About Us

Silk Cities is an independent academic and professional initiative for contextual knowledge exchange, research and advocacy. The ‘Silk Cities’ initiative is concerned with contextual urban challenges that historical cities in countries along the historic Silk Roads face within the process of urban transformation, as a result of their historic past. Those most concerned are urban heritage, disaster risk reduction and post crisis reconstruction, urban design and public spaces, community development, as well as urban development management. By using the narrative of the urban Silk Roads we tap on the notions of connectivity and exchange, historical presence that is reflected in city characteristics and urban life, and contextual contemporary challenges. Silk Cities’ initial focus area has been these cities in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Silk Cities is an independent contextual platform for study and knowledge sharing between built environment professionals (e.g. urban designers and planners), based inside a country with their peers, and established academics based outside, who are interested in the selected country as a result of their ethnic origins or work. There are many issues and solutions that need to be explored within these two fields.

Why we do what we do?

We believe that communication and knowledge transfer are strategic pathways towards improving the built environment in developing countries. A lack of sufficient communication in regard to the quality of the built environment is more evident in developing countries, especially those within the Middle East and Central Asia, which are not usually placed in the limelight of international focus (from a built environment perspective) and underexplored. Additionally the issue of dispersed knowledge on the region prevails.   Examples of our focus areas for improving the built environment are as follows:

  1. Creating built environments which are safer, more resilient to natural disasters, and adaptive to change
  2. Providing people with a better experience within their built environment
  3. Positioning a built environment within its historical continuity

What Silk Cities do

Silk Cities aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice by connecting existing knowledge and know-how in these countries to high-profile, up-to-date international research. These interactions will raise awareness on prevailing issues and stimulate the search for solutions. ‘Silk Cities’ organises workshops and conferences and undertakes research, while seeking further innovative initiatives. By communicating awareness, issues will be raised and ideas for solutions will be stimulated. Resultantly, knowledge will be transferred amongst academics and practitioners in related disciplines, namely, urban design/planning, disaster risk reduction and reconstruction, as well as urban management.

Silk Cities is an on-going initiative; so come along with your passion for better cities.