The Academy of Urbanism - a think tank committed to developing villages, towns and cities - will hold its annual congress in Derry later this month.
The Academy describes itself as an “autonomous, politically independent, cross-sector organisation formed to expand urban discourse.”
The body brings together a diverse group of “thinkers, decision-makers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of our villages, towns and cities.”
Its seventh annual congress, which takes place in Derry between May 9-11, will focus on the “robustness of urban settlements in challenging times.”
Derry is, of course, the current holder of the Academy’s coveted Great Town Award.
The Academy says Derry’s “exceptional physical and community story will be used to explore the resilience and adaptability of place through themes of heritage and culture, community and social capital, economic regeneration and urban design.”
The three-day event will draw an international audience and speakers will include historian Dr. Brian Lacey, Stormont Environment Minister Alex Attwood and the deputy mayor of Lisbon, Manuel Salgado.
Local architect Mary Kerrigan, a member of the Academy, describes Derry as the “jewel in the crown” of Ulster Plantation settlements and the first example of “true urban planning in Ireland.” Writing in the latest edition of the Academy’s journal, Mrs. Kerrigan says: “Though geographically peripheral, [Derry] has been central to some of Northern Ireland and Ireland’s most turbulent and progressive historic events. Derry’s is an inspiring story of ground-up social and physical transformation in the most testing circumstances - an ideal prism through which to explore issues of resilience.” She believes next month’s event in Derry “challenges us to adapt our cultural mindsets to meet our global and local challenges positively and creatively.
“It challenges us to keep the baby in the bath water and to distill essential lesons left by our ancestral place makers so we are better equipped to make and re-make places that are truly resilient, fantastic experiences for us all as human beings.”