‘Building and Dwelling’ by Richard Sennett

5231Jonathan Meades at The Guardian:

According to the Dutch architect Reinier de Graaf, the people – planners, utopian environmentalists, sociologists, quango soldiers, free-range urbanists, demographic strategists, “place makers”, soi-disant visionaries, soothsayers and, of course, architects – who attend portentously entitled, quasi-academic conferences on, say, The Final Favela, The Shapes of Sprawl to Come or Agglomerative Control Theory are “united through the frank admission that we do not have a clue”.

Cluelessness has done nothing to inhibit a thriving cottage industry publishing countless tracts and manifestos wrought in the deadening locutions of conference-speak. Urbanist shall speak unto urbanist. And only unto urbanist, because any passing civvy or “lay person” can only improbably be bothered to decipher what’s being said. The ideal of the open city is described in closed terms that unwittingly emphasise the gulf between those who confer and the overwhelming majority who don’t, between those who build or, more likely, try to influence what is built, and those who dwell – whether as passive patients or as engaged participants.

more here.