Festival of Urbanism 2021

16 August 2021
‘Endangered’ urbanism tackles threats facing cities and regions
The Festival of Urbanism 2021 (13 - 24 September 2021) explores 'endangered' urbanism through a series of free, online panel discussions, films and podcasts that will focus on the existential threats facing urban environments from the global pandemic to social division, economic turmoil, and deepening climate risk.

The annual Festival of Urbanism returns for its eighth year to debate the threats and opportunities facing our cities through a series of conversations by industry leaders and leading researchers, practitioners and community advocates, including from the US and Canada.

Across two weeks from 13 – 24 September the Festival program of online panels, talks, films, and podcasts will offer a range of perspectives on ‘endangered’ urban environments and how cities might transition from these crises.

This year’s festival comes at a time when urban and regional communities are facing multiple crises from the global pandemic to the climate emergency, housing market shocks and ongoing social inequalities.
Professor Nicole Gurran, Director of the Henry Halloran Trust

“Our program explores these themes and tackles some of the big questions about how we govern our cities and plan for sustainable and just transitions”.

The Festival, presented by the University of Sydney’s Henry Halloran Trust in partnership with Monash University, includes events hosted in Sydney and Melbourne.

"The 2021 Festival of Urbanism is a public forum to discuss, share, and learn about current urban challenges and future solutions that affect us all,” says Professor Carl Grodach, Director, Urban Planning and Design at Monash University. 

“We've teamed up with the University of Sydney to sponsor the Festival around the theme of ‘Endangered Urbanism’ because it reflects the deep need to develop inclusive and creative solutions to myriad interconnected issues that include but go beyond Covid-19. How will our cities and towns - and our practitioners - adapt to the profound challenges we face in the coming decades?"

Festival highlights:

Endangered adolescence: are public spaces dead to teens?

The University of Sydney's Jennifer Kent will be joined by Professor of Environmental Sustainability and Childhood Studies Karen Malone from Swinburne University of Technology and Co-Director of the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University and architect Kate Luckraft to discuss the predominance of online spaces for young people and how urban planners and policy makers can make space in the city for the next generation.  

Endangered Urbanism Panel: Is Urbanism Over?

Journalist and University of Sydney alumna Dr Elizabeth Farrelly will be joined by Fairfield City Councillor Dai Le, Committee for Sydney’s CEO Gabriel Metcalf, and Dr Paul Maginn from the University of Western Australia to debate whether urbanism, as we know it, is over. Panellists will draw on research data on urban mobility, retail, and business trends during the pandemic as well as wider perspectives and reflections on the future of urban life. Moderated by Fenella Kernebone from Sydney Ideas.

Endangered governance: Public trust, urban decisions, and ethical practice

With ethical frameworks in planning increasingly open to risks associated with politicisation, compromise, and corruption, investigative journalist Michael West and Han Aulby, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Integrity and Sue Weatherley from the Planning Institute of Australia will explore recent examples and concerns around the ways in which urban decisions are made and the ways in which conflicts of interest might be navigated.

Endangered infrastructures: HHT Infrastructure Governance Incubator

The University of Sydney’s Dr Tooran Alizadeh will lead a discussion with Canadian Squamish Nations leader Khelsilam, Dr Simon Bradshaw from the Climate Council, Cathy Oke from the University of Melbourne, and John Brockhoff from the Planning Institute of Australia on the how weak leadership in governance is not adequately addressing climate change risk. The panel will also examine whether infrastructure systems are capable of keeping up with the environmental, economic, social, and health crises facing Australian cities.    

Planning for recovery: Leading urbanists in conversation

With US cities at the forefront of post-Covid transition planning, hear from former Seattle Planning Director, Sam Assefa, Irene Figueroa Ortiz from the NYC Department of Transportation and Glenn Grimshaw, Senior Policy Advisor at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC on the immediate and longer-term lessons for urban and regional planning, design, and management arising from the pandemic. This panel will be chaired by Professor Ann Forsyth from Harvard University.

This year, for the first time, students at the University of Sydney and Monash University have participated in filmmaking workshops and will have the opportunity to enter a short film competition, with an online screening of finalists and announcement of winners on 23 September.

All events are free and designed for a wide audience from planners and architects to policy makers, community advocates, students and anyone with an interest in cities, regions, or urban life. 

In line with COVID-19 health advice, all University of Sydney events will be live-streamed online. Monash University is planning a series of hybrid events. 

For conversation updates follow the Festival of Urbanism on twitter @FestUrbanism @Sydney_Arch #FestUrbanism

The 2021 Festival of Urbanism is brought to you by the Henry Halloran Trust with the assistance of the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, Monash Art Design & Architecture, and the Charles Perkins Centre.


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