Make Cities Equitable- Burdett

The third edition of Z-Axis – the biennial conference titled- “Designing Equitable Cities”, organised by the Charles Correa Foundation was inaugurated on September 6 at the Kala Academy.

Professor of Urban studies at London School of Economics (LSE), Richard Burdett delivered the Charles Correa Memorial Lecture, where he spoke on how to shape equitable cities in an urban age.

Burdett started the lecture by emphasising the need for an equitable environment in which the city of an urban age can flourish. “Shaping Cities in the Urban Age does more than put cities on the map. The current urban trends are making cities more fragmented, less equitable and environmentally more damaging.” He also argued powerfully towards an integrated social environment that can inform and inspire city-makers that are shaping an increasingly urban world.

Quoting Charles Correa, “We should improve fundamentally the governance of our cities – for, in the final analysis, they will decide the future of this nation” Burdett highlighted that the city belongs to the citizens. It’s up to them to shape the city and the citizens should be a reckoning force behind the main political and economic forces that will help in shaping up the urban societies.

Speaking about the rapid rise of cities in this era, Burdett said that more people will be living in cities by 2050 and most of this growth will take place in Asia and Africa. “But nearly 80 percent of the urban infrastructure that will exist in 2050 has yet to be built. The decisions we take in the next decades will affect humankind for generations to come.”

Burdett also spoke on the role of architecture and how can design ingenuity be harnessed to respond to everyday social and environmental battles by putting forth the example of 2012 London Olympics. Basically what follows after these mega sporting events get over are the sorry states of abandoned stadiums and peeling paint telling tales of broken promises and soured dreams, but not in the case of stadiums of London Olympics. The permanent sports venues have led the way to public spaces: Zaha Hadid’s curvy aquatics centre, whose soaring construction costs caused much unrest when it was being built, became a public facility and the Olympic stadium today is home to the Premier League side West Ham United.

Describing the process of urbanisation is a wide series of concepts, Burdett ended the lecture on a note saying, since cities are ever-evolving entities, “Urbanisaton is necessarily an open process that is both iterative and incomplete.”


Pic Credit- Hemant Parab