Designing Cities has already started and today we have launched the Designing Cities Talk Series. Michael Neuman, recently appointed as Professor of Sustainable Urbanism at the University of Westminster and will be joining us in early 2017, opened the talk series.
This series has been set up to reflect on the importance of this new programme introduced in response to the evolution of the practice of architecture and planning. Urban designers and design-literate planners are actually in higher demand than before and, most of all, they raise questions around the topic of building sustainable cities which other professions are less inclined to address. In addition, they might utilize a different set of skills for addressing the sustainability of cities.
However, the talk with Michael went far beyond a disciplinary discussion tapping into his long experience as a planner and urban designer in many countries across the world, with particular expertise in the US, Australia and Spain.
The discussion started with an open question to students: Can you think of a man-made object which is more complex than a city? Followed on by questions stemming from this assertion, and its implications for designing sustainable cities. For almost a hour we heard about his passion for cities, the always extraordinary experience of being surprised by a city and the challenge of working as a city designer.
‘No matter if you are a professional planner, an urban design academic or an environmental activist, this profession requires the capabilities of managing complex processes’. According to Michael, it requires practitioners to be generalists, capable to deal with different fields of knowledge and professional expertise and, on the other hand, to lead the city design process as a uniquely creative and transformative act.
Prof. Neuman will be involved in studio-based teaching in our University from the next term.
(Reporter: Giulio Verdini. Pictures: © Alessandra Mossa)