Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

Urban Age

“Electric City”

Conference in London, December 6–7, 2012

In 2012, the Urban Age conference revisits the notion of the “electric city” offering a critical reflection on the social impacts of contemporary innovations in smart, green urban infrastructures and technologies.
Urban Age London 2012: "Electric City" (Live) Reporting
Please click HERE for an initial selection of interviews, photos as well as video and conference highlights.
Mayor Boris Johnson Came along with his "Boris Bike": the Mayor of London© Paul Clarke
Urban Age "Electric City"
In 1879 Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and built the first power station in Pearl Street in Manhattan in 1882, while the German inventor Werner von Siemens installed the first electric elevator in 1880. Since then, electricity has powered – directly or indirectly – the shape and dynamics of urban life. In mature cities of the developed world, we take for granted that electricity feeds the complex systems which sustain and sometimes spectacularly fail us.

In emerging cities of the developing world, a light bulb is still embraced as a symbol of civilisation by some and while others celebrate their new-found wealth and prowess in a visual cacophony of neon. The Electric City is, in many ways, the crucible of patterns of production, consumption and pollution of the 21st century ‘urban age’ as urban leaders struggle with the impact of cities on the social and environmental well-being of the planet.

Premier David Cameron Premier David Cameron unveils Tech City plans© Paul Clarke
After having tackled health and well-being in Hong Kong, the urban economy in Chicago, violence and security in Sao Paulo and social inclusion in Johannesburg, the Urban Age returned to London for its eleventh conference since 2005. We turned our attention to the challenges and responsibilities faced by cities in the digital age as Climate Change and economic pressures continue to define our everyday urban realities.
London - The Electric City London, "Electric City" Conference Venue
Since its inception, the Urban Age has studied the spatial and social dynamics of over 30 cities in the developed and developing world, collaborated with over 40 academic institutions and municipal authorities and been attended by over 5,000 speakers and participants from urban design, policymaking, research and practice.

In London we welcomed over 60 speakers from 30 cities in 15 countries across four continents who took part in the two-day Urban Age Electric City conference in the aptly named Shoreditch Electric Light Station in central London – a building that in its own history reflects the connections between power and the city. The building opened as an electricity generating station in 1896 to burn rubbish, giving steam for generating electricity with the waste used to heat public baths next door. The motto above the door is ‘E Pulvere Lux Et Vis’, or ‘Out Of The Dust, Light And Power’, reflecting a trajectory of sustainable resilience that parallels the themes and issues debated by the protagonists of the Urban Age.
Bjarke Ingels Shared his ideas about the green city: architect Bjarke Ingels© Paul Clarke
Conference Details
Urban Age Electric City Conference
6-7 December 2012

London, Shoreditch Electric Light Station

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