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A. Remesar. Universitat de Barcelona
“Soon the streets of the cities will shine forth as white walls. Like Zion, the holy city, the capital
of heaven. Then we will have succeeded” (A. Loos)
Art Urbain
Since the Renaissance, to make a beautiful city is a recurring matter in Western urban
theory and practice. A to and fro topic, a recurring one. On the background of this
problematics, we can place the big theme of urban decorum, the ´fit´ of expressible means
to expressed content (Tafuri 1968). Classical treatise writers
stated the main ideas for an
organized and beautiful urban setting. Another manifestation these ideas was the
monumental use of sculpture in public places, by placing a statue or an obelisk at the
centre of a square, a tradition that was adopted widely after the sixteenth century. While
not being the first, we can consider as paradigmatic the design of the Capitol Piazza
"The street that runs inside of the city shall come so beautifully ornate by two porticoes of identical design, and
houses will be lined both sides and equal in height, besides the fact that it must be absolutely clean and well paved.
However, the parts of the street itself where to apply the appropriate ornamentation, are the following: the bridge
crossing the square, the place destined for shows. The square is indeed a wider crossing; and the space intended to
shows is nothing but a square surrounded by bleachers“(Alberti, 1452:349)
“Let me finish with one example. It is a tragic example. I speak of the Capitol at Rome of Michelangelo. The area
Capitolina occupies one of the hill top sites of the ancient city of Rome. It is composed of a complex of the square itself
(which is not a real square but more of a trapezoid); a broad ramped stairway (the Cordinata); and three buildings
(the Senatorial Palace or town hall in the background, the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right and the Capitolina
Museum on the left). The architectural composition of the Capitol can be rapidly summarised as a comprehensive
development in depth: piazza, stairway, and the visual relation with the old medieval city of Rome. In 1530 the city-
republic of Florence lost its independence to the Medici despot, Cosimo the First. As you will know, Michelangelo came
from an old Florentine family and, in 1534; he left Florence forever and spent the remaining thirty years of his life in
voluntary exile in Rome. Here he gave concrete reality to what he had derived from his youthful democratic experiences
in Florence. Here, in the Rome of the Counter-Reformation - a Rome in which there was no freedom and no democracy!
Michelangelo's Capitol- a very perfect expression of the Core - was a symbol of the vanished liberties of the medieval
city-republic that he held in his heart. It was, at the same time, a memorial to the tragic dreams of its creator. The lack
of imagination usually shown today (though there are a few exceptions) in our attempts to devise new city centres -
new city Cores - is invariably excused on the ground that we no longer have a way of life that it is possible to express.
What Michelangelo has mirrored in his Area Capitolina is the baffling irrationality of historic events and the enigmatic
omission of any direct relation between effect and cause. Once more we realise that a great artist is able to create the
artistic form for a phase of future social development, long before that phase has begun to take tangible shape. This
is our task today” (Giedion, 1952).
“this square, sculpture was placed next to buildings, working closely with, or as part of, buildings, leaving the centre
of public spaces open for public use. Michelangelo, who was predominantly a sculptor himself, gave the centre of the
square to a statue of Marcus Aurelius, the only equestrian statue to have survived from ancient Rome. This central
place was emphasized by placing the statue at the centre of an oval pattern on the floor, and on the main axis of the
square, which was marked by the stairs leading from the bottom of the hill to the square. This was the first
monumental square of its kind, paving the way for the Baroque squares that were created afterwards”. (Mandanipour
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(Campidoglio) by Michelangelo on Capitol Hill in Rome, which he was commissioned
to design in 1537.
We do not intend here to trace the history
of the notion of Urban Decorum.
Generally, decorum refers to the suitability of a design. In the past, designers had to
articulate the significance of a building, defined in terms of use, social status, and
physical location. The architectural decorum insisted that a design should agree with its
purpose and be appropriately adapted to its audience, namely other buildings and the
public at large. “Decorum was therefore a central feature of a broader idea of civic eloquence.
Decorum pervaded architectural and urban theory before the nineteenth century” (Kohane and
Hill, 2001: 64). In any case, the notion of decorum has persisted over the centuries but
taking different meanings that we will explore.
Art Urbain
(Urban Art), means building and planning the space of cities, such
as they were theorized from Quatrtrocento and, gradually, put into practice during the
Renaissance, the classical age and the neoclassical period.
“Urban Art introduced in western cities the proportion, regularity, symmetry,
perspective, by applying them to the roads, squares, buildings, and too, too the treatment
of their relations and their connecting elements (arcades, colonnades, gates, arches,
gardens, obelisks, fountains, statues, etc.)” (Choay, 1989)
In this sense, in the late eighteenth century, Quatremère de Quincy specified that art
urbain and urban composition, by means of their material forms, were doing possible
buildings expressing intellectual qualities and moral ideas, or, by the agreement and the
convenience of all their constituent parts, expressing its nature, its property, its use and
destination. Quatremère added, “the more the decoration of a city contributes to the
Decorum in Western architectural theory derives from the treatises of Vitruvius (On Architecture) and Alberti (De
re aedificatoria, 1485). In Vitruvius, appropriateness (decor) binds form to function, so that the siting of a building, its
approaches, aspect and choice of order are determined by its purpose. Alberti amplifies Vitruvius’s concern with fitting
dignity (dignitas), introduces the term concinnitas (from which the dignity derives) and makes the architect’s
judgement of decorum so decisive that it determines even placement of the altar in churches. Of later theorists, Nicolas
Le Camus de Mezières is important for the idea of appropriate architectural ‘character’ (caractère), as is A. W. N. Pugin
and his ‘Ecclesiological’ followers, who justified a Gothic Revival style on grounds of fitness-for-purpose. This concept
of decorum formed a theoretical basis for the Arts and crafts movement in Great Britain and France initially, then
elsewhere. Indeed, the theory of Functionalism both in architecture and in ‘craft’ is tied to fitness-for-purpose and
therefore to decorum” (Gaston, 2014).
A first language disquisition appears here. Currently the French concept "Art Urbain" correspond to the Anglo-Saxon
"Urban Design" as shown in some documents of the European Council of Town Planners (1985, 1998). However at
this point of the paper, we prefer to use the concept of Urban Art, since the meaning expressed by Choay refers to
the urban composition, ie the set of figurative procedures in two or three dimensions, posed to solve an urban project
from a certain aesthetics. J.L. Sert introduced the concept of urban design, as a new discipline, in 1956 during an
international conference at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Louis Mumford, Jane Jacobs, Victor Gruen, Edmund
Bacon, Garrett Eckbo, and Hideo Sasaki among other attended this conference. “In the decade preceding that event,
urban planning had become increasingly less focused on the physical organization of the city, and had established its
own independent academic and professional territory based on the methods of social science. The more
comprehensive practice of "urbanism," at that time still dominant in Europe and Asia, was replaces in the United States
by a dual structure that effectively disengaged the concerns of urban Planning from those of architecture. At the
Harvard conference, Sert announced urban design as a new academic field, which he defined as "the part of planning
concerned with the physical form of the city." He added that the urban designer must first believe in cities, their
importance and their value to human progress and culture. Thus, academic urban design began with two agendas,
one professionally oriented, the other culturally based” (Kahn, 2002).
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convenience of the inhabitants, the more it approaches perfection." (Quatremère Quincy 1788).
To some extent, this text shows that throughout the eighteenth century started a certain
shift towards considering the role of ornament in urban art. A shift that will operate over
more than a century through the "Beaux Arts" training of architects. Moreover, in early
nineteenth century the different agents wishing to participate in the construction of the
city adjust their interests and those of an Administration whose primary objective is the
figurative control of urban space. A basis for these operations is the deployment of
various ordinances, regulations and laws
in order to ensure that figurative control of
space. (Sabaté,1999).
However, throughout the nineteenth century, and in the context of the
progressive introduction of the capitalist mode production, modernization of cities was
based on advances in science and technology. This involved an intense focus on hygiene
or urban health issues, concepts closely related to morality as Engels (1845) described
respect to Manchester
. Engels points out however inconvenient that is a hovel, there will
always be a poor person who cannot afford a better one, being the only concern to obtain much
profit as possible", noting the underlying problems of immigration, exploitation of labour
and the desire for capitalist profit as the main reasons for this disastrous situation. The
provision of housing for the lower classes becomes the major problem that will endure,
in different waves, along the nineteenth century until today. Moreover, at least from a
theoretical point of view, the issue of decorum acquires new dimensions: that of the
"hygiene" (ventilation, sunlight ...) and that of the "social justice" that will have a huge
impact on the procedures and methodologies of a new field of knowledge, urbanism that
comes to replace art urbain as an instrument of organization of the city. This way claims
in his Theory of Construction of Cities. While Cerdà’s
proposals were not
internationally recognized, the operations by Baron Haussmann
in Paris were becoming
As an example, King Carlos III of Spain, in his Instruction to Governors May 5, 1788, dictated, “Governors will prevent
the mayors of the cities, towns and villages of the province, be diligent in its cleanliness, decoration, equality and
implementing cobbled streets; and not to allow disproportion and inequality in the new fabrics. Particularly, they will
attend the public aspect not to be deformed, especially in popular cities and towns. Therefore, if a building or home
threatens ruin, require their owners to fix it… They shall ensure that the entrances and exits of the villages are well
made up, and, that existing malls and groves nearby places designed for pleasure and leisure, must be preserved,
trying to replanting them again if the land is suitable for it”.
That is the ancient city of Manchester, and rereading my description I must admit that, far from being exaggerated,
I have lacked appropriate words to expose the reality of dirtiness, of decrepitude and of discomfort that are there; and
how the construction of this neighbourhood, where at least they live between 20 and 30 thousand people, it is a
challenge to all rules of hygiene, ventilation and moral. And such a district exists in the heart of the second city of
England, the first industrial city in the world” (Engels, 1845)
“I have had to start dealing with the influence that atmospheric air, sunlight, drinking water and nature of the
localities and the land on which they have been founded, they have on the health of populations. I had to establish
how to understand the different types of buildings and their conditions of sanitation, moral and decency, of
independence and economy, that our civilization reclaims for each and every of its citizens. Finally, I have come to
draw the geometric layout of the streets and blocks ensuring that the whole city meets the hygienic and moral
conditions in harmony with economic and political, in order to make the project feasible” (Cerdà: 1859)
Although the work of Cerdà as "founder" of Urbanism has not been yet widely accepted, his role in creating the
discipline of urbanism has been internationally claimed by Rossi (1968) and subsequently by Choay (1980). However,
his theoretical work is little known
Fabián Estapé (1971) - brilliant Spanish economist, academic and promoter of the new edition of the General Theory
of Urbanization- poses this anecdote in his introductory writing. "During a visit of Cerdà and his wife to Paris, he
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an international "model". These operations consisted in rearticulating the city by
breaking the old fabric allowing the connexion between the centre and the new railway
stations. The transformation of the Parisian land and property market “upset traditional
notions of community as much as they upset the sociospatial structure, and transformations in
financial structures and labour processes had no less an impact upon the material basis of class
relations” (Harvey, 2003). The Parisian landscape and, subsequently that of worldwide
many cities following the Haussmann model, will change radically. Haussmann's team,
led by Alphand and Davioud introduce a new conception of the streets design and its
furnishings changing the appearance of this capital, from now characterized by its
gardens and boulevards
, constituting what I called the paradigm Alphand- Davioud-
Hittorff of qualification of the city (Remesar, 2007). Also changed the scenery of the
ways of life and dwelling in Paris “We have given the measure of our architectural talent in
the five-story buildings which make up the new Paris, where the population is stacked on barrack
rooms: uniform buildings, inconvenient, whose prototype are barracks and the garnished hôtel
the masterpiece (Proudhom, 1865). Cerdà himself harshly criticizes these ways of city
making city that spread around the world
In a few years, the model of Paris
is questioned as well as the "Beaux Arts"
system to produce a "beautiful city
" because, although it was based on the classic
parameters of "Art Urbain", started to expand towards a monumental eclecticism and
ornamentation. Haussmann’s model had not solved nor the housing problem nor had
showed the plans of the Barcelona's Eixample to Haussmann, the famous designer of the French city, who, along with
his wife, had invited them because they heard about the Cerdà’s Project. Well then, the hosts proposed to buy his
plans for application to Paris. Cerdà, very surprised, replied «No, I cannot sell them, they are not for sale, I designed
them for Barcelona and I wrote them for Catalonia»”
Programmed by Alphand and their elements being designed first by Hittorff and later on by Davioud
There were moments when the Public Administration envisaged, with innocent enjoyment, such stacking and
clustering of flats, rooms and pieces, because, while detracting the care for providing accommodation to the
neighbourhood’s excess, Public Administration could ostensibly increase what is called public wealth and taxation.
