Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President of Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in New York, has finished another successful trip to Australia as a guest of the Future Cities Collaborative. His extensive program included keynote presentations, workshops, and masterclasses organised and sponsored by the Future Cities Collaborative and the 2016 Media Architecture Biennale (MAB16).

A highlight of Ethan's week with the Future Cities Collaborative was his MAB16 keynote address, "Transforming Cities and Public Spaces through Placemaking" that took place on Friday 3 June at The Concourse, Chatswood. In keeping with the Biennale's theme of "digital placemaking", Ethan shared insights from 17 years of working on placemaking projects around the world and discussed the need to establish good governance structures for these projects to be successful. His addressed focused on the question: what if we built media architecture around places, and he challenged the audience to adopt a place-led approach to digital solutions and media architecture. His keynote was followed by an engaging Q&A session with the audience, facilitated by the Chair of the Future Cities Collaborative, Professor Ed Blakely.

Prior to the MAB16 keynote, Ethan joined a panel of local and international experts for the City Leaders' Summit - "Creating Smart Places for Smart Citizens: Opportunities and Challenges"on 2 June, co-hosted by the Future Cities Collaborative and MAB16. We were thrilled to have both Ethan and Daniel Latorre, Senior Fellow in Digital Placemaking from PPS, provide two mini keynotes at the City Leaders' Summit. Together, they provoked questions that pushed our expectations of traditional placemaking practices. Ethan's overview of placemaking and the emphasis on place-led development and working with and for the community, was complemented by Daniel's lessons on digital placemaking and warnings of the consequences of over-reliance on digital and smart-city solutions. 

Also contributing to the discussion, facilitated by Sandy Burgoyne, Director of the Future Cities Collaborative, were the following experts that provided a range of civic, academic, techinical and creative perspectives:

  • Michelle Fitzgerald, Chief Digital Officer, Smart City Office, City of Melbourne
  • Clr Nuatali Nelmes, Lord Mayor of Newcastle,
  • Leni Schwendinger, Associate Principal, Arup,
  • Greg Stone, Head of Digital Services, Arup Australasia,
  • Martijn de Waal, Senior Researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences,
  • Bruce Ramus, Director, Ramus Illumination

The panellists provided a range of views on how to harness the opportunities that digital placemaking provides, and methods to overcome the challenges when making cities smarter for citizens. The Summit generated an exciting discussion between panellists and the audience that comprised of over 45 industry, local and state government delegates.

Professor Ed Blakely and Sandy Burgoyne facilitated a discussion between the audience of city leaders and experts, drawing out key learnings from the wealth of knowledge present in the room. We look forward to sharing the outputs from this session in the near future. 

Beyond Ethan’s keynote address and contributions to the MAB16, he also worked closely with local and state government organisations leading a number of workshops and capacity-building sessions to increase knowledge of placemaking practices in NSW.

Ethan and the Future Cities Collaborative ran workshops and masterclasses with Arts NSW, UrbanGrowth NSW, Transport for NSW and Blacktown City Council.

The week of events was the third time Ethan has visited Sydney as a guest of the Future Cities Collaborative. We are proud to partner with PPS to further the placemaking movement in Sydney and bring their expertise to the members of the Future Cities Collaborative and the NSW Government, and we look forward to working together on events in the future.