Project Summary: UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Urban Quality and Urban Culture, notably in Africa

“Architecture has its own role of giving concrete expression to the pride and the functions of the community, whether city or class or nation. There are cities… in which the inhabitants live a life deprived of natural beauty and of art… The physical environment provided by such cities is a denial of one entire aspect of human life. One remedy for this state of affairs must be sought in education”
Sir Julian Sorell Huxley

Project summary
During the last decades urban questions such as urban poverty, globalization, immigration, jobs, social exclusion, and sustainability have become truly global ones, with significant consequences for the future of our planet. The links between the physical form of the human settlements and the social well-being have become one of the major issues of concern in the contemporary urban culture. The links between the built environment – housing, transport, infrastructure, streets and public spaces – and the social, economic and political processes that give rise to them remind us to the insight of Jane Jacobs, the great American-born Canadian urbanist, writer and activist of the twentieth century, saying that “the look of things and the way they work are inextricably bound together”. The city has always been an expression of the “human quality” built by the convergence of different cultures, by their coexistence and their mutual support. Thus the city has always been considered, among the human settlements, the place in which the quantity and the quality of the different opportunities offered to the individuals are at the maximum possible level. Therefore the physical and spatial dimension of our society and its wide cultural diversities, in the framework of this chair are conceived both as the most challenging issues and as the primary resources to realize a sustainable urban quality. The UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Urban Quality will involve researchers and scholars from the different disciplines to contribute to build capacity in teaching, researching, designing and planning with the aim to promote a multidisciplinary scientific approach in the field of sustainable urban quality with the basic premise that cultural diversity is a driving force of development and that the enhancement of universal and equal access to knowledge – also by the use of the most updated information tools (e-learning and e-collaboration) – is a fundamental requirement for building knowledge societies.

The Chair will be working as an open laboratory in the field of Sustainable Urban Quality, organizing laboratories, workshops, web-based teaching and research platforms, Chapters (local and international working groups) on specific issues, exploring the contents and the meaning (either idealistic or strictly feasible) of urban quality in different cultural and economic contexts.

The Chair will refer to MOST Management of Social Transformation Programme’s goals like encouraging results in policy development through improved tools (e-learning web-based platforms); to transfer relevant Social Sciences research findings and data to decision makers and other stakeholders especially in developing countries. The Chair focuses on building efficient cross-cutural bridges in academic research, policy and practice to promote a culture of sustainable quality in city-life regionally and internationally.

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