CAT-ference – Belgrade

CAT-ference 2019: 8th International Urban Geographies of Post-communist States Conference Belgrade, September 25-29, 2019.

From the UFLab research team Bálint Balázs, Dániel Balizs Phd and Olívia Kurucz performed at the CAT-ference 2019 conference with the presentation title:  The future of shrinking Hungarian cities – From architecture view.

It is well known that the world’s population is growing and more and more people want to live in cities. But some towns, cities or urban region, despite of the ever growing urbanization, are in the period of population and economic decline. Although it has been analysed quite a lot in western countries, in Hungary the decision makers and urban planners still think of this urban downturns as a stage in the history of the city’s ups and downs. Thus these key actors still didn’t recognise how the shrinking phenomenon effect on their cities. Using the example of three Hungarian cities as a case-study, called Mezőtúr, Salgótarján, Sátoraljaújhely, we are trying to show why is it really important to deal shrinkage as a must-solve world issue in its complex way.

Since 1989, from the collapse of the socialist regime in Hungary, these three cities have been struggling. It has led to suffering from population loss, abandoned buildings, social problems, low level of human innovation, lack of entrepreneurship and economic downturn.

Within the limits of a research project at Urban Future Laboratory, we tried to analyse the history and the structure of the cities, the social disorders, and the possibilities that can help to re-develop; with the strong belief all the architects who are working on a declining city should consider other viewpoints besides constructions and new developments. We have already examined three more post-socialist cities (Leipzig, Katowice, Ostrava), and from those experiences we tried to draw the limits of the Hungarian shrinking phenomenon.

During our presentation we would like to showcase what kind of possibilities can help the Hungarian cities to renew and what characteristics do cities have in the topic of shrinkage.

keywords: shrinking cities; Hungary; Salgótarján; Mezőtúr; Sátoraljaújhely

Skills: 2019, conference, research