GEORGIANA VARNA  
space shaper, place maker, policy advisor

2016 UK-Ireland Planning Conference, Cardiff 
   
At the beginning of September, the UK- Ireland Planning Conference took place in Cardiff, Wales. It was a very interesting event where a lot of accent was laid on the current austerity regime, with massive local public cuts, which affect deeply the planning outcomes. We also reflected on issues such as Brexit and its influence on the Irish border, the relentless growth of London in the detriment of the rest of the country and the impact of neoliberalism on creating places for people, more equal and more liveable environments where humanity can flourish. 
 
I presented the paper I am co-writing at the moment with Prof Panu Lehtovuori , which focuses on understanding key challenges that urban planning is facing today in Scotland, Finland and the Netherlands when trying to create more liveable, vibrant and successful places.
    
Invited talk @ Cities and Regions: supporting inclusive economic growth and prosperity, 30.08.2016, Holyrood, Edinburgh
 
I was very happy to be invited to present at the event organized by Holyrood at the end of August, in Edinburgh, on the theme of inclusive economic growth and prosperity. A variety of key stakeholders participated from various local authorities across Scotland, as well as from the third and private sectors. I presented the findings from our latest Inclusive Prosperity in Scotland's Cities and Regions workshop series, and which are to be finalized in a report to be published by the end of 2016.    

Inclusive Prosperity Ideas Fora
INCLUSIVE PROSPERITY IN AND BEYOND SCOTLAND’S CITIES
1st April, 2016 
The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland
CITIES AS INCLUSIVE, PROSPEROUS PLACES TO WORK
29th April, 2016
​Malmaison Hotel, Dundee, Scotland
      
CREATING INCLUSIVE, PROSPEROUS PLACES TO LIVE 
27th May, 2016
The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland

      
The second workshop focused specifically on employment and employability and the debate centred on the following questions:

What employability issues does Scotland need to tackle and why?
.
What are the barriers to progression in the labour market and social mobility?
      
What sectors and type of employers offer good jobs?
How can we get more of them?
   
   
The third workshop focused on quality of life and its many meanings, as well as its close reliance on quality of place. Together we tried to find answers to the following questions:       
What does good quality of life and 
‘a good place to live’ mean?
What are the key challenges to ensure quality of life in cities today,  in Scotland?


What current initiatives are being taken in Scotland to improve quality of life? How do they marry the prosperity/growth and inclusive/equality agenda?

How can we create better places to live?
Who needs to be involved to bring about that change?
   
The first workshop focused generally on cities and their regions and asked the participants to find answers to the following questions:
      
What does Scotland need to grow and why?

Who currently benefits the least from these aspects of growth?
What do Scotland’s cities need to grow and why?

Who currently benefits the least from these aspects of growth?
   
Two invited lectures at the turn of 2015/2016
École Normale Supérieure, Département de Géographie  
26th November, 2015
      
At the invitation of  Emmanuèle Cunningham-Sabot,  the head of the Geography Department, I delivered the lecture New Methodologies for Urban Public Space Research, to the PhD community.
   
The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London

      
I delievered the lecture, Measuring Public Space: The Star Model, for the MRes in Interdisciplinary Urban Design.
   
The Power of Places and the Places of Power
Glasgow, 4-6 June, 2015
Part of the ​​Becoming Local Series, co-organised with AESOP Public Spaces and Urban Cultures Group 
​   
The event ran as a combination of presentations, roundtables and panel discussions and invites both the academia and the professional sector. We had with us Prof Matthew Carmona , from UCL, Prof Pietro Garau from Rome and Prof Panu Lehtovuori from Finland. 

The first day was dedicated to the theme The Power of Places and focused on answering the crucial question:

Why does the knowledge on how to create good, successful urban places so rarely translates in the built product?

This was seen in different geographical contexts, and we debated the effects of the current economic climate for the practice and product of placemaking, considering the fact that even through the years of economic boom, debatable results have been seen in Scotland, throughout the UK and generally in Europe. The second day was focused on the theme Places of Power and will explore the general issue of the play of power among the different actors involved in placemaking. The focus was on trying to figure out how we as academics and urbanists can walk the corridors of power and influence urban development towards the creation of more liveable environments. The third day consisted of a fieldtrip along the banks of the ‘regenerated’ waterfront of the Clyde in Glasgow, in Govan, under the guidance of Prof Steven Driscoll , followed by a workshop looking at this particular case in the light of our debate.