A More Disorderly Urban Form Praised in UN's Quito Papers

A UN conference in Quito Ecuador in October 2016 looked at housing the world’s growing urban population. The Conference resulted in a document and film advocating a more organic and disorderly urban form.

2 minute read

February 21, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

By wadams92101

The United Nations Habitat III Conference was held in Quito, Ecuador October 2016.  The meeting resulted in a document entitled The Quito Papers: Towards the Open City. Additionally, the document is summarized in a short film of the same title. A central theme of the document and film is advocacy for the "open city." The open city movement argues for organic, accretive growth—moving away from plans and development engineered with efficiency as the primary goal. Writes Joseph Wager, in reviewing the document and film:

Roughly eight decades after the Charter of Athens, the voices of UN-Habitat III are enamored of the city’s chaos. Its makers call for enhanced public transit, more sustainability, greater interconnectedness; in short, a city open to changes.

. . .

The impact of the New Urban Agenda may be far-reaching, but its readership likely is not. Thus, the technical New Urban Agenda is distilled in “The Quito Papers: Towards the Open City.” Despite not relying on technology as messiah, the open city's backers recognize the short film's ability to spread their message. Specifically, they argue for a less functional city design. This visual presentation of the philosophy guiding the UN-Habitat III conference draws on the words of Joan Clos, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennett, and Richard Burdett.

For more about the Habitat III conference, New Urban Agenda, or The Quito Papers: Towards the Open City film, please read the source article.

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