I Lyon, France: 4 to 6 December 1995

Biennial 1995

Planification urbaine et development durable/ Town planning and sustainable developement.
An initiative of the French urban planning agencies with the support of the European Council of Spatial Planners. The central theme of the meeting revolved around urban planning and sustainable development, focused on the need to promote energy saving and the preservation of ecosystems and to replenish cities based on these coordinates.

II Roma, Italy: 8 to 13 September 1997


Organized by the National Institute of Urbanism.
To create the initiative, a permanent international group was created. It was organized around eight discussion boards.
• The city's strategies in the face of global competition.
• Settlement systems between concentration and dispersion: processes, problems and policies.
• Networks of medium and small cities: between cooperation and competition.
• Policies for the preservation of the historical indentity of cities and territories.
• The profession of cabinetmaker: training, practice, instruments.
• Policies for the sustainable city.
• Policies to govern the effects of global competition on urban society; "intelligent" Europe.
• Magazines of planning and dissemination of the discipline.
• Government of cities and urban policies in the European Union.


The Biennial of Towns and Towns Planners: Institution and Process
Article written by Udo Dittfurth and Jörg Forßmann

The Biennial of Towns and Town planners can no longer be seen as an experiment, but as a vital institution.
In 1995, planners met for the first time at a European Biennial in Lyon, initiated and organised by the French Fédération Nationale des Agences d'Urbanisme (FNAU), to encourage a professional exchange amongst European planners.
Using the impetus gained from the success of the first biennial in Lyon, the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Urbanistica (INU) hosted the second biennial in Rome, in 1997. It was here that a Permanent International Working Party (PIWP) was founded to secure the establishment and effectiveness of the biennial. The countries involved sent a delegate to guarantee a continuity of personnel commitment to the event; this ensures the continuous integration and development of the biennials within the wider context of an European dialogue.
An exhibition on town planning in Europe was the fundamental innovation of the second biennial. The range of subjects presented was as broad as the participation: about 100 communities, mainly from member states of the European Union, got involved with subject matters such as:
City strategies for facing global competition
Urban concentration and dispersion
Sustainable development
Heritage conservation
Fall-out from global competition on the urban society
This exhibition was an impressive presentation of local projects in many different forms, and supported the workshops discussion of the conference.
It was agreed that the broad range of topics presented in Rome would be more clearly defined during the following biennial, in order to focus on problems and solutions and to intensify the scope of debate in Europe. In this way, the biennial will not remain merely presentation but will develop into a place of international exchange aiding the creation of new policies.
The 3rd Biennial, organised by the Vereinigung für Stadt-, Regional- und Landesplanung (SRL), continued the work of its predecessors and learnt from their experiences. An important step for the further development of the event was the formalisation of the preparation process. The biennial integrated with other forums at an international level. The PIWP liaised with the European Council of Town Planners (ECTP) in order to establish a more formal relationship with professional third parties.

III Herne (Germany): 14 to 17 September 1999

Sustainable Development - A Challenge for Europe’s Urban Regions

Under the sponsorship of the German Association for the Planning of Cities, Regions and Territory.
It took the title Sustainable development, a challenge for European urban areas, which led to thematic issues surrounding urban areas, especially those that had experienced major industrial transformations, given that the city hosted the meeting is a municipality located in the Ruhr basin.

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IV. Rotterdam, Netherlands: 20 to 22 of September 2001


Culture of Cities - Transformations generating new opportunities

The 4th Biennial of Towns and Town Planners in Europe hwas held at the conference centre De Doelen in Rotterdam.
It was made under the theme Culture of cities: transformations that generate new opportunities, focusing on four issues of debate:
• Global forces. The interaction between global forces and local cultures.
• Cultural inheritance. The conservation and development of the cultural and historical legacy.
• Cultural identities. The management of diversity of identities in large European cities.
• Life on the street. New challenges in the design of the public sphere.

