Saturday 29 September, 5.30pm until 7.00pm, Zé dos Bois Gallery, Rua da Barroca, 59 1200-047 Lisboa (Bairro Alto), Portugal
This debate will be in English.
Once Rome was the Eternal City. Today it might appear the entire world is becoming a city as urbanisation rates continue to climb as millions leave the countryside from Africa to China. London now has more than 400,000 French people living in it and the Olympics 2012 showcased it as a city that seems to belong to the world, not to the United Kingdom. It might appear that not only are we all becoming citizens but citizens of an increasingly cosmopolitan world at that. That we can make it and make it anywhere.
Yet countries like Ireland, Portugal and Greece are seeing levels of emigration not seen for a generation. Some 30 per cent of the population of Porto has abandoned the city in the last ten years alone. Lisbon is no longer a place where you can be sure of getting a job: many leave home now heading for Brazil, Angola or Germany instead. And then there are concerns about whether or not cities are environmentally sustainable, how they are being destroyed by unscrupulous get-rich-quick-developers, how ordinary workers can’t afford to live in them anymore: at the mercy of greedy landlords and shortages of affordable housing. Cities in this light can appear less of a dream come true: more of a fading memory of grandparents left behind; crumbling memorials to 20th century industry and civic life.
Even for those who can afford to live in big cities, it often seems they want to be in an urban village rather than a bustling metropolis. London’s Islington or New York’s Brooklyn Heights, even Lisbon’s Alcântara, like to reject the conveniences of supermarkets and 7/11s for local butchers and fishmongers, bakers and candlestick makers. There are also real concerns about just how alienating the modern city is: where no one, including your very neighbours, knows your name. Are the cities of today bringing us together only to keep us apart? Making us lonely? Should they be designed better to foster togetherness and community spirit? Or should we go back to real villages? Return to the rural: a slower pace of life? Or is it a sense of how to live in cities that we have lost? Is citizenship just a word today rather than a reality? Something that politicians urge us to be but devoid of any real content? Do cities make citizens or citizens make cities?
|Dr Susana Araújo|
research fellow, Centre for Comparative Studies, University of Lisbon; lead investigator, Project CILM - City and Insecurity in Literature and the Media
architect; editor, Punkto magazine
architect, Bernardo Rodrigues Arquitecto
architect; writer; Middle East commentator; co-author, Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture
Pedro Quintino de Sousa
researcher on Portuguese and European literature, CLEPUL (Center For European and Lusophone Literatures and Cultures)
Thousands of young unemployed professionals are escaping Portugal's crippling economic crisis by finding jobs in former colonies, such as Brazil and Angola. The reversal of traditional migration patterns is fuelling talk of aLucy Ash, BBC News, 1 September 2012
More French people live in London than in Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg and some now regard it as France's sixth biggest city in terms of population. What is attracting a new generation of young French professionals to the city?Lucy Ash, BBC News, 30 May 2012
In Triumph of the City, Glaeser takes us around the world and into the mind of the modern city – from Mumbai to Paris to Rio to Detroit to Shanghai, and to any number of points in between – to reveal how cities think, why they behave in the manners that they do, and what wisdom they share with the people who inhabit them.
Edward Glaeser, Pan, 16 February 2012
Cities, by their very nature, are a mass of contradictions. They can be at once visually stunning, culturally rich, exploitative and unforgiving.
Austin Williams and Alastair Donald (editors), Pluto Press, 20 September 2011
They don't need light rail, downtown stadiums, or flashy new museums. They need smart people.Witold Rybczynski, Slate, 10 March 2011
Rundown buildings and the high price of a square metre are driving away young people and transforming the Portuguese capital into a ghost town to the point where it would be completely devoid of life were it not for the annual influx of students brought to the city by the Erasmus programme.Francesc Relea Ginés, presseurop, 6 August 2010
Despite getting more crowded, London is becoming an ever lonelier place.Sebastian Shakespeare, Evening Standard, 21 May 2010
When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust? More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War – but it’s owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV.
Anna Minton, Penguin, 25 June 2009
A New York City-based urban systems design practice — urbanists, interaction designers, cartographers, graphic designers, interface specialists and software developers united by a deep love for big-city life