An inclusive city is a city in which the processes of development include a wide variety of citizens and activities. These cities maintain their wealth and creative power by avoiding marginalization, which compromises the richness of interaction upon which cities depend.
Our working premise is that inclusive cities are both more affluent and more socially just.
Inclusive cities are more affluent because they mobilize and enable a wider spectrum of people and talents than a city in which some of those human resources are marginalized. They are also more socially just. By including the otherwise marginalized in the productive activities and opportunities of the city, they offer better access to pathways for social and economic betterment.
Inclusiveness works against social and economic exclusion, and their shadow: urban decay. It works against dividing the city into ghettoes of despair without opportunities for upward economic mobility. It does not mean freezing growth or preventing redevelopment; rather, the opposite—encouraging more sustainable, prosperous, comprehensive growth and development by avoiding exclusivity and dislocation and the heavy, often ignored costs they carry.
It's well known that poverty and social exclusion are multi-dimensional problems, and there is no magic bullet. CIU focuses on the spatial dimension to poverty, at all scales. But we also understand that a spatial understanding by itself is radically incomplete, and often ineffectual. Therefore, we seek an integrated understanding which maps the interrelationships between the spatial and the economic, social, cultural and historical aspects of poverty and social exclusion. We look both at city form, and at processes of urban formation. Our activities range from research, to research in practice, to practical work that seeks to include disadvantaged urban communities in all dimensions of urban life.
Inclusive cities bring otherwise marginalized activities into the center to join otherwise privileged activities, so one may see the following sharing urban space, cheek by jowl:
rich and poor
businesses and the arts
goods production, knowledge work, learning and play
students, workers and retirees
people and products from the surrounding countryside
children and adults
people of all varieties of ability and disability
new immigrants, visitors, and founding families
inclusive governance that brings all of these perspectives into the shaping of the city.
The Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism (CIU) is an international organization concerned with the idea that cities that are more inclusive are also more just, more creative, and more economically and socially resilient. We are particularly interested in the relationships between architectural/urban space and social/economic inclusion, and carry out research, teaching, design projects and consulting that further our understanding of these relationships and our ability to act on them.
Founded in 2012 at a symposium at the University of Oregon, the CIU emerged from a series of research projects in Guangzhou and London by Matt Brown and Howard Davis, two founders and current members of the group. The projects involved the detailed investigation of urban districts, including ethnography and a building-by-building mapping of hundreds of buildings in each district. Our aim was to uncover relationships between urban morphology, building typology and the ability of people at lower rungs of the economic ladder to advance in the urban economy.
While such issues as poverty, inclusion, environmental justice and the nature of work have been extensively dealt with in fields such as policy planning, politics, social work, sociology and economics, it is only more recently that urban space and buildings have been brought more fully into the conversation. Issues like the availability of fresh food in low-income districts, the health effects of different modes of commuting, the access to economic opportunity, the availability of space for emergent economic activity in cities where land prices are rapidly rising, are all being examined in spatial terms.
The CIU therefore casts a wide net, helping to gather and disseminate relevant work of its own members as well as connecting to other groups with compatible interests. Our backgrounds include planning, architecture, economics, anthropology and politics; and we teach, research, consult and design. Our work ranges from the design of projects intended to provide inexpensive work space, investigations of the economic use of 19th-century railway arches in London, the study of Latino markets in Los Angeles, architecture design studios based in Portland and Germany involving housing and other facilities for refugees, the design of buildings in Sydney for vulnerable urban residents, studies of the historic clustering of small workshops that provided employment to immigrant populations in London, the spatial characteristics of creative economies in Manchester, and others.
The CIU is intended to show the range of concerns and work engaged in by people who recognize urban inclusion as an important issue in today’s society, to engage in dialogue about these issues, and to promote work that is intended to highlight and support these issues as well. This includes work and dialogue by members of the CIU as well as other individuals and groups.
Our working premises are that inclusive cities are both more affluent and more socially just, and that architectural and urban space may play a critical role in fostering inclusion. Inclusive cities are more affluent because they mobilize and enable a wider spectrum of people and talents than a city in which some of those human resources are marginalized. Inclusive cities are also more socially just. By including the otherwise marginalized in the productive activities and opportunities of the city, they offer better access to pathways for social and economic betterment.
Inclusiveness does not mean freezing growth or preventing redevelopment; rather, the opposite—encouraging more sustainable, prosperous, comprehensive growth and development by avoiding exclusivity and dislocation and the heavy, often ignored costs they carry.
We welcome the participation of people and groups outside the CIU. Our website has a Twitter feed to which anyone can contribute by including #inclusiveurbanism in the message, a discussion forum and page of links that are available by sending us an email, and a section for news and events that are also available through email. And we will consider posting projects, teaching and research on our home page.
The Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism is a unit of the University of Oregon