The Quito Papers: Towards an Open City

“The Quito Papers” was a research collaboration between Theatrum Mundi, NYU and UN-Habitat, developed in the run-up to the United Nations Habitat III conference held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. With funding from the Kaifeng Foundation, Theatrum Mundi created “The Quito Papers: Towards an Open City” film, directed by Dominick Bagnato and Cassim Shepard, with the collaboration of filmmakers in Beijing, Karachi, Lagos, London, New York, Quito, São Paulo and Mexico City.

A global series of public screenings will be held in Paris, London, Beijing and New York to present the film and the ideas of the newly authored “Quito Papers” beyond the Habitat III conference. The screenings were followed by discussions with panelists including the papers’ authors: Ricky Burdett (LSE Cities), Saskia Sassen (Columbia University) and Richard Sennett (New York University & LSE).

The film premiered in Paris at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal on December 7, 2016 and was presented in London, on January 31, 2017, as part of UTOPIA 2016: A Year if Imagination and Possibility and within LSE’s public lecture series.

It was next presented on February 25, 2017 in Beijing at Genesis Beijing, No.8 Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District and also screened as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 14, 2017.

It most recently screened in New York on October 31, 2017, as part of the pre-launch for the book version of the associated research, The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda (Routledge).


Brief Background

In 1933, Le Corbusier and other members of the architectural modernist group CIAM, contemplated the problems facing cities before World War II. The result was a document called the Charter of Athens which proposed a radical restructuring of the city based on rationalist principles. Since then, the Charter has influenced urban development in cities across the world. Heavily critiqued for its inflexible and rigid planning doctrines, the ‘Quito Papers’ has revisited what a present day manifesto for cities would be. Its ethos is to explore the qualities of public space and urban life, arguing for a more open, pliable and incremental approach to city-making, avoiding the prescriptive pitfalls of the original. The short film has been conceived to interpret and communicate the papers’ to a wider audience of citizens and city-makers.