Cities - People - Places

04th International Conference on Cities, People and Places (ICCPP-2016)


‘Transforming cities through place-making'; 'From Communities to Mega Cities


October 30 - November 01, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka


The Department of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka in collaboration with its international and national academic partners is proud to announce the fourth International Conference on Cities, People & Places, will be held from October 30 to November 1, 2016, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka.




Needless to say, a city is a conglomeration of places. The assembly of them is often a result of spontaneous evolutions that take place with the location of things, environmental factors, activities and people’s participation in them. Great cities in the world have thus ‘come into being’ through processes of accumulation, abandonment, rejuvenation and reinforcement of spontaneously evolving places as much as the deliberate location and creations of them. While the former is a people-driven every day process, the latter is what the planners and architects get involved in through their professional practice and skills.


Place-making is thus fundamental to architecture and planning. Yet, most architects and planners do not seem to understand the nuances of the idea nor do they employ such ideas often in making and re-making cities. As the UN in a report titled ‘Place-making and Future of Cities’ has reiterated, through the transformation of public spaces which help build a sense of community, civic identity and culture, cities can be transformed to great places for humanity to flourish. Indeed, creating functional, meaningful, productive and inclusive cities is perhaps the greatest challenge of this century. In order to achieve those objectives, there are no other ways other than employing the complex processes of place-making and place-enabling.


Today, many parts of the world’s cities are undergoing dramatic transformations. It is more so in the global south, where more and more people are migrating to the cities and they are expanding rapidly. On the one hand, the modern luxuries, culture, education and health-care are available and can be provided more effectively only in cities. On the other, more rewarding employments and leisure are also available where people conglomerate; the cities. Although cities evolved into ever bigger ones through spontaneous developments in the past against which the planners lamented, today the desire is to make cities larger and larger. So much so, there is now a cry and craving to create mega cities. This is well exemplified by the programs of many governments in Asia which appear to create cities from scratch. In China for example, mega cities are being built at an unprecedented scale. It has added 500 million people to cities over the last 35 years. Indeed, there is a perception that bigger the city, more productive and better they are.  Of some of the new ones built from scratch, at least 12 are sitting empty for people to arrive. The CBS 60 Minutes report exposed the shocking phenomena of ‘Ghost Cities’ where high rises, shopping malls and all the paraphernalia of cities exist, but no people much like their surroundings. In Inner Mongolia, developers built the city of Ordos for one million people. But most of it still remains empty.


Cities may be getting larger, yet that does not make them better particularly in the developing contexts. Megacities such Kolkata, Mumbai, Manila, Sao Paolo, Lagos and Mexico City which are all among the top 10 most populous cities in the world. They present a great opportunity for large corporate development visionaries who assure to fix their mega problems with modern approaches with ultra-expensive hardware, yet it is a question how far successful these solutions are.


Interestingly, the Sri Lankan government has now embarked on a program to create what they call a ‘Megapolis’. There may be a general perception that a country without mega cities is somehow lesser than those who have them. Colombo’s Megapolis however is not built-from scratch but aspires to ‘stitch together’ the places that already exist and re-make them. Undeniably, present places will be transformed and it is here that the ideas of ‘place-making’, and ‘place-enabling’ have real relevance. Yet the question is how much of importance has been given on these aspects in the proposed Mega City planning and development policies.


This international Urban Design conference is aimed at bringing to light the multifaceted complexities of transformations of places. It invites the architects, planners, urban designers, geographers and ordinary people, who should be involved in the creation and transformation of places to interrogate what is happening in their cities, how they transform and how architects, planners and urban designers are either employing principles of place-making or not. How do communities view the ways in which places evolve and how do they want to participate? How inclusive do the cities become as they evolve or are transformed through planned interventions? How do urban Ghettos come into being and how to transform them? What are the principles of place-making particularly in the transformation of existing cities and making them bigger-mega cities? These are some of the questions to ask.


The conference specially welcomes the views of the geographers and other social scientists who are usually not associated with cities but indeed has a role to play in the transformation of places in cities.


Topics proposed to be covered include:


Mega city concepts

Urban governance

Place studies and character studies

Spatial qualities of places

Integrity and authenticity of place-identity

Regeneration of urban places

Urban history, preservation and conservation

Local and regional identity

Places of heritage value

Managing infrastructure for sustaining places

Laws and legislation for renewing urban settings

Urban transportation networks and accessibility of places

Urban Sustainability

Urban development and management

Fragmentary planning to spaces of multiplicity, simultaneity and possibility

Urban design control and guidance

Multi-cultural places

Spirit of place

Places for promoting intellectual societies

Power of places

Time and place

Transnationalism and cities

City as a people’s place

Ethnic and religious activities in cities

Cities as dining places

Children in the city


Paper proposals related to other humanistic and technological issues of the cities are also welcome.





Conference will take place in the city of Colombo - the capital of Sri Lanka which is undergoing rapid transformations and recently planned to turn into a mega city.


The venue: The Sri Lanka Foundation Institute which is one of the key conference and scientist’s event places located at the heart of the city, very close to all cultural activities and key places and offers glimpses of the Garden City envisaged by the Early Planners of Colombo.


For more information, please visit the following website of the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. 




28th October 2016: Pre-conference Workshop- whole day at Moratuwa University

30th October 2016: Inauguration: Evening event with a cultural show followed by a dinner

31st October 2016: Conference Proceedings- Parallel Sessions- whole day

01st November 2016: Post Conference Tours (Two tours offered) – whole day

Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, SRI LANKA



Department of Urban Planning, University of Alberta, Canada



Department of Architecture, KU Leuven , Belgium


Urbanism and Town Planning (LSO), University of Applied Science Lübeck, Germany


Department of Architecture and Interior Design,  University of Bahrain, Bahrain.






Deadline for submission of Abstracts: 15th June, 2016

Confirmation of acceptance of Abstracts: Within two weeks of receiving the abstract or latest 20th June, 2016

Full Paper submission: 01st August 2016

Peer Review Comments by: 26th August, 2016

Final Paper submission (Camera Ready): 01st October, 2016

Conference dates: 30th - 31st October, 2016

Early bird registration: 1st September 2016

Final date of Registration to be included in the Proceedings: 25th September 2016.

Final registration deadline: 25th September 2016



  Will be announced shortly.  
Dr. Janaka Wijesundara
(Conference Chair)     
Department of Architecture,
University of Moratuwa.
Email: (Conference Secretariat)