Civic leaders and urban experts from as far afield as Paris, Toronto, Delhi, Rotterdam, and Vienna are coming to Cambridge from 21 to 23 June for the Academy of Urbanism’s Annual Congress, supported by Cambridge City Council.

The focus of this year’s Congress is on ‘Designing for the Future’ and how cities and towns can manage sustainable, successful, and socially inclusive growth.  An action-packed programme of workshops, events, visits and panel discussions has been confirmed with a range of speakers from the region, the wider UK, and across the world.

Delegates will have the opportunity to experience the many facets of good urbanism in Cambridge and learn from how Cambridge is addressing some of the challenges that come with being one of the fastest growing cities in the UK.  Sessions will look at its placemaking story and the questions it raises – from heritage concerns to balancing housing and employment need, delivering connectivity and tackling inequality. 

Jas Atwal, Chair of the Academy of Urbanism, said: “Congress is a fantastic opportunity to bring together the best thinkers in urbanism, share knowledge, exchange ideas, and inspire each other.  This year it’s all about future-proofing our cities and ensuring placemaking happens in a sustainable way that meets the needs and desires of people in the future. 

“Cambridge is the perfect location to put this theme under examination with some of the best brains and thinkers from around the world as well as from across the city.

“We’ve secured the highest calibre of speakers we’ve ever had, and I’m incredibly excited about the discussions and ideas that will come out of Congress.  We’re thrilled to have Cambridge host us for Congress, grateful to everyone in the city who has helped us plan it, and to the council for supporting us.”

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Infrastructure at Cambridge City Council, said: “The Academy of Urbanism’s Congress looks set to be a great opportunity for everyone interested in the future of cities to share ideas and best practice, and to gain inspiration from each other.

“We are very proud that Cambridge has been chosen to host this year’s event – and it is a wonderful opportunity for Cambridge to showcase some of the projects we have been involved with in recent years to manage the sustainable expansion of the city. It will also be a great opportunity for anyone locally with an interest in urban living to hear from other people who are making things happen in cities around the world.”

Congress takes place from Wednesday 21-Friday 23 June at venues around Cambridge. As well as a programme of speakers and panel discussions, there will be tours to local sites including the city’s new neighbourhood at Eddington, the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and the co-housing project at Marmalade Lane.  There will also be the opportunity to engage in the early design of the heart of a new district in North East Cambridge.

It will offer an opportunity for attendees to exchange ideas and hear examples of innovative thinking about the urban environment from around the globe on issues such as balancing growth, addressing inequality, climate change and adaptation, connectivity and accessibility, and crucially the need to widen participation to engage residents from across the city of all ages and backgrounds in those discussions.

Speakers include:

  • Marion Waller, former Advisor to the Mayor of Paris and recently appointed Director General of the Pavillon Arsenal (Paris Centre for Urbanism)
  • Itai Palti, Director, Hume, and Founder, The Centre for Conscious Design
  • Professor Flora Samuel, Incoming Head at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge
  • Maria Vassilakou, Former Vice Mayor of Vienna, and Founder, Vienna Solutions
  • Erlijn Mulder, City of Utrecht
  • Robert Pollock, Chief Executive, Cambridge City Council
  • Stephen Kelly, Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, Cambridge City Council
  • Tim Hayward, Food Journalist, and Co-owner, Fitzbillies

As part of the ‘Designing for the Future’ theme, Congress will look in particular at four key themes over its three days – and the lessons we can learn:

  • Partnership and Participation: How successful partnership between Cambridge’s academic, business, and government sectors has been essential to its recent growth, and how its community voices can be embraced in future growth partnerships. .
  • Innovation: Life sciences, learning, discovery and innovation are at the heart of Cambridge’s success story.  But how does this innovation influence our urban futures everywhere, with the opportunities to reimagine how our cities function and are governed?
  • Inclusivity and Connection: A focus on how we shape more equitable and inclusive places through housing and transport decisions, including looking at Cambridge’s urban extensions and modal shift in how people move through the city.
  • Climate and Adaptation: A look at the dilemma and good practice around decarbonising and futureproofing a rapidly growing city with so much heritage at its core and adapting how we grow all our urban environments sustainably.

Tickets for Congress are still available to purchase on the Academy of Urbanism website, which contains further details about the programme:


The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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