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Stadsleven: een pleidooi voor de ‘open stad’

Auteurs Prof. dr. Nico Nelissen
Auteursinformatie

352270 Prof. dr. Nico Nelissen
Prof. dr. N.J.M. Nelissen is emeritus hoogleraar aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, redactielid en oud-hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.
  • Samenvatting

      This essay is written on the occasion of the appearance of the Dutch translation of Richard Sennett’s new book Building and dwelling. Ethics for the city. For more than half a century Sennett has been occupied with the position of man in the changing society in general and with the life of people in the city in particular. Apparently he doesn’t stop thinking and writing about it. His central thesis is that in the past decades, we have worked from the vision of the ‘closed city’, a city that was conceived and designed by professionals in advance, while for the future there is a need for an ‘open city’, a city where not everything is carefully planned in advance, but where there is room for unpredictability and coincidences. That sounds and is very abstract indeed, but it is a signal that is being delivered in the direction of a city nowadays controlled by state and capital, that should make room for a city that is more inspired by civil initiatives and civil involvement. A statement that is, moreover, largely at odds with the current practice of urban design and spatial planning in the present era. Does this mean that Richard Sennett’s central message has actually been said in advance against ‘deaf ears’? Is the chance that ‘his mission’ ends up in the right place already gone in advance? When we talk about the city Sennett distinguishes between two (and inseparable) dimensions: the city as a physical space (‘ville’) and the city as a whole of people of flesh and blood (‘cité’). It is a fascinating quest for the phenomenon of city: an ‘academic pilgrimage’ to an uncertain urban site, an ‘open city’, undergoing the purification of talking with the great figures in the history of (urban) sociology and urban planning.

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