Special Session "Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living" - 58th ISOCARP World Planning Congress, 5th October 2022, Bruxelles, Belgium
The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) annual World Planning Congresses bring planners, urbanists, allied professionals in the building professions, and place-makers from all over the world together in inclusive dialogue to facilitate knowledge exchange.
The ISOCARP and the Brussels-Capital Region hosted the 58th World Planning Congress under the theme: "From Wealthy to Healthy Cities" through virtual and in-person presentations. The Virtual Congress was on 22-23 September 2022, and the in-person Congress took place from 3rd October to 6th October 2022 in Brussels, in the historic resorted venue which received the Europa Nostra Heritage award in 2021.
The Special Session "Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living" was co-organized by Prof. Dr. Sebnem Hoskara (Urban Research and Development Center, Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus) and Dr. Luisa Bravo (City Space Architecture, Italy), both TG PSUC members. Dr. Ceren Sezer (RWTH Aachen University) holds the role of AESOP TG PSUC Representative.
Cities are made up of people and places, often experiencing rapid change. Planning for a resilient urban future requires tackling challenges and creating solutions place-based, integrated, inclusive, risk-aware, and forward-looking.
Sustainable Development Goal 11, with the title "sustainable cities and communities," is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The official mission of SDG 11 is to "make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable." According to SDG11 of the New Urban Agenda, by 2030, everyone - particularly women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities - will have access to safe, inclusive, and accessible green areas and public spaces.
Public spaces play an essential role in building resilience in cities. Public spaces are crucial for urban life to flourish. We need public spaces for good times and bad times. Public spaces represent an opportunity for comprehensive climate adaptation and improved resilience. According to Katherine Peinhardt of the German Development Institute, ‘to successfully work toward a resilient public realm, cities must evolve their practice relating to public spaces in four areas: the ways public spaces are subject to the outcomes of community engagement and how public spaces are designed, programmed, and managed. It is increasingly clear that the unique role of public spaces in civic life positions them to enhance physical resilience and support the types of interpersonal connections essential to addressing shared challenges like the climate crisis.’ Thus, as a vital part of a city’s physical infrastructure and public realm, public spaces can be physically reinforced to absorb or weather the climate crisis's shocks while contributing to the community's human health.
Short Description of the session
This special session included scholars/experts representing international organizations - AESOP, ISOCARP and CSA, sharing their experiences about ‘Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living’ from their perspectives. Accordingly, this special session intends to search for answers to the following - but not limited to - questions:
• What is the role of public space in creating resilient cities?
• Can public spaces be designed in such a way that they support better resilience and healthy living in cities?
• What is the role of resilient public spaces for healthy living?
• How can we promote resiliency and healthy living through public spaces?
• Can we create positive transformation and better resilience in cities through the good design of public spaces?
• Can public spaces provide networks of resilience through our cities?
Objectives of the session
• Initiating international discussing questions on the Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living.
• Understanding the potential of public spaces for healthy living.
• Understanding the role of resilient public spaces in the positive transformation of cities.
• Learning from successful & unsuccessful examples of public spaces.
