reading / urban

Scarcity, complexity

Under conditions of austerity and scarcity; for architects, designers and other urban interventionists to “understand the object[s]” of their practices “within a wider and more complex set of dynamics” – posed by Jeremy Till at The Design Observer this week – is certainly an exciting prospect.

I wonder if to do so might include, for example, consideration of the uses and users of the very ‘empty’ or ‘abandoned’ buildings or spaces that a project might have ‘renewed’, the entrenched tension between retail and housing stock that inhibits solutions to widespread housing crises, and the role of cultural capital in maintaining urban inequality in times of both boom and crisis – not to mention the policy vacuums that make it possible for all kinds of urban practices to claim to be renewing, revitalising, regenerating “communities” with little discussion about who, what and where that “community” is, and which benefits are blowing their way, beyond the return of retail capital to an urban area.

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