The 6th Annual Congress of The Academy of Urbanism took place in Glasgow in2011. The rst day provided an opportunity for orientation for the delegates. Theday commenced with introductory speeches from The Academy of UrbanismChair, Kevin Murray, Glasgow City Council Bailie Liz Cameron and Glasgow CityCouncil Head of Planning, and Academician, Alistair MacDonald. A series of citytours followed, familiarising delegates with the stories of the city from the gridiron street structure, to Glasgow Harbour and the recently constructed RiversideMuseum by Zaha Hadid. Pollokshields, an Academy of Urbanism nominee forGreat Neighbourhood Award was explored, as were Crown Street in the newGorbals, and the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration area, which will be hometo the 2014 Commonwealth Games.Day 1 concluded with an evening reception at The Peoples’ Palace at GlasgowGreen hosted by Clyde Gateway URC. The reception hosted a soft launch of ‘Massive Small’ by Academician Kelvin Campbell. ‘Massive Small’ explores theidea of new relationships with complexity as a basis for making better places. The central thesis of the book is that simple rules and enabling mechanisms,animated by the agency role of people, communities and decision makersallow for adaptable, resilient and sociable urban structures to develop. This isa challenge to move thinking about the shaping of the urban environment from‘command and control’ to more ‘open system’ thinking, emphasising the powerof agency.‘Massive Small’ suggests that urban structures should be the product of aconstant dialogue between ve system elements: [a] simple rules; conditions oractions which allow for solutions to emerge [b] networks; the ‘sticky structures’that provide an overarching interconnected framework at all scales [c] elds;scalable and intelligent elements, which in the system of urban form are the plot,the lot and the block [d] defaults; choices or settings that apply in the absenceof active intervention and [e] catalysts; agent that stimulates or precipitates areaction, development, or change. The idea of the dialogue of elements is toenable informed, emergent structures to form and prosper in response to aconstantly shifting set of contexts. Achieving these urban environments require anew set of behaviours by the actors involved in shaping the urban environment;designers, decision makers, developers and citizens. The combination of anopen system approach to shaping the urban environment, and cultivating newbehaviours is, argues ‘Massive Small’, key to achieving better places for peopleand impacts on the ground.Day 2 of the Congress provided a mix of expert speakers, seminars andkeynote presentations on the broad themes of Regeneration, Renaissance andReconstruction. The morning set out the strategic context for planning andplacemaking at Glasgow scale by Gerry Gormal of Glasgow City Council andScotland scale by Jim McKinnon, Chief Planner with the Scottish Government.Lord Andrew Mawson completed the morning session by discussing a socialentrepreneurs approach to working with people, the key assets of a place, toachieve effective change on the ground. The mid morning session focused on the sub-theme of Neighbourhood Stories. This series of presentations and discussions was chaired by Professor BrianEvans of the Mackintosh School of Architecture. Liz Davidson, Project Directorof the Merchant City Townscape Heritage Initiative, gave a lively illustrated talk
The Academy of Urbanism Annual Congress VI
11-13th May 2011, The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland
on the regeneration efforts of the Merchant City area. Carol Tannahill, Director of The Glasgow Centre of Population and Health (GCPH), gave an informed lectureon the ndings of the GoWell Study, linking health and mortality indicators to aneed for social reform led by urban regeneration. Ian Manson, Chief Executiveof Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company explained the role of the URCin driving transformation of the East End of Glasgow, to achieve regeneration withcommunities and provide a setting for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Arie Voorburg discussed the nancing social renewal, speaking about the clear needto be focused, and be aware of what levers to inuence to achieve change thatlasts. The afternoon session took the form of a series of parallel workshops, workingalong themes of Neighbourhoods as places of learning, work, living, and as partof the wider city vision. These workshops built upon, extended and questionedthe themes introduced in the morning’s talks. The workshops generateda number of themes and ideas around new ways of doing things to makeneighbourhoods work better. These ranged from the use of prototypes to testideas and interventions to new models of measuring how neighbourhoods work.Professor John Worthington of The Academy of Urbanism concluded this sessionwith a number of observations:• Centrality – addressing the tensions between centralised thinking and localaction• Methodologies – There was much discussion of an adversarial system of working is deeply embedded in what we do. The challenge is to developmethods to achieve outcomes more positively, faster.• Dependency – change needs initiators. In some cases, lack of change is aconsequence of waiting for someone else to do it. The workshops and subsequent discussions suggested to Professor Worthingtonthat, to achieve better places, we should develop a new approach, seeing placesand organisations, learning places. These places need pro-active individualsand the responsible people who can do things as well as look at those who canenvision a future place. In this context, a learning place approach requires anunderstanding of three things:• How the place provides a setting for things to happen: how do placesprovide a setting for learning for example? (place) provide as a setting forlearning?• What would the infrastructure of this setting need to provide?• How do we identify the opportunities, leads and deals in a place to makething happen constantly - a learning neighbourhood?In the evening a Civic Reception, hosted by Glasgow City Council, and TheCongress Dinner was be held at the magnicently restored Old Fruitmarket,during which The Finalists for The Urbanism Awards 2012 were announced. Onthe Friday morning, a Post Congress Action Workshop took place building on ourUniverCities and City X-Rays’ programmes and launching our new initiative, PlacePartnering.