Therefore, we can say that this transformation was performed with general applause, except for tenants who saw and
touched how diminished domestic welfare and facilities at while rents rising at the same pace. Moreover, the public
ornaments, the appearance of the whole, was improving admirably. Each block (Intervias) looked like a palace, and
streets (vías)
somewhat wider and better aligned, especially those of first order, the privileged, those that travellers
should visit, rather than streets looked like promenades. And, meanwhile, Public Administration, out of vanity
sometimes and sometimes obeying a sense of humanity fought by hygienists, planted trees and built little gardens
wherever they have space for it. (…) By such means, our cities have reached that state of deplorable magnificence that
neither satisfy nor corresponds to the present needs and inspires founded suspicion and distrust for the future to
serious thoughtful men”(Cerdà, 1867)
A model that in Harvey’s words can be summarized as follows “Money, finance, and speculation became such a
grand obsession with the Parisian bourgeoisie (“business is other people’s money,” cracked Alexandre Dumas the
younger) that the bourse became a centre of corruption as well as of reckless speculation that gobbled up many a
landed fortune”. (Harvey, 2003)
In his classic work, Olsen (1986), analysing the case of the beautification programs in London, Paris and Vienna,
stated; “The three programmes shared a number of characteristics: they resulted from the initiative of central
government, depended, for their success, on the attraction of private investment by speculative builders and
developers; were intended to make royal or imperial residences more prominent; created public parks; mixed public
and private buildings, ecclesiastical and secular purposes, residential and commercial uses; used architecture mainly
in the classical tradition; put up monuments of national, imperial, dynastic, or cultural significance; built wide streets
to facilitate traffic and to serve as fashionable promenades; and combined aesthetic with social and sanitary motives.”
(Olsen, 1986:83)
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created a city for all - one of the ideals of Cerdà´s Plan for Barcelona- nor had respected
the growing concern towards the past of city. The rupture of the historic fabric of the city
with the consequent disappearance of "monuments", the frontage beautification of the
city present in the Parisian boulevards, require a correction of the model and ways of
addressing urban problems. This way, in Sitte’s words, anyone who wants to appear as
street aesthetics champion should be firstly convinced that the current means of
satisfying the traffic requirements are, perhaps, not infallible and, secondly, be prepared
to demonstrate that the needs of modern life (communication, hygiene, etc.) are not
necessarily obstacles to the development of the art of the street.
“It is precisely in the way of ordering cities, more than anywhere, that art has to exercise
its educational influence as its activities are felt in every moment in the soul of the people,
and not, for example in concerts or shows reserved for wealthy classes of the nation. It
would therefore be desirable that the government provides to the aesthetics of the street
all the importance it deserves” (Sitte, 1889).
City Aesthetics: Art Public- Civic Art -Civic Design
Sitte's demand will be consolidated into the new century with the appearance of a diffuse
movement that will take various forms: the Art Public movement. In the late nineteenth
century, cities faced the triple problem: an urban problem (physical and infrastructural),
a civic problem (social, cultural and symbolic) and a political problem (linked to the
growth of participatory democracy). Therefore, it is no surprising the emergence
concepts such as Art Public (in the Francophone area), Civic Art (in the States) and Civic
Design (in Britain) as an empirical and theoretical way for thinking and solve the
organization of the City that is starting its road towards the metropolitan scale. These
concepts revolve around the idea of the need for a "civic aesthetics". At first sight, giving
this study the title city aesthetics, we seem to subordinate all to beauty, [but…] I argued that
industrial art workers would find in perfect harmony between the form and the use of object
(Buls, 1893)
Buls activity as mayor of Brussels, facilitates the emergence of what we now call
a think-tank focused on the problem of Urban Aesthetics.
A brief analysis of this stream
will serve to clarify the thought on urban decorum. We have already noted that in the
nineteenth century, the concept of urban decorum had expanded into aspects, social and
economic, implicit in the hygienist paradigm that is crossing, a way or another, the
Buls adds “… But the officials of a great city which has a history and which preserves remains, alas! too rare of the
past, should not consider solely facilities of passage. They should remember that they belong to a nation, which counts
in art history and where citizens take pride in adorning the city of their birth. Now it happens that if one seeks aesthetic
rules applicable to old cities with the idea of changing them as required by modern life, it is precisely by following the
principles indicated by the engineer that the artist will find solutions most nearest to his ideal. Let us not therefore be
counted among the conservative admirers of the past, who, exclusive lovers of the picturesque, regret the vaulting of
the Senne and sigh for the infected ruins which used to breed fevers in the stream of foul water” (Buls, 1893).
Through the l'Oeuvre Belge d’Art Public (Broerman, 1898; Abreu, 2006). An analysis of the work related to the
International Congresses of Art Public organized by the Oeuvre Belge, allows us to define what was the underlying
idea, not just limited to European cities (Bohl -Lejeune, 2009, Monclús, 1995 ; Crouch, 2002) but with a great impact
on the North-American cities (De W., BC, 1900; Robinson, 1904; Hegemann-Peets, 1922)
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whole thought about the city. Now, the idea of Art Public
- Civic Art - Civic Design
expand the basis of this concept to other dimensions including social justice and the
necessary attractiveness of cities for tourism
. Besides, the recurring topic of improving
It would be necessary here to point out the concept of "Art Public", linked to the emergence of the Social Museum
in France. The Social Museum was founded in 1894, but more firmly rooted earlier in the social economy section of
the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, the Musée social was a republican think-tank that brought together reformers
from diverse social, political, and ideological backgrounds. As such, it represented the vibrant parapolitical sphere that
helped shape the debate on social welfare, for theMusée social operated not only as an institution for social research,
but it also maintained an immense library, published reports of Musée-sponsored studies, hosted public lectures on
diverse topics, and provided consultation services for those interested in sponsoring reform programs in their own
companies or creating new self-help associations like mutual aid societies. In fact, the Musée social's reputation for
expertise in social welfare and vigorous debate on all facets of the social question was enshrined in its unofficial title,
"the antechamber of the Chamber." Virtually every piece of social legislation proposed between 1895 and 1920 had
received ample scrutiny at the Musée before being presented to French legislators. Even the deputé Cornudet
admitted that the 1919 urban planning law that bears his name was drafted within the halls of the Musée
social because of its focus on public hygiene”(Beaudoin, 2003).
Under the umbrella of Social Museum in 1905, propelled by the General Association of Municipal Engineers,
Architects and Hygienists, creates the Section of Urban and Rural Hygiene. In 1910, several members of this Section
attend the International Conference on Town Planning (London) and participate in the international competition for
the Gross Berlin. Soon after they found the French Society of Architects and Planners (SFAU) with the participation of
personages like Agache, Auburtin, Bérard, Hébrard, Forestier, Jaussely, Parenty Prost or Redont; Eugène Hénard being
its chairman.
As noted above, members of this Section develop urban studies and projects for French cities but also for various
European and American cities, building relations with the British, American and European town planners. As it will
happen later with the Social Museum of Barcelona (1909), members of this Section are vividly influenced by the
proposals by Ebenezer Howard, Parker and Unwin concerning the garden city, but, too, by the Belgian idea of Art
A clear example of this duplicity would be Barcelona faced, on the one hand, to the problem of the Interior Reform
of the historic area and on the other, to the expansion of the city on a metropolitan scale. Referring to the reform,
Puig I Cadafalch, one of the biggest critics of Cerdà and later president of the Commonwealth of Catalonia stated,
"We must study the reform from an artistic point of view (...). It is necessary to do what Buls made in Brussels with the
Grand Place: not to destroy, but to rebuild, returning things to their primitive beauty" (Puig, 1900-1901). Meanwhile,
in 1903, the City Council launched an international call, "International Competition of preliminary drafts for linking
the Eixample area of Barcelona, the aggregated towns and the rest of the municipalities of Sarria and Horta". Leon
Jaussely, prominent representative of the French Art Public stream, won this competition (Fiol, 2008).
The Social Museum through its Department Rural and Urban Hygiene, shelters the creation, in 1917, of the Ecole d'Art
Public. This school is an initiative of Marcel Poëte who in 1904 had founded the Bibliothèque des Travaux Historiques
of Paris. This school publishes the magazine "L'Art Public". Louis Bonnier noted in the first issue of the magazine that
the school is organized from a multidisciplinary perspective possibly inspired by its counterpart in Liverpool. In 1909,
William Lever, the sponsor of the industrial garden suburb at Port Sunlight near Liverpool, established a Department
of Civic Design at Liverpool University in order to train already qualified architects, surveyors and engineers in the
new discipline of town planning and set up The Town Planning Review, under the editorship of the young Patrick
Abercrombie. In 1919, following the creation of the French Society of Town Planners, the School of Art Public will
become the School of Urban Studies which, in 1924, will become the Institute of Urban Planning at the University of
In nineteenth century, we witnessed the increase in what Veblen (1899) calls the leisure classand what Baudelaire
(1859-1863) labelled with the terms "man of the world", dandy and "flâneur". ”Baudelaire issued his manifesto for
the visual arts (and a century before Benjamin attempted to unravel the myths of modernity in his unfinished Paris
Arcades project). Balzac had already placed the myths of modernity under the microscope and used the figure of the
flaneur to do it. And Parisa capital city being shaped by bourgeois power into a city of capitalwas at the centre of
his world (Harvey, 2003). This increase comes from the growth of economic activity since the industrialization
processes, the economic internationalization and the development of the transport systems (rail, boats ...) and
generates a new social interest, which comes to replace the Grand Tour of previous ages previous: tourism. The
gradual emergence of a class with available leisure time and economic resources, in parallel to a set of related
activities oriented to know the whole world (the explorations for example), entail that the world can be known in
just one place, the site of an International Exhibition. “And that we will see now, as if we had it in front of our eyes.
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We are going to the Exhibition; all the human races are doing this visit. We will see in the same garden trees of all the
peoples of the Earth.”(Martí, 1889) wrote in exile in New York, José Martí, the Apostle of Cuban freedom, and editor
of "The Golden Age".
Since its inception in London (Great Exhibition, 1851), one after another follow until now. The BIE (Bureau of
International Expositions) estimates that between 1851 (London) and 1900 (Paris) the total number of visitors
exceeded 188 million people, not counting for the huge amount of people who travelled to international, regional or
local fairs. This tourism, increasingly massive, needs materials solutions, for lodging and transportation. A little known
but extremely interesting example is the Hotel International that Domènech i Montaner built for the International
Exhibition in Barcelona, 1888. Using the constructive rationality than cast iron offered, Domènech built, in 60 days,
the hotel, with capacity for two thousand guests, with 600 rooms and 30 apartments for large families. Above all, the
tourism requires that part of the symbolic capital that Bourdieu (19888) called objectivized cultural capital:
information, guided tours, tourist guides, and involving previous elections of site, of buildings, of landscapes - Which
ones? How to select them? Who will choose? Why these choices and not others?-. They emerge bodies, often
municipal, engaged in developing tourism in a city or province (in French the Syndicats d’Inititatives). Tourism
exacerbates the problem between the new and the old. A problem of citizenship, the construction of a new city faces
the need to preserve something of its past, its monuments.A prosperous city must inevitably transform itself to fit
the new needs of movement, cleanliness, hygiene and comfort. It cannot, however, neglect the moral and intellectuals
qualifications of a policed city preserving in its monuments traces of the past, glorious historical, artistic, poetic
memories” (Buls, 1893). Referring to Barcelona Martorell reports, Efforts are being made to link the picturesque, hilly
and monumental aspect present in the ancient cities, whilst serving hygiene and the current needs of daily traffic and
communications. It exists a great art with their works, their schools, their teachers, and their literature. Names like
Stübben, Henrici, Sitte or Buls, are eminent men who have developed this art, primarily in Germany, Austria, Belgium
at first, and then in Italy, England and the United-States,” (Martorell, 1911). Martorell proclaims this situation when
the works of the Via Layetana in Barcelona start and attends the invention of "Gothic Quarter" one of the tourist
destinations in the city. “The Gothic Quarter as we have devised it would be like a precious box that would guard the
delicious jewels of Barcelona: the Cathedral and the Palace of the Kings. All streets included in its perimeter should
return, not to the primitive state of the historical epoch when they were completed, but to the Catalan Gothic style,
thanks to the expert and wise hand of the very best modern architects in Catalonia. The houses façades, and, if
possible, the very houses, should be adapted with maximum purity to Gothic rules, developing, with appropriate
sobriety, a neighbourhood atmosphere, by means of the fantastic resources that have come from old Catalan builders
of those times. And a wonderful unity would flourish around that precinct, that would be like the heart of the city of
Barcelona, carefully preserved in a reliquary” (Rucabado,1911).