Introduction to the theme | Prof.Dr. Şebnem Hoşkara, EMU URDC & CSA | Dr. Luisa Bravo, CSA
“Rethinking Public Space for Climate Resilience and Action at University Campuses” | Dr. Ceren Sezer, RWTH Aachen University & AESOP TG PSUC
“Towards Inclusive, Integrated and Resilient Public Spaces: The Narratives of Gulf Cities Enhancing Healthy Living” | Prof.Dr. Ali A. Alraouf, HBKU, Education City & International Society of City Planners (ISOCARP)
“Public Libraries: Public Spaces in Plain Sight” | Anna Weng Ian Au, Ph.D. Candidate, Vienna University of Technology & City Space
Q & A / Discussion session
Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein (TU Wien, Austria) and Dr. Stefania Ragozino (CNR-IRISS, Italy) are editing the special issue "Social Change and Everyday Life in the Spatial Arts" of Architecture (ISSN 2673-8945)
The Call - Architecture, landscape planning and urban design, like many other disciplines pertaining to the spatial arts, have witnessed a decade of unsettling events: the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, the global insurgent movement of 2011, the refugee crisis (since 2015), new authoritarian state leadership (since 2016), climate crisis protests (since 2018), the COVID-19 pandemic (since 2019/20), and now, the political and civic upheaval of undemocratic and democratic character in many cities and countries worldwide, including a new aggressive war in the Northern hemisphere. While the city and the urban public realm are considered key arenas to overcome these bifurcations, the potential of deep critique and the social, cultural, and political theorization of everyday life and of lived space to decipher the complexities, ambivalences and deep potentialities of social change have not yet been unlocked in the field of architecture and planning, in terms of theory and praxis. This Special Issue aims to address key concerns to realign architecture theory, planning theory, and deeper conceptual insights on everyday life and lived space to begin deciphering massive shifts in contemporary everyday life, particularly with regard to the social, cultural and political dimensions of the built environment. It invites international contributions which seek to critically reflect or overcome Eurocentric or Anglocentric perspectives, and invites contributions theorizing on the manifold relations between urban life and urban form, their politics, cultures and social aspects, in close relation to intersectional empirical field research on public spaces, urban cultures and everyday life in the fields of architecture, planning and urban design.
Schedule and APCs
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024
AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures - Call for Expressions of Interest to host the Thematic Group’s Meetings 2022-2024
"Public Spaces, Urban Cultures and Constructing Peace"
Working theme written by Christine Mady (Beirut, Lebanon), Stefania Ragozino (Naples, Italy), Tihomir Viderman (Berlin, Germany), in collaboration with the TG PSUC’s Core Working Group
The construction of peace - the urge to understand how we arrive at peace
The world’s struggle to cope with health, ecological and economic crises, coupled with conflicts across multiple scales – from acquiring geo-political dominion to often invisible struggles that permeate spaces of homes – make the construction of peace the central theme in securing better urban futures. While debates on divides and conflicts in urban societies often shift focus in the range from social polarisation and political exclusion (e.g. political economy or post-foundational theories), over the negotiation of the private-public boundary in everyday life struggles (e.g. feminist critique), struggles over appropriation of public space (urban activism and literature on insurgencies), to insights into spaces of enduring conflicts and divides (Belfast, Baghdad, Istanbul, Nicosia or Beirut), they introduce the ‘securing of’ peace as a normative goal. However, the institutionalisation of peace across the binary of peace and conflict creates a conceptual gap, in which conflicts across the world are described as increasingly pervasive and complex, while peace is offered as rather a one-dimensional goal. Such an abstraction of a complex set of values, symbols, experiences and practices that amalgamate into peace, carries the danger of instrumentalising peace in the construction of hegemonic social, cultural and symbolic spaces. Achieving peace through political and other peace-making processes, too often preserves and produces disparities in power relations, be it at the level of global peacemaking or at the level of the home. The projected image of peace must conform with certain imaginaries of peace and peaceful living together, even when this means casting a veil of silence over past injustices, daily struggles and potential paths of change. Every day individuals, collectives and societies go about their lives, often unaware that the choices they make continuously negotiate between peace and conflict, and, moreover, negotiate what kind of peace is desired. This is why we ask how peace is constructed. How do we arrive at peace in everyday life, and how does urban space mould the understanding of what kind of peace we aim to arrive at?
From a broader perspective, one might challenge the very understanding of peace, starting with the dialectics between what is perceived as peace and the invisible struggles that such an image might disguise. We ask if urbanisation processes ever aimed at peace. As post-colonial debates or debates on settler colonialism indicate, even within settings, which are perceived as peaceful, (histories) of violence might be permeated. This raises the question of not only peace as a normative goal, but rather how we arrive at peace.
