Amid COVID-19, #Metoo, Black Lives Matter, biodiversity crisis, dramatic climate change and economic pressures on the welfare state, issues of care, empathy and sustainability seem urgent. This is especially true in the fields of architecture and urban planning, which create and regulate the spaces we live in together, and are required to provide dwellers with a safe environment and public spaces where they can live out their lives freely.

At the same time, paradoxically, architecture and urban planning are one of the main co2 culprits, which have historically supported and maintained patriarchal, class and colonial power structures, and which have yielded great economic returns. In short, the ways we build, live and consume have consequences and underline our interconnectedness in a globalised age. And when bodies prove vulnerable, environments overloaded, species die out and resources that have carried growth before, we are reminded of our interdependence, vulnerability and mortality. In the words of the Swedish philosopher Martin Hägglund<footnote>[1]:<footnote> </footnote> </footnote>

Because everything we do and everything we love can come to an end, we are bound to care (curare) and be concerned.

This motivates us to take a closer look at how care, empathy and sustainability are practiced – or not practiced – in architecture and urban planning today and historically. How, then, can architecture and urban planning contribute to strengthening coexistence, tolerance/solidarity, diversity and care for each other, our planet and common resources at a time of pandemics, terror, migration, climate crisis, increasing inequality, etc.? How does the design and management of houses and urban spaces contribute to the formation of communities and behavior in public spaces? What happens when borders are closed and mobility is reduced, while at the same time we are being challenged globally by pandemics as a common enemy, and we need more space locally to keep a safe distance? How is the balance between home and outside experienced on different levels, from the home workplace during the shutdown to the refugee camp's state of emergency? How can we create inclusive and resilient urban spaces? What can we learn from the historical examples?

Designers, architects and urban planners are increasingly entrusting themselves with the task of managing social and political issues of relationships, neighbourhoods, energy flows, mobility, cultural heritage, identity and urbanity rather than just spatial and formal aspects. The theme 'Landscapes of Care' focuses on a change of direction in the values, interests and priorities that drive architecture and urban planning, with the main focus shifting from the individual actor or object towards a greater sensitivity to issues of interconnection, attachment and interdependence.

Health and architecture

2020 was an annus horribilis, where the arrival of a new pandemic turned our everyday lives upside down. Under 'Health and Architecture', we focus on how the classic relationship between hygiene and health, on the one hand, and architecture and urban planning on the other, has taken on new relevance and importance. Join us on a cultural history journey back in time as we explore how past pandemics have helped shape our cities as well as what relevant historical lines we can draw between COVID-19 and the imprint of previous health crises on our built environment.

We will delve into the psyche, into the confined, what constitutes a healthy architecture and in what ways urban planning can be devised in the context of health and care. From here, we look to the future and discuss the visions of the future for the city. How has the pandemic challenged our view of how we decorate and use our built environment? How can architecture and urban planning help save lives? How does society create spaces for vulnerability, and landscape spaces for grief? On the whole: how can art and architecture be part of solving the future challenges of health? 

Diversity and community

The spatial expression of the Community has been debated in recent years. In the vulnerable public housing areas, special laws apply to the residents of the local area. Elsewhere, zoning bans have been imposed on homeless and other marginalised street dwellers, while zone bans have also been proposed for "unsafe" stays in public spaces, which can be linked specifically to ethnicity and gender. Feminism and the fight for equal rights are certainly not detached from architecture, but with the vigilance of recent years are undergoing a much-needed overhaul that reveals the inequalities in the built environment.

In 'Diversity and Community', we examine where the city is going. We take you on a trip to the city's new and old districts, and we dive into the battle for the square meters and question who actually owns the right to the city. We will discuss the role architecture and urban development can play in caring for people in vulnerable life situations and providing spaces for minorities, and how we can succeed in creating a diverse and safe city to live and move in for everyone across gender, ethnicity and social strata. One thing is certain: the questions of how we can live together peacefully in diversity and with respect for each other's differences are now pressing more than ever before.

From climate sinner to climate agent

Architecture and urbanism are responsible for some of the worst co2 emissions<footnote>[2].<footnote> How much care do urban planners, architects and landscape architects for future generations care about their work? How do industry and decision-makers show responsibility for achieving climate goals, such as Copenhagen becoming carbon neutral by 2025? As homo sapiens, a species that significantly affects world development, how do we take into account the other species with which we share the planet? In the Anthropocene age, common resources must be understood as resources that not only belong to man and therefore challenge familiar notions of art hierarchies. Although Denmark claims to support biodiversity and nature conservation, we are bottom scrapers worldwide.</footnote> </footnote>

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new initiatives: the EU has launched a European Green Deal with the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050<footnote>[3].<footnote> At the same time, a new report from the C40 network of major cities from around the world shows that green investments linked to rebuilding communities after the COVID-19 pandemic can generate significant economic, social and environmental achievements<footnote>[4].<footnote> Nevertheless, only 3-5% of global funds are earmarked for sustainable investments. How can we turn the gun over? How does the management of our common resources such as clean air, drinking water and soil affect urban development? How can architecture and urban planning help to take care of the existing and renovate or nurture what is threatened with destruction or extinction? Join us for our events and join the discussion about the climate footprint of the built environment and what the future city should look like in the face of the threat of climate change lurking on the horizon.</footnote> </footnote> </footnote> </footnote>

<footnote>[1] <footnote> Martin Hägglund. "This Life. Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom." Pantheon Books, New York 2019.</footnote></footnote>

[2] Chatham House Report. Making Concrete Change: Innovation in Low-Carbon Cement and Concrete. 13 June 2018. ISBN: 978 1 78413 272 9

[3] A European Green Deal. Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent.

<footnote>[4] <footnote> C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Cities, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and a Green Recovery</footnote></footnote>

Upcoming events

Copenhagen & surroundings

See program