Shaping the City - Chicago 2021

Shaping the City: A Forum for Sustainable Cities and Communities is a forum organised by the European Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Shaping the City was first held in Venice in 2018, followed by a second edition in 2021. Following the success of the two Venetian editions of Shaping the City, the European Cultural Centre is organizing, in collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the first edition in Chicago on 10th December 2021 at the Chicago Cultural Center. David Brown the artistic director of the Chicago Architecture Biennial will be the keynote speaker and will inaugurate the in-person forum, followed by presentations of international participants.

Shaping the City tackles contemporary urbanisation and key issues in the city, presented and debated through the perspectives of a group of academics, urban planners and designers, architects, policy makers, and scholars. Through diverse presentations and panel discussions, the forum confronts the fundamental topics shaping the cities in the world. The conversations are structured in a way to portray an array of international perspectives about urbanism and architecture and tailored around two main subthemes:

  • Architecture for the People 
  • Re-imagining the City

The discussions that will take place in Chicago recognise the significant role urban planning and design plays in molding the interaction of people with their cities and their wellbeing. The forum sets forward new thoughts around the rights to the city, through a spatial, pragmatic, yet inclusive and sustainable approach. Shaping the City 2021 looks to tackle these themes comparing completely different approaches in international cities, namely in Europe and the Americas. 

Session 1 | Architecture for the People

This theme of Shaping the City is explored through the social lens of architects and urban planners within our contemporary world. It focuses on social issues in the city, urban inequity, emerging issues of the displacement of communities, new architectural values, and spatial identity. 
Architecture for the people explores how regeneration projects, social housing, and urban policies are reactivating the neglected parts of the urban fabric of the city and promoting dynamic and social transformations, where architecture and urban planning are seen as a catalyst for an inclusive city. 

The panel tackles mainly inclusion, social, racial, and gender equity in the city and their intersectionality with space activation and gentrification in the urban space. By looking into public participation processes and community regeneration in different cities across the world, Architecture for the People crosses between the theme of the Chicago Architecture Biennale “The Available City” and the aspirations for shaping future cities in the future. 

Session 2 | Re-Imagining the City

The transformation of our cities is a dynamic process, where the physical form and the respective citizens’ interaction are constantly changing with the planning, policies, urban design, and architecture at the given era of regeneration. Accumulating the heritage, physically and spiritually inside the city, plays a vital role in shaping the image of the city and the collective identity of the metropolis. 
This theme explores how the morphological dimension, engulfing both the architectural character and the urban environment, creates an image and an identity for the city. It also focuses on the sensory and experiential qualities in architecture and the distinctive qualities of the urban space, where daily life unfolds. 

The panel tackles mainly visionary views of cities in a speculative and critical way while taking into consideration the issues of inclusion and equity at the urban scale. A dialogue between architects, academics, and policymakers will discuss the projected urban future in a visionary way and reflect on the respective relationship of the people and their physical space is re-imagined in the future. 

Please click here to watch the live panel discussions in Chicago.