Pere Vall and Marta Benages Sit on Organizing and Scientific Committees for International Conference on Urban Fringe Landscapes
Pere Vall, the Director of the UIC’s ESARQ School of Architecture, and Marta Benages, the School’s Assistant Director of Students and Head of Studies, formed part of the organizing and scientific committees for one of the workshops at Describing, Inhabiting and Governing Urban Fringe Landscapes, an international conference that took place at the Palais des Archevêques in Narbonne, France, from Wednesday to Friday, 5-7 November 2014.
The two academics from the UIC presided over the workshop on Urban Fringes: Space for Development, which was held on Wednesday, 5 November 2014. Speakers included Laurène Wiesztort, who gave a talk on Urban Fringes: Between Rezoning and City Redevelopment Projects, and Céline Loudier-Magouyres and Perrine Michon, who presented the New Report on Public Space in the Urban Fringes.
The conference forms part of the Landscape and Sustainable Development 2 research project, which is an initiative of the French Government’s Ministry of the Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy.
The objective of the conference was to examine Europe’s urban peripheries in their guise as spaces of transition, whether sudden or gradual; where fields, woodland, natural spaces, uncultivated areas and wasteland can offer new opportunities for urban development. Located on the edges of towns and cities, these interfaces can serve a variety of different purposes: they are entryways into the city, undervalued spaces, urban outliers surrounded by nature, greenbelt areas and unknown quantities. As spaces that are protected, or are the outcome of unintended processes, urban fringes can be the object of both negative discourse and, conversely, rezoning projects. Their capacity to house new urban developments and promote urban expansion means such spaces can be used to tackle major challenges regarding land-use organization and environmental management, and despite their impermanent nature (given that they are linked to the expansion of the city), urban fringes can mark the point of contact between the world of the city and its rural surroundings. As such, some of these spaces resist the increasing levels of urban pressure and impede the expansion of the city.