Nevertheless, does the Gothic Quarter really exist? Since the early 20's voices against this denomination rise, since,
from a historical and archaeological perspective, "the name", the "significant" does not correspond with its meaning.
Why is widespread this name? it is purely touristic. There is no propaganda abroad, nor Barcelona's sightseeing tour,
that do not boast of the "quartier gothique". It's like "Chinatown" also from Barcelona that some writers made popular
after the European war of 1914-1918 and where, certainly, they does not live a single representative of the Celestial
Empire, unlike New York and San Francisco in California” (Florensa, 1952)
Tourism, therefore, is one of the roots of concern about the aesthetics of the city. However, proposals for city
beautification directs also towards its own citizens. Citizens are increasingly interested in the enhancement of the
history of the city - especially in situations where there is a collision of identities- . The reasons, on one side the
destructive role of the pickaxe producing the new city and, on the other as Riegl says, because the modern spirit
revolts against the prisons d'art and it shows its opposition to: "remove a monument from its legacy environment, to
which is attached organically, and be locked in museums" (Riegl, 1903).
Worldwide, Cicerone Guides were written and published talking about the city, "about everything the city contains of
beauty and old, monumental and artistic, historical and artistic" (Bofarull, 1855). These Cicerone Guides, sometimes,
present routes in the city in order to make visible the artistic monuments and, while showing, in a didactic way, all
the memories and historical facts and folk traditions of the city. Sometimes, the Cicerone Guides will be a kind of mix
between current Street Atlas and City’s Facts & Figures Reports. In any case, mid nineteenth century there is a clear
awareness that "a city like Barcelona, which by the continuous increase in population, the progressive development
of industry and the commercial movement of the port (...) lacks of a complete work, able to GUIDE people in their
businesses and errands, and useful not only to its inhabitants but, also, to the countless strangers who, at all times,
enter and exit through the city gateways "(Saurí and Matas, 1849). Worldwide, the press will join the set of actions
focused on the analysis of the new city, its beauty, its beautification. What happened in Lisbon at the turn of the
century is an eloquent example. In 1892 Candido de Figueiredo publishes a curious little pamphlet in which thanks
to hypnosis gets a glimpse of the nineteenth century Lisbon from a jump in time: the narrator lives in the year 3000.
Shortly after (1906), Mello de Mattos published in the "Ilustração Portuguesa" a utopia in tribute to Verne. In this
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the city through art, especially by means of its beautification, these conferences highlight
the need to: Defence of historical sites and art heritage; defence of popular culture;
defence of the garden cities; and, most prominently, the unfolding of arts education. All
this in the context of providing housing for disadvantaged social classes.
Thus, from the Art Public perspective, the problem of the beautification of the
city is divided into various fields of municipal action covering the territories of Housing,
Heritage, Museum and Arts Education, configuring, at the same time new methods of
intervention in the territory that will gradually shaping the discipline of Urbanism /
Urban Planning/ Town Planning. In short, aestheticizing the city is the articulation of
certain measures (eg Control of ugliness on advertising) but mainly involves the
introduction of policies, usually municipal, able to articulate and promote the
improvement of the physical appearance of the city alongside the preservation of its
Heritage and the Aesthetic Education of citizens. It could be “a new dream and a new hope.
Within these is the impulse to civic art. Cities grow in splendour. There are new standards of
beauty and dignity for towns” (Robinson, 1904)
However, the Art Public concept splits into two directions. The first, represented
by the Belgian
stream, will focus on the problem of Arts Education and the
enhancement of industrial and applied arts, heralding the emergence of the discipline of
. The second stream, represented by the French, partly by the Germans, the
English and the North American, will focus the problem in the process of planning and
city making
. Before the First World War, several cities on both sides of the Atlantic and
utopia, some of the technical advances in construction (eg iron towers in Lesseps’s style, large bridges and tunnels,
..) and transport (sky train, underground ..) are treated with humour, since the writings aims to look at the past looking
ahead. Too in 1906 and too in the Ilustração Portuguesa, Fialho de Almeida (1906) wrote his "Monumental Lisbon".
A satire on the lack of competence of the Municipality and technicians to achieve a modern and attractive city for
visitors: “with a less dirty town and more zealous inhabitants to buff the city, Lisbon would enter at one blow in the
armorial of the dizzying capitals where life is deliciously grid with everyday sensations, and only then there would be
reason to call the foreigners and attracting them because the scintillation of the beautiful sun that we did not invent,
and the beautiful weather(Fialho de Almeida, 1906). On a more serious tone the historian Riberio Christino published
since 1911 to 1914, in the Diario de Noticias, his City Aesthetics, a series of writings intended to disseminate the
artistic and picturesque aspects of Lisbon, face of which the public, absorbed in their troubles, transits paying no
attention. Finally, dated 1925, a work by Fernando Pessoa "What the tourist should see". This guide-tour articulated
as a driving tour around the city and designed for cruise passengers, ie for travellers who comes in from the sea,
includes, as a curiosity, the proposed visit to some of the city's suburbs
18 "The City" largely consider any matter related all areas of technical, industrial and social activity, and would
endeavor to be the hub of all schools of thought in the field of public art. Hygiene and improvement of the habitat the
technique of construction, site conservation, creation of gardens and playgrounds, in a word, everything, from near or
far, related to art public, will find its place. It is no longer in effect singly apply aesthetic or technical theories to some
local or individual contingencies.. In the presence of social malaise caused by homeless miserable multitudes worsened
by the destruction of our factories and our economic tooling it is important that all efforts converge in a patriotic
cooperation towards a common goal. For builders aware of their task, the art and science have a social mission”. (La
Cité, 1917)
19 We should not dismiss the correlation with the Deutscher Werkbund approach founded by Hermann Muthesius in
1907 after his stay in England and strongly influenced by Arts & Crafts movement. The Werkbund exerted an
immediate influence, and similar organizations soon grew up in Austria (Österreichischer Werkbund, 1912) and in
Switzerland (Schweizerischer Werkbund, 1913). We must remember that Gropius' Bauhaus (1919) is a division of
Deutcher Werkund.
In general, then, it may be said that while the French or classical theory results in monumental effects for a city
and establishes unity, the German preserves for an old city a homelike feeling and a pleasing variety. It is worthy of
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beyond, initiate major processes of beautification based on different principles of l'Art
Public- Civic Art - Civic Design. In this context, the implicit concept of decorum has once
again expanded. Advances in analytical techniques (geographical, social, economic ...)
and of project representation allow a rational control of space and, gradually, derelict
the procedures of its figurative control.
Moreover, the necessary competitiveness of domestic products in an increasingly
internationalized economy propelled several policies enhancing the relationship
between art and industry. These policies, initiated under the Napoleonic Empire, had a
considerably importance since the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations"
(London, 1851) generating various artistic movements - Arts & Crafts, Industrial Art,
Glasgow School, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Catalan Modernism ... - that would define the
artistic end of the ninetieth century. However, the different streams under the umbrella
of Art Public- Civic Art - Civic Design, despite being influenced by these movements, do
not line up with them. As Anatole France states, it exists a latent concept of “The Art for
All, in all and by all
(France, 1913)
The expansion of the concept of decorum also applies to other aspects to consider
in creating a beautiful city. The aesthetics of ruin, present in the Romanticism of the
nineteenth century, gives way to a rational consideration of heritage. In the back office,
it begins the musealization of cities and of European cultural and social life. Thus, while
the Museum device ensures the preservation of aesthetic and cultural memory of
chattels, Heritage will do it respect real estate. This musealization is one of the
foundations of citizenship education through art.
We have already pointed out that the meaning of decorum had slipped in the late
eighteenth century, to an ornamental conception of design. Despite the importance of
new meanings of decorum explored by the different trends of the Art Public- Civic Art -
Civic Design, the problem of ornament, for and against, is the focus of discussion in the
years before the First World War
. Largely due to the significant changes introduced by
note, however, that the city planning has been undertaken by masters, whether In France or Germany, the two theories
have been used as circumstances warranted. .. The magnitude of the movement of city planning in Germany is so
great that literally hundreds of cities are now prosecuting schemes of systematic extension and development; and a
school of city planners has grown up within the past twenty-five years, with such men as Gurlitt, Stüben, Theodor
Fisher and Baumeister among its masters. A well-edited magazine, Der Städtebau” (City Planning) is published; and
1903 the first German Municipal Exposition was held in Dresden(Burnham & Bennett,1909). Oddly neither the
authors cited by Burnham, nor those mentioned in note 14, much less Cerdà, are referenced in the influential The
City in History by Lewis Mumford (1961) and Cities of Tomorrow by Peter Hall (1988)
Introduction to the book "L' Art Social” by Roger Marx “Roger Marx presents the civilizing and educator role of art
in modern society. He shows us its usefulness in all progress, requires for it the help of machinery, the division of labour,
all applications of scientific inventions, those that malcontents wanted to denounce and combat as defects. Roger
Marx, contradicting Ruskin, place them at the forefront of aesthetic necessities; presenting them as an essential
adjuvant for the success for who wants to achieve this wonderful problem: The Art for All, in all and by all” (France,
By 1900 appeared in France the "modern style" which advocates a certain baroque style (...) Soon, the modern
style will be derided and replaced by the more technical modernity, more "rigorous", more stripped of the natural and
without fear of sophistication (...) Modernity starts with what may be called the silent disaster. Let us recall the
essential characteristics of this unique event. Around 1900 the core principles of social practice in Europe are crumbling
and even collapsing. Thus ends what looked like definitely established during the heyday of the bourgeoisie, in
particular space and time, representation and reality (...) the sensitive space and the perspective disintegrate (…) From
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the artistic Avant-gardes in their practice and to the reflection on the Art and
Architecture regarding the "excesses" of both Art Nouveau and eclecticism Beaux Arts.
Adolf Loos stated in his influential work "Ornament and Crime" (1908) that "cultural
evolution is equivalent to the elimination of ornament in the common object". Although during
the nineteenth century "style, meant ornament" and "the ornamental epidemic is recognized
and state-subsidized with government moneySoon the streets of the cities will shine forth as
white walls. Like Zion, the holy city, the capital of heaven”. A less known aspect of the work
by Loos refers to the other dimension of decorum introduced in the early twentieth
century: the social one linked with industrialization. "The work of an ornamentist is no
longer payable as it should. The ornamentist has to work twenty hours to achieve the same income
of a modern worker who works eight hours". Generally, the ornamented object is more
expensive however, “the paradox is that an ornamental piece with the same material cost as
that of a smooth object and that needed triple hours for its realization, when it is sold is paid the
half of the other”. The lack of ornament results in a reduction in working hours and a
salary increase. In current terminology, reducing ornament increases productivity and
contributes to social equity.
Nevertheless, the Avant-gardes not only question the "superficial" aspect
(ornament) of objects but also challenge the essences of the representation of objects and
of space. Referring to Cubism, Giedion (1941) states: "As did the scientist, the artist became
aware that the aesthetic qualities of space is not limited to its infinity, as with the gardens of
Versailles. The essence of space, as we understand it today, is in its multifaceted nature and even
in the infinite potential of relations containing ". Cubism breaks with the Renaissance
perspective and introduces "a principle that is closely related to modern life: the simultaneity"
A New Architecture for a New City. Decorum and Modern Movement
These new concepts and new aesthetics will facilitate the emergence of a New
, in parallel to the evolution of construction techniques in the context of
ordering of the metropolitan city, because of the need to provide affordable housing for
the working classes and, after the First World War, the reconstruction of cities. Sert (1930)
this shock, emerge the three "values" that will make modernity, namely the technique, the language and the work.
