Maurizio Carta, Architect, PhD in Urban and Regional Planning, Full Professor of urban and regional planning at the Department of Architecture at the University of Palermo and advisor for a number of public national and international bodies, is the author of “Creative City – Dynamics, Innovations and Actions“. In his work, Carta tries to condensate his studies on urban regenation based on culture, innovation and creativity. The result is a review of the most innovative processes of urban regeneration undertaken across Europe, an “atlas of urban, landscape and architectural projects”.
Evocative and inspiring is the quote by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw which the author decided to open the book with:
“Some men see thing as they are and say, ‘Why?’. I dream of thing that never were and say, ‘Why not?'”
Admittedly, the book is the outcome of a “trip” across current best and most innovative urban practices and a hopeful insight into the future of territorial bounds, communities and cities. The wide set of maps, data and figures that complement the analysis not only helps to better figure out how cities are evolving nowadays in Europe; they also give a strong evidence of the fact that the future will undeniably lie in a kind of city that is creative, culture-oriented and sustainable. In Carta’s words:
“The city of the future will be a city of culture, a city generating new culture: the creative cities of the twenty-first century will be capable of competing on the international scenario by optimizing and promoting their own individual cultural identities, attracting a class of creative and generating new sustainable futures.”
The author concisely depicts the world of the future. But he also gives us the instruments we need to build it, or, as he defines them, the “four keywords” which the “creative city manifesto” is based on and which should guild city-makers:
– VISION, the city of the future is forward-looking;
– MISSION, the city of the future is responsible towards its citizens and their needs;
– OUTPUT, the city of the future is productive and effective;
– FUTURE, the city of the future is culturally and environmentally sustainable, able to enhance its citizens’ wellbeing without compromising future generations’ one.
As a matter of fact, these concepts recur repeatedly throughout all the three parts which the book is divided, namely:
I – Creative cities: an Action-Oriented Manifesto;
II – Towards a new polycentric competitiveness;
III – The fluid city – experiments in 13 cities around Europe.
What markedly emerges from the review of those 13 citites (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Genova, Hamburg, Lyon, Lisboa, Marseille, Newcastle, Palermo, Rotterdam, and Valencia) is a call to act now in order to make our future richer. As Carta puts it, “the twenty-first century is without doubt set to be the ‘age of cities'”. The present and future lie in the local dimension. That is where territorial specificities are respected and promoted and where new forms of political participation can be experimented.
In order to make our cities “desirable places to inhabit”, we cannot but recognize the crucial role governance plays in determining the quality of the outcomes of urban regeneration and how working on ownership, inclusiveness, participatory practices and cooperation leads to a better and long-lasting enhancement of the local dimension, re-building a sense of citizenship through culture and knowledge.