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The change is upon us

For the first time in human history more people live in the world's cities than in the country. Every hour of each day the world-wide number of urban dwellers grows by 6000. And rural people leaving their villages, small towns and country homes for the city feed the growth. Some are better off. Many more are forced into poverty worse than they ever imagined.

To mark this moment in human development the United Nations is gathering together thousands of people from the world's cities to look for ways to deal with this new reality and give people a chance at a better life. It's called the World Urban Forum (WUF)arrow and it's happening this June in Vancouver.

The forum makes for heady times in Lotusland, as artists, thinkers, planners and others converge on the city to exchange ideas and experiences.

CBC will offer special coverage of the World Urban Forum on CBC Television, CBC Radio and CBC.ca.

cityspace is where you'll find information about WUF events, including Earth: The World Urban Festivalarrow and CBC storiesarrow, past and present. So, enjoy your stay, look around.

nolli map photo1
nolli map photo1

mycityspace Contest Runner-up: Paddy Harrington tells us about Toronto...

Speaker Paddy Harrington (Runs: 1:12) 2006

For people who don't live in cities, skyscrapers can be both the symbol of what is fascinating and awful about city life.  There's something very powerful about just looking up at a tall building to see how high it goes.  And there's something very impersonal about all that steel and glass.

In Toronto, there is a cluster of buildings designed by a famous German architect: Mies van der Rohe.  They stand right at the heart of downtown.  They are black.  Many people do not really think much about them since they aren't the tallest, or shiniest. 
But to walk around and among these buildings is to discover one of the more beautiful urban spaces in Toronto.
The entire block was built up to an even level, a podium.  And the buildings are arranged on this stone podium in a way that leaves great open spaces between the buildings and the street.  And in these open spaces are beautiful square lawns with trees and flower beds.
If you lie down on the green lawn and look up at the blue sky, framed by these noble black buildings, the city seems to become quiet.  You could be surrounded by people and traffic, but for a moment, the city becomes quiet. 
Great buildings designed by thoughtful people become art with the power to transform.  Mies van der Rohe transformed the heart of Toronto into an austere escape that clearly shows what the modern city has the potential to become.

FACT: The combined urban population of China, India and Brazil already roughly equals that of Europe plus North America.

mycityspace Contest Winner: Christina DeMarco tells us about her city space in Vancouver...

Speaker Christina DeMarco (Runs: 1:46) 2006

Sometimes on my way to work I get off my bus two stops too late just to check how my favorite city space is doing. Just like all special city spaces, a dramatic statue welcomes you. It is a war memorial of a bronze angel carrying a soldier to heaven. Two very fine heritage buildings frame the square. The former CP railway station with its sturdy red brick is on the west side of the square, while a handsome old warehouse is on the east side. The north side opens up to a sweeping, unobstructed view of the spectacular waterfront. 

There is only one little problem with my space. It is actually a parking lot for 72 cars. The other morning when I passed by, only two cars were there. A tourist was poking his camera through the shabby chain link fence, and taking a picture of the North Shore Mountains in the golden morning sun. And at the quay a gleaming white cruise ship loomed out of the sharp blue waters like an iceberg.  In the foreground, the West Coast express was pulling in, a SkyTrain was pulling out, and a freight train was shuttling its bright red containers back and forth.
I smile to myself that while Vancouver is famous for getting so many things right, it still devotes this incredible space to 72 cars. Then a thought flashes through my mind and I run to the pay and display sign. A parking spot is $2.50 for a half/hour or the bargain rate of $15.00 a day. So for just over $1000 I could buy all the spaces for a day. I would then rent some chairs and umbrellas and scatter them across the space and just watch what happens. Imagine the tourists and office workers all stopping and enjoying my city space.
Another car pulls in and I remember that I am on my way to work. In the meantime, if you want to give your car a treat, spaces 1 to 17 have the best ocean views.

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Learn about different city spaces through our interactive map. Explore different countries, get the facts, hear from CBC personalities and well-known Canadians about their city experiences.
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