The Future of Villages and Small Towns in an Urbanizing World
© ISU 2015The Institute for Sustainable Urbanism invites proposals for papers for the third annual ISU Talks at Technische Universität Braunschweig on 18 November 2015.

What role do villages and small towns have in a world in which the majority lives in cities? Rural space is about to change: After mechanization and industrialization, rural space has experienced mass out-migration. It has received waste and unwanted or out-dated infra- structures from cities. It has fed the world’s population and served as the scenery for movie plots or as a recreational landscape for temporary guests. But in the near future, rural space will step out of the shadow of the cities and become appreciated as an important actor in sustainable development in its own right. In the current city-centred discourse, rural spaces are often dismissed as declining or stagnating. However, rural spaces also play a critical role in sustainable development, as an inextricably linked counterpart, but also as a complement
to the growing city, as extraction sites, natural reservoirs or leisure spaces. Yet, the city and the countryside are evermore increasingly mutually reliant. A closer look at the countryside unveils a set of dynamics overlaying and changing rural space, beyond trends of depopulation and shutdown of public facilities. The once remote and quiet countryside is now traversed by global and regional flows of people, goods, waste, energy and information, interrelating it with the larger urban system, and perhaps even bringing it to the frontlines of regional transformation and sustainability. A new set of criteria for understanding and appreciating the rural is required.
The conference aims at the discussion of the above hypothesis and proposes the following questions: How and with what human consequences are rural spaces being urbanized to day? What are the existing and potential connections between urban and rural spaces? What new concepts for rural living are there? Do we need to formulate a (new) vision for ‘ruralism’? And what role can urban design play in preparing rural life and space for the future?
Researchers from all disciplines, including, but not limited to, urban and landscape planning, architecture, geography, arts, film, social and cultural sciences, are encouraged to submit paper proposals on the following topics:
– Rural planning (building, settlement and landscape structures, public and private uses, interconnected- ness, flows of goods and supplies, etc.)
– Productive potentials in rural space (food, renewable energies, technology, tourism, cultural production, nature and ecology, etc.)
– Village culture and rural life (building culture, landscape, aesthetic representations, identity, participation, lifestyles, etc.)
– Regional development concepts (International Building Exhibitions, Regionalen, Floriaden, National Parks, infrastructural strategies for connecting villages, ur- ban-rural collaborations, etc.)
– The urbanisation of rural space and the ruralisation of urban space
– or other topics dealing with current development tendencies in rural space.
The symposium rounds off the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism’s BMBF-funded Project Academy of Rural Space (2014- 15). The academy brings together students, city representatives and citizens in Lower Saxon small cities and villages to formulate ideas for the development of those places.
Conference proceedings will be published following the event.

Please submit your abstract (2000 characters), CV, professional affiliation, contact details and one page of images/figures before 15 July 2015 to:

Prof. Dr. Vanessa Miriam Carlow

For further information please contact:

Marie Bruun Yde, Conference Coordinator
Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institute for Sustainable Urbanism
Pockelsstrasse 03 – 12th floor, 
38106 Braunschweig, Germany
T: +49 (0) 531 391 3549
F: +49 (0) 531 391 8103

PDF for Download: ISUTalks#03_Ruralism_Call for Papers