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And that's a wrap!...
Participants commit to ongoing

collaboration for research into
action at the 59th IMCL conference 

Poundbury_Pic copy.jpg

The conference explored  a rich set of urban topics, with partners including The Prince’s Foundation, The Congress for the New Urbanism, UN-Habitat, the Duchy of Cornwall, INTBAU, The Seaside Institute, and universities, governments and NGOs

Above: A few photos from the 2023 conference. Read more about it at our conference blog site here.

POUNDBURY, UK: Our most recent International Making Cities Livable conference took place in this remarkable livability laboratory, an urban extension of Dorchester, UK, approximately 2.5 hours by train from London. Poundbury offers many fascinating and useful lessons for livable cities, towns and suburbs, and this year was a poignant historic moment to gather there: the 30th anniversary of its founding by the former Prince of Wales (and the year of his ascension as king).  There has been enough time that the project's goals can now be evaluated on the evidence, and its positive lessons can be applied to benefit other places.

In addition to Poundbury, we examined other case studies of pilot projects and urban laboratories, and what they can teach us.  As we always do, we examined the latest research on urban sustainability, livability, health and well-being, economic opportunity, equity, and quality of life for all.  And we focused especially this year on knowledge into ACTION, and how we can overcome barriers, and take successful practices to scale. This was an important opportunity to gather, assess, and confront our challenges. 


We hope to see you at next year's conference!  

We offered a video tour with information about the venue and practicalities, hosted by our Executive Director, Dr. Michael Mehaffy:





TITLE: The Ecology of Place: From Understanding to Action

Poundbury/Dorchester, UK

Abstract:  As humanity confronts multiple historic challenges, our settlements and their characteristics are set to play a central role – especially so in a time of historic rapid urbanization.  Our cities, towns and suburbs are where we interact, move about, consume resources, develop and deploy our technologies, and create most of the impacts we are having on Planet Earth. In that sense, our settlements are major contributors to our challenges – but they also offer an important platform for joining up key issues of emissions and contamination, resource use and depletion, and ecological destruction, as well as challenges of equitable human development, health, and well-being.


In recent years, the sciences have made considerable advances in understanding the nature of our settlements, and the urgent need to reform our “business as usual” practices.  The New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – both adopted by acclamation by all 193 member states of the United Nations – reflect many of these advances, and both documents plainly state the powerful case for reform. But the systems by which we plan, design and build, are still “locked in” to many of the old and failing practices that have brought us to crisis. Breakthrough approaches to reform are needed.


At the same time, many citizens are increasingly mobilized to oppose projects that they see as incompatible, even ugly, and degrading of their quality of life. In a democracy, they have a right to be heard, and to be taken seriously. Moreover, the research shows a clear divergence between the citizens and the specialists who carry out much of the building work – and the research also reveals why experts can lose touch with both the needs of their users, and the urgency of genuine reform. This scientific knowledge can help to guide us to more effective reform, and to the crucial transition to a healthier urban world.


This conference will focus on that missing gap: from understanding to action, in transitioning to more ecological ways of building and settling.  We will gather in Poundbury, a new urban extension developed under the guidance of the UK’s Charles III, along with many collaborators over three decades. Poundbury is a fitting venue, and a remarkable laboratory of multiple experiments in ecological technology, socially supportive design, and economic opportunity for all.  It demonstrates an impressive departure from “business as usual,” with instructive lessons on its successes as well as its remaining challenges.


At Poundbury, and on the adjoining main street of Dorchester, we will gather policy leaders, practitioners, community leaders and top scholars, to share lessons and discuss potential collaborations.  We will gather key partners from a number of countries to share their knowledge and collaboration. A major aim of the conference will be to serve as a “springboard” toward new research, and new collaborative action.


Understanding Track:


  • The Ecology of Place: Concepts, Metrics, Practices

  • Why Public Space Matters for ALL

  • The Place of Beauty: Neuroscience, Health and Sustainability

  • How Jane Jacobs Was Right: The Power of Diversity, Equity, and Web Networks

  • How Christopher Alexander Was Right: The Power of Patterns, and Timeless Ways of Building

  • How The Former Prince was Right: The Power of Nature’s Harmony and Symmetry

  • The Dangers of Overspecialization: Overcoming Roadblocks to Reform of the “Operating System for Growth”

  • Cities (and Regions) on Foot: The Power of Urban Walkability and Public Transportation


Action Track:


  • Implementing Ecologies of Place: Technologies, Practices, Finance

  • New Approaches to Public Space Creation and Improvement for All

  • Rapid Urbanization: Implementing the New Urban Agenda

  • Political Organization and “Polycentric Governance”

  • Climate Change and Urban Form: Mitigation, Adaptation, Resilience

  • Financial Tools and Externality Feedbacks: Making It Pay

  • Getting It Built: Sharing Case Lessons in Who, Why and How

  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Complete Streets, Regenerative Utilities, and Public Transit

  • Access For All: Bringing the Benefits of Livable Cites to ALL

Plenary Speakers

An outstanding gathering of internationally distinguished researchers, practitioners, and city leaders, representing major partner institutions and collaborations (partial, in reverse alphabetical order) 


And many more international scholars, practitioners, and city leaders… including you, we hope!


Monday, October 9

  • 5PM: Optional evening reception and walking tour, hosted by The Prince's Foundation and INTBAU, starting at the beautiful Garrison Chapel in Chelsea, London 

Tuesday, October 10

  • Daytime: Travel to Dorchester (approx. 2 hours 15 minutes from London by train)

  • 5PM: Welcome reception and orientation walking tour of Poundbury - starting at Jubilee Hall, Poundbury

  • Exhibit of new projects

Wednesday, October 11

  • 8AM: Registration and reception at The Corn Exchange, Dorchester (approx. 1 mile from Poundbury)

  • 9AM: Morning plenary: The Corn Exchange

  • 2:30 PM: Afternoon breakouts: 3 at The Corn Exchange, 1 at Poundbury (bus or walk)

  • Evening activities, dinner (on delegates’ own)

  • 7PM: Optional Awards Dinner (separate tickets) - The Corn Exchange

Thursday, October 12

  • 8AM: Registration and reception at The Corn Exchange, Dorchester (approx. 1 mile from Poundbury)

  • 9AM: Morning plenary: The Corn Exchange

  • 2:30 PM: Afternoon breakouts: 3 at The Corn Exchange, 1 at Poundbury (bus or walk)

  • Evening activities, dinner (on delegates’ own)

  • 7PM: Evening plenary - The Corn Exchange, Dorchester

Friday, October 13

  • 8AM: Registration and reception at The Corn Exchange, Dorchester (approx. 1 mile from Poundbury)

  • 9AM: Morning plenary: The Corn Exchange

  • 2:30 PM: Afternoon breakouts: 3 at The Corn Exchange, 1 at Poundbury (bus or walk)

  • Evening activities, dinner (on delegates’ own)

  • 7PM: Closing party at Jubilee Hall, Poundbury


Saturday Oct 14

  • 10AM: Optional in-depth tour of Poundbury

For more information on arriving, getting around, hotels, and other practicalities, check out our information page!

A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS AND SPONSORS FOR 2023! (Partial list, more to announce soon!)


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