Philosophy of The City Summer Colloquium 2019: "Urban Aesthetics"


June 17–19, 2019 University of Helsinki, Finland
Locations: Lahti (17.–18.6) & Helsinki (19.6.)

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About The Summer Colloquium

Next summer, the international Philosophy of the City Research Group (PotC) joins forces
with the International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (IIAA) of the University of Helsinki (FI) in organizing the 2nd PotC Summer Colloquium with the theme of “Urban Aesthetics”. The aim of the annual Summer Colloquia series is to bring together scholars within a specific domain of Philosophy of the City.

Urbanization is one of the key phenomena and challenges of the 21st century. Over half of the world’s population already live in urban areas and the proportion is likely to reach 70% of the population by 2050. How cities look and feel, is thus neither a simple nor an irrelevant issue. The underlying central theme of the colloquium is to outline what the term aesthetic means or could mean in relation to urban environments and lifeforms. One way to approach the question is through focusing on a city’s recognizable features, monuments, architectural character or even its brand identity. The other main strand concerns understanding the dialectical relationship of socio-economic, biological, and psycho-sexual components and the aesthetic and cultural conditions of the everyday lived experience of a city. A wide variety of phenomena, objects and activities relating to urban environments can thus be addressed through the lens of aesthetics.

A philosophical approach to urban aesthetics is part of a wider attempt to recognize topics with aesthetic relevance outside the traditional areas of philosophical aesthetics. It also aims to define conceptually many of the already existing practices of designing, maintaining, developing and using urban environments. Urban aesthetics thus not only concerns philosophy in the strictest sense but is a way of bringing together conceptual thinking and practices that deal with aesthetic values in contemporary cities.
This international and interdisciplinary colloquium welcomes contributions, e.g. from the fields of philosophy, architectural theory, literary studies, urban studies, sustainability studies and planning theory. The event draws attention to contemporary cities and urban environments as a vibrant and rich area of study from the perspective of philosophical and applied aesthetics.

To ensure an intense and in-depth discussion, we will accept a maximum of 20 papers. PhD candidates are encouraged to submit. Draft papers will be circulated one month ahead of the Colloquium. Each paper will be presented and discussed in a 60-minute time slot (30 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for a formal response, and 20 minutes of discussion). Each participant will be asked to comment on one paper. A selection of papers will be published in the Special Volume on “Urban Aesthetics” (ed. Sanna Lehtinen) in Contemporary Aesthetics in Spring 2020.


Confirmed keynote speakers

Even Smith Wergeland (Oslo School of Architecture and Design)

Arto Haapala (University of Helsinki)

Saara Vauramo (City of Lahti)



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Possible Topics

  • Sense of place
  • The urban sublime
  • Philosophy of architecture/urban planning
  • Philosophy of urban art
  • Aesthetics of urban mobility
  • Aesthetics of urban technologies
  • Aesthetics of urban/public space
  • Aesthetics of the urban everyday life
  • Urban atmospheres
  • Aesthetic approaches to urban sustainability
  • Aesthetics of human relations in cities
  • Urban utopias/dystopias
  • The ethical relevance of urban aesthetics



February 15, 2019: Deadline for the submission of abstracts
March 15, 2019: Notification of authors, opening of registration
April 15, 2019: Closing of registration
May 15, 2019: Circulation of draft papers among participants
June 17–19, 2019: The Summer Colloquium in Lahti & Helsinki
October 15, 2019: Submission of papers to the “Urban Aesthetics” Special Volume in Contemporary Aesthetics Journal
Spring 2020: Publication of the Special Volume


Submission of Abstracts

Send abstract (350 words, prepared for anonymous review) via EasyChair by 15th February.
Questions to: Dr. Sanna Lehtinen, [email protected]
All abstracts will be reviewed by at least one member of the executive committee and one member of the programme committee.



The Symposium will take place in 2 different locations:
- Mon 17– Tue 18 June at the Scandic Hotel Lahti ( ) in the city of Lahti (50 min. by train from Helsinki)
- Wed 19 June at the University of Helsinki City Centre Campus ( in central Helsinki.



The conference registration of 200€ (150€ for PhD students) includes lunch and coffee and the evening reception on Mon 17 June. Opportunities for joint dinners will be provided, but dinner costs are not included with the conference registration.


Executive Committee

Sanna Lehtinen (Univ. of Helsinki), Michael Nagenborg (PotC; Univ. of Twente), and Jules Simon (PotC; Univ. of Texas at El Paso)


Programme Committee

Shane Epting (PotC, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas), Ronald Sundstrom (PotC, Univ. of San Francisco), Vesa Vihanninjoki (Univ. of Helsinki) & Executive Committee



Conference chair: Dr. Sanna Lehtinen
[email protected]
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS
University of Helsinki


Call as Download

You can download the Call as PDF here.