While User Generated Urbanism has already garnered the attention of the web and the press, the time has come for a substantive and comprehensive assessment of their real impact on the built environment and their potential for the next era of urban development.

The Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning of the University of California Berkeley and Rebar Art & Design Studio organized the Adaptive Metropolis Conference to engage a conversation and foster a partnership with the urban actors redefining the context in which landscape architects, urban designer, and environmental planners will operate in the foreseeable future by adopting this new model to city-making.

The Adaptive Metropolis symposium convened the global community of thinkers, doers, that are leading this incipient movement toward a User Generated Urbanism.

The first part of the symposium focused on the new methodologies and instruments that emergent collaborative networks are enabling, the second assessed the ability of these methodologies and instruments to make our cities more resilient, livable and just. The first day we focused on the process of urban transformation, the second day on its goals.

  • Overarching Debate 1: Iterative Placemaking

    Too many governmental agencies involved in city administration are still unable to keep the pace with the needs of our rapidly changing urban environments. When managing urban transformation, they follow procedures that are often too rigid and too slow to support mid-course corrections, bottom-up revisions, and experimentation. In many cases, by the time of build-out the circumstances that informed the project do not subsist, in others the solutions initially selected do not seem appropriate anymore. As an alternative to the traditional linear process of decision-making and implementation, iterative approaches can offer many benefits. More
    Iterative Placemaking is a phased sequence of physical interventions followed by moments of formative evaluations that shape place over time. Employing tactics that incubate program, prototype social and spatial experiences, and activate sites with new users and uses, Iterative Placemaking adds a rich layer of social and cultural programming to the site long before build-out, jump-starting the cultural infrastructure of the neighborhood and connecting it to the surrounding city. In essence, Iterative Placemaking ignites a rapid learning process that, while ensuring that culture, site, and use are synchronized, allows for the gathering of data and the refinement of viable site programs in advance of major capital expenditure. Today Iterative Placemaking is generating growing interest among policy-makers, planners, designer and forward-thinking investors and developers. Yet there are still several unknowns. While it has often proved successful at the small scale, its use at the city scale is still new territory. The first ‘Overarching Debate’ will discuss the state of the art of this alternative method of city-making stressing its future potential as well as its limitations with respect to the more traditional models.
  • Rethinking the Relationship Between Strategies and Tactics

    In recent years, much has been written and said about the opposition between urban strategies and urban tactics. We believe it is now time to go beyond the dualistic approach that tends to see urban strategies merely as the expression of a detrimental technocratic control over the city and urban tactics as the only means available for good place-making. While tactical urbanism is undoubtedly one of the most promising movements in recent urban history, we should remind ourselves that the right to the city cannot be defended only with tactics. Good strategies are more than ever equally necessary. More
    It is time to work on a model where strategies are flexible enough to allow tactics to develop and come to fruition and where tactics not only have value per se, but also function as preliminary experiments inspiring future strategies. The exploration of a model in which strategies and tactics overcome their opposition and mutually reinforce themselves through positive feedback will be a pivotal theme of the symposium.
  • Topics We Will Explore

    1 – The Process of Urban Transformation 1: The Sharing of Ideas and Design Solutions.
    2 – The Process of Urban Transformation 2: Instruments for Flexible Design
    3 – The Process of Urban Transformation 3: New Ways to Fund urban Change.
    4 – The Goals of Urban Transformation 1: User Generated Urbanism for a Resilient Metropolis
    5 – The Goals of Urban Transformation 2: User Generated Urbanism for a Livable Metropolis.
    6 – The Goals of Urban Transformation 3: User Generated Urbanism for a Just Metropolis.
  • Symposium Goals

    Adaptive Metropolis aims first of all to move the debate beyond the fashionable interest in urban tactics and to critically evaluate the true relevance of user-generated urbanism. The participation of leading scholars and critics will allow us to generate an authoritative and thorough analysis to counterbalance the plethora of commentary that too often only scrapes the surface of this subject. We will address its strengths but also its weaknesses, recounting its successes but also its failures. We believe this is the only way to help this emergent movement consolidate itself and move towards greater achievements. More
    The second goal of the symposium is to provide practitioners and theorists with a platform to discuss and share ideas, experiences, knowledge, and skills. We aim to collectively draft an up-to-date battlefield map for urban actors of all sorts. In last instance we see the symposium as an occasion to explore new ways to look at the subject matter, setting the stage for the next phase of its development. We envision an event capable of inspiring participants, igniting their enthusiasm and pushing them to further action.