At this year's reSITE conference in Prague, speakers attended from around the globe to present differing perspectives on the challenges of migration, with topics of interest ranging from economics, to city planning to architecture. But as revealed by the following presentations, migration is a topic that requires interrogation on a number of different scales and in a number of different contexts: from the global economic focus offered by Saskia Sassen in her opening keynote lecture, to the focused challenges of designing micro-apartments shown by Mimi Hoang of nArchitects; and even to the unusual case presented by Krister Lindstedt of White Arkitekter, when a migration is undertaken not by individual people but by a whole town at once.
When we started talking about migration [as a conference theme], everybody said ‘don’t do it, it’s too controversial.’ We said that’s exactly why we’re going to do it.
This defiant attitude was how Martin Barry, Chairman of reSITE, opened their 2016 Conference in Prague three weeks ago. Entitled “Cities in Migration,” the conference took place against a background of an almost uncountable number of challenging political issues related to migration. In Europe, the unfolding Syrian refugee crisis has strained both political and race relations across the continent; in America, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has led a populist knee-jerk reaction against both Mexicans and Muslims; and in the United Kingdom—a country only on the periphery of most attendees’ consciousness at the time—the decision in favor of “Brexit” that took place a week after the conference was largely predicated upon limiting the immigration of not only Syrians, but also of European citizens from other, less wealthy EU countries.
In architecture, such issues have been highlighted this year by Alejandro Aravena’s Venice Biennale, with architects “Reporting from the Front” in battles against, among other things, these migration-related challenges. From refugee camps to slums to housing crises in rich global cities, the message is clear: migration is a topic that architects must understand and respond to. As a result, the lessons shared during reSITE’s intensive two-day event will undoubtedly be invaluable to the architectural profession.
In a city as renowned for its historic buildings as Prague, urban change can often be hard to come by – which is why the announcement earlier this month that Zaha Hadid Architects will be designing a large complex of buildings around a railway station close to the city's historic center was big news. But is this the design that Prague needs? In this interview, originally published in Czech by Česká televize, Michaela Polakova speaks to Martin Barry, the Chairman of Prague-based NGO reSITE, for his analysis of how the design will impact the city's future.
Michaela Polakova: What is your opinion on the new Zaha Hadid Architects building in Prague?
Martin Barry: To me, it seems is too early to comment on the aesthetics of the buildings. We should focus on how the collection of buildings enhances the urban character of the city, and how they can improve the urban condition around the buildings. The city is a collection of buildings; the spaces between are what influence people’s lives; not so much the materials and forms of the architecture. That being said, this is a major development site and relatively large footprint of buildings from ZHA adjacent to the historic center of the city. So, we should pay close attention to how the designs develop. At present, it is clear that it is early and they need work.
Last year, we covered extensively reSITE 2013, a two-day conference on urban planning strategies with notable speakers such as Enrique Peñalosa, Alexandros E. Washburn, Winy Maas, and Cecil Balmond. As part of the festival, Balmond also lead a workshop (results here) to imagine the future mobile event pavilion.
One of the most important parts of the second annual reSITE festival, which is aimed to change the city to a place suitable for life, was an international multidisciplinary workshop with students from all over the world.
The workshop, co-organized by a ARCHIP - Architectural Institute in Prague, was held from June 21st to 23rd. It was tutored by renowned expert Cecil Balmond from Balmond Studio. The workshop participants were selected by an international jury from a number of people from various fields - architects, designers, cultural managers, programmers, designers and representatives of other specializations, to create multidisciplinary teams. These teams of researches colaborated for three days on a design concept of the future mobile pavilion, which will become a distinguishing feature of the festival in the upcoming years.
Watch an interview with Cecil Balmond during the workshop, his complete lecture and the workshop results after the break.
A couple of months ago we told you about reSITE Conference 2013, the largest event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. During the conference, the reSITE dPAV Competition Workshop also took place. Led by Cecil Balmond, formerly of Arup Engineers and currently leading Balmond Studio in London, and Tyson Hosmer, Lead Designer, Balmond Studio, dPAV: 2.5 Days in Prague competition workshop was a 2.5 days intensive and collaborative investigation to compete to design the future reSITE pavilion to be used in urban design festivals around Central and Eastern Europe.
reSITE invites investors, business leaders, real estate developers, politicians, architects, urban planners, landscape architects, experts in transportation, innovation, engineers, economists, financiers, community organizers, scientists, artists, students and those with an active interest in urban development and culture to attend reSITE Conference.
The second annual reSITE Conference in Prague will be held on June 20-21, 2013 at the iconic DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague 7 - Holešovice. Here, conference guests will meet the world’s foremost experts in the field of real estate development, urban design, architecture, planning, technology and finance to discuss strategies for sustainable planning for modern, competitive cities with a high quality of life. reSITE strives to foster collaboration between disparate disciplines and is looking for modern, sustainable and financially practical solutions for better public space, urban waterfront and mobility; a better city.
reSITE Conference and Festival will feature 60 international experts, over 400 high-level guests, and thousands of people at public events. reSITE is the largest and most professional international event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. reSITE relies on their deep experience and international connections to top experts in New York and across the world, thereby offering a more engaging and relevant program than other conferences with similar topics.
Topics, key speakers, and more information after the break.
This is an open call, two-stage international design competition workshop for architects, artists, engineers, innovators, scientists and related disciplines to imagine the future mobile event pavilion.