City Architect Forum

Architecture and the project of the city: Reclaiming the territory of architecture


In the face of unprecedented growth and complex social, political and economic systems, the contemporary city is increasingly being thought off in terms of flows, data systems, networks, etc. It would seem that in the face of these processes, architecture could risk becoming increasingly marginal if not irrelevant. On the other hand phenomenon like climate change, social inequality and marginalization, housing and infrastructural crisis etc. and the increasing awareness of the effect that formal and geographical systems play in these processes, have called attention to the very spatial and political dimension of architecture and the potential of architecture to be an agent in the construction and transformation of the city.
Architecture’s challenge today is to reclaim its role in the construction of a project for the city by developing new tools, methods and forms of intervention at multiple scale from the domestic to the territorial scale, from public space to infrastructural networks, from activism to institutional roles. Architecture needs to be rethought beyond the object-icon dimension in which is being currently trapped. By expanding is disciplinary territories, architecture has the potential to engage and be an active participant in the construction of the city and to be an agent in the construction a political and cultural project for the city.


The Seoul city architects forum will brings together city architects from different parts of the world to explore different models and strategies of transformation of the city and the role architecture can have as well as the mechanism, processes and institutional frameworks in which they operate in different socio political contexts. Historically, the figure of the city architect is not a new one. In fact the distinction between architecture and city form is a rather recent one. The unprecedented growth of cities in the xix and xx c brought together a progressive split between the architectural and the urban dimension of the city. While urban planning emerged as a managerial practice in the organization of the territory architecture as practice and as discipline became progressively marginalized from the city’s form and processes.
In recent decades the figure of the city architect has emerged out of an awareness and need to reclaim and recognize the fundamental role architecture plays in the definition of the city not only in terms of form and space but more importantly in the construction of a political and cultural project. Cities like Berlin and Barcelona and more recently, Copenhagen, Singapore, Curitiba, Medellin, and many others, have become examples of urban and social transformation in large part due to the role the architectural project has played in the social and political processes of transformation of the city.


The forum wants to be a space of debate and explorations where multiple experiences of city architects
from around the globe can be studied and compared. The expectation is to build a larger framework
where these experiences can come together to identify common themes as well as specific differences.

We are interested in
- Identifying different models in which the city architect figure is currently engaged in the city’s political structure and vision and the specific instruments that architecture can bring to the processes.
-understanding the institutional framework in which they operate: governance, participation by different social actors (private and public). Mechanism of engagement and construction of consensus
-Political and administrative instruments and relationships as well as their capacity to act: Strategies and range of activities they engage with and the effect/impact they have had in the city
-Scales, strategies and methods of intervention: The role of the architecture project in the transformation of the city.
The construction of a collective urban culture. Awareness and participation: processes and actors.
-the political vision that inspires and supports the work
-Social and political networks in the city: private industry, cultural institutions, Universities, civil society, social groups, media etc.
- The potential to construct alliances and cooperation with other cities: a network of city architects to share knowledge and construct common agendas

Curator: Francisco Sanin
Local Coordinator: Eungee Cinn