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IV Biennal - Rotterdam 2001

Cultures of Cities: a new data bank

The 4th Biennial of Towns and Town Planners in Europe - hold at the conference centre De Doelen in Rotterdam - "Cultures of Cities - Transformations generating new opportunities" - was a successful event involving a lot of town planners and a number of very good projects from all over Europe. This gave rise to the idea of creating a virtual data disseminating information on presented projects.
Bnsp and Nirov - organisers of the Biennial with the Ectp - together with Planum present now free online this new data bank. The biennial issues are divided in two main sections: Projects and Reports. The projects are interesting cases giving a "panorama" of present transformations in European cities. The reports focus on the main themes discussed in Rotterdam, they are very useful in linking considerations begun in the past biennials with the forthcoming one in Barcelona.
The Rotterdam Biennial took place in September 2001 and consisted of a three day seminar and exhibition.

PROJECTS: Virtual exhibition of projects from more than 40 European cities, divided in 4 main topics.
Topic 1 - Global Forces: cultural aspects of globalisation
Topic 2 - Cultural Heritage: development and protection
Topic 3 - Cultural Identities: citizens and cultural encounters
Topic 4 - Street Life: new design for public spaces

REPORTS: The arguments and the reports from the 7 biennial's parallel sessions presented by abstracts, videos and slides.
Parallel Session 1: Globalization around the corner
Parallel Session 2: Cultural heritage – development and protection
Parallel Session 3: Cultural identities
Parallel Session 4: Streetlife, new designs for public spaces
Parallel Session 5: Project development and culture
Parallel Session 6: Public culture and urban planning
Parallel Session 7: Cities and projects

by Jan Vogelij - content editor and vice-chairman of the board of the 4th Biennial of Towns and Town Planners
The enthusiastic response to exhibit projects within the four themes of the Biennial underlines the broad interest in spatial planning at the local level throughout Europe.
The selection of exhibited projects however, should not be regarded as an average of European local planning activities for at least two reasons. Not only does the theme 'cultures of cities' focus on a specialized subject but the submitting municipalities are not necessarily a representative group, being characterised as cities that are proud of their achievements and eager to show their results to European colleagues.
It should also be clearly recognized that the exhibition is not able to present a complete overview of European urban planning activities. The reason is that the focus here, is on physical town planning activities which can easily be exhibited by plans, maps, photos, etc. Although social and economic aspects of sustainable urban development are the starting points of many of the projects, those aspects are more difficult to visualise than physical developments.
In general, the Biennial demonstrates the great extent of urban planning activities throughout the European countries. Almost everywhere, the spatial development of the town is gaining (public) attention and (political) priority. Many municipalities organize substantial activities towards meeting with the population and other interest groups, in order to prepare ideas, design plans, organise support, negotiate implementation etc. It seems that whatever term is used for spatial development at the local level - "town planning", "urban development", "urban design" or just "planning" - these activities directed at the city's future physical quality attract a lot of public interest from local society.
A second general remark is that there are fundamental similarities in the focus of urban development policies within European cities. At first glance, a great variety can be attributed to revitalising derelict urban areas, improving the quality of public space, brown field development, reducing the barrier effect of infrastructure, enhancing spatial cohesion, providing new functions for historic constructions and improving accessibility. But all of these planning activities concern the transformation of existing situations. This common denominator is reflected in the spatial policy objectives aimed at revitalising and improving the city itself, at fighting sub urbanisation, urban sprawl and unnecessary land take.

The relation to the theme of the Fourth Biennial of Towns and Town Planners is that culture, in the broad sense of the term, is important in determining the quality of spatial plans and the way in which urban problems are solved.

In this respect the tension between new projects and the existing local context is part of the discussion everywhere.
Two developments illustrate this point. First of all, there are demographic developments taking place in every locality independent and regardless of physical projects. Immigration, for example, is perceived in many localities as an overwhelming threat, posing the question: "what happens to our culture if we become a minority?" Another issue, "what kind of culture will result from the influence of commercial global forces?" is also discernible at the local level.
So, a central question concerns what will become of local cultural identity in the future when confronted with modern developments such as globalisation. If we take the projects of this exhibition under consideration, the impression is that local culture and identity will profit in a positive way.


VI. Copenhagen, Denmark: 9 to 11 June 2005


City Living - Living City

This Biennial was mainly focused on exhibitions, conferences, workshops, presentations and work visits.
There was the opportunity to meet mutually urban planners and political decision makers to discuss the central issues of current planning.
With the generic title of Living City, living in the city, four framework papers were determined:
• Scenarios for the city and the territory.
• The threat of unstructured cities and changes in the connection to the city.
• Cities and town planning in the city.
• Connecting fragmented cities.

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