When people asked how my trip to Habitat III in Quito was, I usually had to think before answering. Both the conference and the city left mixed feelings.
It is one of the cities which didn’t grab my attention through its architecture, but through the people living there and the landscape. The geographical location of Quito creates its unforgettable skyline. At night, endless Quito looks breathtaking from the hills or rooftops. It was so interesting for me to just watch what people were doing on the streets! Some of the activities are so different from what you can see in Europe. Sometimes the atmosphere it was a mix of the 90s and nowadays. And for the first time in my life I felt that I’m a foreigner:there was no chance for me to blend in the crowd, which was a strange feeling.
About the conference: on the one hand, since the first day, you could see how this event represented the opposite of the “New Urban Agenda” statements. This document focuses a lot on equality but Habitat III was full of segregation. The same with mobility, the spatial organisation and logistics displayed the opposite of the statements that were made at the conference. As a compliment to IHS, I might say that I didn’t hear anything new in term of visions, theories and approaches, so our course was really following nowadays urban trends. On the other hand, the amount of interesting people there was amazing! I would like to quote my former lecturer from IHS, Alexander Jachnow “Habitat III is the most expensive networking event of the last century”. I think this is the best description of the conference.
The IHS Alumni International network was another very pleasant part of the trip. First, it was so nice to see how the IHS alumni met at the Netherlands pavilion! They were hugging, crying, laughing and so happy to see each other after so many years. The atmosphere was so warm! Moreover, the local Ecuadorian alumni were amazing hosts. I would specifically want to say “thank you” to Elisa Puga and Cristina Gomezjurado for sharing their time, love for Quito and the amazing nature in their country with us!