"Transforming our cities for a better urban future", is the main theme of the next World Urban Forum (WUF) which will take place, for the first time in Eastern Europe, in the city of Katowice, Poland, from the 26th to the 30th of June 2022. This global event on sustainable urbanisation is convened every two years by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), and this time, it is co-organised by the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy and the Katowice City Office.
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At COP26 Architects Plan on Urging Decision Makers to Establish Tangible Action Against Climate Change
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) debuted yesterday in Glasgow, bringing together more than 190 world leaders, with the aim of accelerating action to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement and UN's Convention on Climate Change. Leading architecture organizations and figures are attending the two-week summit to show the AEC's industry's commitment to reduce carbon emissions and urge decision-makers to implement clear targets to achieve global climate goals.
As part of UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda, Bjarke Ingels Group has proposed a vision for the world’s first resilient and sustainable floating community, designed to accommodate 10,000 people. “Oceanix City” is a response to the prediction that by 2050, 90% of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas, resulting in mass displacement, and the destruction of homes and infrastructure. The scheme is anchored in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, enacting circular flows of food, energy, water, and waste.
Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban has signed an agreement with UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency tasked with guiding sustainable development, to design up to 20,000 new homes for refugees in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement. Currently home to more than 37,000 refugees, the settlement is quickly outgrowing its original capacity of 45,000 – over 17,000 have arrived this year alone, with numbers expected to continue to increase.
“The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants.”
Mecanoo has unveiled its design to transform The Soestdijk Estate into Eden Soestdijk, “an experimental garden for a sustainable society and a paradise destination for all” in The Netherlands. In an effort to become an educational tool for environmental awareness, the project aims to make a significant contribution to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“The world is facing pressure from increasingly larger and more complex problems when it comes to water, food, climate and energy,” said Anton Valk, chairman of the Eden Soestdijk foundation. “Eden Soestdijk wants to tackle these problems and contribute to a more sustainable society by stimulating and inspiring visitors to change their behaviour in a positive way.”
An architectural greenhouse behind the palace gardens will be the centerpiece of the project, and will house an interactive exhibition focusing on topics like circularity, ecological balance, and social aspects of sustainability.
Swedish mega-retailer IKEA is taking action to combat the destitute living conditions faced by Syrian refugees.
Volume #48: The Research Turn contains the exhibition catalogue for BLUE: The Architecture of UN Peacekeeping, the Dutch entry at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, by Malkit Shoshan. BLUE focuses on the most prominent footprint of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations: the compound.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and increasingly since 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’, warfare has moved into the city. While the wars of the 20th century were largely between nations, fighting over territorial sovereignty and along disputed borders, the wars of the 21st century have been internal and borderless. Today’s wars are being fought between large multinational coalitions of security regimes and insurgent networks. It’s not just war that has moved to the city though: the entire security apparatus has moved with them too, including its peacekeepers and their entire infrastructure. Today, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations are taking place in hundreds of cities around the world and at a large scale.
To mark the occasion of World Refugee Day on June 20th, the IKEA Foundation announced an important new collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Refugee Housing Unit to design a new type of shelter which will replace the outdated tents currently in use in refugee camps worldwide.
As you'd expect from IKEA, the result is a flat-packed, modular design (ideal for cheaply transporting to refugee camps) that can be assembled in 4 hours. Though it is expected to cost about twice as much, it will last much longer than the tents, which must be replaced roughly every six months - a particularly important improvement, as the average family stays in a refugee camp for 12 years.
The design also carries a number of other advantages, such as increased space and privacy, better temperature control and enough solar energy to power a light in the evening. The design is currently being tested in Ethiopia before being deployed worldwide, however, this is not the end of IKEA's collaboration with UNHCR. These shelters are just the first part of a long-term collaboration which will hopefully provide healthcare and education - and ultimately a better quality of life for the world's refugees.
More coverage of architecture's involvement in refugee aid, after the break.