(...) The technique will gradually become mistress and queen (...) The work will become the rival of the technique,
being the prerogative and the supreme value in socialism when technology points its discredit because it promises and
probably allows its replacement. The discourse? Language? They will provide the superior values in Western societies,
the replacement and substitution.” (Lefebvre, 1981)
New Architecture is not understood solely as new way to conceive and constructing buildings. The great change, as
announced since Art Public movement, refers to an architectural thinking that anchors buildings in its urban setting.
Hence, the importance of the experiences of the Viennese Hoff, of German Siedlungen, of the Bauhaus for the
development of architectural - urban thinking that gradually will abandon the principles raised by the Art Public - Civic
Art - Civic Design, eventually adopting the principles of functionalism. “Everything looks set for the world to make an
architectural regrowth. Other arts fade away - for what they have of interiors and of minority. The average person
triumphs. We do not know how but suddenly, this average person has awakened a fine sensitivity for pure form and
pure colour that are the opposite of form and colour attached to things and always impure. In addition, we live
outdoors. Architecture as art, has meant that the man leaves his cubicle and, when viewed from outside, is ashamed
of it. The interior architecture is paradoxically the exterior art par excellence. Our era is this - the escape to the
exteriority” (Ortega y Gasset, 1928)
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understands that the New Architecture: is the only one that can fully meet the current
needs of the individual (material and spiritual) using the constructive elements provided by the
industry today”
. While recognizing, along with his colleagues in the GATEPAC
although "We are witnessing a new spirit state that cancels customs and traditions and that
tends to be universal", Contemporary Architecture, "must agree with these characters"
(GATEPAC, 1931). In this context the residential model, the family house with garden
introduced by the Garden City movement and assumed largely by the Art Public is in
crisis and begins to be replaced by the construction of the city through large multifamily
. Before First World War housing needs were satisfied within the possibilities of
production of manual workers, using materials from each country, obtained at low
prices; construction methods were sons of tradition and secular customs. The change in
the universal economic landscape requires banishing systems that have lost their
effectiveness and proclaim that the economy in construction only can be achieved
through three cardinal conditions: a) Systematic standardization of construction
elements. b) Mechanical mass production of these standard elements. c) Dry assembly
of standardized houses. Moreover, the Hygienist thought substrate of the New
In this work, Sert, adds: "this does not mean that it must be kept some traditional systems that tie in perfectly with
modern construction, such as, for example, the admirable flat brick vaults of our land" opening the way of the modern
movement to what later would be called Critical Regionalism (Frampton, 1980; 1983). Only, to point out that the
relationship between the New, the radical, and the tradition was already highlighted by Gropius (1930). "The idea of
tradition (...) is in no way hostile or contrary to the idea of the radical. (...) It is easily possible that a man may act at
the same time, radically and traditional (...) Tradition, for us, has meaning and value only when we use the experiences
of our ancestors with lively intelligence, when we add new experience to the already known. "(Gropius, 1930).
That is one of the foundations of the Spanish GATEPAC thinking; "Adapting a historical system is distorting the system,
and deny the time. In regional architectures, resulting from weather conditions, local customs and materials available,
only the weather has absolute value. The bottom line stand. The episodic, accidental, must disappear, a division of
universal architecture because of the weather conditions can be expected. Southern Architecture: terraces, awnings,
flown slabs, filtered light. Northern Architecture: large glass surfaces (...). Bring the architecture to its natural
environment, ie, technical, social and economic, from which is currently separated, is the program (accepted by many,
but which few attempting to perform), that the GATEPAC Group intends to implement coordinating efforts and
working collectively." (AC, 1931 nr. 1). Garcia Mercadal observes with admirable intuition that Mediterranean
architecture (Greece, Spain, North of Africa, Italy) was a one and only, and that this architecture had a striking
resemblance to the newest northern discoveries by Oud, by Taut. So he adds referring to residential design; "The
climate, materials and social structure of each nation, greatly influence the arrangement of the plant and its inner
structure, changing from an era to another, always because of its immediate dependence on social factor” (García
Mercadal, 1930)
Since 1930 (and until the end of the War of Spain) G.A.T.E.P.A.C. (Group of Spanish Architects and Technicians for
the Progress of Contemporary Architecture) is a movement that promotes the introduction of new approaches
derived from Modern Architecture and CIAM in Spain. The main group is the Catalan G.A.T.C.P.A.C, based in
Barcelona, that will disseminate its ideas through AC (Contemporary Architecture)
“The tendency to level out civic education leads to consider the house with garden as a relic of the past home.
Already Walter Gropius, in the Brussels Congress has pointed out the benefits of collective dwellings within the city,
they are economics as minimum room; they suppress a number of causes of wastage centralizing services and ensuring
light, air and freedom. The domestic problem of large multi-storey linear blocks-that has nothing to do with the
psychosis for skyscrapers-is defended fiercely by the architects of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (Basegoda,
1932). Almost contemporarily albeit in a tone full of irony Fernandez Shaw stated: "We must shout out: Capitalists!!!
Here is the new architecture!!! Good, nice, cheap!!! (...) The rationalist architecture (not to be confused with a certain
modernist trend already observed), will endure. As Greek art, such as Gothic it is the architecture of no external
structure. (...) Only the modern architect can cover completely the problems of construction: (1) economic problem.
Rental (2) Utility Problem. Plant. (3) Constructive problem. Structure. (4) Artistic problem. Exterior and interior
decoration "(Fernández Shaw, 1928)
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Architecture reintroduces the discussion about keeping the fabric and the urban frame
of the historic city, which they accuse being the cause of the poor living conditions, the
poor health and the poor hygiene of the lower classes that still occupy the old buildings
of these urban areas. No wonder, then, that this situation will again raise the topic of
the role of art in the city, “The function of art, is it necessary? Is it appropriate to deal with it
a long time, as if it was a major problem? Indeed new materialist theories are propagated passing
from the architecture to the composition of buildings and the city, and they tell us that the
technique is sufficient to achieve beauty” (Giovannoni, 1931).
The city of basic functions: housing, work, leisure and circulation seem ready to
end the topic of decorum. The beginnings of modernism in architecture and planning
meant, “the eschewing of ornament and personalized design. It also meant a prevailing passion
for massive spaces and perspectives, for uniformity and the power of the straight line“. (Harvey,
1990: 36). If the ideal of refinement resulted in fear of offending the laws of decorum, "the
new trends considered decorum as the main enemy and the bourgeois taste as a term of
opprobrium" (Gombrich, 1990). Thus, the concept of decorum all but disappeared from
design theory because “modernist thought was informed by an antagonism to the rhetorical
traditions that underpinned decorum. Nevertheless, aspects of the idea have persisted in
continuing debates regarding the social and representational dimension of the built environment
(Kohane and Hill, 2001: 64).
As Tzonis points out, the elimination of pre-rational ornament, either by defenders of
the structure as by advocates of function, resulted in the total exclusion of rationality in
the overall methodology of architecture. Architecture became appearance and surface
decoration contained within a structural or functional packaging, when converting
structural and functional containers into decoration.
"The modern movement revitalized the visual order at the service of a false environment,
not oppressive, using objects that caused an even greater oppression to humans (...)
Henry Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson had a more sincere explanation of the
Modern Movement than its own followers. They claimed that the visual order had been
the main concern of this movement. Rationalization was only a façade, significant for a
society that seemed being governed, in most of the areas, through rational decisions.
Hitchcock and Johnson thought the result was not the conversion of architecture in
science, but an alternative way to visually organize the environment, a new style, “the
international style” " (Tzonis, 1977)
Apparently, the abandonment of ornamentation involves another fundamental neglect
in the practice of city making: the abandonment of the symbolic. Argan suggests that the
ornament is functional "with regard to an order of functions requiring the container be not only
a container, but also, an object in connection with what the world it has to be. Only then, the
object may exceed the limit of its strictly practical function and fulfil a symbolic function of an
indisputable social importance "(Argan, 1961)
Public Art in the Synthesis of Arts
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However, it would not be fair, following a slightly reflective stance installed in the
analysis, to demonize the Modern Movement in relation to urban decorum. Indeed, I
have argued that the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic
for the Universal Exhibition in
Paris, 1937, was a "paradigm for Public Art" (Remesar, 2013). As Giedion (1944) notes
Only in exceptional cases (Picasso's "Guernica" 1937, ordered by the Spanish Loyalist
Government) were the creative contemporary artists allowed to participate in a Community
In 1943, Sert, Léger and Giedion publish Nine Points on Monumentality that might
be considered a milestone on the rethinking of the beautification of the city within the
Modern Movement. Coming each of them from a different discipline, the manifesto
showed their concern about the relationship between art and public space, reflecting the
possible collaboration among art, architecture and history.
“People want the buildings that represent their social and community life to give more
than functional fulfilment. They want their aspiration for monumentality, joy, pride, and
excitement to be satisfied…The fulfilment of this demand can be accomplished with the
new means of expression at hand though it is not an easy task. The following conditions
are essential for it. A monument being the integration of the work of the planner,
architect, painter, sculptor, and landscapist demands close collaboration between all of
them. This collaboration has failed in the last hundred years. Most modern architects have
not been trained for this kind of integrated work. Monumental tasks have not been
entrusted to them (… ) Monumental architecture will be something more than strictly
functional. It will have regained its lyrical value. In such monumental layouts,
architecture and city planning could attain a new freedom and develop new creative
possibilities. Such as those that have begun to be felt in the last decades in the fields of
painting, sculpture, music, and poetry, the best known artists today have a good market,
but there are no walls, no places, no buildings, where their talent can touch the great
public, where they can form the people and the people could form them.(Sert, Léger
and Giedion, 1943).
Slightly after, in his 1944 paper, Giedion would add, only the imagination of the real
creators is suited to build the lacking civic centres, again to instil the public with the old love for
festivals, and to incorporate all the new materials, movement, colour, and the abundant technical
possibilities”. It is not surprising that post-war CIAMs (1947, CIAM VI, Bridgwater,
England; 1949, CIAM VII, Bergamo, Italy, 1951; CIAM VIII, Hoddesdon, England) faced
Horacio Torrent (2010) holds the same opinion, “The Pavilion showed Sert’s concern about the ways in which the
architecture could relate to art”.
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topics as Reconstruction of the Cities
(logical subject after the war), Art and
” and “The Heart of the City. Towards the humanization of urban life
Nor is it surprising that on the periphery of the mainstream of the Modern
Movement, emerged a new monumentality linked to the language of the avant-garde,
such as the Monument to the victims of World War II, created in 1935 by Brancusi in
Tirgu-Jiu, Romania. As well as, the paradigmatic case of the University City in Caracas,
classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and a jewel of contemporary architecture
and urbanism, designed and built by Carlos Raúl Villanueva between 1943 and 1960, a
project in which he displayed an enormous production of works of art (murals, stained
glass, sculptures ...).
“It would be a good idea to remember with Michel Rangon that, in the same way that
lions should not be kept in zoos, paintings and sculptures should not be imprisoned in
museums. The natural environment for wild animals is the jungle. The natural
environment for artistic works is square, gardens, public buildings, factories, airports: all
the places where man perceives man as a companion, as an associate, as a helping hand,
as hope and not as the withered flower of isolation and indifference” (Villanueva, 1980)
The 1950s marked the beginning of the misconfiguration of the city as it had been
conceived since the eighteenth century, both the authorities (central, regional, local) as
real estate developers, applying the principles of functionalism: zoning, prominence of
Respect to the relationship between architecture and the arts, Gieidon introduced “ another step. A step towards
a rather intangible subject: aesthetic problem, or if you prefer to say, emotional expression” (Giedion,1951)
The other plenary session, held on the fourth day, was devoted to the theme "Report on the Plastic Arts," and
reflected Giedion and Richards's efforts to push ClAM discussions toward issues of aesthetics. The questions under
consideration attempted to clarify how a "synthesis of the arts" derived from a collaboration between artists and
architects might occur. and to consider whether the "man in the street" was able to appreciate such a synthesis Once
again the session was a babel of divergent comments and Giedion admitted that it was impossible to summarize the
results” (Mumford, 2000). Some criticisms on the conference were stated by Zevi (Zevi,1949)
When dealing with problems of planning and replanning cities, it becomes evident that the treatment of groupings
of public buildings, together with their related open spaces, requires this reunion of the arts to display a more generous
plastic expression. In these centres of community life planner architect deals with civic design uniting planning and
architecture. This community life will shape the Cores of the village, ot the neighbourhood or city sector, of the city
itself. Throughout history, it is in such places of public gathering-the agora, the forum, the cathedral square - that the
integration of the arts has been most successfully accomplished.
