Dr Alfonso Vegara, world renowned planner-architect and President of the Fundación Metrópoli in Madrid, Spain, gave the RTPI Yorkshire Annual Lecture last week in Leeds. He addressed a packed audience of students, architects, town planners, engineers on the theme of ‘Connecting People & Places across the World.’
The lecture, set within the context of ongoing devolution discussions between combined authorities in the north of England and central government to create a Northern Powerhouse, was very timely. Speaking at Leeds Civic Hall, Dr Vegara argued that connected cities and city regions were now the ‘supercities’ and ‘urban diamonds’ that are the new motors of the global economy providing the most complex and interconnected economic clusters of our generation. The expansion of cities and city regions is setting the stage for new processes of regional integration: these are the new engines of the world economy.
Dr Vegara said: "The city region "diamond" concept requires advanced infrastructure, economic strategies, and schemes for environmental protection. These aspects of C21st cities go beyond traditional administrative boundaries. High speed rail, airports, regional transit systems, logistics platforms and digital infrastructure strengthen economic ties between cities and articulates the C21st city to be globally competitive.”
The city region "diamond" concept requires advanced infrastructure, economic strategies, and schemes for environmental protection.
The event was very generously sponsored by DWF LLP and O’Neill Associates and chaired by Tom Riordan, Chief Executive at Leeds City Council. RTPI President, Janet Askew, also spoke.
Reaction to the lecture
Jennifer Winyard, Chair RTPI Yorkshire (pictured, left), said:
“We're really thrilled that Dr Vegara has taken time out to present our Annual Lecture. It is very timely; with his breadth of experience and international reputation we're convinced that his lecture will make a positive contribution to the current debate on Northern devolution, which is at a critical stage.”
Bob Wolfe, Hon Sec, RTPI Yorkshire, said:
"Alfonso Vegara’s lecture astonished its Yorkshire audience of practitioners in its sweep and depth around issues of city regional development in Europe and South America, along with a brilliant exposition of current thinking on poly-centricity and the interdependence of cities. He spoke passionately of the importance of planners and of placing them at the centre of city development in the 21st-century."
Janet Askew, President, RTPI, said:
"The Yorkshire region was honoured to receive such an eminent urbanist, Alfonso Vegara to deliver their annual lecture. An audience of nearly 200 heard about his remarkable research into the strategic design of cities. This was accompanied by a series of impressive maps which held fascination for everyone in the audience."
Richard Bickers, Associate Director, Leader Planning North West & Yorkshire, said:
"A thought provoking presentation which sets out lessons for how cities need to collaborate to deliver successful growth. We need to think about how to apply some of this thinking in creating our Northern Powerhouse which can compete on a global scale."
John Jarvis, Chair RTPI and IPPR North Great North Plan consultative roundtables, said:
“RTPI Yorkshire’s Annual Lecture was extremely well timed. The world-wide experience of Alfonso Vegara and the Fundación Metrópoli of cities working together - within countries and across international boundaries - highlights gaps in our understanding of the North of England economy and opportunities a Great North Plan could help address.”
Corinne Swain, Arup Fellow, Planning said:
"With some stunning graphics, Professor Vegara ably demonstrated that cities are better together in an increasingly competitive globalised world. His talk prompts questions about how his ‘diamond’ concept of polycentric hubs can best be applied in the Great North Plan, and how connectivity analysis can be used to identify the best locations for ‘acupuncture point’ projects to kick start regeneration".
You can listen to a podcast of the lecture.
Photos: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions