CTBUH 2024 Europe Conference: In Review

Following the conclusion of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) European Conference in Istanbul, CTBUH Deputy Board Chair and Partner Steve Watts shares his reflections and insights from the event.

Reflecting on the conference, the importance of regional hubs was reinforced, as well as the value of addressing local issues within a global context. The opportunity to connect with individuals and places not typically encountered at the CTBUH global annual conferences was genuinely enlightening.

Key highlights from the conference include an engaging discussion at the CTBUH Leaders’ Meeting, held at the Turkish Design Council overlooking the Bosphorus. During the meeting, a pod of dolphins was spotted, adding to the unique experience.

I also had the honour of moderating a panel at the CTBUH Cities Advocacy Forum, featuring distinguished individuals from the urban planning and development sectors, including:

– Özgür Bora Yaprak, General Director, BIMTAS Inc.

– Mansoor Hussain, Politician, Urbanist & Advisor, Storm Samfunn, Oslo

– Anisa Mance, General Director of Urban Planning and Development, Municipality of Tirana

– Peter Murray OBE, Curator-in-Chief & Co-Founder, NLA, London

The conference, held at the impressive Ziraat Towers auditorium, featured a packed agenda and concluded with a moving session connecting with the Deputy Minister for Infrastructure in Kiev, Ukraine. The following day, the CTBUH Board of Trustees meeting showcased progress on various inspiring initiatives.

My key takeaway from the conference is resilience means different things to different cities. Istanbul is urgently focusing on the seismic resilience of its buildings (with 1,600 homes in need of rebuilding), as well as its water supply, which is under severe strain as it tries to serve not only its resident population (which includes 1.5m official refugees) but also its 20m annual visitors. In London, we continue to strive to create buildings that are environmentally friendly and delight their occupiers, but we cannot ignore the physical impacts of climate change, such as flooding. Urban strategies and building design have to work as one.

Personal highlights included meeting my Turkish teacher in person for the first time after a year, as well as exploring the Kadıköy area over coffee. Istanbul is a remarkable city in a beautiful country with many exciting developments – Çok güzel!

I extend my gratitude to Mehmet Kiliç and Ilayda Oner for organising and delivering a fantastic event, and I look forward to the upcoming CTBUH International Conference in September.

To find out more about the CTBUH, please visit its website here.