International New Town Day 2021
“Minorities” and “Telling the Story”
29 November 2021, 1.30 - 5.00 pm (CET), Location: online

At the start of INTI (only 11 years ago) there seemed to be little relevance to study nearby European New Towns. Many of you might have joined the programmes we organised, addressing New Town development in Asia and Africa. However, things change and sometimes very quickly. Population growth through different dynamics is leading to rapid urbanisation and a larger and more diverse housing demand on the European continent. This means a huge task for the European New Towns, mostly dating from the 1960’s-1980’s. They need to reinvent themselves while at the same time they are also becoming of age and the issue of heritage starts coming up. The themes of migration, climate change and inequality (often in conjunction) have become urgent in a matter of years. How can heritage and the character developed over half a century be included in convincing transformation scenarios for the future?

Usually, we have an annual International New Town Day in which we discuss one theme or showcase projects by partner cities or institutions, be it on migration, heritage, or future transformation. This year we would like to propose a different format: an expert meeting by invitation. And moreover, a different goal: not presentations of results but the start of a new project.

Since a few years, INTI and a core group of partner New Towns (Milton Keynes, Nissewaard/Spijkenisse, Grand Paris Sud/Evry) are working towards a European network of New Towns, with the overall aim of bringing New Towns together from across Europe to share ideas, make connections and work collectively on current issues. This can be by participation in existing partner-projects or by initiating new projects, possibly with support of EU-subsidies (CERV, Urbact and/or Creative Europe).

An example of a previous project by this network of cities is ‘New Towns, Arrival Cities’. Starting from the idea that New Towns consist per definition of migrants, this project offered a platform for citizens, policy makers and migrant groups to be protagonists in elaborating innovative models of inclusive practices and policies. See for the results:

After this project we aim to continue with next steps. We have already formulated two themes the network cities are interested in to address in EU funding applications, but would like to use the INTD 2021 to expand on this and deepen the themes: ‘minorities’ and ‘telling the story’ of New Towns.

Firstly, we propose a project focusing on the unknown histories of minorities in European New Towns to enrich the understanding and the history of these towns and to increase pride, engagement and inclusion of minorities in the present city. 
New Towns both in the west and east of Europe were built for a new ideal population, that was mostly envisaged as consisting of single white heterosexual families. The New Towns were a highly normative environment with male workers that had families with stay-at-home moms taking care of children. There was little attention at the time for minorities; ethnic or gender minorities were simply non-existent in the narrative of New Towns back then. While this has changed since the seventies, and new pioneers from all over the world brought various religions, ethnicities, and beliefs, this is often not reflected in the (self)image of the new towns. Working together with local universities, the project will unravel and fetch these stories by means of interviews and use them to discuss and exchange with other cities.

Young brigades building Nova Gorica (Nova Gorica archive via Topography of Memories)

Telling the story
Secondly, we suggest a larger network project that focuses on the culture, history, and heritage of New Towns in Europe and the way this can be communicated to a larger audience. Now that most New Towns have celebrated their 50th birthday, they have a history and a specific culture. Some could interpret their relation with their former ‘mother city’ and its related circumstances. But still, they all have to cope with their negative image to outsiders. By showcasing and communicating their culture and heritage they can probably tackle this persistent judgement. At the same time, they can use their heritage as a basis for future (spatial) transformations.
New Towns wish to increase the awareness of their inhabitants that they are living in a place built with ambitions, pride, and aspirations. They also wish to activate their population and become more inclusive cities instead of cities in which the local government is omni-potent and reflecting just the majority group. This project wants to initiate the exchange of experiences between New Towns in showcasing the story of their city. What is the (hi)story of the city? What is the difference between the story and marketing? Who’s city is it? Who communicates the story and how? What is the role for museums, magazines, exhibitions, digital platforms?

The discussions and dialogues during the International New Town Day 2021 will address collective questions, pinpoint common grounds for the Towns and define possible actions to be undertaken.

Programme INTD 29 November 2021

13.30 Welcome Simone Rots, Managing Director, INTI, moderator
13.35  Introduction Michelle Provoost, Executive Director, INTI/Shane Downer, Board member INTI
On the network, its goals, and steps so far. Themes for the future & Possible applications for CERV, UrbAct, Creative Europe
13.55 Jasna Fakin Bajec, Head of Research Station Nova Gorica, Research fellow Institute of Culture and Memory Studies
Blaz Kosovel, Independent researcher, Editor journal Razpotja
Nova Gorica (Slovenia)
City in Motion: Heritage and minorities
14.15 Francesca Skelton, Chair, Arts and Heritage Alliance Milton Keynes
Anouar Kassim, Founder and Director MKIAC
Milton Keynes (Great Britain)
The Diversity and Inclusion report of Milton Keynes and examples of minority projects 
14.35 The Artifice, Movie on Zingonia (Italy)
Francesca Bertin, Filmmaker
15.00 Coffee/tea break 
15.20 Elsa Turkusic, Senior Teaching Assistant, Department of Architectural Design, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sarajevo
Ilijas (Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina)
The new town Ilijas, and the changing relationship with the ‘mother-city’ Sarajevo from satellite to suburb
15.40 Margriet Panman, Heritage and Spatial Quality Advisor municipality Zoetermeer
Zoetermeer (the Netherlands)
The role of architectural heritage in the future development of Zoetermeer
16.00 Aneta Vasileva, Cofounder WhAT Association, Secretary DOCOMOMO Bulgaria
Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria)
New Towns Bulgaria, the dichotomy of Dimitrovgrad and industrial new towns in using their heritage
16.20 Evaluation/discussion, with referents Stefan Ghenciulescu, Zeppelin Magazine Editor-in -chief (TBC), Shane Downer and Michelle Provoost
16.45 Closing

The International New Town Day on 29 November 2021 will be an online event and starts at 1.30 pm (CET). Participants can take part through an online Zoom connection.
After RSVP the Zoom-link will be send to the participants.

Organised by the International New Town Institute and the Independent School for the City.