Sustainable Cities

Topics: Sustainable and inclusive cities and buildings
Keywords: Equity, Economy, Engineering, Environment, Urban Development

Marije van Lidth de Jeude, Oliver Schütte

A-01 (A Company / A Foundation), Costa Rica / The Netherlands;

Sustainability might be one of the most talked about but least understood terms. In the context of urban development, we asked an international and multidisciplinary group of practitioners who help shape the cities of the world about their personal interpretation. What is a city and where does sustainability take us? How can we define the concept of sustainable urbanism in a globalized economy, does it provide us with a catalogue of opportunity or, rather, a tight jacket that limits our common future?

Urbanization brings economic and social development but also problems like an increasing physical fragmentation and social segregation, limited access to basic services for part of the population, insecurity, an increase in fossil fuel driven individualized transport, various forms of environmental pollution or the disappearance of nature due to uncontrolled suburban growth.

Showcasing best practices, Sustainable Cities presents a pixelated image of what sustainable urbanism could imply: from large-scale infrastructure to small-scale urban acupunctures, from newly built to reused buildings, from urban agriculture to green roofs, from slum upgrading with a multi-stakeholder approach to individual starchitecture(is this a typo, or a real thing?), etcetera. Tendencies and responses to site-specific requirements can be read about, highlighting the urban extremes in the Global North and South, in high and low-income countries, of an overall rapidly urbanizing world.

The selection of contemporary urban conditions and solutions worldwide illustrate the local interpretations of a more integral sustainable development, which refers to a long-term impact that involves economic growth, a responsible use of natural resources, an equal social development and the translation of these factors into a high quality spatial surrounding. Consequently, we have structured our study into four main categories that we simply refer to as ‘the 4 E’s’: Economy, Environment, Engineering, and Equity. Together, they provide a catalogue of opportunities to (re)create cities in a sustainable way forward.


Marije van Lidth de Jeude has a master in cultural anthropology (with a specialization in gender and natural resources) and a bachelor in commercial economy, both from The Netherlands. She has a professional record of more than fifteen years in rural and urban sector development, in particular with multi- and bilateral donor-agencies, governmental institutions, cooperatives, small enterprises and civil society stakeholders. She has worked for organizations like Oxfam-Novib, UN organization IFAD and the Dutch Ministry for International Cooperation. Her expertise was established as program officer and during research and consultancy assignments related to all phases of the project-cycle with a focus on formulation and evaluation. She combines qualitative participatory research methods with quantitative data collection. Marije has specialized in the integral sustainability of cities, which implies a long-term impact that involves economic growth, a high quality spatial surrounding, a responsible use of natural resources and an equal social development. Some of her thematic specialisations are urban culture, participatory urban planning and design, public space appropriation, non-motorised transport, informal settlements, gender equity, social and economic vulnerability, migration, indigenous groups, SME and microfinance.








Oliver Schütte graduated as an architect / urbanist in Aachen (Germany). After working with Eisenman Architects and the sculptor Richard Serra in New York (U.S.A.) in 1997 / 1998, he joined Rem Koolhaas / OMAMO for a six year period in Rotterdam (Netherlands). Accomplished projects include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as well as the New Dutch Embassy in Berlin (Germany), which won the Mies van der Rohe Price in 2005. Oliver worked on the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Chicago (U.S.A.), the House in Bordeaux (France), the Masterplan for the City of Breda (Netherlands) and the Preservation Plan for Beijing (China), amongst others.

Oliver is specialized in climate dependent architecture and urban design, he is currently developing projects in Europe and Latin America. His works and writings have been published internationally; he is engaged in numerous academic activities at universities worldwide, including the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux (France), the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Managua (Nicaragua), the University of Houston and the New York Institute for Technology (U.S.A.), as well as the Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad Latina and the Universidad Veritas (Costa Rica). In 2014, Oliver was appointed through the Costa Rican Ministry of Culture as the commissioner and chief curator of the first ever Costa Rican national pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice.

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