Urban studies, the focus on conflict versus focusing on everyday peace
Urban studies rather focus on conflict, war and divides. But we are interested in how we negotiate peace on a daily basis. At what price is everyday peace constructed in the urban context? It does not come at the same price for everyone, and does not have the same impact on everyone’s daily life. Think of poverty, discrimination across differences, heritage of violent pasts and how these struggles are passed onto later generations. Moreover, negotiating peace could include actions or non-actions, the decision to be a in place, or avoid that place; the acceptance to abide by norms (such as COVID-19 health and safety measures) or not. These choices could lead to inclusion or exclusion from what is considered as the expected norm/ behaviour.
Peace and public space
The first reflection of conflict and ironically its dissolution, occur in urban public spaces. These spaces reflect the discourses and practices of tolerance towards differences and display or disguise the tensions immanent in encounters and exchange across diverse urban cultures. From the mundane acts of conviviality to demonstrations, public space accommodates different expressions of demands and claims for spatial and social justice. These struggles can materialise in various forms, from peaceful to violent in a panoply of endeavours that try to belong and partake in democracy.
Peace, scale and levels of personal/social arrivals
Peace has a transformative power. While considering public spaces as the catalyst for arriving at/ constructing peace and spatial justice, several aspects come to mind. The ‘construction of peace’, or being at peace comes at different scales of experiencing peace. Focus on peace is simultaneously a personal and social endeavour. It includes different scales, from personal space to groups with close bonds, over city, society to global normative goals. It also transgresses the boundary between (industrialised) societies and nature, as humans seek peace in connection to nature, and declaratively seek to resolve the lost peace with nature and the planet. It starts with the individual feeling at peace with oneself and extends to the environment. One could feel at peace when surrounded by crowds, or when isolated in their private dwelling. Peace facilitates inclusion, also for vulnerable groups who feel at peace in public space (gender, age, special needs, cultural and other backgrounds...).
Addressing the call for proposals
The AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures invites proposals that explore the construction of peace at different scales and through diverse disciplines, to reflect the position of urban studies within this process and build on observations, experimentation, and narration of the transformative power of peace within public spaces. The proposals would address the following topics in relation to the construction of peace:
- Diversity and tolerance towards differences (community engagement, participation and Co-creation, enabling and establishing possibilities for dialogue)
- Inclusion (age, gender, special needs, backgrounds, ethnicities and so on)
- The Political and Urban Space
- Human-centred spaces
- Spatial justice
- Urban transformation
Proposals should present how in a series of meetings/workshops/conferences or other formats, participants from academia (universities and research institutes), policy, practice and civic society among other, could engage with contributions to the call’s theme, and arrive at tangible, synergetic outputs on the potentialities and different roles that public spaces and urban cultures could have in the global to local construction of peace.
- Call launched in AESOP Tartu July 2022
- Submission of expression of interest: 24 October 2022 31 October 2022
- Announcement of selected applications: 31 October 2022 2 November 2022
- Joint Meeting for development of full proposal: 7 November 2022
- Submission of full proposals: 27 November 2022
Mission, aims and engagement within the Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures
The AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures critically and constructively inquires into the nature of urban cultures and public spaces (=lived space), offering potentials by confronting and weaving networks with the AESOP Planning Community, other scientific communities engaged with these topics, European research networks, policy makers, local communities, and urban activists among other.
This thematic group aims to introduce the research and design focus on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures in planning-related disciplines. Indeed, the group brings together people from diverse disciplines: Art, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Policy, Urban Sociology, Urban Geography, Urban Ethnography, among others.
The group consists of members focusing on:
- theory, concepts, speculation
- methodology, methods combination, method reflection
- empirical field research and related ethics
- education and learning
- policy, regulation and planning
- civic design, co-production and collective meaning-making
The members of the AESOP Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures discuss and develop approaches proposed under the biennial group’s working theme and engage in peer-to-peer exchange on research and design projects. In addition to the annual AESOP Conference, the group has regular meetings spanning academia, praxis and activism, which take place in the form of workshops, seminars and conferences, accompanied by field trips.