Here again we do not imply that this reunion of the arts should copy old examples. We have means today that were
totally unknown in the past. Light and mobile elements can play a very important role. Centres of community life could
be constantly: transformed. Many of our best artists today still think in terms of murals or monumental sculpture for
eternity, but commercial advertising has developed new techniques that could produce wonderful works if used by our
most creative artists for non-commercial purposes. Commercial advertising today controls visual stimulus in our cities
and it is this advertising, which is in touch with the people. The works of the great creators of modern art are not
shown in the places of public gathering, and are only known to a select few. Our best artists are divorced from the
people. Their works go from their studios to the homes of wealthy private collectors, or to the deep-freeze
compartments of the museums. There they are catalogued and belong to history. They join the past before they meet
the present. This unnatural course leads nowhere. Painting and sculpture have to be brought to the living centres of
our communities, to the Core of the city, for the visual stimulus of the people, for their enjoyment, for their education,
to be submitted to their judgment.
City planning, architecture, painting and sculpture can be combined in different ways, but these fall into three main
categories - integral, applied, and related. Which way should be used in each case will depend greatly on the character
and function of the buildings and on the artists themselves and the nature of their work” (Sert, 1952)
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mobility - ending with the "donkey’s way" as Le Corbusier (1925) had foreseen years ago
- and residence in large and isolated collective blocks. Cities, both sides of the Iron
Curtain, grew thanks to large residential and industrial operations and articulating the
territory through highways. However, as pointed out by Sert, collecting some of the
ideas raised in Nine Points, "architecture today must be more functional and cannot exist
without a sense of plastic values" (Sert, 1951).
This approach allowed to bring contemporary art to the streets, as, more
discreetly, was happening in some of the European operations of rebuilding the city (eg
English New Towns, Reconstruction of Rotterdam, etc)., Sert, in this same work, stated
three possible ways of cooperation between the arts. Artists and architects could work
integrally, when their work is related to the conception of the building. The other
possibility was the "applied mode", ie a partnership in which the architect defined a
specific site
in order that the artist could develop his artwork. Finally, the arts can be
simply related to each other, each working independently. Therefore, the Synthesis of
Arts is possible. However, sometime later, Noguchi remarksTo say that my work has been
a collaborative effort is not, however, quite correct. I think that what most architects want from a
sculptor is an embellishment, not exactly a collaboration, each one making his own separated
contributions (quoted in Dean Hermann, 2002)
Certain sections and quarters of the city - some urban operations and not the city as a
whole, a practice that has continued until today except for some policies such as
Barcelona (de Lecea, Remesar, Grandas 2004-2010) from late 1970- will receive the
benefit of this programmatic approach linking architecture, urbanism and art. City
aestheticizing means to operate flagship operations (University Campus, Historic
Centres, Core Business Districts, Big Transportation infrastructures, new residential and
corporate developments) such were the new buildings for the UN in New York or for
UNESCO in Paris along the Fifties.
In any case, Public Art
opted for the introduction
of contemporary languages of art these works of art, usually abstract, ie non-figurative,
have a role of extras: they look great in the "surrounding" space, a space that kills the
environment” (Lefebvre, 1974:366)
However, this vision of a functional city embellished punctually by the hand of
public institutions or large private companies, responds to a fragmented reality, to a city
that due to how it is made, introduces a structurally spatial segregation, but also an
Curiously, the problem of "site specific" will become one of the central themes of Public Art. Site-specificity is
therefore a core argument in “antiaesthetic” approaches to Serra’s work. As Krauss clearly states by taking site-
specificity as its medium, Serra’s sculpture moves in on a theoretical dimension also acknowledged by every other
contributors of the October Files book on Serra” (Leal, 2010). Although used in very different contexts both concepts,
share a common definition: the spatial form that should determine the nature of the work
Even with the support of state or local laws and under the gaze a stances for aesthetic needs in operations urban
regeneration (Remesar, 2010; 2013). Public art is aimed at urban qualification, in terms both physical and symbolic.
In this context, we can say that, despite the differences between different historical periods, the practice of public art
it should be an integral aspect of the "city-making" processes.”(Remesar, 2011)
“ The widely known assertion that Public Art challenges the main assumptions of contemporary art theory because
it, dramatically challenges the autonomic conception of creative work. I am specifically reporting myself to the idea
that public art cannot be merely thought as yet another available ground for contemporary art. That, on the contrary,
public art has to adapt itself to the complex and demanding context of the public space, where artists should never be
allowed to freely play their creative will ” (Leal, 2010).
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economic and social segregation. A city without qualities. In his introduction to The
Image of the City, Lynch says his goal is
to consider the visual quality of the American city
by studying the mental image of
that city which is held by its citizens. It will concentrate especially on one particular
visual quality: the apparent clarity or "legibility" of the cityscape. By this we mean the
ease with which its parts can be recognized and can be organized into a coherent pattern
(…) This book will assert that legibility is crucial in the city setting, will analyse it in
some detail, and will try to show how this concept might be used today in rebuilding our
cities”( Lynch, 1960).
As noted, (Remesar - Esparza, 2014) Lynch based his systemic analysis on the principles
of Gestalt psychology from the idea of an interaction between medium and subject based
on the concept of dynamic field, a structure where they interact dynamically figure and
background generating "form"
. Lynch introduces a concept of environment that
exceeds the notion of surroundings and is associated with a social and cultural context
that is no longer a "universal type" as used by the urban theory at the time. Therefore,
there is a need to reformulate the theory of urban form, since urban form goes beyond
the limits of purely physical form
and design has to be the playful creation and strict
evaluation of the possible forms of something, including how it is to be made” (Lynch, 1981).
Lynch departs form the idea that American cities are ugly “A beautiful and delightful city environment is an oddity,
some would say an impossibility. Not one American city larger than a village is of consistently fine quality, although a
few towns have some pleasant fragments. It is hardly surprising, then, that most Americans have little idea of what it
can mean to live in such an environment. They are clear enough about the ugliness of the world they live in, and they
are quite vocal about the dirt, the smoke, the heat, and the congestion, the chaos and yet the monotony of it. But they
are hardly aware of the potential value of harmonious surroundings, a world which they may have briefly glimpsed
only as tourists or as escaped vacationers. They can have little sense of what a setting can mean in terms of daily
delight, or as a continuous anchor for their lives, or as an extension of the meaningfulness and richness of the world.(
…) Although such a process can become sterile if not accompanied by increasing control and judgment, even awkward
"beautification" of a city may in itself be an intensifier of civic energy and cohesion. (Lynch, 1960)
Therefore Lynch argues that an environmental image, responds to an environmental configuration and has three
parts: identity (must be a figure), structure (involving the background) and meaning (emotional or practical for the
observer). The main aspects of the form are: Singularity or figure-background clarity (involving sharpness of
boundary; closure; contrast of surface, shape, intensity, complexity, size, use, spatial location); Simplicity (clarity and
simplicity of visible form in the geometrical sense, limitation of parts)… Continuity: continuance of edge and surface
(as in a street channel, skyline, or setback); nearness of parts (as a cluster of buildings); repetition of rhythmic interval
(as a street-corner pattern); similarity, analogy, or harmony of surface, shape, or use… Dominance: dominance of one
part over others by means of size, intensity, or interest… Clarity of Joint: high visibility of joints and seams, clear
relation and interconnection… Directional Differentiation: asymmetries, gradients, and radial references, which
differentiate one end from another… Visual Scope: qualities which increase the range and penetration of vision, either
actually or symbolically… Motion Awareness: the qualities which make sensible to the observer, through both the
visual and the kinesthetic senses, his own actual or potential motion… Time Series… and Names and Meanings: non-
physical characteristics which may enhance the imageability of an element” (Lynch, 1960). At the time Lynch published
his Image of the Ciy, Gordon Cullen (Cullen, 1961) published in England, the book "Townscapes" highlighting aspects
of continuity of the urban landscape in relation to the movement of people (serial vision) and total perception of the
environment, constructed and symbolic, ie the content of the environment. Largely approaches by Lynch and by
Cullen, are mutually complementary but departing from very different theoretical approaches and interests.
“The principal concern of the physical planner is to understand the physical environment and to help shape it to
serve the community’s purposes. An outsider from some other discipline would ordinarily assume that such a
profession had developed some ideas concerning the diverse effects of different forms of the physical environment
(not to mention the reverse effects of nonphysical forces on the environment itself). And he might be equally justified
in expecting that intellectual leaders in the profession had been assiduously gathering evidence to check and
reformulate these ideas so that they might better serve the practitioners in the field. A systematic consideration of the
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Almost parallel, is the influential “Death and Life of great American Cities” by Jane
Jacobs. The objective of the book is clear
This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding. It is also, and mostly,
an attempt to introduce new principles of city planning and rebuilding, different and
even opposite from those now taught in everything from schools of architecture and
planning to the Sunday supplements and women's magazines. My attack is not based on
quibbles about rebuilding methods or hair splitting about fashions in design. It is an
attack, rather, on the principles and aims that have shaped modern, orthodox city
planning and rebuilding. (Jacobs, 1961)
In setting forth different principles, Jacobs is interested about common, ordinary things:
for instance,
“what kinds of city streets are safe and what kinds are not; why some city parks are
marvellous and others are vice traps and death traps; why some slums stay slums and
other slums regenerate themselves even against financial and official opposition; what
makes downtowns shift their centres; what, if anything, is a city neighborhood, and what
jobs, if any, neighborhoods in great cities do. In short, I shall bewriting about howcities
work in real life, because this is the only way to learn what principles of planning and
what practices in rebuilding can promote social and economic vitality in cities, and what
practices and principles will deaden these attributes”. (Jacobs, 1961)
From my point of view, Lynch and Jacobs, raise serious objections to the postulates of
modernism, assuming, first, the claim that city making cannot be the exclusive domain
of one or two disciplinary fields (architecture and engineering). For them, the city is not
only a matter of forms. It involves many actors, from policy makers, through real-state
agents until the citizens engaged in processes of complaining rights and demanding a
greater participation. Also, represent a multi- or interdisciplinary
approach that will
take shape in later decades. This approach is appropriate because the city more than an
object is a process, a decourse in the Lefebvre’s terminology, which tends to overcome
separations and dissociations between
interrelations between urban forms and human objectives would seem to lie at the theoretical heart of city planning
work” (Lynch Rodwin, 1958).
The City is a matter for more than one discipline but none of them is diminished in collaboration” (Brandão, 2006).
Professions appear as beneficiaries of the division of knowledge and as "administrators" of an operational discipline.
Taken in their technicality and specialization, knowledge activities have a greater gap between them that is filled by
everyday life. Everyday life is profoundly related to all activities, with all their differences and conflicts and it’s their
meeting point, their unity, their common ground"(Lefebvre, 1974).But this process is an evolution, in which knowledge
and practice interact, by operating in a changing environment. This is what is happening in the field of Urban Design.
Urban transformation as a matter of knowledge has a single object, the City, but its multifaceted approaches allow
multiple approaches from scientific fields and design cultures. (1) The theoretical formulations about the city, coming
from the social sciences - economics, sociology, history, geography - structure themselves retrospectively from the
"city that exists," or “has existed”. (2) The city's design culture, based on constructs of ideas and paradigms on the city
of tomorrow; educated in the various subcultures, each with its own technical sophistication and sense of mission:
Architectural culture, Landscape Architecture culture, Industrial Design, Visual Arts, Engineering(Brandão –Remesar,
2010) . This way an interdisciplinary approach is need interdisciplinary collaborative and reflexive process, rather
than an "established" formula, gives new answers to new problems and new urban contexts, based on actors
agreements” (Remesar, 2000)
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"The work (unique, object carrying the mark of a 'subject', the creator, the artist, and
of a time that will not return) and the product (repeated, the result of repetitive gestures,
so reproducible, leading at the limit the automatic reproduction of social relations).. The
aim would be therefore, on the horizon, in the limit, to produce the space of humankind
as a collective work (generic) of this species, similarly to what was called and still is call
"art" (Lefebvre, 1974 :485)
Finally, in both works there is implicit the need for a theory of urban decorum. The
problem emerges again and it is no coincidence that Alexander in his "Notes of the
Synthesis of form" wrote the chapter Goodness of Fit
, “Is based on the idea that every
design problem begins with an effort to achieve fitness between two entities: the form in question
and its context (Alexander, 1967) .
