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Around the world, cities claim that they are livable, that whatever they are constructing –iconic museums, high rise hotels, floating cities, mass housing  - they are doing it all in the name of livability. And, they argue, the more they construct, the more livable their cities become. But does this make a city truly livable? We argue that livable cities must increase the common good and the sustainability of the earth, not put ever-greater profits into the hands of the few. This collection of videos, papers, and slides by eleven outstanding leaders examines the fundamental principles of livable cities, and how they can be achieved.

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.)

We urban planners need to stop creating a built environment that is making people sick and causing premature deaths. I am not talking here about the dangers of traffic or pollution, lack of healthy food, or damage to the eco-system. I am talking about how some of the most common forms of urban development – suburban sprawl and vertical high-rise sprawl - cause loneliness, which can lead to depression, chronic inflammation, and life-threatening diseases, including increased risk of cancer. “Loneliness”, says Steve Cole, a genomics researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, “really is one of the most threatening experiences we can have.”

Lamine Mahdjoubi, Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England challenged the audience: “A lot of people say that a livable city is one that is livable for children. But as I am going to show, in cities around the world, children are disappearing from our urban environment. I will share with you some of the work we have been doing in looking at the link between child play, health and the built environment. 

Tjaša Ficko, Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana spoke at the Bristol Conference about why her city decided to apply to the competition to be a Green Capital of Europe, and what her city achieved that won it this prestigious award.

Patrick Condon, Professor and Chair of Urban Design at the University of British Columbia gave an insightful keynote speech at the Bristol IMCL Conference examining patterns of economic, state, corporate and planning power that lead to what he calls the “concentrated” city structure (e.g. Suzhou), or the “dispersed” city form (e.g Medellin) in which decisions are made without the guidance of the state, and often against it.

Well known to lovers of livable cities worldwide, Jan has spent his life studying people in the spaces between buildings – streets and squares. His goal - to understand how the architecture and design of a place facilitates positive social life, walkability and bikeability. He has consulted for cities around the world and taught the next generation to design and rebuild public places. And he has written many books. His most famous, Cities for People has been translated into 25 languages and now help to guide urban design around the world.

A thousand thanks for a fantastic inspiring conference.
Torgeir Esig Soerensen, Stavanger, Norway

First and foremost thank you very much for inviting me, for bestowing great honours on me and for organizing such an interesting conference with many very nice and interesting folks. I enjoyed it very much and was sorry to miss the final day.
Jan Gehl, Copenhagen, Denmark

A most amazing conference - glad I have finally made it to an IMCL event after hearing of them from afar for many years.  I was very impressed with the consistent richness.
Rod Duncan, Melbourne, Australia.

Photos from the Bristol Conference are now available on the website. If you were at the conference, I hope you will enjoy them, and they will bring back good memories. If you were not there, you are welcome to visit, and join us next year! Please click here.  

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard
For many years, IMCL emphasized ethics in planning, and ethics in city government and we had a difficult time getting the idea across. We were, of course, talking about how planning policies must be written and administered to ethically improve quality of life for all, especially those previously disregarded (children, elders, the poor) instead of prioritizing the wealthy, or the car drivers. The idea was so unfamiliar that at one conference, some participants (from San Jose city government) thought we were talking about being polite in council meetings and in interacting with staff. They had never realized that planning policies could benefit some while harming others, or the planet!

Sven von Ungern Sternberg was Mayor of Freiburg for 20 years in charge of urban design and transportation planning, guiding Freiburg’s great achievements in becoming Europe’s foremost example of a sustainable, green, healthy and child-friendly city.  For this, the city has won numerous awards, including the 1993 IMCL Vision Award.

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