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An American Academic Perspec4ve

Dean Sai8a, Department of Anthropology, University of Denver, USA

The utopian impulse at the heart of so many experiments in city- building has always proved disappoin;ng, if not downright disastrous, in the actual esh and stoneBut the utopian impulse is, and will hopefully remain, an irrepressible part of the human spirit I am dreaming cosmopolis, my utopia, a construc7on site of the mind, a city/region in which there is genuine acceptance of, connec7on with, and respect for the cultural Other, and the possibility of working together on maAers of common des;ny, the possibility of a togetherness in dierence.

I propose a simple contrast between diversity and dierence in order to highlight two fundamentally dis4nc4ve ways of dealing with, and iden4fying, cultural varia4on. there is considerable support for diversity in the public sphere, while dierence is increasingly seen as a main cause of social problems associated with immigrants and their descendants. Diversity should be taken to mean largely aesthe:c, poli:cally and morally neutral expressions of cultural dierence. Dierence, by contrast, refers to morally objec:onable or at least ques:onable no:ons and prac:ces in a minority group or category Interes4ngly, poli4cians and other public gures oEen praise the immigrants for enriching the na4onal culture. At the same 4me, they may worry about impediments to na4onal cohesion. This seeming contradic4on indicates that cultural dierence is not just one thing. Broadly speaking, we may state that diversity is seen as a good thing, while dierence is not.

Phils Ques4ons
1. To what extent should buildings and urban spaces be designed to be generic, or specic to par4cular users and their cultural predilec4ons? 2. How should new public, commercial and residen4al buildings and public spaces take account of dierent lifestyles and cultural prac4ces? 3. To what extent can/should urban design a8empt to inuence intercultural engagement? 4. How can we prepare aspiring urban designers and other place- making professionals to func4on in an intercultural world?

1. To what extent should buildings and urban spaces be designed to be generic, or specic to par:cular users and their cultural predilec:ons?
[Rem] Koolhaas believes the generic city is also the freest. Liberated from the codes and rules of the old city center, its a free zone, a safe haven for the migrant workers who make up (in Amsterdams case) 40 percent of the citys popula4on. Generic plug- in [developments] are the product of a simple equa4on between developers and city governments.

Andres Duany, Co-Founder of American New Urbanism

Codes are necessary Designers should not resist this. They should prefer to work within known rules and for the common good rather than be subject to the whimsy of individual boards, poli;cians, naysayers, and bureaucrats Codes can assure a minimum level of competence, even if in so doing they must constrain certain possibili;esUnguided towns and ci;es tend not to vitality but to socioeconomic monoculturesCodes can secure diversity without which good urbanism withers and dies.

Par;cipatory processes must be [Inter-] culturally competent: processes must engage groups in ways [loca4on, venue, format, etc.] that groups themselves nd useful and appropriate, consistent with their own cultural background and expecta;ons [and iden44es].

2. How should new public, commercial and residen:al buildings and public spaces take account of dierent lifestyles and cultural prac:ces? Brand X Urbanisms

Teddy Cruz, an architect and professor at the University of California, San Diego, has spent the beAer part of a decade strolling through Mexicos bustling border towns in search of inspira;on. Where others saw poverty and decay, he saw the seeds of a vibrant social and architectural model, one that could be harnessed to invigorate numbingly uniform suburban communi;es just across the border.

In one development a day care and elderly center topped by stacked apartments would be housed in a series of garage-like spaces along a small public playground. The apartments are reminiscent of the stucco bungalows in Tijuana that are some;mes raised on steel braces to make room for new shops underneath. Small, shared terraces connect the aordable units to ins;ll a sense of community. Higher up a series of market-rate apartments have private terraces, as if to assert their independence.

incubator spaces for job-training programs

For iconoclasts Mr. Cruzs design may not push enough buAons in formal architectural terms. But his great achievement here has less to do with aesthe;c experimenta;on than with crea;ng a bold an;dote to the depressing model of ersatz small-town America embraced by so many suburban developers in recent years. In its place he proposes a complex interweaving of rich and poor, old and new, public and private, a fabric in which each strand proclaims a dis;nct iden;ty. All italicized material from Cruz slides is from Nicolai Ourousso, Learning from Tijuana: Hudson, NY, Considers Dierent Housing Model, The New York Times February 19, 2008).

Setha Low on Urban Parks

1. Mark Histories 2. Facilitate economic access 3. Provide sucient space for ac4vi4es 4. Signal inclusivity (cf. design integrity) 5. Provide adequate events and facili4es 6. Allow symbolic inscrip4on (tarps, circles)

David Adjayes Idea Store

Idea Store, Whitechapel

Form (style, materials) references local urban context. Entryway is extension of Street produc4ve of Espai Public. Mul;ple entrances. Intervisibility of Building and Street. Mul;func;onal. An Everyday des4na4on.

3. To what extent can/should urban design aOempt

to inuence intercultural engagement?


Urban Renewal did its best to discourage intercultural engagement (Escape from, or Containment of. The Other)

Urban Branding
Bilbao to Beijing


Urban Placemaking

Successful examples of urban design, such as 17th century Amsterdam, Georgian Edinburgh and London, and 19th century Paris are characterized by the quality of streets and squaresand canals and the orderly beauty of everyday buildings. The real challenge for ci;es today is not to create more icons, but rather to create more such seAngs. The current economic recession may aid in this, since funding for large projects has dried up and economic condi;ons favor modest ini;a;ves repairing, rehabilita;ng, and reusing buildings rather than tearing them down and star;ng over.

4. How to prepare aspiring urban designers and other place- making professionals to func:on in an intercultural world?

[Whats required]is a beJer understanding of how urban policies can and should address cultural dierence. This includes issues of design, loca;on and process. For example, if dierent cultures use public and recrea;onal space dierently, then new kinds of public spaces may have to be designed, or old ones re-designed, to accommodate this dierence... Space also needs to be made available for the dierent worshipping prac;ces of immigrant cultures: the building of mosques and temples, for example, has become a source of conict in many ci;es. When cultural conicts arise over dierent uses of land and buildings, of private as well as public spaces, planners need to nd more communica;ve, less adversarial ways of resolving these conicts, through par;cipatory mechanisms which give a voice to all those with a stake in the outcome. This in turn requires new skills for planners, urban designers, and architects in cross-cultural communica7on.

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central ci4es, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separa4on by race and income, environmental deteriora4on, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of societys built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

New Urbanist Anthropology

ANDRES DUANY: There are two ways of beinga kind of Northern European way in which discipline allows the accumula;on of wealth. I suppose this has to do with the harves;ng of wheat for the winter. But in the South, where theres always a mango available--at close reach--the ideal is to accumulate leisure.

DAN SOLOMON: If New Urbanists care about sustainability, the sustainability of urban culture should be our rst order of business. The way they cook stews and make music in New Orleans, the way they dance in Havana, the way they dress in Milano, the way they use language in London, the way they look cool in Tokyo, the way they wisecrack in New York. Those are things for us to care about.

The 21st century mul;cultural project is, I would argue, precisely that: a century-long project, a long-term process of building new communi;es and of ac;vely construc;ng new ways of living together, new forms of social and spa7al belonging, during which fears and anxie;es cannot be dismissed but need to be worked through.