Cluster 1: Agents and Revolutions

by annabraideeriksson



In Harvey’s article “The Right to the City” he claims that cities and city-growth today is the result of capital-surplus production. This also, he negotiates, conveys the connection between development of capitalism and urbanisation. Results are gated communities, privatized public space and gentrification forcing underpriviliged from the central city. Conclusions are that the city-growth today represents democracy’s suppression. What role does the urban planning play in this context and can architects, as one of the disciplines involved in the urban planning process, be agents for other goals than the capitalism – urbanisation goal?

Awan, Schneider and Till describes a focusing on processes and not objects in the architects practice, as a more collective way of working with space. The architect becomes a special agent. In the ECObox project in Paris in 2001 Petrescu also describes this way of working, understanding spatial production as a collective forming process. The process empowers architects and users alike. In urban planning today we can also see new types of user-involved planning processes. These are however still exceptions.

But back to Harvey now, he describes the French Revolution and the 1960’s reaction in US towards modernism and large scale urban planning as two examples representing reactions to the phenomena ‘capital-surplus production’. Today we still have this situation, capitalism growth, on the expense of democracy, but now in a substantially larger scale due to globalisation. Does this mean that times now steer towards another “revolution”? How can the practitioner architect work ‘as an agent’ when the role very much today has become a tool for market interests? And finally, speaking from Harvey’s described former experiences, what foretells a change now, this time, of the capital-surplus production, since Harvey speaks of a condition started for more than 160 years ago and so many “revolutions” has passed since then.