Enabling Coexistence Through the Open City

The theme of this year's International Architecture Biennale is "Open City: Designing Coexistence". Places Journal talks with the biennale's chief curator about what that means to planners, designers and architects.

"Places: How do you define the open city?

Kees Christaanse: "Open city" is a somewhat utopian term: it refers to efforts by architects and urban designers to translate the ideals of an "open society" - a society with a tolerant and inclusive government, where diverse groups develop flexible mechanisms for resolving inevitable differences - into physical spaces. It refers to places where people of different backgrounds can coexist, where interaction leads to cultural enrichment and innovation, and where the market flourishes. In the postwar era, we can see the open city concept in the idealism of Team X and in the speculative urbanism of Cedric Price. I'm thinking of Price's Potteries Thinkbelt, of the ‘60s, which proposed reusing an abandoned railway track as the spine of a new kind of university, with mobile classrooms and housing modules that could adapt, so that the school could remain programmatically open. The open city idea infuses the writings of Jane Jacobs, Richard Sennett and Albert Pope, among others. But the open city is not a specific place, it's not a fixed entity. Rather, it's a condition, usually found only in fragments, in parts of cities, where a fragile balance between integrating and disintegrating forces is maintained."

Full Story: Curating the Open City

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