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In praise of hospitality

Notes on the future of Europe

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The project of a united Europe emerged after two world wars had sown death and horror among neighbouring countries. Sixty years after, Europe has become a space of coexistence for countries that have decided to share sovereignty and economic interests according to jointly agreed principles. Given the progress made in this unified continent where peace now reigns, why is there a generalised sense of crisis about the European project? The failure of the referendums in France and Holland to approve the European Constitution sounded the alarm. Again, the negotiations over Turkey's joining the Union have given rise to debate over the limits of Europe, generating doubts as to the essence of European culture.

 

However, the recent explosion of violence in the peripheral areas of France's cities was a warning that one focus needing attention lies in the heart of Europe's cities. Citizen disaffection has become generalised with Europe's difficulties to respond to new realities. What values could rebuild the mutual reliance necessary for providing new foundations to the European project?

With this two-day conference, the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) and the Consortium of the Menéndez y Pelayo International University of Barcelona (CUIMPB) aim to recover Immanuel Kant's concept of hospitality as a point of departure for bringing new life to the debate on the future of Europe. Hospitality entails the right of the stranger not to be treated with hostility when he or she merely enters the territory of another. The increasing circulation of people, goods and ideas blurs distinctions between who is a stranger and who is not in any particular space. World-wide flows of migration and ever-greater cultural and religious plurality require European culture to be formulated around constant negotiation of the ways in which we deal with difference. The city is a laboratory in which this negotiation is played out on a daily basis. This is why constructing hospitable public spaces that welcome and favour interaction and social integration is a vital element in recasting the European project.

In the conference will be discussed these new realities that make Europe such an uncertain project today. Besides the debates, the Fourth European Prize for Urban Public Space, which is offered and organised by the CCCB along with The Architecture Foundation (London), the Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna), the Cité de l'Architecture (Paris), the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut (Rotterdam) and the Museum of Finnish Architecture (Helsinki), will be awarded to the winning projects.

Thursday 29 June

7 p.m. "New Voices On Europe"

Presented by: Josep Ramoneda, director of the CCCB. Blanca Vilà, academic director of the CUIMPB.

Participants: Marc Bassets, La Vanguardia correspondent in Berlin. Itzíar González Virós, architect, specialist on citizen participation and urban planning. Aziliz Gouez, head of research on European identities and values at the Notre Europe Association. Navid Kermani, writer. Rostane Mehdi, professor of Public International Law at the Aix-Marseille III University. Pedro Olalla, writer, photographer and specialist in Greek culture.

Moderator: Antonio Serrano González, lecturer in History of Law and Institutions at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Friday 30 June

7 p.m. "In Favour of Public Space" Award of the Fourth European Prize for Urban Public Space 2006

Presided by: Celestino Corbacho, president of the CCCB Consortium.

Presentation of the awarded projects: Nikola Baši?, author of "Sea Organ" (Zadar, Croatia), ex aequo joint winner of the Fourth European Prize for Urban Public Space 2006. Živko Kolega, Mayor of Zadar. Pieter Bannenberg, NL Architects, authors of «A8ernA» (Zaanstad, Holland), ex aequo joint winner of the Fourth European Prize for Urban Public Space 2006. Harm Jan Egberts, Deputy Mayor and Councillor responsible for International Affairs, Zaanstad.

And the presentation of the winners of the Special Prize and the Mentions of the Jury.

With the participation of: Elías Torres, architect, President of the Jury of the European Prize for Urban Public Space. Carme Ribas, architect, Secretary of the Jury of the European Prize for Urban Public Space.

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