Connecting Principle 2014: Sustainability in the City of Flux

Wednesday 26th November 2014, 10am – 2pm
Culture Lab, Space 4/5, Newcastle University, King’s Walk, NE1 7RU

If our cities are in constant flux and we cannot predict how spaces will be re-appropriated in the future, then how can our urban spaces be sustainable and endure over time? This research forum/workshop will aim to open up a space for a discussion into the sustainable, yet flexible city through the fields of art and architecture by questioning:

What is the role of creative material experimentation – making, ‘testing’ ideas or ‘playing’ the city in an anticipatory, incremental manner – for observing how people co-construct, use, appropriate and change urban space, where the reactivation of space through informal use could act as a catalyst for subsequent use?

What role can public participation play in diluting the traditional power imbalances in the city, stimulating everyday active citizenship; and creating the sustainable city by giving people more a stake in it?

As points of reference, we may look to Richard Sennett’s non-linear ‘open city’ or Yona Freidman’s concept of the city with no predefined form: only through the act of living within space can it be constructed. Here, space should be interpreted and determined by the user; generating social agency through sustained participation. Or we might look at the ‘planned obsolescence’ of Cedric Price’s adaptable designs – planning for an unknowable future, or Joseph Beuys’ conceptualisation of ‘social sculpture’, where society can shape their environment through participating in the creation of the artwork.

Approaching sustainability through the lens of the ever-changing society and the ever-changing city could offer a vision of how sustainability can be mobilised in the city of flux.

Speakers include: Dr Peter Kellett (Department of Architecture, Newcastle University) and Jonathan Baxter (artist).

Lunch included but please RSVP to:


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