Designing Cities is an innovative interdisciplinary programme between architecture and planning. It has been set up in response to the evolution of the professional practice more in demand of urban designers. It responds also to the broader need to implement real interdisciplinary and trandisciplinary programmes to tackle contemporary societal challenges, such as climate change, technological innovations and bottom-up democracy in urban transformations. For this reason staff from the University of Westminster have been involved in a EU funded COST Action called INTREPID on Interdisciplinary in Urban Studies since 2015.
On the 24th of March 2017 the Department of Urban Planning and Transport at the University of Westminster hosted an INTREPID workshop to discuss the future of universities and knowledge for sustainable urban futures. Scholars and practitioners from the UK, France, Portugal, Italy and Luxembourg gathered together. Johan Woltjer, Professor and Head of Planning and Transport, opened the workshop explaining how interdisciplinary urban knowledge is delivered at the University of Westminster and stressing how this can ensure the achievement of urban wellbeing. Giulio Verdini, Course Leader of the BA Designing Cities and Olivia Bina, Deputy-Director of the Institute of Social Science in Lisbon, chaired the workshop. Enrica Papa and David Mathewson, respectively involved in the MSc in Transport Planning and Management and MA in International Planning and Sustainable Development at the University of Westminster, also joined.
The lively discussion during the day placed emphasis on the efforts done by universities today to break the silos of knowledge and to embark into new interdisciplinary approaches. Great attention was also given to the need of co-creating knowledge with the society, through the experimentation of civic engagement tools. In this respect, Designing Cities is testing new forms of community engagement through participatory design workshops. In summer 2017 a workshop on ‘Creative Towns’ will be organised in the South of Italy, in Calabria, where selected students will have the chance to engage with local communities finding together solutions for urban regeneration and sustainable local development.
(Reporter: Giulio Verdini. Pictures: © Giulio Verdini)