In times of open call for hosting an AESOP TG PSUC, group members and other interested parties could submit a proposal for hosting a TG event (conference/call for abstract/call for paper/workshop/meeting) about current themes of the PSUC Thematic Group. This proposal should contain information about timing, place, host institution, concept and issues to deepen. Once the event proposal has been accepted, the host institution prepares the event in close cooperation with the two TG representatives, who assist the hosting institutional partners in developing the meeting’s theme and agenda. The hosting institution invites the two TG representatives as members of the meeting’s scientific committee. If local funding is not available, the hosting institution assists them in obtaining funding elsewhere. Once the call is prepared, it will be shared with the TG Core Working Group prior to dissemination in order to start the discussion of themes of relevance and to promote participation in the event. A final version of the call will be shared with the local and TG networks through social media.
The format of the event is open. The events are mostly held in the format of two-days workshops/seminars/conferences that often include a field trip. During these events, participants are encouraged to give presentations about their research and design projects on the relevant topic. Apart from the general AESOP Annual Conference Meetings, the AESOP TG PSUC has established the policy that all meetings should be free of cost to AESOP TG members, at least keynote lectures should be accessible for the public without any costs (in place, and/or virtually through livestream), and that, when possible, affordable accommodation proposals are provided by the local host. Participants usually cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.
We acknowledge as well the institutions and colleagues that have hosted our events so far: Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, TU Wien (Vienna, Austria); Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (Ljubljana, Slovenia); Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development of Naples, National Research Council of Italy (Naples, Italy); Human Cities Symposium Organizers, Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre Horta and ProMateria (Brussels, Belgium); Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey); Technical University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal); Ozyegin University (Istanbul, Turkey); UN Habitat World Urban Forum (Medellin, Colombia); Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning (Bucharest, Romania); La Villette School of Architecture (Paris, France); Public Space Biennale at Faculty of Architecture Roma Tre (Rome, Italy); University of Glasgow (Glasgow, UK); Czech Technical University Faculty of Architecture (Prague, Czech Republic); CITTA Research Centre for Territory, Transports and Environment, University of Porto (Porto, Portugal); Faculty of Architecture, Art, and Design, Notre Dame University Louaize (Louaize, Lebanon); Tracce Urbane and Laboratory of Urban Studies at Sapienza (Rome, Italy); Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus (Cyprus); Wageningen University (Wageningen, the Netherlands); Gothenburg University (Gothenburg, Sweden); Cardiff University (Cardiff, UK); University of Venice (Venice, Italy); Delft University of Technology (Delft, The Netherlands); University of Technology (Gdańsk Poland); Aristotle University (Thessaloniki, Greece).
TG Transboundary Planning and Governance: New name and new coordination team!
Since the AESOP Congress 2022 in Tartu, the Thematic Group has a new coordination team: Eva Purkarthofer (Aalto University) and Alois Humer (University of Vienna) took over from Giancarlo Cotella (Politecnico di Torino) and Stefanie Dühr (University of South Australia). In the TG meeting in Tartu, we have discussed and agreed upon a simplified name for the TG: “Transboundary planning and governance”.
Along with the update of the TG name, we have also reviewed the thematic focus of the group. The TG Transboundary Planning and Governance aims to provide room for discussing new planning spaces, formal and informal governance arrangements and comparative perspectives on planning systems, cultures, and practices in Europe and beyond, across various scales. You can find more information on the thematic scope on the TG website: https://aesop-planning.eu/thematic-groups/transboundary-planning-and-governance
As coordinators, we envision three main ways how the TG can be a useful platform for its members. First, we intend to use the TG to share relevant activities of and with its members, such as calls for papers for special issues, PhD workshops, seminars and other events, information on on-going projects and project applications, as well as invitations to online PhD defenses or online lectures. Second, we intend to organise and facilitate the organisation of events under the umbrella of the TG, such as small conferences, special issues and special sessions or roundtables at the annual AESOP Congress. Third, we aim to enable continuous networking and knowledge exchange between academics with overlapping research interests through the TG meetings and other TG activities.
