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Stockholm, 24 Jun 13

The Future of Places Conference is currently taking place in Stockholm, Sweden from June 24-26. This is a gathering that brings together leading experts, academics, practitioners, decision makers and others who have the ability to influence the future of the public space agenda.

The Conference series is a result of the collective efforts of the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Project for Public Spaces and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Traditionally, city growth was all too often seen as a problem.  However, the problem is not the rapid growth of cities, but the inability of cities to manage growth to best utilize limited space and community resources in pursuit of sustainable urban development.  When one begins to view cities in a positive light, they can see new opportunities for grassroots advocates and city governments alike – to build relationships, to take action, to create positive experiences for people, and to encourage creative interaction that is essential to creating great cities.

It is envisioned, that in the future, the most functional cities will be the ones that encapsulate the public realm and the people who utilize these places. This is a people centered vision for cities – one that enables a transformative shift in the traditional planning and management of cities, a shift that benefits everyone, specifically those at the bottom of the economic ladder. There is a necessary need to transform the public space debate from traditional thinking that focused on planning around objects (buildings), to more conventional thinking that focuses on the place, and the people at the centre of it.

The Future of Places conference series is a set of three conferences that will take place each year, in the lead up to Habitat III in 2016. The objective of this conference series is to bring Public Space to the forefront of the urban debate, contributing to a New Urban Agenda around people and places. The Future of Places forum will highlight how and why cities need to embrace a people centered approach in order to achieve positive urbanization and avoid falling victim to the negative attributes often accompanying urbanization. Examples of best practices and future pipeline projects will be defined throughout the conference series.

The first conference will focus on defining the urgency, the problems and the potential of ‘places’ in the coming years – both in the developing and the developed world. The dialogue will range from Mayors, engaged citizens and various experts as they set the context for ‘The Future of Places’. Participants will be introduced to best practices and current methods for the further progression of ‘places’, and detailed analyses of the economic and social value of placemaking.


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