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Why IE School of Architecture Celebrates the World Cities Day

31 /10 /2019
Sustainable cities | IE Architecture and Design

IE School of Architecture Celebrates the World Cities Day focusing on sustainable cities.

Following the Shanghai International Expo 2010, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 31 as World Cities Day. At IE School of Architecture and Design, we welcome this as an opportunity to celebrate and to highlight the commitment of our community to good and responsible city-making.

The world’s cities are growing fast: within 30 years, 70% of the global population will live in cities, a shift that is already having a huge impact on developing countries, where 95% of all urban growth is taking place. At the same time, digital transformation is posing huge challenges to daily life in our cities.

Speaking at IE University, global architect Carlo Ratti, director of Senseable City Lab at MIT, reminded his audience that there are four numbers to remember when talking about cities:

“2, 50, 75 and 80. Cities occupy 2% of the planet’s surface; 50% of the population lives there, they consume 75% of energy and are responsible for 80% of C02 emissions.”

For these reasons, at IE School of Architecture and Design, we see cities as the place to build the present and design the future, taking into account three intertwined environments: the physical, the natural and the digital environment, in order to face global challenges such as climate change, immigration and the take-over of technology. And that is why we want to celebrate World Cities day by focusing on sustainable cities. Therefore, soon, we will be launching the Center for Sustainable Cities, a knowledge hub that will promote the debate about sustainable city-making.

This will be a space where you can find interviews with key global experts that are designing the cities of the future, such as Paul Priestman, member of the IE Design Council. Also, in this new space, there will be articles written by our faculty discussing global issues.

There, you will also find our “IE x 12 Resilient Cities” video series in which  each month a special city is being highlighted for its initiatives, vision, innovation and ability to positively adapt and transform towards sustainability and well-being.

“The great challenge of architecture has to do with its capacity to create denser metropolises that have high urban quality and offer residents a better quality of life”, says Dean Martha Thorne. As our own way to celebrate the #WorldCitiesDay, we asked some members of our community one key question: “What innovation inspires you to contribute to a better life in cities in the future?”. Here are some of their inspiring answers:

Michelle Chua, MBArch 2018 alumni:
“The smart city! It will not only improve citizens’ lives, but also minimize the environmental impact of the city itself, constantly communicating with itself to maximize efficiency.”

Paula López Vallespir, BA in Architecture student:
“I believe that projects such as the Teeter Totter Wall by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello clearly challenge the concepts of space and political boundary. By transforming the wall into a foothold for relationships, they are translating this separation line into a point of relations. It works as a reminder that we are all connected, that we are one community.”

Felipe Guillermo Arias Barrantes, BA in Architecture student:
“Bjarke Ingels’ perception of sustainability in his designs inspires me. As he says: “We architects once again find the freedom to change the surface of our planet, to better fit contemporary life forms.

Haitam Daoudi, BA in Architecture student:
“Farshid Moussavi’s work inspires me because of how she frames the question of function in relation to the individual, and how she treats design materials from the physical ones to non-physical attributes such as politics and economics, in order to address the dynamicity of culture and how architecture is an active agent in shaping it.”

Carmen Panadero, Co Director of the Master in Real Estate Development:
“Attracting talent and investment through innovation is key to ensuring a high quality of life in cities. The challenge for the cities of the future is to become real innovation hubs which develop digital solutions to our current city challenges (climate change, rising inequalities or public space). A clear example is Dublin, by modifying the fiscalism of the world’s top technology companies.”

Bernard D’Arche, MRED student 2019:
“What inspires me the most is the silos tumbling down, allowing for much more interaction between people and industries that didn’t talk to one another before. The city of the future will only be more complex and cross-sector collaboration will be the only solution to our challenges. An example is Sidewalk Labs in Toronto. Although they talk a lot about being super innovative, what they seem to do best is bridging the gap between technology, real estate and urban innovation.”

Cem Kayatekin, lecturer in Architecture:
“What is particularly noteworthy in the realm of the just city is the flattening and shrinking of urban fabric, strongly supported by contemporary innovations in communication and information sharing. In the context of the democratic layers of the city which have always been struggling to realize various aspects of urban equity, these innovations have played a key role in supporting an increasingly collaborative approach to discussions of urban inclusivity, as well as policy refinements in this area. Like citylimits.org”

Martha Thorne - Center for Sustainable Cities | IE School of Architecture and Design