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  • Michael Mehaffy

Participants commit to ongoing collaboration for research into action at the 59th IMCL conference

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

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 (clockwise from upper left): Setha Low, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at the Graduate School, City University of New York; a tour of Poundbury; conference manager Leslie Barrett with the staff; and Ben Bolgar of The Prince's Foundation describes new work at Chelsea Barracks in London, at the opening reception at the Foundation's Garrison Chapel facility.

POUNDBURY (UK) – The 2023 International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference, the latest in a long-running series on urban well-being, wrapped up here and in nearby Dorchester on the 14th of October with a closing party and tour of the iconic development -- an initiative of King Charles begun 30 years ago this year.

The series, begun in 1985 by a Viennese medical sociologist and UK urban scholar, focuses on livability as a concept unifying urban health, ecology, economic opportunity and equity, and human and planetary well-being.

150 researchers, practitioners, government officials, institutional leaders, and citizens gathered from every conference except Antarctica. The topic for the year was “The Ecology of Place: From Understanding to ACTION,” with a focus on translating research understanding into actionable tools, strategies, and communications to drive positive change, creating a new generation of livable cities, towns and suburbs.

Comments from attendees were enthusiastic. A sampling:

“Thank you so much for the superb organisation you brought to the event. You have pulled off something significant! It was a pleasure to take part. Everyone I spoke to had really enjoyed the previous days and got much from the discussion.”

- Harriet Wennberg, Executive Director, INTBAU

“So grateful to you for making it possible for me to participate in IMCL this year. This was my favorite IMCL yet and I think you did a great job and your grandkids were stellar. I learned a lot this year and it will improve my practice and ability to bring this information to hundreds of towns and cities across the US and beyond.”

- Ryan Smolar, PlacemakingUS

“Thank you very much for this wonderful event in Dorchester. I enjoy the quality of your organisation. A success and it warms us with all these people looking and working for more liveable cities on our planet. You must have an award!”

- Xavier Bohl, Architect, Atelier BOHL

“It was a terrific conference.”

- Justin Shubow, National Civic Art Society

“That was an amazing conference!”

- Mark Wilson Jones, architect, Apollodorus Architecture

“It was a fantastic conference! I hope you are now able to relax and have some wonderful time with your family. They are amazing! So fun to have them at the conference.”

- Susan Ingham, architect, KASA Architects

“Some of the best three days ever!”

- Unidentified attendee, in hallway

“In terms of the substance of the gathering, lots of cheers. I learned a lot and have plenty to think about.”

- Rob Knapp, Emeritus Professor of Physics, The Evergreen State College

“Thank you for a wonderful conference. You’re doing a great thing.”

- Patrick Condon, Professor of Urban Design, University of British Columbia

In addition, the attendees completed a post-event survey, giving the conference an overall rating of 4.45 out of 5 stars.

Several options are now being evaluated for the 2024 conference, including Cortona, Italy. An announcement is expected soon. Interested parties are encouraged to stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here is a video of highlights of the conference:

And here is a sampling of photos from this year's conference:

(Above and below.) Participants gathered at the historic and beautiful Corn Exchange building in Dorchester, and in nearby Poundbury for tours and other in-depth sessions.

Above: A Poundbury tour begins.

Above (L-R): Jose Chong of UN-Habitat, Kristie Daniel of HealthBridge, Ayanda Roji Adalima of the City of Johannesburg, Michael Mehaffy of IMCL, and Setha Low of The Graduate School , City University of New York, celebrate Ayanda's achievements in co-founding the Center on African Public Spaces.

Above: George Ferguson, Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and former Mayor of Bristol, UK, explores the debates over car dominance in many UK cities.

Above: Ben Murphy of the Duchy of Cornwall welcomes attendees to Poundbury and describes the project in detail.

Above: Nicholas Boys Smith, Chair of the UK Government's Office for Place, describing significant new policy changes in the UK.

Above: The registration and book table was a busy spot.

Above: Ryan Smolar of PlacemakingUS conducts a workshop on new placemaking techniques.

Above: Robert Krasser of the City of Salzburg was one of many who spoke about Christopher Alexander's work on pattern languages, and new projects like a bicycle pattern language for Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Above: Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns spoke of the hidden subsidies that drive destructive urban growth - and how to end them.

Above: Professor David Brain was one of many researchers on public space. at the conference.

Above: Michael Mehaffy, Executive Director of the IMCL, presents the Lennard Award "for Excellence in Education and Inspiration Toward Humane Architecture Around the World," to the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU), represented by (L-R) Ben Bolgar, co-founder; Robert Adam, co-founder; Jyoti Dhanak, INTBAU-India; Marjo Uotila, INTBAU-Finland, and Martin Lindestreng, INTBAU-Sweden.

Above: Conference manager Leslie Barrett at the evening awards dinner.

Until next year!



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