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

3.4.04

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.

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