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The City is [NOT] a Tree: The Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities

Pretoria, South Africa

July 05 2022 - July 07 2022

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THE CITY IS [NOT] A TREE: THE URBAN ECOLOGIES OF DIVIDED CITIES is an international collaboration, with associates principally from Europe and Africa, and open to collaboration with contributors from other parts of the world. We are interested in analyses, remedies and healing in divided cities and societies. Although these often relate to specificities of history, context, place and population, they nonetheless speak to a universal condition, with many commonalities in both cause and effect.

The title of this collaboration, being a wordplay on Christopher Alexander’s 1965 essay title A City is Not a Tree, uses the inference of a city being a tree in a different milieu. Whereas Alexander’s focus in terms of the analogy was to describe the physical composition of a city being either the mathematical structure of a tree or that of a semi-lattice, in this instance it refers to the city as a socio-spatial ecosystem.

The question of divided cities represents a complex and multi-stranded urban ecology – at once both social and spatial; it cannot be limited to a single science or discipline, such as social or spatial fields. This suggests integrated and cross-disciplinary understandings, as well integrated or parallel approaches and solutions.

Urban ecologies of division manifest in multiple forms. One of their most palpable expressions is conflict, with parallels around the world, and often with correlations in the spatial fabric. Violence in such contexts is often a surface expression of deeper socio-economic or ideological differences. Whether as result of intervention by authority or by dissent between groups, a divided city inevitably becomes a place of conflict in various forms and intensity, eroding the joy of living and sense of collective belonging to the detriment of all. In effect, it erodes the collective advantage of being part of a more unified society. In tandem with conflict as a surface expression of such ecologies are the social undercurrents, such as the making of the ‘other’, the unfamiliar and the unknown, where whole swathes of cities and towns could remain ‘other’ for many citizens – a terra nullius – even for long-term residents.

Abstract Submissions Deadline 03 Oct 2021

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Architecture of the Post-Anthropocene

(Lectures + Symposia + AHRA International conference 2022)

Pratt School of Architecture, NYC

November 17 2022 - November 19 2022

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“Post Anthropocene” means we wrestle with our anthropocentric exploitation of the planet; that we examine and acknowledge the inextricable relationship between racism and environmental degradation; and that we look at the manner in which social inequity is inscribed in the built environment. Queer urbanism, blackspace, planners without manners, social work versus violence work: Our fields are constrained by a lack of representation, a lack of listening, and a lack of diversification that such terms may challenge. This conference decolonizes the spaces of thinking and action asking “where do we stand?” ; it evaluates food security in a precarious climate asking “How do we eat together?’; it brings non-humans into the humanities asking “whose voices are heard?” Inclusive in its global reach, ecological in its low carbon footprint, this conference models ideas of social and environmental justice required in the post-anthropocene period.


The Pratt will be hosting the AHRA International Conference in 2022, and will be organising a series of associated events, lectures and symposia in the meantime. Further details will follow.



  • Call for Papers: Nov. 2021
  • Conference Dates: Nov. 17, 18, 19, 2022

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