If “The Image of the City”, remains an indispensable reference into thinking
about the city, “Good city form”(1981) by Lynch, to my understanding, formulates a
theory of urban decorum. This book is a major work where Lynch researches the
connections between human values and the physical forms of cities, starting from a naive
question: What makes a good city?.
The purpose of this essay it to make a general statement about the good settlement, one
relevant and responsive to any human context, and which connects general values to
specific actions. The statement will restrict itself to the connection between human values
and the spatial, physical city, although that last is meant in a broader sense than is
commonly intended… I will take the view that settlement form is the spatial arrangement
of persons doing things, the resulting spatial flows of persons, goods and information,
and the physical features which modify space in some way significant to those actions,
including enclosures, surfaces, channels, ambiences and objects” (Lynch, 1981)
To develop his theory Lynch argues that the study should start from intentional
behaviours that unfold in a settlement form, “connecting values
of very general and long-
range importance”.
Lynch's and Jacobs’ work give rise to a need that not covered by the revisions of
Modern Architecture in its CIAM, and already announced by some practices considered
regionalists. In terms of Lefebvre it was necessary
“To restore a "code of the space", that is to say, a common language for the practice and
theory, for the people, for architects, for scientists, can be considered tactically as an
The form is the solution to the problem ; the context defines the problem In other words, when we speak of design
, the real object of discussion is not the form alone, but the ensemble comprising the form and its context. Good fit is
a desired property of this ensemble which relates to some particular division of the ensemble into form and context.
(…) The rightness of the form depends, in each one of these cases, on the degree to which it fits the rest of the
ensemble. What is true is that designers do often develop one part of a functional program at the expense of another.
But they do it because the only way they seem able to organize form clearly is to design under the driving force of
some comparatively simple concept” (Alexander, 1964)
Lynch's vision anticipates in twenty years the driving idea of Ascher (2001) called GIP system (Goods, Information,
These values can be studied using five “Performance dimensions: Vitality, Sense - to avoid possible ambiguities of
meaning in the use of the concept of "urban aesthetic", Lynch prefers "to use a term like sense, it has a more precise
meaning in terms of environmental form and is free from old controversial goblins." (Lynch, 1981) - Appropriateness,
Access Control”, and two meta-criteria “Efficacy and Justice”.
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immediate task. Such a code it first will regroup the dissociated elements: the private and
the public, the encounter and the difference in space. It would gather the terms dispersed
for the current spatial practice and the ideologies that justify it: the micro (the scale or
architectural level) and the macro (assigned to urban planners, policymakers, planners),
the everyday life and the urban, the inside and the outside, work and non-work (the feast),
the durable and the ephemeral” (Lefebvre 1973)
Qualifying Public Space: From Public Art and Placemaking to Urban Arts and
Cosmopolitan Aesthetics
As Harvey states “( Jacobs defends) a different kind of urban aesthetic that focused on local
neighbourhood development, and on the historical preservation, and ultimately gentrification, of
older areas” (Harvey, 2012). In this sense aesthetization of the city - is not a goal in itself
-as could be interpreted from some tenets of Art Public- Design- Civic Civic Art or some
of the proposals for the Synthesis of the Arts, but one of the means that will provide
quality to the city that is nothing but its public space (Borja, 1977). The street
, ordering
element of the Art Urbain, reappears with intensity in the sixties. First, because people
took the streets (large demonstrations for Human Rights, demonstrations against the
Vietnam War, French May citizen protests against dictatorships, etc.). Second, why the
late sixties and beginning of the next decade, shows the worldwide emergence of the
urban question (Castells, 1972) and of the urban social movements (Castells, 1973). New
ways of thinking are required in order to improve the conditions of urban life and new
actors (Commnunity planning groups, Advocacy Planning groups, organized
neighbourhood groups ...) will reclaim their role in the decision making processes of city
making. Finally, as Gehl (1971) points out because life continues beyond the houses,
industrial buildings or large circulation pipelines that have become urban arteries. There
is an outdoor life, between buildings, a social and community life that must be defended
and enhanced. As Jacobs had noted when outdoor areas are of poor quality, only strictly
necessary activities occur.
Whereas cognitive reflexivity has its origins in the rationalist and Cartesian assumptions of the Enlightenment
tradition, this other dimension of reflexivity is rooted in the assumptions and practices of aesthetic modernism… If
cognitive reflexivity is a matter of monitoring of self and of social-structural roles and resources, then aesthetic
reflexivity entails self-interpretation and the interpretation of social background practices… This involves the
proliferation of images and symbols operating at the level of feeling and consolidated around judgements of taste and
distinction… Such distinctions presuppose the extraordinary growth of mobility, both within and between nation-
states. This can be described as the development of an aesthetic cosmopolitanism rather than a a normative and
cognitive emancipation” (Lash & Urry, 1994)
"What is the street? It is the place (topos) for meeting, without that will not fit other possible encounters in places
allocated for this purpose (cafés, theaters ...). These privileged places or they animate the street and use its animation,
or they do not exist. It is on the street where occurs the movement of catalysis, without which human life does not
happen, but rather the separation and segregation. When you have abolished the streets (from Le Corbusier) in the
'new neighbourhoods', its consequences are quickly manifest: disappearance of life, limiting the role of the city to a
dormitory city, aberrant functionalization of existence. The street has a number of functions that Le Corbusier disdains:
informative function, symbolic function and leisure function [...] The Street and its space is where a group (the city)
manifests itself, it is shown, and takes possession of places performing the appropriateness of time-space. This
appropriation shows that the use and value in use can master change and exchange value” (Lefebvre, 1971:25)
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“When outdoor areas are of high quality, necessary activities take place with
approximately the same frequency - though they clearly tend to take a longer time because
the physical conditions are better. In addition, however, a wide range of optional activities
will also occur because place and situation now invite people to stop, sit, eat, play, and so
on. In streets and city spaces of poor quality, only the bare minimum of activity takes
place. People hurry home. In a good environment, a completely different, broad spectrum
of human, activities is possible” (Gehl, 1971).
Public space is the setting for the public part of our everyday life, "in every society there is
a daily life and every person, whatever the place holds in the social division of labour, has a daily
life. However, this does not mean in any way that the content and structure of daily life are
identical for the whole society and for each individual(Heller 1972:19). The idea of public
space is closely linked to the reality of the city, the values of citizenship and the horizon
of civilization. The public space is the civic space of the common good, as opposed to the
private space of particular interest “ In the city it becomes visible the implicit covenant that
founded citizenship. The cities and their public places express very well the image that societies
have of themselves. The city is a particular staging of the societies” (Inneratity, 2006)
The goal of both of theoreticians and of policy makers is to provide public space
to cities. Public Space would be the factor that allows the city to be maxed, isotopic or,
as we say in European terminology, "urbanely cohesive
". A democratic urban policy has
to consider as a priority to address social inequality and consequently produce an "urban supply
that improves the quality of life of the popular sectors in the form of access to housing, facilities
and services, public spaces, security etc.”. (Borja 2009:166). Despite all the reflections made
up for a new mainstream of thinking
about it, public space is not dead (Ricart-
Remesar, 2013). In any case as Sennett points out, it suffers a constant and permanent
erosion; “The atomizing of the city has put a practical end to an essential component of public
space: the overlay of function in a single territory, which creates complexities of experience on
that turf”(Sennett, 1997)
Public domain, social and collective use and multifunctionality defining public
space, provide a clear territory for beautification processes, including the continuation
“The main lack of cohesion problems, we face today, are mostly related with: [1] a lack of physical connectivity
mainly generated by phenomena of spatial and functional segregation; [2] hyper-specialisation and economic hyper-
spacialization of the urban structure; and [3] problems of social exclusion, marginalisation and loss of identity”(Pinto-
Remesar, 2012)
The idea of the death of public space comes in part from the analyses of the Geographic School of Los Angeles led
by Mike Davis. Analysing Los Angeles says: The universal consequence of the crusade to secure the city is the
destruction of any truly democratic urban space. The American city is being systematically turned inward. The "public"
spaces of the new megastructures and supermalls have supplanted traditional streets and disciplined their
spontaneity. Inside malls, office centres, and cultural complexes, public activities are sorted into strictly functional
compartments under the gaze of private police force. This architectural privatization of the physical public sphere,
moreover, is complemented by a parallel restructuring of electronic space, as heavily guarded, pay-access databases
and subscription cable services expropriate the invisible agora. In Los Angeles, for example, the ghetto is defined not
only by its paucity of parks and public amenities, but also by the fact that it is not wired into any of the key information
circuits. In contrast. the affluent Westside is plugged -often at public expense- into dense networks of educational and
cultural media” (Davis 1992:195). Even before this description, Walter Soja (1989) noted Truly public spaces were
few and far between, as what the social theorists call "civil society" seemed to melt into the airwaves and freeways
and other circuitries of the sprawling urban scene.” Los Angeles is a "Exopolis"
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of public art programs, because it is appropriate, "public space to have some formal qualities,
the continuity of urban design, generosity of forms, image and materials and adaptability to
various uses over time " (Borja, Jordi; Muxí, Zaida (2001:48-49). While in Europe, is used
the concept design of space to define the set of operations - political, legal, of project and
largely based on the so-called Barcelona Model - carried out to keep alive the publicness
of public space, in the Anglo-Saxon area coined the concept of placemaking. Both, design
and placemaking
, refer to an overarching idea and a hands-on tool for improving
a neighbourhood, city or region. However, the concept of placemaking
emphasizes both the settlement patterns, and the communal capacity, for people
to thrive with each other and our natural world. (PPS, 2014)
In any case, these operations of urban design must incorporate some rights and
values. The Universal Declaration of Emerging Human Rights (2000) proclaim, among
others, (1) the Right to the city; (2) The Right to Public Spaces, monumentality and
attractive town-planning, which entails the right to an urban setting articulated by a
system of public spaces and endowed with elements of monumentality that lend them
visibility and identity and incorporating a aesthetic dimension and a harmonious and
sustainable urbanism. (3) The right of converting the marginal city into a city for
citizenship, which implies the right of everyone to live in qualified urban areas marked
by centrality. On the other hand, the values (eg those noted Lynch) of the city and its
public space, might be considered a sort of "principles of urban decorum” (Brandão,
2011) in the sense that the accomplishment of these values will determine the quality of
Public Space or, as Alexander said, show theGoodness of Fit.
These new trends on urban design and city anesthetization take creativity (of
people, of communities, of the city itself) into account considering it as a mobilizing
element for resources, ideas and actions that try to improve the urban environment and
even the economic base of the city. In this sense, as noted earlier, the aesthetics
of the
city is no longer considered an end in itself, but more importantly a means for improving
the creative potential.
We cannot deepen the discussion about the differences between the two. Simply to note that the concept of
placemaking, takes on its full meaning when the initiative of action lies in civil society, as in the case of many cities in
the States, but also in many actions carried out by "communities" in Latin America. Both cases share the fact of an
ultra-liberal position of the Public Administration and confirm Sennett’s observation "Part of the ultimate cost which
has to be reckoned in this destruction of public space is the paradoxical emphasis on community it creates" (Sennett ,
1974). Conversely, the Public Administration in Europe, after resolving the problem of providing universal public good
Education, Health and Housing- focussed on the provision of public space in a much more directive way and
articulating otherwise citizen or community participation.
