REFLECT, The MAKING-CITY Think Tank

Invitation to join in the form of a personal Manifesto proposal
by Emilio Miguel Mitre, GBCe; MAKING-CITY

REFLECT expresses what we want to do, as well as an imperative to act. We commit to put our ideas of what we feel is good to the best possible use, in an open and mutually inspiring way that favours the deployment of the extremely rich possibilities of the built environment as the immediate, caring surrounding of the citizens, and their empowerment.

Understanding a manifesto as a number of points we share, state loudly and clearly, and commit to, with the aim of creating a movement others may adhere to, in order to reach power and have political influence to contribute to the change, we manifest that:

Relevance of the built environment

As the word civilization — deeply rooted in the meaning of civitas or city — expresses, buildings, cities and the built environment at large — are the most outstanding result of human intelligence, affecting practically all aspects of social life, essentially for good, but also for bad.

Environmental effects

One of the bad aspects is the large impact buildings have on the environment, roughly 40% of the EU´s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Traditionally despised

Until very recently though, the built environment has only been accepted as a secondary, passive role player in energy and environmental terms, most often subsidiary to many other activities or solutions which were “applied” to it. The built environment “was just there,” but the idea that it could be part of the solution was not understood.

Buildings’ role in “discovery”

But buildings can not only be a part of the solution, instead they can be an essential part of the solution, or even the solution itself. Now the built environment has been accepted as a key environmental, social and economic activity, with a huge role to play in the road to total decarbonization by 2050, with health as a key concern.

Urgency

Now that this is clear and the intellectual shift is in place, there is a tremendous urgency to trigger the change that can make the built environment play a profound role. This is stressed by the fact that most built environment processes are slow and take decades to develop.

New thinking

This striking need for effective and efficient innovation calls for a new thinking space where free, disruptive ideas can create a shared, ambitious 2050 City Vision, and make it a reality. REFLECT proposes a new approach that transcends the usual way of thinking in which many ideas are disqualified as “unfeasible” by preconceptions that need to be reviewed.

Philosophy

Philosophical approaches are usually described as “nice, but unpractical,” but they allow a discussion on principles and values, common sense and sensitivity, rather than on knowledge alone, which is essential for the definition of our future. REFLECT will favour philosophical thought.

Beyond market as usual

The market is used to rely upon simplistic cost/benefit analyses, which are a very poor gauge of what we want to become in the future, usually leading to the abortion of many good ideas. REFLECT proposes to put this aside so that ideas can flow.

From imagination to action to implementation

Once imagination has been allowed to produce its crop in terms of what a shared vision of the 2050 City vision could really contain, REFLECT commits to open the technical, economic and political discussion on how to make it a reality.

… Please add suggestions to what the REFLECT Manifesto should contain…

Our mission is to foster dialogue between stakeholders and experts on the topics of smart cities and the energy transition towards a common 2050 City Vision.

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