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Tuesday, August 4 • 16:30 - 17:00
Framing Risk and Resilience in Urban Futures: Reflections on a Workshop

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In his concept of the “Risk Society”, Ulrich Beck remarks that societies and organizations are increasingly concerned with the anticipation and mitigation of risks to their assets, structures and values, and that this preoccupation affects the ways in which societies organize themselves, allocate resources, and structure their imagination of their futures. The proposed paper will use the experiences and of a recent workshop to consider elements of a risk-based approach to envisioning and steering macro-urban futures.

The regional-scale artifact of the Anthropocene that is the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in south-eastern China has become one of the world’s largest concentrations of manufacturing, human settlement and urban development, and is also subject to multiple dimensions of risk in the coming decades, stemming from global-scale changes such as macro-economic and societal shifts, as well as human-influenced climate change and sea level rises.

An intensive one-week workshop was carried out in the context of a Masters-level urbanism program, to consider strategies for the future urban development of the PRD. The premise of the workshop was to take a risk-based approach to structuring ways of thinking about the future of the PRD, and to consider interventions in the future evolution of the urban region in anticipation of these risks.

Six groups of students each adopted a different perspective on the urban region – social, experiential, economic, infrastructural, geographical, or cultural-historical. From their respective perspective, each group considered the value(s) implicit in the assets, relations, actors and patterns in the PRD, and the systems in which these elements are embedded.  Based on this understanding, groups considered the dimensions of risk posed to these systems and relations by the anticipated macro-scale changes.

The goal of this workshop was not to develop urban projects as “solutions” to the issues being addressed, which is far beyond the possible scope of such a workshop, or of any individual institution, but rather to rehearse ways of engaging issues of this magnitude and intractability, and thinking about what could be done in terms of the structure, organization and control of the many urban systems that constitute this region, in order that these systems may go through the learning and adaptation processes necessary to address these issues on an ongoing basis.

Students were encouraged to shift from a problem-solving approach to an adaptation approach to urban evolution, in which they were engaged in anticipating and planning for the need to change, not just to mitigate the negative effects of unavoidable contextual change, but to take the changes as opportunities to reconfigure urban systems in an intentional and beneficial way.

Thus, as a final step, groups were asked to anticipate the policy and education implications of putting into action the adaptive processes they foresee, particularly in terms of “who needs to learn what?” Data presentation, mapping, diagramming and narrative techniques were used throughout the process.

The paper will discuss the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of the workshop, describe and illustrate the process through which these ideas were investigated, the themes, insights and issues that emerged in the discussion that developed around the workshop, and offer reflections on what was learned and revealed through this intensive exercise.

avatar for Mag. Stefan Blachfellner

Mag. Stefan Blachfellner

SIG Chair: Socio-Ecological Systems and Design, Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science
avatar for Prof. Liss C. Werner

Prof. Liss C. Werner

Principal, Architect, Tactile Architecture - office für Systemarchitektur
Prof. Liss C. Werner is a registered architect based in Berlin and founder of Tactile Architecture – Office for SystemArchitektur.  She is adj. assoc. Professor at Taylor’s University near Kuala Lumpur, Dr. phil. [abd] and  George N. Pauly, Jr. Fellow 2012/13, visiting professor... Read More →


Timothy Jachna

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
ISSS Regular

Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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