Introducing the Council for European Urbanism…

Hello – My name is Susan Parham and I am the outgoing chair of the board of the Council for European Urbanism. The board is pan European and includes members from across Europe. As you will see from our website the Council for European Urbanism started at a gathering in Bruges in the early 2000s as a movement dedicated to promoting (and protecting) the qualities that make European cities, towns, villages and countryside unique and humane. We launched our charter in Stockholm in 2003. The charter tries to distil these qualities and aspirations so is well worth looking at – we see it as a starting point for national, regional and local action on urbanism. To that end we have developed chapters and networks in a number of countries and regions that promote human scaled urbanism based on what’s loosely called the European City Model – fine grained, mixed use, transport centred, walkable, inclusive and socially rich and robust. We think that such places are good in their own right and that if we can stick to designing urban places with these kinds of qualities we have a better chance of limiting and mitigating sprawl.

We’ve held two world congresses so far – on the European City (in Berlin in 2005), and on Sustainable Urbanism (in Leeds in 2006) – as well as lots of smaller meetings, workshops and symposia on issues as broad as urbanist education (in Viseu in 2004) and waterfront development (in Lisbon in 2007). Later this year (2008) we are holding our third world congress in Oslo from the 14-16th September on the extremely urgent issue of urbanism and climate change. The call for papers is out at the moment so please take advantage of that if you have something you wish to contribute on the topic. It promises to be an excellent opportunity for people from all parts of the world to come together to both learn from European Urbanism and to suggest ways to improve its capacity to both mitigate and adapt to climate change effects.

Last year we established a foundation based in Stockholm where our CEO is based and at the same time we initiated our constitution to make sure we have a proper basis for our activities in future. While we have very active chapters in places as diverse as Norway, the Netherlands, Germany , Portugal and the United Kingdom – and excellent links with other urbanists in places as diverse as Israel, Cuba, the United Kingdom and the United States – we are keen to start chapters or more informal networks in other European countries – especially in the south and east where there are of course many significant urban issues – so if you would like to get involved wherever you are in Europe please contact us. We are very open to proposals for new networks, new projects and new events within the framework of our charter principles.

It’s worth pointing out that the Council for European Urbanism is not just another professional association that only includes architects or planners. People involved come from a very broad range of backgrounds. What we share is a passionate concern for the future of urbanism in Europe. A good start is to join Euro-Urb – a lively, moderated email group where many of these issues are aired. So please do join us if you feel the same way!

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