustainable and resilient cities and trying to create better places for all. Those tasks are highly challenging specifically in some of the African countries where I am currently conducting research where there is a very little number of planners and huge pressures and responsibilities given to them.
In that regard, and drawing upon the results of the SAPER project, I presented back in October, at one of the plenary sessions of the 2018 Planning Africa Conference (15-17 October 2018) some results of SAPER and how they can inform the achievement of the New Urban Agenda (SDGs). The panel was comprised of Dy Currie, Peter Geraghty, Viral Desai and Kristin Agnello. Amongst the key areas, Stuart Denoon Stevens Martin Lewis and I highlighted were first the challenges facing the implementation of SDGs in South Africa due to a) the complexity of policies (by different government departments and levels); b) the significant resource and personnel constraints, which are particularly acute in small to medium municipalities (esp. rural) and c) the fact that SDGs still appear as secondary challenges in contrast to other ‘perceived’ priorities (for example housing and poverty alienation). As to move forward we suggested looking at a more holistic approach to urban planning and development breaking a too siloed approach still in place and also fostering planners’ capacity building (targeting skills needed once in practice and training after graduation).
To celebrate #WorldTownPlanningDay 2018 we have been posting a set of tweets highlighting some of the key results of SAPER to date. I am including them below:
It has been a while since I posted news about the Temporary Urbanism Lab. The last six months have been extremely busy with the SAPER project (see the range of posts in this regard - http://www.saperproject.com/blog) and air pollution related research activities (related to the ASAP project and beyond).
I am very pleased to report that Yueming Zhang and I have signed a contract with Springer for an edited book on “Transforming cities through temporary urbanism: a comparative overview”. This edited collection provides an international overview and furthers understandings of how temporary uses and projects participate to the transformation of cities across the globe. Temporary urbanism has been elevated as a core concept in urban development building upon the work of architects and urban designers, and its application has been crossing the borders of both the North and the Global South. There is thus a need to reflect upon and discuss the diverse ways of understanding and implementing "the temporary" in the production of space internationally. It should be in press by the end 2020.
The temporary urbanism Lab is also growing.
I have welcomed two new PhD students.
First, Paul Moawad joined the University of Birminhgam and GEES in September. He will be working with me and Paul Richardson. Paul is an architect and urban designer with an M.Arch (American university of Beirut) and a MSc. in Real Estate Development (Columbia University, GSAPP). His doctoral research examines contested borders and transient spaces.
Second, Ritu George Kaliaden, who was already a member of TUL, has successfully secured a PhD scholarship at the interdisciplinary Centre for Ecological and Revitalizing Urban Transformation (IZS) in Goerlitz for a PhD position in Urban Transformation. She will be looking at the temporary space usage in the city of Görlitz: an investigation of its potential as a tool for urban transformation. I will act as external supervisor and look forward to starting this collaboration early December.
Finally, I am pleased that Dr Michael Martin accepted to join the lab as an affiliable member. Michael is Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Urban Design at the Department of Architecture & Design, Aalborg University (Denmark). He is a UK/IRE academic with a PhD in Planning from the University of Manchester. His research on temporary urbanism discusses the role and function of interim solutions within the context of the development process and urban regeneration. He exploits the opportunities presented by mixed methods research to highlight what multi-city, longitudinal, statistical and mapping approaches can offer to temporary use scholarship. His datasets comprise over 5,000 cases of temporary development, available on request.