In the past, cities were often direct manifestations of their culture. The ability for civic gatherings, the exchange of ideas and values and for cultural celebration reflected in the public realm and programming of the urban fabric. During the 21st century we have experienced unprecedented global integration. Advances in technology and international economic policies have reduced many barriers to the free flow of goods, services, capital, and people. This rapid pace of globalization has fueled economic opportunities and brought with it many other benefits, but it has also begun to diffuse cultural identity in cities.
Authenticity is often lost when development is allowed to override important social outcomes. The rapid pace of development can also erode a sense of place and authenticity leading to a bland monotonous and sameness. A “gentrification” of cities, where we can find a Starbucks, Petco, and Shake Shack on every other corner. Culture is so much more than the branded image of the city. It is defined by the people and communities within it. As people seek deeper connections with their surroundings, maintaining authenticity and the uniqueness of a place can also have positive economic implications; it’s what often gives cities their competitive edge.
And as technology and social media continue to both connect and isolate us, what is the role of cultural identity in cities? Is cultural identity still relevant in the globally diverse city? The goal of this competition is to seek ideas on how architects, designers, planners, and the general public can contribute towards an informed citizenry that promotes awareness on culture, ethnicity and identity. Can spaces, designs and interventions that promote tolerance and equity better facilitate multicultural exchange by promoting opportunities to peacefully interact?
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