Starting from the very city’s beginning, five thousand years ago, it has been providing us with both: a sense of openness to a wider world and a feeling of proximity. It is at the same time global and local. It interacts with remote countries and yet stays attached to a small fountain in the courtyard. It works in multiple scales and on many levels. It is paradoxical and unpredictable. It used to be and still is considered as a synonym of freedom, progress and prosperity, as much as enslavement, decline, degradation and misery. In art it is sometimes a symbol of goodness, beauty and progress but could also stand for evil, extreme ugliness, retardation ... Its aspects vary as much as its population does.

The Greek concept of polis, which has given basis to the European city tradition, means a community, not just a spatial structure. "Not the stones, but the man”- as described briefly by Isidore of Seville in “The Etymologies”. Cities are created - reminds us Aristotle –so that “life is good”. Therefore, they result from a collective creation, a self-organization constituting a life framework. These self-organizing cities have generated the concept of civitas. How to use nowadays this ancient tradition of participation in shaping the city’s future so that “the life is good”? Who and how should take the responsibility for the city’s development? Whose life in the city should “be good"? The city, being the mankind’s creation, can help people find innovative solutions to emerging threats. But it can also generate a deadly threat. Just like any human invention. What to do in order to support the first and limit the second? How to control the direction it’s heading in? How to understand the structural complexity of activities, links, flows and aspirations? How to manage this complexity? Space is a policy, because people and their aspirations have a spatial dimension. Consequently, politics must also have a spatial dimension. How can space transformation for human needs become a real art of transformation?

Curator of the panel: Izabela Mironowicz, Faculty of Architecture, University of Technology in Wrocław, Management Board of Society of Polish Town Planners