Expert Voices: Daniel Libeskind, International Architect and Designer

In this post, Daniel Libeskind, international architect and designer, and member of the independent judging panel for the C40 & Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards talks with the C40 and Siemens News Teams about the issue of urban sustainability.

Daniel Libeskind

What is the greatest challenge facing architects and urban planners today?

I think that one of the greatest challenges that architects, urban planners, landscape architects are facing today is the following: how can we build human cities? How can we build cities in which the individual remains part of a meaningful community? How can we involve more democratic participation in the creative process of change, in a meaningful collaborative way?

You have talked about the challenge of creating mega cities that are sustainable but also “human.” What does this mean and what are some cities doing to achieve this?

How do we bring human scale and dreams to the megacity? Future cities need to develop the kind of public space and living realm that allows everyone to pursue their own potential. This is not a utopian ideal even at the scale of 21st century city. The empowerment of citizens to participate directly in the design of their own environment is the conditio sine qua non of well being in the future.

What role do companies like Siemens and organizations like the C40 have in shaping the future of urban sustainability?

Well, C40 and Siemens are essential partners that help cities become more sustainable, by sharing their expertise, their technology, their science and innovation.

There is no doubt that technical solutions combined with practial applications will continue to help architects in creating smart buildings. Architects need to be open minded when it comes to finding new sustainable and ecological solutions. I believe building technologies will continue to evolve in ways that we cannot even imagine today.

As a judge for the first C40 & Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards, you have selected cities for outstanding contributions in 10 areas of urban sustainability. Although these are broad categories, are there certain factors that characterize a forward-thinking city, one with a mind to sustainability?

Each of the 10 categories defined by the C40 & Siemens City Climate Leadership Award is seminal to the validity of a city for the future. From my point of view as an architect, sustainability is about the rebirth of buildings that are not just consumer items – and about the quality of the buildings. A high quality, beloved building will remain a permanent and important fixture in the community.

Can cities learn from each other through these awards, or are the demographics and needs too different?

Of course – all cities learn from each other! Even if they do not share the same geographical latitudes and longitudes every city has something fundamentally in common with other city.

Why is it important to recognize cities with awards like the one from C40 and Siemens? How can the cities benefit from this?

In a world where cities are competing even more than countries, it is very important to encourage cities dealing with the huge issues of sustainability and to help to promote those that are building sustainable environments. The more these cities are promoted and awarded the more they become a model to others.