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Wellington hosts major conference on urbanism

Wellington hosts first major conference on urbanism since 2005

Release, Monday 14 May 2018

A two-day Urbanism New Zealand conference in Wellington this week is designed to examine just how chaotic are cities currently are - and how best to shape them for the remainder of the 21st century.

It is the first major conference on urbanism since the 2005's Urbanism Down Under event - larger versions of which happen annually in Australia but have failed to materialise in New Zealand.

The conference will be opened at 8.15am on Monday morning by Phil Twyford, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

It's first speaker is ex-pat New Zealander Elizabeth Farrelly who has been shaking up controversy about the direction of her adopted city Sydney for decades, as a professor of architecture and newspaper columnist.

Farrelly's challenge to all of us is to consider more carefully how are cities can and should be controlled, and what proportions of cities should be left to whim, creativity or chance.

Her opening question will be "What is a city, exactly? How should we understand our cities – both in relation to ourselves as clever, inexplicable, messed up creatures and in relation to the planet?"

On Tuesday, one of the USA's most awarded and most progressive developers of sustainable affordable housing, Jonathan F.P. Rose, will bring the topic of how to create "communities of opportunity" to the table by video-link.

Rose favours density and investment in transit infrastructure, and holds the simple outlook that cities that don't integrate housing, health care, social services and healthy food systems are doomed to fail as set out in his book The Well-Tempered City.

Organisers of Urbanism New Zealand are hoping the conference 'join the dots' on the latest city thinking, and will kick-start conversations on issues that appear to be going undebated in New Zealand.

Those issues, which will be canvassed across some 50 presentations detailed at , include:

• questions around the economic drivers that shape cities and towns

• how our urban settlements are managed through New Zealand’s central government and local authorities

• the influence of planning regimes

• resilience within community with a focus on Christchurch

• the role of urban design

• residential supply and demand

• the effect of city leadership philosophy as well as policy

• urban ecology, identity and heritage

• how infrastructure systems, such as transport and utilities are shaping settlement patterns

• the importance, or otherwise, of the quality of building, places and architecture

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