Great art makes great places, great places attract great talent, and great talent creates great jobs. Also, more
than ever before, public artworks are stimulating and inviting active dialogue rather than just passive observation. By
fostering social interaction in this way, public art installations can play a key role in a community’s sense of identity
and belonging. Since Placemaking is about sharing and learning from a community’s own talents and resources, how
can a campaign for Placemaking address and embrace the community’s creativity, support local talent, and use the
arts as a reinvigorating public artworks are stimulating and inviting active dialogue rather than just passive
observation. By fostering social interaction in this way, public art installations can play a key role in a community’s
sense of identity and belonging. Since Placemaking is about sharing and learning from a community’s own talents and
resources, how can a campaign for Placemaking address and embrace the community’s creativity, support local talent,
and use the arts as a reinvigorating force? Public art projects will be most effective when th ey are part of
a larger, holistic, multidisciplinary approach to en livening a c ity o r neighbo rhood” (PPS, 2015)
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The possible concept of urban decorum no longer refers to the formal
characteristics and rules that make aesthetically appropriate an element (current or
historical) or urban area (current or historical). It derives from the concept of process
(artistic, social, therapeutic, communitarian..), of how this environment or element
respect some fundamental rights and values. In addition, this new urban decorum will
not refer only to what is static in space (houses, street furniture, urban spaces, public art
...) but also to some dynamic and temporal aspects. Thus, the urban event also will
become part of urban aesthetics considerations (fairs, concerts, festivals, parades,
performances - whether public or advertising ...). Finally, the manifestation of the
collective willingness will become a value and an implicit right with an aesthetic
dimension, either a demonstration or the implementation of an urban garden. It is not
surprising that the concept of public art expands into the concept of Urban Arts
or constellation of "creative practices", some of them institutionalized, others
coming from civil society (NGO) or grassroots movements, some other, as can be
the case of graffiti,
on the edge of legality or clearly illegal. Some of these
practices seeking creative self -expression of individuals. Some others seeking
collective empowerment. Some happen indoors, in the private sphere, most are
made public (Public Sphere Media- Networks) and some others would be
unfolded in public space (Public Domain). They range from the clandestine
graffiti to the tourist or “civic” animation (street entertainment); from educational
programmes and art therapy, to Public Art or to major exhibitions at the Tate
Gallery. In this world, ruled by an “aesthetics of diversity everything or almost
everything could be considered Urban Art.
By exploring the realms of differentiated tastes and aesthetic preferences (and doing
whatever they could to stimulate those tasks), architects and urban designers have re-
emphasized a powerful aspect of capital accumulation: the production and consumption
of what Bourdieu calls 'symbolic capital”. (Harvey, 1990)
Thus, a segment of cultural and artistic producers navigates within this
constellation, works actions- activities - processes, raising them to the status of
Art. In a context, where classical decorum is no longer possible, as Rowe and
The city is always messaging, always discourse, but one thing is whether you should interpret this discourse, to
translate it in thoughts and words, and another if these words are imposed with no escape. Whether it's a celebratory
epigraph of the authority or, a desacralizing insult they are always words that fall on you at a time that you have not
chosen and this is aggression, is arbitrary, is violence. “(The same is valid for the advertising inscription, no doubt, but
the message is less intimidating and conditioning. I never believed much in the 'hidden persuasion' , it finds us with
more defences and anyway is neutralized by a thousand messages of competitors and equivalent). When the
inscription is a statement or a bare denial that requires of the reader only an act of consent or refusal, the impact of
coercion used to read is stronger than the powers set in motion by the operation at every opportunity, allowing us to
restore our inner freedom from verbal aggression.… Also in them (the walls) scripture retrieves its own irreplaceably
place, when it stops becoming an instrument of arrogance and abuse: a confused noise that needs to be listen with
great attention and patience in order to distinguish the rare and modest sound of a word that, at least for a moment,
is true. It is fair, therefore, that the essay will finish with this invasion of writing 'from the bottom', characterized by
an “unaesthetic” will, which is the most visible aspect for the assumption of the words, over a do zen years ago, by
young and excluded; starting naturally from the famous inscriptions on May in Paris and the phenomenon of
'signatures' in the underground of New York (which has particular characteristics and are reducible to an artistic
intentionality).” (Calvino, 1980)
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(1978) stated, the predicament of texture calls into question the object,
while the "bricoleur" attitude questions the regulatory and scientific rationale
behind the theory of decorum throughout the nineteenth and twentieth. A new
symbolic capital is kneaded, distinguishing marks accumulate, merged into the
practices of good urban governance that can be defined as the sum of the many ways
individuals and institutions, public and private, plan and manage the common affairs of
the city. It is a continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be
accommodated and cooperative action can be taken. It includes formal institutions as well as
informal arrangements and the social capital of citizens” (UN-HABITAT, 2014).
Thus, the possibility of a new urban decorum may arise from the complex
interrelationships of many factors that determine the actual urban life, as it is
synthesized in the image. No matter if the material manifestation is a mural, a graffiti, a
wor-k of public art, a performance, an action or a process of citizen participation.
Aestheticize the city today is not only to develop programmes leading to physical and
performative events. Aestheticize the city today is largely a process of liberation of
aesthetic energy of the city itself, which is not found in its stones, its buildings and its
monuments, but in a creative citizenship.
it is here proposed that rather than hoping and waiting for the withering away of the object (while simultaneously
manufacturing versions of it in profusion unparalleled) , it might be judicious. in most cases, to allow and encourage
the object to become digested in a prevalent texture or matrix. It is further suggested that neither object nor space
fixation are, in themselves, any longer representative of valuable attitudes…. The "bricoleur" is adept at performing a
large number of diverse tasks; bur, unlike the engineer he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw
materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His universe of Instruments is closed and
the rules of his game are always to make do with "whatever is at hand: that is to say with a set of tools and materials
which is always finite and is also heterogeneous because what it contains bears no relation to the current project. or
indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions there have been to renew or enrich
the stock or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions. The set of the "bricoleurs" means
cannot therefore be defined in terms of a project (which would presuppose besides, that, as in the case of the engineer.
there were, at least in theory as many sets of tools and materials or "instrument al sets:' as there are different kinds
of projects). It is to be defined only by its potential use ... because the elements are collected or retained on the principle
that "they mar always come in handy". Such elements are specialized up to a point, sufficiently for the "bricoleur" not
to need the equipment and knowledge of all trades and professions, but not enough for each of them to have only one
definite and determinate use.They represent a set of actual and possible relations : they are "operators: but they can
be used for any operations of the same type(Rowe & Koetter, 1978)
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the City, University of Lodz. Lodz, 2016 -24-
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This work was made possible with the support of the projects HAR2012-30874:
Interdisciplinarity. Problems in public art projects and urban design and HAR2011-14431-E
PAUDO Thematic Network (Ministry of Education of Spain); 2009SGR903 Art, City, Society
(Generalitat de Catalunya) and EXPL / CPC-HAT / 0191/2013 Southern modernisms "(FCT.
... The Islamic design context plays a symbolic role on the site as furniture that improves well-being and provides a comfortable thermal environment for visitors. This is one of the main aspects of environmental design which is to respect esthetic values and social elements (Remesar, 2016). ...
... After the territorial annexation in 1897, Barcelona City Council called for an international competition to solve the problem of integration of different urban areas with the Ensanche fabric designed by Ildefonso Cerdà. 2 Leon Jaussely, a French architect belonging to the "Art Public" school (Remesar, 2016), won the contest with his design (1903)(1904)(1905)(1906)(1907). Although the project was not fully implemented, it did have a great influence on Barcelona's urban planning by introducing proposals that were in line with the technical development at the time. ...
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The paper presents the territorial and axiological context and the peculiarities of the participatory project developed by the Polis Research Centre and the Bon Pastor Neighbourhood Association, as well as the first steps in the design of two interventions. The first intervention, the Wall and Party Walls in Rodriguez de la Fuente Square, is proposed within the framework of the sustainable development strategies of Barcelona City Council. Its main objective is to achieve thermal insulation of the affected dwellings, thus contributing to the well-being of the residents and to the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Besides, it is aimed to solve landscape discontinuity. In the lower part of the party walls, there is a wall, a kind of plinth that the residents have chosen as a site for the expansion of the work on the civic remembrance of the neighbourhood. There, the “Living Memory” space will be set up, reserved for interventions by children from the quarter’s schools through a work programme run in cooperation with them. The second intervention is the case of the centennial Mulberry Tree classified as a tree of local interest. In 2018, the mulberry tree suffered some damage from thugs who threw firecrackers inside. Therefore, the need was pointed out to reorganise the space around the tree in order to create dissuasive effects and preserve its integrity. These are preliminary studies to be discussed by the agents involved in the project: the Sant Andreu District, the IMPUQV (Institut Municipal del Paisatge Urbài la Qualitat de Vida), and the Bon Pastor Neighbourhood Association.
... Buls potenció la recuperación del centro del Bruselas alineado con los principios compositivos y de decoro urbano que plateara Sitte unos años antes (Sitte 1889 La figura de Buls como defensor y restaurador de la ciudad antigua, es crucial para entender el movimiento del 'Art Public' (Broerman,1898 ;Remesar 2016;Smets 1995) que abogaría por la creación de Comisiones de Estética Ciudadana en los municipios, para velar por el desarrollo armónico de la ciudad y la preservación de los centros y monumentos históricos (Viollet-le-Duc 1872) en el marco de las nuevas políticas patrimoniales (Riegl 1903;Giovannoni 1931) Cracovia. Cracovia formaba parte de la Liga Hanseática. ...
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Este artículo, primera parte de una serie, repasa la idea de ‘centro’ de la ciudad mediante un análisis de algunas propuestas utópicas, incluidas las de Howard para la ciudad jardín y finaliza en el análisis de la policentralidad de la ciudad medieval. Tras un repaso de la evolcución de las ciudades circulares y poligonales realizado a partir de un análisis de fuentes secundarias, iconografía artísica, cartografía de los primeros tiempos de la imprenta e imágenes de Google Earth, entra en la discusión acerca de la ‘ciudad ideal’estudiando dicho concepto en la escolástica medieval, especialmente en la obra de Eiximenis, así como la relación de este ideal con la materialización de las ciudades [1] medievales de repoblamiento, valorando la relación entre los trazados y la emergencia del centro urbano y [2] el estudio, con distintas intensidades, de ciudades medievales importantes: Siena, Bolonia, Florencia, Venecia, Bruselas, Cracovia, Nápoles y Barcelona. En el caso de estas dos últimas ciudades el artículo focaliza en la importancia del espacio portuario y de ribera, como gran espacio público de la ciudad.
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This work implements parametric tools to optimize the environmental design of urban adaptive shadings through multiobjective evolutionary algorithms that look for solutions of dynamic (time-changing) structures used in open public spaces. The proposal is located in Malecon Cancun Tajamar in the southeast part of Mexico, and the main objective is to enhance the thermal comfort of users as well as to become part of the social dynamics of the place reinforcing identity through appropriation. The proposed workflow includes four steps: (1) geometric modelling by parametric modelling tools; (2) simulation of environmental parameters by using BPS tools; (3) shape optimization by using an evolutionary algorithm; and (4) environmental verification of the results. The Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) was used to assess the outdoor thermal comfort derived from the dynamic shadings. The results showed a significant improvement in the thermal comfort with absolute UTCI differences of 3.9, 7.4, and 3.1 �C at 8, 12, and 16 h, respectively, during the summer; and absolute differences of 1.4, 3.5, and 2 �C at 8, 12, and 16 h, respectively, during the winter. The proposed workflow can help to guide the early design process of dynamic shadings by finding optimal solutions that enhance outdoor thermal comfort.
