The Urban Project of Plurality -Politics and Urbanism via Domus

This discussion sets out to reawaken the political in urban design – from my perspective the arrogance of architects shows through – the idea that “professions” are the experts and are the only ones responsible or able to achieve anything within cities is a legacy  from enlightenment thinking and is acknowledged as obsolete. The very idea of political engagement is crucial to any intervention in the city – yet the need to engage professions (all of them) in the discourse and to take responsibility for our limited view, to open ourselves to criticism and contribution from the base of the public  pyramid- i.e. true politcal engagement is long overdue.

An op-ed from Houston by Neeraj Bhatia from Domus

The director of InfraNet Lab observes that architects are once again taking on the urban project, and asks whether they will reawaken the political project too

“Can architects meet society’s plural demand? … If society has no form—how can architects build the counterform?”
–Aldo Van Eyck, in Alison Smithson (ed), ‘Team 10 Primer 1953–62’, Architectural Design (December 1962), 564

The recent political demonstrations transpiring in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya have been inspiring in their ability to gather a collective political force through the grouping of individuals. I find it inspiring because of the dialectical nature between the individual and collective, which are the essential components in the political concept of pluralism. Simultaneously, I was reminded that such a discussion of the politics of pluralism has not occurred in design since late modernism. Not only does this particular political project remain unresolved today, I believe it is also one of the most critical investigations in contemporary urbanism.

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