Professor of Urban Design
Ali Madanipour is Professor of Urban Design at Newcastle University, UK. He is one the most well known scholars and authors regarding development and management of cities, especially urban space and its social and psychological significance, processes that shape it, agencies of urban change, and implications of change for disadvantaged social groups and the environment.
He has studied (MArch, PhD), practised, researched, and taught architecture, urban design and planning, winning design and research awards, and working with academic and municipal partners from around the world.
His work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Persian and Spanish. His visiting positions include the City of Vienna Senior Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Vienna, the Wits-Claude Leon Distinguished Scholar at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Visiting Professor at the Polytechnic of Milan.
He is the author and editor of several significant books, including The Governance of Place (2001, co-ed, Ashgate; 2017, Routledge); Public and Private Spaces of the City (2003, Routledge); Whose Public Space? International Case Studies in Urban Design and Development (2010, ed, Routledge); Knowledge Economy and the City (2011/2013, Routledge; Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe (2014, co-ed, Routledge); Cities in Time: Temporary Urbanism and the Future of Cities (2017, Bloomsbury).
His latest book is Rethinking Public Space (2023, Edward Elgar). Currently he is supervising doctoral candidates on public space, urban development and management.
Public space: the case for rethinking
This presentation puts forward the case for rethinking the concepts and practices of public space. Public space has always been an integral element of urban life, but a generation ago it became a major topic of critical concern, triggered by globalization, economic restructuring, deregulation, the changing attitudes and abilities of public authorities, and the rise of digital technologies. As a mirror of urban society, public spaces were directly embodying structural transformations, unresolved tensions, and shifting attitudes. Campaigners for public space considered it as a linchpin of democracy, which was now under serious threat. However, analysing the emergence and evolution of the debates and practices of public space during this period shows a journey from critique to co-option, from resistance to orthodoxy, from concern to complacency, with significant implications for the character of cities. It is therefore argued that this metamorphosis, and the appearance of new global challenges in health, economy, and environment, necessitate a rethinking of public space, in its different physical, technological, and institutional forms, through a critical analysis of its conceptual constituents and social practices.
Tallinn University of Technology
Katrin Paadam is Professor Emerita, Tallinn University of Technology. She has developed an integrated research approach towards urban and residential dynamics with a focus on transforming actors’ practices and cultures on different intertwined scales of city space. Her long-term experience in applying qualitative methodology in urban research has enabled acknowledging individuals/residents as co-creators of urban space, aside professional and other actors concerned in designing and shaping the quality of space and life in the city. The interest in understanding the interplay of material structures and socio-spatial processes, the physical and the social, has guided her research towards cross-disciplinary perspectives.
Over the years, she has conducted research on urban renewal and the related processes in the realm of residence and public space and partnered in several EU and Nordic-Estonian cross-disciplinary joint-projects, including special case studies on becoming of urban and residential identities in Paris, Tour Bois-Le-Prêtreand Cite d’Artistes.
She has recently co-edited and co-authored Ways of Residing in Transformation. Interdisciplinary Perspectives(Gromark, S., Ilmonen M., Paadam, K., Støa 2016, Ashgate Publishing Ltd; 2017 Routledge) and Enabling the City. Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Encounters in Research and Practice (J. Fokdal, O. Bina, P. Chiles, L. Ojamäe, K. Paadam 2021, Routledge)
Her current teaching encompasses courses on qualitative methodology across disciplines, a special course on urban sociology for architects as well as supervising PhD students.
Enabling the city and/by research across disciplines
There is a solid volume of publications on inter- and transdisciplinarity in urban research as there are definitions of these concepts. However, in this talk the main emphasis is laid on rather the nature of coming together from various disciplinary and practice-based perspectives in the process of knowledge production about the cities and life in cities. While there is lot of agreement about the need to reach across disciplinary boundaries, is there a possibility that the idea remains an illusion? How perceptive and accepting can we be about quintessential differences in ways we approach the urban issues in conceptual and methodological terms? And the willingness to learn and understand and collaborate upon complex disciplinary expertise for the sake of the future of our cities? The discussion draws on the experiences of working across disciplines in the frame of international joint-projects, by also offering a self-critical sociologist’s view.