Talk in the Park

How Do We Want to Live Together? Challenges for the City of the Future

City planner and architect Professor Albert Speer, speaking at the Robert Bosch Stiftung

Stuttgart, September 2013 - Today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. How will the people live together in the future? How can we organize transportation, the energy supply, and living so that they meet the needs of the people - particularly in the booming megacities? How are the Internet and smartphones changing our cities of the future? No one else looks at these questions more closely than architects and city planners. They play a key role in shaping living conditions for coming generations.

Professor Albert Speer has continuously worked for more than 50 years on city planning and the development of regions and metropolises. As the founder and head of the international architectural and planning office AS&P, with locations in Frankfurt and Shanghai, he is designing the living environment of many people all over the world. Albert Speer, a Berlin native, made a name for himself in Germany with the plans for the EXPO 2000 in Hanover as well as the European quarter in Frankfurt. He has also completed major foreign projects such as the master plan for expanding the Egyptian city of Alexandria and Qatar’s successful application for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Speer’s office is currently planning a 120-square-kilometer city with 300,000 residents and large automotive factories near the Chinese industrial metropolis Changchun.

During his talk as part of the "Talks in the Park" series, Speer examined the question of how people want to live together in the future and the associated challenges facing architects and city planners. Speer’s comments primarily focused on two topics: the increasing importance of urban culture and the failure of major construction projects. Speer’s theory is that architecture will become interchangeable and random across the world. He sees the reasons for this development predominantly in a "mainstream" type of building that can be observed in the world’s major cities. The impact of city culture and city society is increasing at the same degree with which architecture is losing its importance in global urban development. Only its culture and society can give a city its unique character and profile, says Speer. That means it is the city planners’ job to support and promote these characteristics.

In the second part of his talk, Speer expounded on the problem that major building projects in Germany, like the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, as well as in other European countries, are often being carried out much too slowly. Errors in major building projects arise more often during the planning stage as opposed to during construction - often because not enough time and money are invested, but also due to a lack of innovation and courage. Above all, Speer recommended including all relevant players from civil society and interdisciplinary fields as early as possible, in order to implement major projects such as world championships, stadium construction projects, and the development of entire urban districts without serious delays.

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Fotos: Robert Thiele

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