University of Glasgow is hosting AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures Annual Meeting (4-6 June 2015, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom)

‘Becoming Local’ Series Annual Meeting : The power of places & the places of power

Contact person: Georgiana Varna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You are warmly invited to attend the 2015 annual symposium of the AESOP Public Spaces and Urban Cultures group dedicated to discussing place, power and local identity in contemporary cities. It will be held in Glasgow, on the 4th and 5th of June 2015 (with an optional daytrip and workshop on the 6th). The event is meant to run as a combination of presentations, roundtables and panel discussions and invites participants, who are working on public space both in the academia and the practice.

About the Event:

Becoming Local is the working theme of the AESOP thematic group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures for the group’s meetings in the period of 2013-2015. The theme aims to emphasize the contrast between the urban transformation processes that tend to produce visions for the dream cities, comfort zones or security islands and the needs of the vulnerable groups, who are very often excluded from these development schemas.

Within this context, the Becoming Local Glasgow meeting will try to reflect on the impact of the current economic climate for the practice of city building, considering the fact that even through the years of economic boom, debatable results have been seen in Scotland, throughout the UK and in Europe. The first day of the meeting aims to elaborate on the question:

Why does the knowledge on how to create good, successful urban places so rarely translates in the built product?

The second day will be focused on the general issue of the play of power among the different actors involved in placemaking. The focus will lie on trying to answer:

How can we as urban scholars walk the corridors of power and influence urban development towards the creation of more liveable environments?

The third day is optional and it focuses on the practical application of the concepts discussed in the first two days. A fieldtrip along the banks of the ‘regenerated’ waterfront of the Clyde in Glasgow will be followed by a workshop. The event is meant to be an opportunity for sharing ideas and experiences and building new research partnerships. More, we hope that by the end of the second day some (or all) of us can draw a sketch of a joint publication, with the key problems regarding placemaking today and solutions to address them to be circulated around the academic and public sector in UK and Europe.

As this is a symposium, each day’s discussions will be followed up by a dinner in three of Glasgow’s best restaurants. We look forward to welcome you in this great city and welcome you to an event meant to be an opportunity for sharing ideas and for opening up new avenues of good quality research and practice in urban placemaking.

Keynote speakers: Matthew Carmona and Panu Lehtovuori

Matthew Carmona is Professor of Planning and Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. His research has focused on the policy context for delivering better quality built and natural environments, having worked on a range of research projects examining among others, design policies and guidance, the delivering of urban renaissance, the value of urban and architectural design, managing external public space, London squares and high streets. Matthew is on the editorial board of ‘Urban Design Quarterly’, is European Associate Editor for the ‘Journal of Urban Design’, and edits the ‘Design in the Built Environment’ book series for Ashgate. He is a regular advisor to government and government agencies both in the UK and overseas and writes a column for Town & Country Planning, the journal of the Town & Country Planning Association.

Panu Lehtovuori is Professor of Planning Theory at the Tampere University of Technology, School of Architecture. He is also a co-founder and partner of Livady Architects, a Helsinki-based practice. His doctoral dissertation, Experience and Conflict (2005), presents a new conceptualisation of public urban space, valorises the changes of the use of urban space in Helsinki, and tests a new, experiential approach to planning and urban design. In 2001, Lehtovuori was the visiting research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University. From 2005 to 2012 he coordinated the module “Urban Interventions” of the international European MA in Urban Cultures (POLIS). He is a member of the editorial board of Yhdyskuntasuunnittelu (The Finnish Journal of Urban Studies) and the Finnish Architectural Review.

Participation and/or abstract submission

Please submit an abstract of 300 words and a short 100 words bio to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 1st of April 2015. There are sixteen slots so only the most critical, challenging and novel papers will be considered. Also please send 2 or 3 slides to accompany the abstract.

Also if you would like to participate without necessary having to present, also please e- mail Dr Varna before 1st of April 2015 so we can confirm the numbers and book the venue.

Important Deadlines

Call for Abstracts: 6 February 2015
Deadline for abstract submission: 1 April 2015
Invitation for participants: 1 May 2015
Deadline for confirmation by participants to attend to the conference: 10 May 2015

Participation fee

The event is free of charge, however, we kindly ask you to secure your own travel and accommodation arrangements. For help with this, please e-mail Dr Georgiana Varna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Organization team:

Local organizer /
Georgiana Varna (Scottish Cities Knowledge Center, University of Glasgow, UK)

Aesop Thematic Group Representatives / 
Celia Ghyka (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania)
Ceren Sezer (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands)

Important Links

(For the current event please check: