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Culture in Urban Space

Urban Form, Cultural Landscapes, Life in the City

22-26 August 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark


The city cannot be understood in terms of its buildings, infrastructures, and physical geography alone. Urban materiality is inextricably linked with city life: Urban spaces are influenced by the cultures that inhabit them, and urban form shapes these cultures in turn. This conference brings together researchers, planners, designers, policymakers, and architects from around the globe to explore the mutual influence of urban culture and urban form.


Impacts of past urban planning reverberate long after original rationales have become obsolete: Fortifications (walls, moats, fortresses), transport infrastructure (railways, highways, city gates), and other elements of the built environment structure future development. Aspects of urban form contribute to dividing the city into neighbourhoods, determining which areas will flourish while others decay, encouraging shifts from industrial to tourism or leisure use. The city’s architectures affect the cultures of the people who use them: Different kinds of housing foster different forms of sociality or isolation, and different networked infrastructures promote different pathways to the internal cohesion and/or citywide integration of urban cultures. Whether urban cultural landscapes evolve gradually over time or result from decisive, top-down planning, they reflect and influence the city’s multitude of identities, industries, cultural politics, ethnic relations, and expressive cultures.


Presentations will address such issues as:

• How do design philosophies influence lived culture?

• How does urban morphology change over time alongside livelihoods and cultural expectations?

• What forms of cultural resistance arise to challenge top-down urban design?

• Why do neighbourhoods develop within urban space?

• How are elements of the built environment re-purposed?

• What can planners and designers do to promote cultural flexibility or sensitivity?

• How is ethnic diversity reflected in urban form?

• Should designers seek to reinforce or add flexibility to expressions of cultural difference in the city?



© Robert Thomason, Copenhagen Media Center

Keynote speakers.

Ronan Paddison (University of Glasgow)

Henriette Steiner (University of Copenhagen)


About the conference.

Culture in Urban Space is a ‘Community Explorations’ conference, allowing delegates to contextualise knowledge and engage with community members. On 22-24 August, delegates will explore Copenhagen’s morphological and cultural distinction, visiting neighbourhoods such as Nordvest (ethnically diverse and characterised by early-20th Century utopian urban planning); Nørrebro and Vesterbro (rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods beyond the old city walls, with abiding reputations for ‘edginess’ and crime); Sydhavn (deindustrialising working-class neighbourhood, being transformed by land reclamation and construction of upper-middle class residences); City Centre (structured by the city’s former fortifications and coastlines, central Copenhagen has become the heart of Danish political, tourism, and retail culture); Christianshavn (former warehouse, industrial, and military zone, which has transformed into Copenhagen’s pre-eminent built heritage landscape, combining elite residences and workplaces with the countercultural stronghold of Christiania). Delegates will also visit Tivoli Gardens, a historic amusement park that has developed into a key site for Danish identity building and cultural expression. Conference presentations take place on 25-26 August at VerdensKulturCentret, Copenhagen’s multicultural community centre.


How to make a presentation.

Presentations last 20 minutes and will be followed by around 10 minutes’ question time. The deadline for abstracts was 28 February 2016.

Conference Call for Papers Register Practicalities