Rebalancing urban life block by block
Our urban environment disappoints too often. It does not feel human centered, it fractures social bonds, there is not enough nature, it is difficult to get around and to find easy access to facilities. It creates stress. What if we were to redesign our cities to truly meet our needs? Can we retrofit our existing fabric to change this? And might ‘Superblocks’ be one answer? Superblocks are ca. 400 by 400 metres containing a community around 5000–6000 inhabitants per block. Our panel summarises the key learnings from cities who have been experimenting with the concept. This includes Silvia Casorrán, a Barcelona councilor leading the city’s superblock work; Catherine Gall, colleague of scientist Carlos Moreno, whose ‘15-Minute City’ concept closely related to the superblock approach has been adopted by Paris (among many other metropolises); and global city design practitioner Helle Søholt, who leads Gehl Architects in Copenhagen.
This session is part of a 5-part series run by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s ‘RISE Cities’ programme. RISE Cities explores the leadership required to enable our urban environments to be more resilient, intelligent, sustainable and equitable (RISE).
Founding Partner & CEO/ Gehl Architects
Helle Søholt is Founding Partner & CEO of Gehl Architects, the internationally acclaimed firm within the field of urban design and development recognised for major contributions to making cities more livable and sustainable around the world. Helle and her colleagues are acting as a sparring partner for the RISE City Lab Munich.
Deputy Chief Architect/ Barcelona City Council
Silvia Casorrán is Deputy Chief Architect at Barcelona City Council, and
Councilor for Mobility and Accessibility for the city’s Sant Martí District. She has spent the past twenty years working to advance the sustainable mobility planning and management agenda, for the last five years as a public servant. Since 2015 Silvia has also been responsible for the Metropolitan Bicycle Office and for coordinating the Spanish Cycling Cities Network, as well as having spent many years as an activist fighting for better civic spaces.
Executive Director/ ETI Research Laboratory
Catherine Gall is the Executive Director of the Sorbonne based ETI Research
Laboratory (Entrepreneurship Territory Innovation) created by Professors Carlos Moreno, Didier Chabaud and Florent Pratlong and specialized in challenging conventional city planning models. The ETI Lab is well known today for their “15-minute City Model”. Catherine is also an experienced creative design thinker, business leader and entrepreneur, as well as a member of the Responsible Leaders Network of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
deputy mayor/ City of Munich
Katrin Habenschaden is the deputy mayor of Munich, a position she has held since May 2020. Prior to this she was an elected city councilor for the Green Party from 2014 to 2020. Katrin is chairwoman of the committees for construction, labor and economy, culture, climate and environment, and mobility. She has given her patronage to the RISE City Lab Munich in 2021.
President / Creative Bureaucracy Festival
Charles Landry is an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change. He is best known for having invented the concept of the Creative City in the late 1980s. Its focus is how cities can create the enabling conditions for people and organizations to think, plan and act with imagination to solve problems and develop opportunities. The notion has become a global movement and changed the way cities thought about their capabilities and resources.
Charles noticed, however, that there was a crucial gap in the Creative City concept that needed addressing: a focus on the vital role of bureaucrats as facilitators and drivers of change. It was at this point that he came up with the Creative Bureaucracy idea – a seed planted 3 years ago which has since developed into the movement you’re part of today.
Charles helps cities and the public administrations behind them to identify and make the most of their potential by triggering their inventiveness and thinking and by opening up new conversations about their future. His aim is to help cities become more resilient, self-sustaining and to punch above their weight.