Development Urbanism, Issues and possibilities:
In Conversation with Henrik Valeur
Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2015
pp. 94 – 109
Henrik Valeur (b. 1966) is an architect-urbanist, founder and creative director of UiD – a networking urban consultancy and a pioneer in the field of collaborative and participatory planning and design. As the curator of the Danish Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2006, he conceived and orchestrated the project CO-EVOLUTION: Danish / Chinese Collaboration on Sustainable Urban Development in China, which was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Pavilion. In 2007 he founded UiD Shanghai Co., Ltd in China. He has served as a juror on architecture competitions, a moderator and speaker at architecture conferences, a teacher of architecture and urbanism and an independent researcher. Henrik Valeur is the author of the recently published book India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism, which is based on his experiences teaching, researching and practicing in India since 2010.
Henrik Valeur’s career straddles three distinct cultures and this has shaped his worldview about how cities function. He sees a great potential in urbanisation leading to change, particularly in the developing world. Valeur advocates a theory of urbanisation as a means to address poverty while safeguarding the environment, this theory he describes as ‘Development Urbanisation’.
He has an architectural stance in dealing with the urban. Rooted in collaboration, he sees the role of design professionals as facilitators. Valeur is sensitive and sharp in reading places and people, a skill that has helped him adapt readily in foreign lands. His latest foray in urban India has been self compiled as a publication that reflects upon and develops his ideas and ideology. This conversation draws out Valeur on urbanisation in Asia, especially in the context of India.
India has had a profound impact on your professional life. Your affiliation to architecture has its roots deep down in India and in particular it’s culture, if I am correct in understanding. Also, you did want to become a writer…, would like to hear that story.
I have spent most of my time since 2010 either in India or on work related to India. Initially I was invited to give the Le Corbusier Memorial Lecture in Chandigarh and conduct a small workshop at Chandigarh College of Architecture but ended up staying there for six months. The following year I spent six months in Bangalore and since then I have been coming back frequently. Before that I had been to India only once, in 1986 when I was 19. At that age, and never having been outside Europe before, the many different expressions of life as well as the strange examples of architecture obviously made a huge impression on me, but the story of how I decided to become an architect is rather more mundane.