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Walk Bristol’s public spaces and harbourside; take the “Green Cycle Tour”; join the boat tour to see Bristol’s new Enterprise Zone; join the group for a guided tour of Poundbury; or enjoy Bath’s Georgian architecture and afternoon tea at the Pump Room. If you are a registered conference participant at the 52nd IMCL Conference you can now reserve your place on the tours of your choice. These are professional guided tours that augment the theme of the conference. Please see more details on the website.

We are delighted to announce that our friend and colleague Jan Gehl will receive the 2015 IMCL Lewis Mumford Award at the 52nd IMCL Conference in Bristol, UK. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, July 1, at the Discussion Dinner/Awards Ceremony aboard the historic ship SS Great Britain. Jan will give a plenary presentation to the conference in the morning.

Size
It is important to decide on the size of the square in relation to two interdependent factors: 1) the social functions and population for which the square is designed; and 2) the height of surrounding buildings.

At the crossing of pedestrian ways
A neighborhood square must be located at the central crossing point of a network of interconnected pedestrian routes through the neighborhood. As local residents walk through the square on their way to work, school, shopping, running errands, or to catch transit to the city center, their paths cross, affording the chance for a greeting or extended conversation. When people pass each other on a regular basis in the same place, the “stranger” becomes a “familiar”, and gradually the “familiar” may become a friend, or member of one’s circle.

Alain de Botton, philosopher and author of many wise and entertaining books including “The Architecture of Happiness”, has now produced a video on “What Makes Cities Attractive”. He calls on us all to express our opinions, and to make our city leaders accountable to the citizens, not just to the developers.

For too long, the economic GDP model has governed how we shape our cities, proposes Suzanne Lennard, and this has resulted in sprawl that is unhealthy for humans, and unsustainable for the planet. Today, the idea that the primary function of the city is to be an “economic engine” is driving cities worldwide to construct “vertical sprawl”, which is proving to be equally unhealthy and unsustainable. Suzanne calls for “Quality of Life” principles to guide the way we shape our cities. These are the principles of True Urbanism, that facilitate community social life, access to nature, and independent mobility, and that result in a hospitable, healthy and sustainable built environment.

A neighborhood square must be centrally located at the commercial and civic heart of a neighborhood, with a substantial residential population living within easy walking distance. The vitality of a neighborhood square is heavily dependent on a rich mix of uses in surrounding blocks. Nearby streets should contain apartments and condos, workplaces, schools, services, and shops providing all the necessities of everyday life.

A square’s success is dependent on the subtle interaction of many factors – the right proportions of the architectural frame, appropriate building uses and urban fabric, hospitable streetscaping, a pedestrian-friendly transportation policy, and good management of the square. When any one of these factors is lacking, the square fails to achieve its potential for social life, community and democratic engagement.

52nd IMCL Conference, June 29 – July 3, 2015 on

Designing for Green, Healthy Cities

To facilitate your participation, we have extended the registration deadline to February 20. To register, please click here. And don’t forget, if you become an IMCL Member you can register at HALF price.  Read more

Festivity and celebration are essential to human life.  They are an organizing and unifying force in the social life of the neighborhood. At traditional community festivals on a neighborhood square, friends and strangers, old and young work, eat, talk, dance and sing with one another.  Divisiveness and conflict are set aside; age and social barriers are diminished.

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