Smart about Cities – visualising the challenge for 21st century urbanism

17-06-2014 | Nieuwsbericht

The future of the city has suddenly re-emerged at the top of the political agenda. And quite rightly so. Attention is largely focused on the idea of the 'smart city' – which is based on innovative urban planning, using smart technologies that make cities both safer and cleaner and, in particular, more efficient. But do they really improve cities, though? In the book 'Smart about Cities – visualising the challenge for 21st century urbanism', Maarten Hajer and Ton Dassen (of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) argue in favour of 'smart urbanism', which is a broader approach, thus providing a counterweight to the unquestioning embrace of the smart city.

The world today is faced with an unprecedented urban challenge. Smart urban planning aims at finding solutions to what 20th century urban planning forgot: the metabolism of cities, i.e. the wide variety of incoming and outgoing streams that connect urban life with nature. This metabolism is visualised in 50 infographics, giving us answers to questions such as: what do cities live off of? How much water, food, construction materials, and other materials do they use? What amount of those materials do they dispose of? How effective is the metabolism? This book makes an appeal for ‘globally networked urbanism’, in which technology is not a panacea, but instead is anchored in social innovations, with cities more explicitly able to learn from each other.

Today, PBL's Director-General, Maarten Hajer, will present the first issues of 'Smart about Cities', during the PBL symposium ' Global Challenges, Urban Futures’, which is being held as part of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) 2014. The first issues will be presented to Ferdi Licher (Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations) and Henk Snoeken (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) and to the speakers at the symposium: Mark Swilling (Stellenbosch University, UNEP International Resource Panel), Philipp Rode (London School of Economics), Joyeeta Gupta (University of Amsterdam) and John Urry (Lancaster University).

The book will also become available in Dutch, in the near future, with the title ‘Slimme steden – de opgave voor de 21e-eeuwse stedenbouw in beeld’.

The IABR entry ticket of €11 will provide you with access to two museums (the Kunsthal and the museum on nature history (Natuurhistorisch Museum)). The PBL infographics are on display in Hall 2 (Hal 2) of the Kunsthal.