Snippets from the RGS 2016 Conference on Nexus Thinking


By Renard Teipelke

Each year the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers holds its Annual International Conference. For this year, they chose “Nexus Thinking” as the conference theme. And as always, there was no lack of critical inputs and new ideas in the more than 400 parallel sessions, meetings, and plenary discussions (see program here). I tried to catch a little bit of different topics and thematic fields. Below I present one snippet/idea per session, although that is wholly inadequate to capture the rich research behind each project. However, it may spark your interest to look up the corresponding sessions, authors, and papers, or to engage more with the related field of research. For further reference, relevant links are placed within the text. Continue reading

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Have You Ever Heard of Lucius Burckhardt?

Lucius Burckhardt ( Renard Teipelke

Usually the length of a person’s English Wikipedia article indicates how far their global reach has been. In the case of the Swiss urban planning critic Lucius Burckhardt (1925-2003) I have to assume that his reach beyond German-speaking countries may be as limited as his two-line entry on Wikipedia. This is incredibly surprising in light of Burckhardt’s oeuvre of more than four decades of critical urban development analysis, covering both theory and practice, and a manifold of fields, including architecture, urban planning, transport engineering, welfare policies, economics, design, and environmental studies. Having read his various essays, I was stunned to see how advanced Burckhardt’s analysis and thinking was. Continue reading

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Places and figures of speech: metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche

AAby Ares Kalandides

This image, which appeared on TIP’s (Berlin city magazine) Facebook page on 29th July 2016, depicts a map of Berlin, where boroughs have been replaced by types of fast food. I find the map very funny, but also an interesting case to think about place-related connotations. Before I get into that, let me explain what is what (starting from the outer left and then moving clockwise). Spandau: “SPANDAU”; Reinickendorf: “Currywurst (West)”; Pankow: “Vegetarian Spring Roll”; Lichtenberg: “Nr 131”; Marzahn-Hellersdorf: “Pelmeni”; Treptow-Köpenick: “Currywurst (East)”; Neukölln: “Döner & Schawarma”; Tempelhof-Schöneberg: “Foccacia & Co”; Steglitz-Zehlendorf: “We don’t serve fast food”; Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: “Crunchy rolls with Tête de moine from Butter Lindner”; Mitte: “Sushi & Sashimi”; Mitte: “Bio-Burger”. Continue reading

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Places don’t have DNAs – living organisms do

DNAby Ares Kalandides

I recently came upon a very interesting (and in my opinion also very useful) document, the World Towns Framework, which begins with the following: “We shall support the unique characteristics of each town and urban district, the ‘DNA of place’, to engage communities, businesses and institutions in driving forward their future, and to address the plural and distinctive set of challenges facing these unique places.”

There are several issues I could raise here (e.g. does each town really have unique characteristics or is it the blend of characteristics that is unique? are communities, business and institutions players of the same level or are they different types of categories?), but today I’d like to ponder only the ‘DNA of place’. It is an expression that bothers me and always has.  Continue reading

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How Night Mayors Harness the Power of Cities After Dusk


by Valentin Schipfer

Slowly but surely cities around the globe realize that there might be a slight relation between a vivid night club scene and a flourishing creative industry, including tech start-ups. The global competition for these promising economic branches is the reason why more and more cities take a cue from the pioneering work done by the first Night Mayor in Amsterdam. His task: Acting as a liaison between the needs of night owls and the ones of workers and sleepers. Continue reading

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Ten Take-Aways from the World Cities Summit 2016

2016-07-12 17.04.02

By Renard Teipelke

It is for sure not comprehensive to distill ten take-aways from the World Cities Summit, which takes place every two years, brings together more than 1,000 delegates, and is co-hosted together with the International Water Week and the Clean Enviro Summit, in addition to the City Solutions Expo, which is visited by 8,000 people. But we have to start somewhere, and this is my proposition of some relevant messages from the summit synthesized along four major themes: Continue reading

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Communities of exclusion: Some thoughts on the concept of community

IMG_5226by Ares Kalandides

A bizarre piece of news caught my attention recently: A Kosovarian family was allegedly denied citizenship in Switzerland, not for failing to comply with the formal requirements, but for not adapting to the local norms. The transgressions (according to the article) were that the family wore tracksuits instead of jeans and that they did not greet people in passing. If this is true, it sheds a strange light on the very concept of community, which thus appears inward-looking, conservative and exclusive.

Indeed, I find it increasingly difficult to think of the concept in other terms and I believe we should be careful if we want to use it in any meaningful way. Community, the way I understand it, is first of all a group of people who share something – an idea, a common feature or a place[1].   Continue reading

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How public is public space?

Sowohlalsauch Delikatessen in Sredzkistrasse in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.

Sowohlalsauch delikatessen in Sredzki Strasse in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.

by Ares Kalandides

A signature list is being passed around in my Berlin neighbourhood around Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg. We’re asked to sign against the regulations by the local borough of Pankow on how to use public space. Cafés and restaurants obviously have permits to use the pavement for their tables and chairs, and so do other businesses that use it to present their ware. All businesses pay a fee to the local borough for the right to use that space and it all makes good sense – until now. But all of a sudden, it seems that the administration is going through a phase of overregulatory frenzy:

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Ten Take-Aways from the Last Day of the Metropolitan Solutions Conference 2016

Metropolitan Solutions 2016 (, Apr'16)By Renard Teipelke

While there is always a breadth of thematic areas and topics that is represented and discussed during the Metropolitan Solutions Conference (particularly as it coincided with the German Habitat Forum this year), I would like to provide ten (not necessarily related) take-aways that I found most relevant or revealing regarding the current state of integrated urban development. Continue reading

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Naples: The anti-tourist city

IMG_5389by Ares Kalandides

I’m not often a tourist – a real tourist I mean. I usually travel to places for work or in order to meet friends. But last week I visited Naples in Italy for the third time in my life, as a common tourist. Just four days of sightseeing, eating and enjoying doing nothing in particular. Of course I could not avoid observing things around me that got me thinking about authenticity, place management, tourist promotion etc. Here are some initial thoughts that would need to be developed further in order to make any meaningful contribution to urban studies: Continue reading

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