In the wake of globalization and State rescaling, cities are regaining relevance as social laboratories for new and innovative practices of social inclusion and participation. Within this trend cities are becoming again and more than ever a project. Policy‐makers, planners, inhabitants and mob le people build representations and idealizations that make a big part of the allure of urban life. Cities are imagined, made and remade “by design”. This has long tradition: from the grids of Roman cities to contemporary capitals like Brasilia, from Megalopolis like Shēnzhèn to living experiments like Soleri’s Arcosanti; from urban lives in the Renaissance to the Futurist vertical dreams; from, the 19th‐century garden cities to the current hype for smart cities.
All these “cities on paper” have to cope with the complexity and unpredictability of everyday life, of the flow of endogenous or exogenous events, that re‐conceptualize functions and visions. Cities are embedded in social, economic and political contexts. The dream of the planner of ideal cities, as the three Renaissance panels hosted in Baltimore, Urbino (see above) and Berlin, is totally or largely deserted, as to avoid the complexity of the interaction between Utopia and reality.
The conference is interested in unveiling this complexity. By questioning utopian and ideal visions of the city – as represented in policies, public discourses… – it aims at putting them in perspective considering actual agency and current structural changes. How does socio‐economic change – neoliberalization? – affect cities and their ideal “diverse” visions? How do poverty and inequalities challenge ideal views of a just city? How are ideal cities contrasting real cities affected by segregation and social exclusion practices? Do different ideals coexist? Does the crisis affect our urban projects? In which direction? Who wins who loses? How do visions and ideals differ across the globe and how are they questioned by increasingly similar challenges?