New Urban Topologies

Urbanism and society

New Urban Topologies

    What cities do we wish for? How can we build and convert our cities and create a greater sense of participation among the citizens? In 2010 Färgfabriken initiated the program New Urban Topologies (NUT). The aim of this initiative is to create an open and free platform for an exchange of experience between different cities and different stakeholders; like governments and decision-makers, artists, architects, NGOs, activists, citizens, colleges and universities. The objective is to create informal meetings, and a democratic platform for urban development.

    The experience and knowledge generated throughout NUT also form a underlying basis for two other international projects; Baltic Dimensions, with a focus on Riga, the capital of Latvia; Patchwork of Narratives: When you enter a city, you enter a story, with the focus on Beirut and Mostar and; ADA Mostar a permanent cultural platform in Mostar.

    The first cities were founded almost six thousand years ago, today it can be said that they not only symbolize, but perhaps even predict the course of our civilizations. There is no doubt that the rapid urbanization of our times presents both opportunities and challenges. In 2030, today's 28 mega-cities, with a population of over 10 million, are expected to rise to 41. Even smaller towns, with a population of around half a million, are growing in number and size. Already today their total combined population is assumed to be over 3.9 billion. It is projected that by the year 2050, 66 percent of humanity, some 9 billion individuals, are expected to be dwellers of urban spaces. In these tumultuous times the cities are undergoing extensive urban processes of change in order to secure their positions as economic and cultural hubs. The city has become the place that represents people's need for development and contact. Along with this, democratic movements are occurring that react to a new found sense of alienation and vulnerability.

    As the city remains a central place where people's daily lives and futures are formed, the demand is increasing for participation as well as for the control over urban space. The will to reform society and city is strong among both residents and policymakers. Therefore it is the aim of Färgfabriken’s program New Urban Topologies to create conditions for dialogue, increased understanding and collaboration – which in turn can lead to action. Our method is built upon a cooperation between different groups, such as activists, academics, artists and official representatives, who jointly investigate the city's possibilities and challenges. The core questions are primarily about democratic and environmental concerns and the link between the economic and social segregation within the physical structure of the cities.

    topology pic

    No matter what city one lives in, the urban human has much in common with other city dwellers in the expectations of life in the city. One wants to be able to move freely and easily, to have access to the necessary elements of life such as education, social care, supermarkets, entertainment, parks and public places. At the same time every city has its unique pre-requisites. Together with local partners Färgfabriken investigates relevant issues for the city in question through alternative and site-specific perspectives. In the divided city of Mostar, for example, the need of a cultural venue for exploring and creating common images of the Bosnian city's past, present and future was clarified. The work has resulted in an active cultural center named Architecture, Dialogue and Art Center Mostar, or ADA Mostar.

    New Urban Topologies has so far been operating in the Baltic states, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Balkans. Focus has been on cities with a deficit of democratic development, cities which face extensive challenges as threatened public spaces, lack of transparency and inferior living environments. New Urban Topologies is constantly seeking new ways to formulate, discuss and work with society and city. The experiences we have gathered have led to several separate projects: the Baltic Dimensions, Patchwork of Narratives and ADA Mostar. Our work continues.

    In the New Urban Topologies menu you can find reports, reflections and pictures from each city. It's also possible to download and read the two publications "The Chisinau and Minsk experience" and "Alexandria – City of Layers"

    New Urban Topologies is supported by the Swedish Institute and by the Swedish Institute in Alexandria.