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reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Czech Republic Architecture News - Sep 27, 2019 - 11:38   2146 views

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

reSITE, an annual global forum discussing the most urgent issues in the urbanized world, has been held with the theme of REGENERATE from 19-20 September 2019 in Prague's Forum Karlin, Czech Republic

Celebrating its most diverse edition yet, reSITE 2019 hosted a rich and interdisciplinary conversation about the future of life in cities. Thomas Heatherwick, Christ Precht, Yosuke Hayano, Ravi Naidoo were among speakers for reSITE's 2019 REGENERATE edition. 

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick studio. Image © Tomáš Princ

Centered on the theme of regeneration, the discussion tackled natural and urban revitalization, our collective power and responsibility as individuals and institutions to organize and solve the problems of climate change and housing affordability, among many. "Regeneration is a continuum. It has to be mindful. And we need to utilize the collective power," said Martin Barry, Chairman of reSITE. 

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Martin Barry, Chairman of reSITE. Image © Tomáš Princ

Barry opened the 8th global forum with a welcoming address at the reSITE 2019 which attracted twelve hundred participants from 25 countries to 3 stages, side events and parties.

Others discussed the need to regenerate our public spaces to push back against an all-consuming online world. Technology will also play a role in planning for uncertainty, they argued. One speaker, the designer Thomas Heatherwick disclosed at reSITE a new regeneration project he will design for Prague.

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick studio. Image © Tomáš Princ

World Architecture Community is media partner for this year's event and brought you the hottest topics, live-discussions and keynote sessions from the two-day event - and two exclusive interviews will be featured soon. See WAC's exclusive coverage on WAC's Urbanism page. 

Thomas Heatherwick disclosed at reSITE a new project to be built in Prague, the regeneration of Savarin complex adjacent to Wenceslas square, by Crestyl. He insisted that we should "keep old buildings and work around them. The blessing of old building is their texture and soulfulness." 

The places we love tend to be multi-layered. He explained that his approach is "making something that doesn’t feel like somewhere else that we’ve been."

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Tech Reset Canada’s Bianca Wylie. Image © Jakub Cervenkai

When it comes to cities, the whole of urban life is greater than the sum of its parts. As Tech Reset Canada’s Bianca Wylie noted, in the original translation of the phrase, the sum is also different than the whole of its parts. 

Cities are the sum of designers, developers, artists, citizens, public officials, entrepreneurs, and the displaced, she added, but rarely do each of these constituencies gather in the same room or even speak the same language, and cities suffer for it. 

"reSITE is literally that room," guest curator Greg Lindsay noted — the event that frames the future of cities through all of these perspectives and convenes them in one place.  

Bianca Wylie, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada has risen to notoriety through her criticisms of Sidewalk Labs and technology companies involvement in public spaces, arguing that they should not be commoditized. 

She reminded us all "that participating in all of these spaces very thoughtfully" is of great importance, and to not forget to act collectively: "I want to remind you that you all have power. And you need to start using it. Now. While it’s great to highlight the individual stories and projects, we also need to remember the power and the urgency of the need to operate as a collective."

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Chris Precht. Image © Alexandra Siebenthal

Against the backdrop of the climate crisis and the 20th September global climate strike, Wylie and her fellow speakers called on attendees to remember the collective power we possess as citizens, and architect Chris Precht reminded them that "our generation asks, what is possible, not what is profitable."

Chris Precht expressed the voice of his generation. He said that this generation of architects isn’t concerned with theory or concepts.

"We’re concerned with the environment, with climate change, with sustainability. Our planet doesn’t care about fictional stories. Today we should build not for fictional stories but for our objective reality." 

His practice creates spaces that connect with our senses. We can smell, taste and eat part of our buildings. It creates different city centers, not defined by banks and corporations, but health and vitality. 

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Ravi Naidoo. Image © Tomáš Princ

Ravi Naidoo, the Founder of Design Indaba, kicked the conference off, asking us all to look introspectively with the question "What’s design for? Is it in service for people? Give it a higher purpose and a more noble service". 

He stated that human creativity is the ultimate renewable energy, underlining the importance of technology for regeneration: "In the last century, it was enough to be literate, now you have to be techno-literate," and finally reminding us of the immense energy created in all of us coming together, coalescing and making it a force for good.

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Ravi Naidoo in conversation with Martin Barry. Image © Jakub Cervenkai

Flipping the coin, Marianthi Tatari, UNStudio brought us their practice’s work on Netherland’s Brainport Smart District, that aims at becoming the smartest neighborhood in the world. 

She stated that it's high time for the built environment to catch up with technology - our only tool helping to plan for the uncertainty of the future. She makes the point that "with a productive landscape, we can create a local economy” as well as "the most important part is the human approach and care for the quality of life for every resident", both being cornerstones for their smart city project taking the data ownership of its residents seriously. 

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

MAD Architects principal partner, Yosuke Hayano. Image © Tomáš Princ

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

MAD Architects principal partner, Yosuke Hayano. Image © Tomáš Princ

MAD Architects principal partner, Yosuke Hayano opened day two of the conference with a presentation exploring the questions - “How can we trigger an emotional connection to architecture? How can we make architecture to be urban space so that people feel it is built for them? Through their design, MAD Architects seek to make a journey for people to meet nature in another way. They care about how the future of the city can be better pressed for the people, from young to old, to come, live and enjoy the space together. 

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Image © Tomáš Princ

Reza Merchant presented The Collective’s mission of offering flexible options in an elegantly designed environment. They hope to accommodate residents of all different ages and diverse profiles, in different stages of both their family constellations and careers while creating new types of relationships and community. The Collective is redefining residential real estate in Great Britain and Germany.

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Image © Alexandra Siebenthal

Hailing from the south side of Chicago, USA, founder of the Sweet Water Foundation, Emmanuel Pratt showcased all the ways in which they work with marginalized communities, drivers of the regeneration that has taken place: "Every community has seeds of their own regeneration, right there”, and “regenerating is an active process, not a passing like sustainability. Giving people a chance to participate as well as ownership of that regeneration that translates into more than just physical spaces, but regenerates the culture."

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

Eva Jiřičná in conversation with Greg Lindsay. Image © Jakub Cervenkai

Last, but not least, Christopher Cabaldon, long-time mayor of West Sacramento, has seen his city regenerate itself out of its industrial past over the last two decades into a vibrant, culture filled city in northern California. 

"If you want to use the city to change the minds of the people, then what is the point? We have to be ready for the city to shape us, not the other way around". Cabaldon offered some different points of view on how to approach managing citizens opinions of urban planning in ways that embody what reSITE stands for - pushing the boundaries and testing our convictions on city making through discussion.

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

From reSITE 2019 party. Image © Tomas Cervenka

reSITE's REGENERATE Conference focused on natural and urban revitalization as a collective effort

From reSITE 2019 party. Image © Tomas Cervenka

Top image: Ravi Naidoo. Image © Tomáš Princ

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