Less Me, More Others. On Designing Disorder: Experiments and Disruptions in the City, by Pablo Sendra and Richard Sennett

María Pura Moreno Moreno

DOI: https://doi.org/10.20868/cpa.2021.11.4835

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In the book Building and Dwelling. Ethics for the City (2019), Richard Sennett recounted how, when talking about the city with Jane Jacobs, the influential North American journalist, author, theorist, and activist posed the suggestive question: “So what would you do?”. A question aimed at making one think about how to coordinate the different concepts of the ville, understood as the physical materiality of what is urban, and the cité, what we take to be the perceptions, behaviors, and beliefs of urban inhabitants. The question sought to investigate the possibilities of establishing the direct relationship between the material form of the urban environment and the aspects related to the social—to the polis, such as citizenship, justice, cohesion, or living well. Besides this, it also served to consider what approaches to take in terms of spatiality, materiality, layouts, or infrastructure and thus model an urban environment capable of producing a better cité. Richard Sennett, in this new text, attempts to offer answers to
Jacobs’ question, with the help to the cooperation between the disciplines of architecture and urban planning, presented by researcher Pablo Sendra. A contribution that complements sociological and political dimensions with the pragmatism of revealing particular resources from urban planning, such as open and flexible infrastructures, capable of providing a solution to this desired synergy between ville and cité. The synchronicity of the theoretical discourse and the project’s material reality, together with its materialization in the urban experiments analyzed, are the two most interesting and remarkable values of the book. The real and pragmatic graphic character of a plan, associated with specifying what happens in invisible layers, such as those below and above level zero in the section of the city’s territory, and how they flow, deserve a careful reading. The ideas invite you to investigate in close collaboration with disciplines such as anthropology or sociology, which should not be ignored in any urban project.  

Palabras clave

Richard Sennet; Open city; Disorder; Design; Infrastructure


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