Thoughts on urban planning, city design, architecture, the built environment, social issues, Seoul, Korea, and soon... London


criticism to design 

Criticisms of globalisation and its effects on the city, sociospatial relations and the built environment abound. However, how can architects and planners process such criticisms and work to counter the targets of criticism through design? That is, how does one move from social critique to design?

INURA's Possible Urban Worlds (1999) is a great source of such criticisms, and moreover offers up a wealth of examples of social movements and actions that counter the forces of globalisation and advanced capitalism, particularly in Europe and North America. However, such criticisms do not offer much guidance for the planner or architect. The article Gilde van Werkgebouwen, Amsterdam from Peti Buchel, Carolien Feldbrugge, Bert Hogervorst, and Annie Wright and the (Firenze) Italian contributions, especially Participated Projects on the Outskirts of Florence by Anna Lisa Peccoriello and Iacopo Zetti and The Town Plan of Villasanta: A Case of Community Planning by Monica Vercesi, offer some ideas or guidance. Other possibilities (no play on the book's title intended) for the designer is to appropriate ideas from the examples of the Wagenburgen, Zentralstrasse 150, La Habana / Ecopolis Project, etc. However, if these ideas are reapplied in design, is there any guarantee that they would effect the same social usage with the social movements that created them? That is, wouldn't they lose their organicity and thereby potency?

As a number of the articles in Possible Urban Worlds point out, urban social movements have done much to contest and critique globalization and other hegemonic forces in their cities as well as construct alternate politics, forms of social organization, spaces, architectures and more.



How do power relations (social, economic, political) shape and in turn become shaped by city design?

How can the social and political effects of not-yet-built space on potential inhabitants be estimated during design?

How can city designers accommodate the needs of the economically and socially marginalized in the context of globalisation and the growing influence of market forces?

How do people adapt to, change, resist or counter the programmes designed into the city?

How can potential inhabitants, not trained as urban planners or social scientists, become more empowered in the city design process?

Should architects/planners design for current socio-economic conditions or design for ideal conditions and if so whose? Their own?

How can the architect/planner process and apply critical studies of socio-economic conditions and processes (and their effects), such as globalisation and privatisation of public space, in their designs?

attempts at definition 

Off the cuff and to be modified and added to over time:

What is the city?
The city is a (spatial) area in which there is a high density of people, buildings and infrastructure; its limits are fuzzy and loosely bordered in by areas of low or much lower density (the city bleeds); and its identity as a unit is usually distinguished as such by those living in and outside it (in/in between/out group distinction).

What is urbanism (the way of being)?
Urbanity is the possessing or imparting of the experience of living in a city, i.e. in an environment of density and diversity (of people, buildings, infrastructure).

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