Introducing our new Blog

 

Searching on the internet about urban development can be a nerve-racking experience. Frequently, the results end up in shiny best practice case studies or distract the reader with the latest ranking of the most polluted, the densest, the most expensive cities or the most liveable ones. Others might end up with checklists of the ten commandments to “make our cities friendlier for cyclists”, “better adapted for climate change” or “best prepared for the 21st century”.

Urban planning enjoys (or maybe suffers from) a particular characteristic. It is a field that is known and experienced – in one or the other – by a large portion of the world’s population. More than half of the world’s population (specifically 55.27% in 2019) spend most of their lives living in cities. Hence, urban planning can be compared to other disciplines such as law or politics; fields that we all deal with in one way or another. The way every person experiences these fields depends not only on the place we live at but is also influenced by our lifestyle, preferences, job, age, gender, health, financial conditions, and sometimes, even religion and physical appearance.

There are different approaches to urban issues. This section of our website is dedicated to reflections upon our own observations and to present opinions that are the results of our office team’s double profile as everyday residents and as urban planners, with an academic and professional education in the field, and also in additional disciplines such as architecture, public administration and law.

Our objective is not to provide answers. We won’t reveal the hidden truth that hasn’t been discovered yet. Instead, we aim at providing informed and concise reflections to bring urban development closer to any reader interested.

Experiencing a host city for the first time

Moving to a new city can be a life-changing experience. In some cases, it could be compared with how brown bears must feel at the beach or colorful amazonic parrots in the Sahara Desert. We humans face enormous challenges when finding ourselves living in a different city than the one we were born or settled for a long time. Tips and advice for all brave individuals experiencing it can be as multi-faceted as the reasons why people move to a different city. Let’s construct two hypotheses that influence the experience of moving to a new city:

  • Firstly, moving to a new city is better when it is the consequence of a voluntary decision for a change in personal life or as a family decision. In comparison, moving to another city as a last resource due to an insecure or non-viable situation that pushes people to abandon their home cities and frequently their countries, entails a completely different set of “arrival experiences”.
  • Secondly, the experience is presumably better when there is a clear plan on how one will spend his/her time productively, studying or working for example, than when there is not certain plan on how life will look like in the new place.

Many scholars and policy-makers have conceptualized groups of cities such as “destination cities” or “host cities”, “arrival cities”, “refugee cities” or “sanctuary cities” due to the large migration they received or are receiving presently. But in general terms, any city can be a destination or a welcoming city. The way its administrations, businesses and residents act as hosts can make the way a new-comer experiences a city for the first time either a nightmare or an enriching and inspiring experience.

Are you and longtime resident of your city? Do you consider yourself a local or a fully adapted and integrated long-term migrant? Or do you perceive yourself, on the other hand, as temporary or permanent “guest” in a new city? Regardless of your answer, you might possibly be interested in the following  examples which we use to reflect on the framework in host cities and to understand the challenges newcomers likely face in any city.