«Salon Suisse» 3: Use—The Culture of Cities
Cities are a knowledge society’s main means of production. When Henri Lefebvre postulated the “Right to the City”, he claimed the right of people to shape their own destiny. Building cities means building society and is more than a consequence of market forces or political compromise. New social relations require new spaces and vice versa. Previous Swiss urbanists accepted that Switzerland is a polycentric urban network and worked on dispersing opportunity, growth and infrastructure. With global urbanization pressures, an abundance of cheap capital, an impasse in rethinking the country-city divide and a lack of urban experimentation, this network becomes unbalanced. Competing visions are blocking, rather than complementing each other.
Thursday, 30 October 2014 at 6pm
Night Seven: Cooperative, Open and Resilient:
Hans Widmer, Hannes Gassert, Alfredo Brillembourg
Cities are anonymous; real communities only exist in the countryside, so the cliché. Yet the inverse can also be true. Swiss cities grew through the agglomeration of small historic centers into rich mosaics of places and social milieus. Inflated housing standards, outdated zoning laws and formulaic real estate developments strain this system. With his book “bolo’bolo” Hans Widmer wrote a manifesto for an urban tribe, the basic social unit in an envisioned utopian-ecological future. His ideas already served as inspiration for cooperative housing projects, some realized others in planning. Digital networks and communities might complement his vision. But are they the beginning of a new, agile and inclusive data liberalism or just the ultimate modernist project of virtualizing social relations to the economic benefit of the very few?
Friday, 31 October 2014 at 6pm
Night Eight: Communal, Collective and Constitutive:
Marijn Spoelstra, Jiang Jun, Harry Gugger
Cities are infrastructure for location factors. Accessibility, proximity and density result in higher land values, which can be further increased through an intelligent mix of functions and open spaces. Urban development is the most fundamental value-additive process without which there would be no economy, culture or progress. Yet, to whom does this value belong and how can it be ensured that more value is created than destroyed? Contemporary China is a laboratory of urbanism drawing from the blueprints of rural collectives, millennia-old urban bureaucracies and Western capitalism. Jiang Jun spent years studying its many varieties conjured up by an accelerated process of copying and transformation.
Saturday, 1 November 2014 at 6pm
Night Nine: Identity, Ideas and Institutions:
Martin Heller, Mark Leonard, Marcel Meili
Medieval cities had walls as they were mercantile implants in a feudal society, easy prey to conquest. With advances in military technology and infrastructure, walls became obsolete, even burdensome. The Gründerzeit cities expanded over the footprint of their former defenses, while a mechanized military enforced national borders. The concept of sovereign nation states in turn goes back to the Westphalian peace accord that introduced the modern state system. After the destruction of the world wars and the dismantling of colonial empires, the state system transformed again to supranational alliances in a highly integrated global market. The institutional setting has changed constantly, and yet cities remain at the core of the global economy. Will urban regions be de facto city-states in an urban age?
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