The Intergenerational City Roundtable Series

City Design

Urban life is experiencing momentous change. Cities are centralising and concentrating, emerging as a significant force once again challenging the nation state. New social groups are emerging, populations are ageing, family units are extending and dispersing, work is becoming casualised and whole communities have moved online. At the same time, dangerous new social divides are appearing on the periphery of cities, between different cultures, and now also between different generations. Yet many of the models used to explain, design, develop, and manage cities have resisted change. More recently, however, new possibilities are emerging and their consequences promise to be profound: modern social movements and new models of citizen participation, automated building supply chains, new and disruptive technology platforms, driverless transport and logistics, distributed water and energy infrastructure – all will radically reshape the city's fundamental organisational and building blocks.

In response, the MA City Design Roundtable and Lecture Series provides a forum for an emerging generation of architects and urban operators interested in the convergence of new social, technical and spatial innovations and harnessing their potential to generate alternative forms of urban life. The roundtable series particularly aims to unpack in long-form events, such as day-long symposia supported by lectures, the complex issues, forces and cross-disciplinary knowledge required to begin to address urban change and transformation.

Roundtable Events 2018

Each roundtable event is an intensive seminar and presentation event involving a number of speakers, a series of respondents and the involvement of a core group of participants including graduate students of City Design.

The Economy of the City: The sectional problem of housing and industry

Date: TBC

In the context of urban centralisation, how do we retain and cultivate mixed-use development such as light industry within the core of the city, adjacent and within housing developments and in the context of urban centralisation? This is a question of spatial performance, as much as it is a question of the economics of cities, and of our categorising and privileging of specific kinds of occupation and work.

Drawing by Mark Brearley mapping the complex existing industry of Old Kent Road.
Drawing by Mark Brearley mapping the complex existing industry of Old Kent Road., Tarsha Finney/RCA 2017

The Conditions of Experimentation: New housing co-operatives in Europe

Date: TBC

Where is there to be found innovation in the spatial performance of the dwelling unit and building block, what are the new emerging logics of collectivity in housing in terms of intimacy and care, and in the context of ageing populations, mobile labour and centralising cities? This seminar will look at case studies in Spain, Germany and Switzerland and hear from architects and housing activists instrumental in a powerful new movement that is reshaping the way we negotiate, procure, design and develop housing with profound consequences for our understanding of ourselves and who occupies the space of our intimate lives.

La Borda, Barcelona by LaCol Cooperativa (Architects).
La Borda, Barcelona by LaCol Cooperativa (Architects)., Tarsha Finney/RCA 2017

Ageing Populations and Transformations in Labour

Date: TBC

The plasticity of human capital – it's ‘employability’ – depends on its capacity for adaptation and life-long learning, as well as its mobility. This new and emerging demand extends the productive lifespan of human beings beyond concepts of retirement established in the twentieth century, while pulling people out and away from the traditional support structures such as established community or family. How do we ensure that our cities remain accessible to everyone: families, older people, ageing populations, not just the young, mobile and affluent? Are there forms of complementarity that can strategically reconnect communities across different phases of life? Can new forms of institutions or association work across the fault lines appearing between generations?