A Manifesto

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SoftGrid in association with AESOP and IFHP
We must re-evaluate traditional concepts of planning. As planners and human beings we are used to growth. Growth seems (or seemed) to be natural, because there is coherence with our own lives: you are born, you grow, you sustain, you shrink, you die. But in urban terms today de-growth or shrinking does not necessarily mean decline or dying. We need to accept the fact that cities cannot and will not grow like they used to do. Moreover, in times of scarcity and shrinkage we can (at last!) focus on the parts that already exist. We must react to rapid urban transformation. It seems necessary to go beyond theories and try practical actions to address concrete urban issues. It is time to get out our laid-backed offices and to leave our desks, digital aerial maps and other tools. Monitoring and evaluating real daily life are fundamental in our job to learn from the experiences and to readjust theories and strategies. An urban planner experiences local struggles personally. In East Germany, for example, a vast amount of cities is shrinking. Instead of trying to find ideas for new growth in the East, there is rather a need to fulfil local needs. And instead of building new suburban neighbourhoods (market-based thinking) and breaking down high-rise areas, planners could focus on reshaping the high-rise areas into positive and well-used places by new concepts. Enter the area, experience it melancholically and do something with it.
Architecture & Planning in Times of Scarcity : Reclaiming the Possibility of Making. 3rd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2012, Manchester
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