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Our Sustainable Cities Lab on 16 -19 January has successfully concluded

We in Platforms are delighted to share that the Sustainable Cities Lab for Saudi women architects and planners, held at the University of Westminster has been successfully concluded. The Lab gathered a group of leading Saudi and British academics and consultants to share thinking around more sustainable cities.

This innovative forum has been conceived by Dr. Roudaina Alkhani, Director of Platforms and Lecturer at University of Westminster and Nouha Hansen, Director of Architecture at Platforms and Master of Architecture Student at University of Westminster, sparking a discussion on sustainable development, resilience and wellbeing. Focus was placed on Saudi cities and how to promote responsive cities while reflecting on Saudi local values and potentials. The Lab explored implementing visions through collaboration and strengthening community involvement and women’s role in promoting sustainable thinking as an ethos in all aspects of Saudi placemaking and city management. In particular, the discussions reflected on the new opportunities offered by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and how collaboration and more informed practices and education can support its implementation and UN Sustainability Goals.

Participants emphasised the need to improve planning approaches and institutional frameworks and to create stronger synergies for collaboration and co-creation among community, education, and the public and private agencies for more opportunities and sustainability in society.

The complementarity in views and strengths between community; women and men, and government has been highlighted as important to implement Vision 2030 as well as understanding the potentials in urbanities and ruralities in complementarity to realise national prosperity. The participants shared their experiences and visions on how to expand profession, education and collaboration and to make more creative use of smart technologies. A better understanding of the value of local culture as a drive was emphasised to sustain the unique identity and character of Saudi places.

In conclusion, the participants aim at strengthening the network of Saudi women emerging from this Lab and to take this forum forward. The outcomes will be published in a Visions Book to inspire further work.

This Lab was designed and organised by Platforms for sustainable cities and regions in collaboration with Arab Urban Development Institute, University of Westminster and Oxford Brooks University and in dialogue with all participants. We thank especially Zainab Alireza.

We thank our Lab sponsors for their generosity: University of Westminster, AECOM, and British Council.

We thank our highly esteemed participating colleagues from the Saudi universities and corporations: Dar Al-Hekma University, Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal, Prince Sultan University, Umm Al-Qura University, as well as ENTEC, AlDar, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and MIT, and Friends of Jeddah Park.

We also thank the Middle East Centre and Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and our highly esteemed participating colleagues from Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, American University in Beirut, Brady Mallalieu Architects, Atkins, AECOM and A Thousand Faces.

Great thanks to Platforms' team in the UK and the Gulf for making this Lab possible!

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