Our main communication channels remain the AESOP TG website and a mailing list with currently approx. 160 subscribers. If you would like to be included to the mailing list, please contact
In Tartu, we agreed to have two annual TG meetings: One meeting will take place in person at the AESOP Congress and one meeting will take place online in December. Both meetings serve to discuss the focus of the group as well as joint future activities such as special sessions at AESOP or calls for special issues. The meetings are open to all interested – an invitation will be sent through the mailing list and an announcement will appear on the TG website.
We are looking forward to fruitful collaboration under the umbrella of the thematic group and would be glad to hear your proposals for future activities!
Eva Purkarthofer & Alois Humer
The AESOP thematic group on Ethics, Values and Planning is searching for candidates who would like to contribute to the growth and success of the network (247 subscriptions to the mailing list). Like every organisation, we need to adapt and evolve to guarantee our long-term survival. Therefore, we want to strengthen the coordination team by including new forces and ideas.
Scope of the thematic group
The TG aims to facilitate lively debates on relevant ethical urban planning issues. It organises colloquiums and annual conferences, and provides an open space for members to initiate debates and workshops.
The TG addresses (mainly) three main themes:
- the interrelation between social/urban justice and spatial governance/design/configurations (this includes, for example, distributive issues, access to resources, freedom of initiative, etc.);
- how to operationalise values in urban design and planning interventions;
- the exploration of different types of ethical approaches.
- "Senior" scholars/researchers with longstanding experience and interests in the field of ethics, justice and planning;
- "Young" scholars/researchers (e.g. Post-docs and PhD candidates) exploring important ethical questions willing to consolidate and expand their knowledge.
- Students with a strong passion and commitment to urban ethical issues (e.g. students willing to apply for PhD positions).
- Within the values of AESOP, this thematic group acknowledges and welcomes the co-presence of different ethical perspectives and different ideas of justice. Respect, pluralism, tolerance and constructive dialogues are essential.
- The TG aims at serious discussions combining the power of logic and individual values. Solid scientific methods will always be favoured over dogmas and ideologically blinded and biased conversations.
- All the TG's activities are based on voluntary work. This commitment entails sacrifices beyond the regular working hours but pays back with enormous benefits in terms of academic/knowledge development and networking at the European and non-European levels.
How to apply
Send an e-mail until September 25 to stefano.cozzolino(at)ils-research.de with:
- A short CV or your professional links (e.g., LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, etc.)
- A couple of sentences to present yourself and motivate your interest.
Recent activities of the TG
Colloquium series 2021
- "If neoliberalism is everything, maybe it is nothing" with prof. Edwin Buitelaar, February 24
- "Our curious silence about kindness" prof.dr. John Forester, March 24
- "Revisiting the concept of the 'just city' with prof. Stefano Moroni, April 21
- "Back to normality or perpetual threat? Exploring scenarios of future urban life and planning", May 26
- "Overcoming the false dichotomy between procedural and distributive justice" with Ali Madanipour, Sabine Weck and Peter Schmitt, October 13
- "Human Dignity in Planning" with Ben Davy, November 23
Open space events 2021
"What are AESOP's shared values?", June 8
Participants in the panel discussion:
- Rachelle Alterman (Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Neaman Institute for National Policy Research - AESOP Honorary Member)
- Claudia Basta (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)
- Tijana Dabovic (University of Belgrade)
- Pinar Dörder (Technical University of Darmstadt – Chair of YA Coordination Team)
- Francesco Lo Piccolo (University of Palermo)
- Izabela Mironowicz (Gdansk University of Technology)
- Paulo Silva (University of Aveiro)
Annual (internal) conference organisation (Online)
Operationalising the Just City - 24 and 25 February 2022
- 48 participants
Annual AESOP congress – 25-29 July 2022 (Tartu, Estonia)
- Track 9: SPATIALITIES: Making and unmaking spatial inequalities (10 sessions)