Sunday, 21 August 2016

The city is falling apart

I will be presenting a paper at the Philosophy of the City conference in San Francisco (November 17-19). Titel: The city is falling apart. And here's the abstract:
Ever since Lewis Mumford’s writing, the concern has been voiced, that the (post-)modern city is falling apart. This might be due “urban sprawl” – “unplanned, incremental urban growth” (Batty, Besussi, and Chin, 2003) – or might be attributed to “splittering urbanism” (Graham and Marvin, 2001), whereby (ICT) infrastructures fragment the experience of a city. My talks will consist of two parts. In the first part, I will argue that it is reasonable to consider the city as large-scale, composed artefact, which is made up of different parts (buildings, streets, parks, bridges, canals, etc.). It will be argued, that most reasons for not considering the city as an artefact steam from the conventional use of the term “artefact.” It will not be claimed, that the city can be reduced to the „hard physical space“ (Stevenson, 2013) or what has been called the „physical city“ by David R. Goldfield in his paper on „The Physical City as Artifact and Teaching Tool“ (1975). But it will be argued, that the idea of “the city as an artefact” offers a reasonable perspective on the city. In the second part of my paper, I will turn towards the question how the things that make up a city hang together – and how a city may fall apart. Here, I will explore Warwick Fox’s notion of responsive cohesion as a relational quality of things that stick together. As it has been suggested by Radford (2010) that Fox’s framework is helpful in addressing issues like urban sprawl, I will use the concept to gain a better understanding of how the city may fall apart. Finally, I will present first considerations of what it might take to design to maintain and promote responsive cohesion on the level of individual artefacts (e.g., buildings) and technologies (e.g., new means of transportation).