This important meeting, co-sponsored by University College London and the University of L’Aquila brings together experts in cultural heritage, urban planning, disaster studies, economics, psychology, architecture, history, information technology, risk management and reconstruction to exchange knowledge and discuss the issues particular to historic cities at risk throughout the world.
Participants in the conference include academics and professionals from Australia, Canada, Chile, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Spain, Uganda, the UK and the USA as well as many specialists from all over Italy and sponsored students from the Global South. The conference offers an opportunity to learn from the experiences of L’Aquila and Central Italy over the last decade as well as to provide insights into the experiences of other cities and cultures.
The conference has been convened by Dr Fatemeh Farnaz Arefian of Silk Cities with the L’Aquila-born Dr Lucia Patrizio Gunning of University College London and Prof. Paola Rizzi of the University of L’Aquila.
Dr. Arefian explains that “Silk Cities is an independent academic and professional initiative which promotes contextual knowledge exchange, research and advocacy. Whilst the initial focus of Silk Cities has been the disaster-hit cities of the Middle East and Central Asia which lie on the historic silk routes, L’Aquila like many of these cities, enjoyed a rich history of urban life and it made sense to bring the 3rd Silk Cities International conference here.”
According to Dr Patrizio Gunning, “there is a natural thread connecting L’Aquila with the Silk Cities; from the medieval web of trade in silk, wool and saffron, to the dense historic urban fabric that they all share. L’Aquila displayed fortitude and resilience in the aftermath of disaster and this is slowly transforming into a renaissance of civic pride. As this beautiful city re-emerges, it seems fitting that it should host the 2019 Silk Cities conference addressing the themes particular to historic cities at risk."
Prof. Paola Rizzi notes that “the Silk Cities Conference is a unique opportunity to embrace different points of view rooted in different contexts as well as to reflect on resilience, the capability to keep essential urban activities operational. The future of historic cities will depend on whether we’ll be able to consider reconstruction as a real opportunity to reshape them.”
Over the three days of the conference, focussed sessions will investigate the many aspects of the conference themes. The role of cultural heritage in building civic identity, as a stimulus for recovery, a focus for tourism and as a means to building resilience forms one thread. A second strand of sessions looks at information technology in smarter reconstruction, preparedness and civic resilience and its use as a tool for public engagement and participation. Interwoven with this, the conference will examine human factors; the narratives of approach to disaster and recovery, the social and psychological aspects of recovery and how to engage the next generation of citizens.
A special round table on schools, resilience and recovery in L’Aquila has been convened to look at the important role that educational institutions have to play both in ensuring safety of their pupils and in reconnecting children with their city.
In bringing this conference to the centre of L’Aquila this year, the convenors were keen to show how the city, after a decade of uncertainty and struggle, is finally coming back to life and to bring the beauty of its historic heritage to an international audience.
- Venue: Department of Human Studies Viale Nizza 14, 67100 L'Aquila, University of L'Aquila Palazzo Camponeschi, piazza Santa Margherita 2, 67100 L'Aquila