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Las ciudades han inspirado a los creadores de obras de arte desde hace mucho tiempo, primero como motivos meramente secundarios, adicionales para indicar el entorno „urbano” de la escena principal, y luego como temas por derecho propio. Esas imágenes podrían representar ciudades imaginarias y reales, del pasado y del futuro, incluidas ubicaciones mitológicas y bíblicas, documentando tierras lejanas y fantaseando con la aparición de ciudades utópicas. En algunos de estos aspectos, la historia de las representaciones de la ciudad comparte similitudes significativas con la historia de las representaciones de paisajes. En el presente artículo, sin embargo, pretendo centrarme en un detalle curioso y particular de esta tradición pictórica. Siguiendo e investigando más a fondo una breve reflexión de Michel Makarius de su libro de 2004 sobre „Ruinas”, me gustaría comparar la visualidad y los efectos estéticos de paisajes urbanos densos y vacíos, de los cuales dos ejemplos clásicos podrían ser los caprichos - vistas imaginarias de ciudades completamente llenas de elementos estéticamente agradables, incluidos magníficos restos del patrimonio antiguo- y representaciones de ciudades en las que el vacío se destaca hasta tal punto que el observador tiende a suponer que el tema real de la imagen no es la ciudad, sus edificios, formas y componentes físicos, sino exactamente este „vacío”. Sin embargo, estos „extremos” de la amplia gama de paisajes urbanos, es decir, los densamente poblados y los extremadamente despoblados, no son meramente subgéneros históricos de siglos pasados. Estas tipologías han sobrevivido hasta nuestros días, en varias versiones y con diversos acentos; es más, parecen ser más relevantes que nunca para comprender no solo la naturaleza de estas representaciones artísticas y sus referencias estéticas, sino también para aprender más de nuestra propia realidad contemporánea. Basta pensar en las numerosas formas en que los artistas abordan los complicados problemas y desafíos de la vida urbana actual, sea con las referencias clásicas y el vocabulario visual en mente, ya sea creando inconscientemente paralelos ocasionales o usándolos como precursores explícitos de sus propias obras. La densidad de las megápolis globales está representada de formas artísticamente novedosas, a menudo con connotaciones socialmente críticas, mientras que las imágenes de ciudades vacías, no hace mucho tiempo, por ejemplo, durante las recientes pandemias y cierres, están resultando nuevamente en obras estéticamente inspiradoras y perspicaces que nos incentivan a reflexionar sobre los dinamismos oscilantes de nuestras actuales realidades urbanas. Por lo tanto, es particularmente beneficioso observar tales representaciones de nuestras ciudades y, por lo tanto, aumentar nuestra conciencia de los múltiples problemas globales que a menudo se manifiestan con mucha fuerza en la vida cotidiana en las grandes metrópolis. Las obras de arte que tematizan las formas extremas de la vida urbana pueden convertirse en formas muy eficientes de recordarnos constantemente nuestros deberes de cuidar nuestras ciudades y nuestra vida.
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En De l’art públic al post-muralisme. Polítiques de decòrum urbà en processos de Regeneració Urbana (I) (Remesar 2019) a l’investigar la vinculació de l’Art Públic als processos de Regeneració urbana, concloíem que, possiblement, el temps de l’Art Públic ha periclitat i, per bé o per mal, entrem en una etapa en què regna l’anomenat “art urbà”, específicament el que anomenàvem post-muralisme, una sèrie de pràctiques artístiques que ancoren el seu desenvolupament en la cultura i experiències del grafit. L’objectiu d’aquesta segona part és analitzar el paper que té l’aigua a la ciutat, des de la perspectiva de la seva vinculació amb els nous tipus d’espais urbans que aniran apareixent des dels inicis de l’era moderna, i el seu paper en relació a l’estatuària , l’art públic i el paisatgisme. La investigació aprofundeix en els processos d’estetització de les ciutats que es donen abans de la irrupció, com a paradigma dominant, del paradigma de el moviment modern. Per abordar aquest objectiu s’analitza com les fonts han passat de ser mers artefactes per subministrar aigua a la ciutat, a elements de la composició urbana i el decòrum urbà. L’article es divideix en els següents apartats [1] Aigua a la plaça en què es revisen les maneres i formes d’abastir d’aigua; [2] Obrint espais per a [gairebé] tothom que estudia l’aparició dels nous espais públics i el paper que en ells compleix l’aigua; [3] Subministrar aigua en què es revisa el paper que les fonts compleixen com interfície amb els usuaris; [4] Fonts seriades: un primer pas per a la democratització de l’art, revisa l’important paper de les fonts de ferro colat com difusores d’obres mestres de l’art amagat als museus; [5] Més enllà de la utilitat. L’aigua en el paisatge urbà, revisa com l’emergència d’espais públics com els parcs provocaran una utilització de l’aigua en un nou format més monumental. A aquest apartat segueix [6] Finalment, espai públic per a tothom [o gairebé tothom], que revisa el paper de el model higienista en la creació de nous espais públics i el valor que se li dona a l’aigua, recuperant els fronts d’aigua (rius , mar) i generant nous espais públics com els “passejos marítims”, les “costaneres” o els “dics”. En aquest apartat es sosté, implícitament, que el desenvolupament d’aquests espais està vinculat al patriciat urbà com a classe dirigent. Finalment [7] L’aigua com a espectacle urbà, aborda el nou model d’ús de l’aigua en espais públics que els interessos de les noves companyies de serveis urbans associades al patriciat urbà de procurar que sigui massiu i espectacular, associat a l’electricitat com a nou servei urbà .
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Los procesos de industrialización marcaron fuertes transformaciones que condujeron a una nueva manera de funcionamiento de la ciudad y a una nueva organización del territorio y de la sociedad de Barcelona, a pesar de la derrota de 1714 y del Decreto de Nueva Planta que la convirtió en una plaza fuerte rodeada de murallas y fortalezas que ahogaban su posible crecimiento. Barcelona fue el foco de la Revolución Industrial en España. Y ello dentro de un proceso de reconstrucción de la ciudad, puesto que casi un tercio de su superficie fue utilizada para la construcción de la Ciudadela, con los derribos de casas y realojos de población, mientras se reedificaban las casas afectadas por los bombardeos. La liberalización del comercio entre la metrópolis y las colonias, permitió a Barcelona comerciar con las islas del Caribe posibilitando un flujo comercial y unos procesos de acumulación de capital que generarían la instalación de las manufacturas de indianas y, posteriormente, la paulatina instalación de fábricas con energía de vapor. La pujanza industrial de Barcelona propició la creación de la Real Junta Particular de Comercio que fomentó el comercio al mismo tiempo que creó una serie de escuelas necesarias para la formación del personal especializado que reclamaba la nueva industria. El trabajo explora cómo lentamente, el pensamiento ilustrado acerca de cómo hacer ciudad, desarrollará un conjunto de disposiciones legales y administrativas que impactarán en un cambio substancial, tanto de la vivienda como de la forma urbana.
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The concept of “synthesis of the arts” became, in the 1940s, a leading principle in the search for renewing and improving modern architecture. Integration with painting and sculpture sought at bringing closer architecture and the people. But many dilemmas stood on the way: from the collaboration processes and the unity of the artistic experience, to “art for art’s sake” predominance or its social content. In the university cities of Mexico and Caracas as well as Burle Marx’s landscapes, the concept of integration reached wider scales. But it found its crisis in the extension to urban planning and the city - which had been, paradoxically, its ultimate target.
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Las últimas décadas del s.XX y la primera del XXI han supuesto una especial relación entre “lo social” y “lo artístico”. Cada vez son más las experiencias del mundo del arte que se concentran en el desarrollo de “prácticas sociales”. Cada vez más las prácticas sociales, incluido el cambio en la base económica de las sociedades avanzadas, se han orientado hacia la “creación” y lo artístico. En este trabajo, derivado de una presentación “audiovisual”, intentaremos analizar alguna de estas interrelaciones con el objetivo de valorar si su intersección en la vida cotidiana ayuda a una mayor extensión del arte en lo social y por ende a su socialización y accesibilidad por parte de todos. Una primera consideración ¿qué entendemos por socialización y accesibilidad?. Seguramente son muchas las respuestas posibles, pero trataremos de argumentar algunos aspectos que nos parecen relevantes.
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Com que el disseny urbà és un territori de síntesi integradora, la "visió global" que requereix hauria de procedir de la col.laboració de diverses fonts de coneixement, de diversos professionals i del coneixement aportat pels usuaris no professionals. La representació dels actors involucrats en el disseny (que entre altres són professionals, decisors urbans o usuaris) és una part de la investigació i l'ensenyament de la cultura del disseny urbà. La motivació d'aquesta línia de treball en l'ensenyament del disseny és comprendre la incertesa com un element de transformació urbana, la contribució dels processos de col.laboració i reflexió, i també per a estimular la comprensió dels rols dels actors en les pràctiques de disseny urbà. "(...) La interdisciplinarietat és una forma de resoldre problemes i respondre a les preguntes que no poden ser abordades i respostes per l'ús d'un únic mètode o enfocament (Klein). " Es pot dir que el procés d'integració del disseny urbà orientat per la interacció amb els usuaris en la solució de problemes, representa un intent important per establir una base comuna, fent ús de les aportacions de diferents disciplines. La interdisciplinarietat orientada a la pràctica del disseny urbà no és en si mateixa un productor de coneixement. Però es requereix reflexió i per tant pot utilitzar metodologies d'investigació. Algunes de les preguntes segueixen sent: - Com representar el treball interdisciplinari i quins actors admetem? - Com es representen els contextos i les funcions que intervenen en les decisions del projecte? - Com es defineix el mètode i la seva pedagogia, la seva formació i la seva avaluació? - Com funciona la diversitat d'interacció de coneixement per a operar en les estratègies urbanes? - Com estan representats els actors urbans en la praxi de l'ensenyament del disseny urbà? ____________________________________________ Como o desenho urbano é uma síntese integradora do território, a "visão" viria de exigir a colaboração de várias fontes de conhecimento, o conhecimento de diversos profissionais e a contribução dos usuários, e não profissionais. A representação dos atores envolvidos no projeto (que são entre outros profissionais, decisores e usuários urbanos) é uma parte da cultura de pesquisa e ensino do design urbano. A motivação para esta linha de trabalho na concepção da educação é compreender a incerteza como um elemento de transformação urbana, a contribuição dos processos de colaboração e reflexão, e para incentivar a compreensão dos papéis dos atores, na prática, desenho urbano. "(...) A interdisciplinaridade é uma forma de resolver problemas e responder as perguntas e as respostas não podem ser abordadas por um único método ou abordagem (Klein). " Poderiamos dizer que o processo de integração do desenho urbano direcionado a interação com usuários na resolução de problemas, representa uma importante tentativa de estabelecer uma base comum, utilizando-se as contribuições de diferentes disciplinas. A prática de projeto interdisciplinar orientado ao urbano não é em si um produtor de conhecimento. Mas isso requer pensamento e, portanto, podem usar as metodologias de investigação. Algumas questões permanecem: - Como tornar o trabalho interdisciplinar e quais os parceiros são contemplados? - Como fazemos para representar os contextos e funções envolvidas nas decisões do projeto? - Como definimos o método e o seu ensino, formação e avaliação? Como funciona a interação de diversos conhecimentos para operar nas estratégias urbanas? - Quais são os atores urbanos que estão representados na prática do ensino de design urbano?
Collecting David Harvey's finest work on Paris during the second empire, Paris, Capital of Modernity offers brilliant insights ranging from the birth of consumerist spectacle on the Parisian boulevards, the creative visions of Balzac, Baudelaire and Zola, and the reactionary cultural politics of the bombastic Sacre Couer. The book is heavily illustrated and includes a number drawings, portraits and cartoons by Daumier, one of the greatest political caricaturists of the nineteenth century.
With a practical approach to theory, Designing the City of Reason offers new perspectives on how differing belief systems and philosophical approaches impact on city design and development, exploring how this has changed before, during and after the impact of modernism in all its rationalism. Looking at the connections between abstract ideas and material realities, this book provides a social and historical account of ideas which have emerged out of the particular concerns and cultural contexts and which inform the ways we live. By considering the changing foundations for belief and action, and their impact on urban form, it follows the history and development of city design in close conjunction with the growth of rationalist philosophy. Building on these foundations, it goes on to focus on the implications of this for urban development, exploring how public infrastructures of meaning are constructed and articulated through the dimensions of time, space, meaning, value and action. With its wide-ranging subject matter and distinctive blend of theory and practice, this book furthers the scope and range of urban design by asking new questions about the cities we live in and the values and symbols which we assign to them.
Focusing on post-industrial economies, the study examines social inequality and changing experiences of time, space, culture, travel, the environment and globalization. Through a comparative analysis of the UK and US, Germany and Japan, the authors show how restructuration after organized capitalism has its basis in increasingly reflexive social actors and organizations. The consequence is not only the much-vaunted "postmodern condition' but a growth in reflexivity. In exploring this new reflexive world, the authors argue that today's economies are increasingly economies of signs - information, symbols, images, desire - and of space, where both signs and social subjects - refugees, financiers, tourists, flaneurs - are mobile over ever greater distances. They show how an understanding of such flows contributes to the analysis of changes in social relations, from the organization of work to the "culture industries', from the formation of an underclass to new forms of citizenship. -Publisher