Thursday, March 13, 2014

CFP:Transformations of Urban Areas in East-Central and Western Europe LE HAVRE, October 29 – 31, 2014

Since the late XX century the countries of East-Central Europe survive a period of deep changes. Like in other European countries, towns are there at the heart of multi-scale transformations embracing their whole territory, affecting all aspects of social life. What spatial processes are observed in urban areas of East Central Europe and Russia as compared with West Europe?

The inter-disciplinary conference "Transformations of Urban Areas in East-Central and Western Europe” will be focused on spatial trends at all territorial scales - in cities, towns, agglomerations, as well as in suburban areas quickly spreading to more and more peripheral territories. The conference will be also devoted to the influence of cities on the organization of space and on the continuous restructuring of urban regions and their hierarchy.

Urban and periurban level

It is planned to consider inner processes in urban areas, especially morphological, functional and social changes, in particular elaboration and application of urban master plans, de-industrialisation, the use and the conversion of brawn fields, the renewal of cities’ centres, localization of retail trade and other tertiary activities, congestion, transportation systems, social polarization, gentrification of central areas and slums in peripheries. They will also analyze urban sprawl, patterns of suburbanization and transformation of second homes (dachas) around East European cities into permanent settlements.

Urban spatial processes may be spontaneous or result from the activity of central and local authorities or of private developers promoting rehabilitation of old neighbourhoods or of new housing. The conference will analyze the impact of the recently emerged housing market on the morphology and the functions of urban and suburban areas, the development of gated communities and the expansion of individual housing in peripheral parts of urban areas in East-Central Europe. A special attention will be paid to the role of accessibility and transport in the production of space in different historical and social conditions. 

Comparative studies are most welcome. It seems, indeed, that a similar urban morphology cannot be explained by the same reasons. Likewise, the same factors can create different morphological forms. 

Urban networks level

The conference will discuss the evolution of urban networks – whether they become more centralized or polycentric, as well as the advantages of metropolization – the localisation of large cities in the centre of communications’ networks and at the foci of different material and non-material flows, the growing financial centralization and the territorial concentration of human capital, the accelerated development of high level tertiary activities and creative potential. Do these processes prevent the development of polycentric structures which help to avoid social costs imposed by the hypertrophy of global cities (the constant growth of real estate’s prices, excessive polarisation and social pathologies, pollution and degradation of environment)?

The situation in East-Central and West Europe, in particular “horizontal” links between regional centres avoiding the capital and between small and medium towns around central cities of urban agglomerations will be compared. Particularly interesting is the question about cross-border interactions between small and medium towns in the heart of Europe. They also will shed light on the impact of metropolization on the functions of small and medium towns and other places. 

Urban governance

Real limits of a city rarely match administrative boundaries. The authorities of many countries launched the reforms of the administrative structure and governance of urban areas. In Russia and Ukraine there is yet a lack of legislation regulating the cooperation between central cities and other municipalities making part of urban agglomerations. Local authorities often try to create a single "vertical of power" incorporating all metropolitan region into a single territorial administration.

At the same time, large public or private firms have now in post-Soviet and post-socialist countries much more power in urban and regional development than municipal and even regional authorities. Private interests are sometimes dominating public interests. Regional metropolises are more depending on private investments and outside projects. However, urban authorities express an increasing interest in transforming their cities in major economic, financial, cultural centres of large territories including neighbouring regions and towns. 

Before April 30, 2014, submitting of contributions to the following address:

according to the following guidelines:
- Maximum one page,
- Title, author(s) Function(s), affiliation(s),
- Keywords,
- Summary.

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