Author: Odysseas Diakakis

I’ve been a member with the Young Urbanists for the last 6 years, and I can only praise the wide range of events and activities that I had the chance to take part in. From presentations and interactive workshops to cycling trips, social evenings, mentoring sessions, and of course the participation in the annual AoU Congress.

What truly sets the Young Urbanists apart is their inclusive and welcoming community. They consistently provide a receptive space for fresh ideas and are eager to collaborate on new initiatives. My involvement with this group gave me the opportunity to co-organize events and workshops, allowing me to play an active role in their forward-thinking endeavours.

In the following paragraphs, I will delve into some of my experiences, focusing particularly on the mentoring sessions and the various events I’ve co-organised with the Young Urbanists.

My mentoring sessions were very enlightening, offering support, inspiration, and valuable guidance. Over the course of two years, I had the privilege of being mentored by two distinguished professionals: Clare San Martin, a former Partner at JTP, and Alistair Barr, Founder of his company, AoU Director and Tutor. Their extensive experience in architecture and urban design allowed them to provide invaluable advice on my career progression, networking, and personal development, both within my workplace and beyond. Alistair, in particular, offered practical insights that led me to establish connections with universities alongside my regular work, aligning with my career goals.

Another significant aspect of my involvement with the Young Urbanists was the opportunity to co-organize a couple of events. The first was a talk examining the pandemic’s impact on our cities, and was co-hosted with Julie Plichon. It all began with my suggestion for a research theme within the Small Grants Scheme, which the committee saw potential in as a calendar event. The Young Urbanists readily embraced the idea, mobilising support and disseminating information through their website and weekly newsletter.

Furthermore, last year, I proposed an interactive event to the Young Urbanists, departing from traditional presentations. Once again, the committee endorsed the idea, recognizing its synergy with their agenda review. This initiative resulted in a dynamic workshop where participants actively contributed to shaping emerging ideas for the new Young Urbanists Agenda. The session ignited brilliant ideas and fostered inspiring discussions.

In summary, the Young Urbanists are a dynamic, welcoming, and inclusive organisation that celebrates and expands our professional field. It genuinely embodies the principle that the more you give, the more you receive. I wholeheartedly encourage both new and existing members to embark on this remarkable journey.

Our ambitions to write a new agenda and some reasons why we are heading down that route

The YU Agenda presents a forum for provocation, discussion and debate. This project is an opportunity for us to share what concerns and motivates us as young urbanists as we plan for our future.
Through a series of interactive sessions and activities, we hope to share our thinking, learn from each other, and establish a unified manifesto.
Six years ago, the YUs launched the YU Agenda 2017 following a series of events, workshops and debates.

The key themes that emerged included: Digital Revolution, Funding & Devolution, Housing and Transport.

The programme culminated in a manifesto, intended to give direction and a mission to tackle these important issues within the YU community and in our professional lives.

Fast forward six years, and the world today is in a drastically different place. New issues such as climate change, urban resilience and social justice are becoming more prominent in our everyday lives. We now have an opportunity to reflect, review and reconsider our YU Agenda 2023, and determine our course of action as the next generation of urban leaders, thinkers and practitioners.

So, on the 18th May this year at the offices of Prior + Partners, we launched a project to develop a YU Agenda 2023.

The event reflected back to the Agenda from 2017, analysing the same themes with fresh eyes to see what has changed, what is still relevant and what new ideas are becoming prominent for young urbanists today.

A number of new topics arose from this event including questioning the deliverability of planning policies, the relationship between nature and the public good, and inequalities across the built environment. This made us question what our priorities are, and what revised topics really drive us Young Urbanists to improve the way in which we live and design.

Going forward, we invite the YU community – to bring forward topics, statements and provocations for debate and discussion, using online collaboration tools, and in-person meetings and workshops.

We want to be bold. Be radical. Be forward-thinking!