Call for abstract “Building the urban future and Transit Oriented Development / rail and other modes, connecting with urban and regional development”

Published at: 14 September 2011

"Building the urban future and Transit Oriented Development / rail and other modes, connecting with urban and regional development”

An international conference to be held in Paris – Marne-la-Vallée, April 16- 17 2012.

Details of the call for papers (deadline to be extended to the 30th September 2011) Papers about cases studies everywhere in the world are welcome

As of 2007, more than half the world’s population is considered to be living in cities. Questions related to urban life and development are becoming increasingly pressing, with central, peri-urban and regional areas each giving rise to specific issues. In the long-term perspective, consumption – of resources, of space and of energy – is a central concern. If one accepts that building cities means establishing distances between urban functions (Offner), then the city-transportation dyad is fundamental. The challenge we are facing today is that the city we have inherited from the past was produced mainly by and for automobiles.

In March 2011, a group of researchers and professionals met in Paris / Marne la Vallée for a brainstorming exercise: « Research for an urbanism oriented towards rail and intermodality, Bahn.Ville and Transit-Oriented Development ». Session participants drew up a list of research ideas and perspectives that were used to structure the conference we are announcing here.

Approaching the future of the city/transport dyad involves thinking along three lines, in terms of (1) the city itself, (2) transportation and (3) the two together:

  • A more dense city, more compact as opposed to sprawling; and moreover a more livable city, with more choice (Cervero) and more diversity; a more accessible city, with a greater variety of transport modes, with access to more resources / urban functions/ amenities in a single place than in the sprawled city. What are the urban models for the city of tomorrow? Linear city? « ville creuse » / « hollow city » (Maupu)? Polycentric? Compact urban region?
  • Is our present transportation and mobility system suited to future urban needs or does it require adaptation? Are some transport modes obsolete? Do we need new forms of transportation? To what extent should our efforts focus on reducing or even avoiding transportation in cities?
  • Redefining the transportation/city interaction or relationship: a future city paired with a transportation system that would be an alternative to the automobile. What exchange and dialogue is necessary among the different fields and areas of specialization involved? Would a joint development of cities and transportation systems require integrated responsibilities and competencies, or coordination among players?

Several areas of discussion and debate can be related to these lines of thought:

  • After having developed a « time city » (based on cars), are we now going back to a city based on physical distances, with (physically) active transportation modes ? Or are we heading toward a new model that combines both, with rapid transit alongside more active modes of transportation making for a mix of the « time city » model with one based more on physical distances?
  • Are the categories of « density », « compacity »and « sprawl » relevant to thinking about today’s urban issues, or do they close the debate ? Do we need new categories, new concepts?
  • What about cars in this city of the future? How much space should be allocated to them and how should it be designed? Should the private automobile be eliminated or can it coexist with other modes? -* Are there new ways of treating street space and other public space with regard to these issues? What about vehicle sharing?
  • Can transit once again play a central role in cities? After having structured the urban form of 19th century cities, then been considered a means of transportation for those who can’t afford a car, could transit now become the primary means by which urban functions can become more accessible to all?
  • What are the differences between the contexts of European cities (which can sometimes be focused on rail but in very different ways) and those of other parts of the world, such as Latin America? Can the transport mode debate between rail and bus, often dominated by economic perspectives taking only the short term into account, be fruitfully explored from the urban development point of view?

In this context, Transit Oriented Development (TOD) stands out as a dominant approach and doctrine, even if its effectiveness in concrete terms remains open to question. The impetus for this conference can also be related to a Franco-German research-action program called Bahn.Ville, focused on the development of urban planning approaches oriented toward rail and intermodality (,

The 2012 conference « Building the urban future and Transit Oriented Development. Rail and other modes, connecting with urban and regional development » invites papers dealing with these issues everywhere in the world in terms of three perspectives or “ways in”:

  • Thinking about cities

    Urban utopias Urban planning, urban projects and continuous management of the city Appropriation, use and design of public spaces Urban renewal The potential of brownfields for transit oriented urban development
  • Mobility and transport

    building an alternative transport system to the present car dominated one (car dependence) urban accessibility (transport system performance) rail and/or other transport modes
  • The city/transportation dyad

    Orienting urban development toward transit (adaptation of the existing urban fabric) Urban development shaped by transport (ex-nihilo urban development) Transit development to meet urban needs TOD as a universal model? What role and mode for public sector action in the different fields involved? Coordination or integration?

Indications for abstract submission

  • Maximum abstract length: 400 words
  • Papers about cases studies everywhere in the world are welcome
  • Precise name, email, coordinates and institution of authors
  • To be send to :
  • Web interface for abstract submission:
  • The selection will be made by the scientific committee