Conference Objectives

The main objective of the Conference „Brussels, Sustainable City ? Urban Life under Climate Change” is to bring ideas and international expertise to the City in order to contribute to its further development.

All too often, urban planning is based on an understanding that the current form and function of the city is an inevitable result of historical forces. A science-based approach that is, at the same time open to new ideas, allows us to move beyond such passive acceptance of the vernacular to create new structures, forms and activities for the future sustainable city. Moreover, such an approach has moments of creation from which new wordings, working hypotheses and innovative approaches arise, moments that will help renew perspectives, methodologies, and inspire innovation. It allows the development of forward-looking visions or even utopian ideas. It leads to social and technological innovation at the service of man. These kaleidoscopic and singular visions could be applied inter alia on the fate of Brussels, the capital of Europe. It is in this spirit that we organise a conference devoted to the topic of “the city of tomorrow” to be presented by various leading personalities from all specialities concerned by the City. These visions, focused on the human element and respectful of the planet, will lead to new questions and reflections.

The reasons why such an action should be undertaken?

Ageing structures of today’s city are letting us know that they increasingly need to be rethought. The dilapidation of our urban structures, in fact, appears at the socioeconomic and physical level, causing many dysfunctions. However, the design of new urban structures can no longer do today without taking into account the need to ad-
dress the problems posed by climate change. How to consider the city, out of its medieval shackles so that it can serve present and future generations? The idea to bring together experts came to us by listening to the remarks made by Minister Didier Reynders and Mr Rudi Vervoort. Both have expressed their commitment to the values represented by Brussels City, capital of Belgium and Europe; just as they have demonstrated their willingness to act in the right direction and without error…

We have therefore suggested them a symposium gathering together researchers, designers, entrepreneurships and visionaries of the city, not only from Belgium but also from abroad. They bring us their fresh visions and an outside view, without any a priori. This idea has been met with approval and enthusiasm.

The axis Belgium-Poland-Japan symposium was born, on the one end, from privileged relations between Belgium and Poland: these have been revived last year with the visit to Poland of our King and the Queen, accompanied by a large delegation from Belgium. At the other end, we mark the celebration this year of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Japan to examine this great culture so different from ours. The experience of Poland is based on the country’s reconstruction after the damages caused by the Second World War, first; then by colonial policy of communist power. This reconstruction experience can be valuable to avoid ir-
reparable errors in the development of the city.

Japan lives under the constant pressure of natural factors such as earthquakes and tsunamis, the consequences of which it has had to adapt. This country can bring a rewarding view of life in the respect of nature, including the human part. In Japan, the damage caused by human activity or by natural elements is repaired quickly. They are in compliance with the „genetic code” unique to each place where the living is emphasized, without an exaggerated attachment to material things. Man takes precedence over anything else.

In Europe the destruction caused by two wars have taken a long time to heal and that, perhaps due to a more compliance-oriented attitude towards the stones and their past than by concern for the living being. This has not been done of course without harm towards our environment. Nor towards mankind that, as a part of nature, should take its place at the centre of our attention. These two attitudes towards the crisis of the city and climate change call for an urgent debate on the solutions to find. We now possess tools and state-of-the-art technologies, researchers and visionaries capable of finding solutions through the knowledge and experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, aerospace, virtual modelling, and creative and innovative industries and economy. The objective of this conference is not to find immediate solutions, through discussion among the speakers at the round table. It is also to educate the audience, to germinate the virus of love for the nature to which we belong. Above all, before we act, we must have a vision; and to develop visions, there must be research, in which it is not futile to invest and invest ourselves. Let’s stop the wide river of regulations, standards and requirements before they completely stifle any creative spirit. Let’s look for sufficiently visionary solutions. Because the consequences of the actions we are going to engage in today, will be experienced by future generations. Then, and only then, let’s think how to surround the laws and standards in order to achieve them!

How and what to do?

All too often urban planning is based on an understanding that the current form and function of the city is an inevitable result of historical forces. A science-based approach that is, at the same time open to new ideas, allows us to move beyond such passive acceptance of the vernacular to create new structures, forms and activities for the future sustainable city. Moreover, such an approach has moments of creation from which new wordings, working hypotheses and innovative approaches arise, moments that will help renew perspectives, methodologies, and inspire innovation. It allows the development of forward-looking visions or even utopian ideas. It leads to social and technological innovation at the service of man. These kaleidoscopic and singular visions could be applied inter alia on the fate of Brussels, the capital of Europe.

It is in this spirit that we organise a conference devoted to the topic of “the city of tomorrow” to be presented by various leading personalities from the world of architecture. These visions, focused on the human element and respectful of the planet, will lead to new questions and reflections.