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Book 2011 Crios Cover

Critica degli ordinamenti spaziali - n.1

• Three challenges

Attilio Belli
In the opening comment to the first journal’s issue, the “critique” included in the title is to be regarded as a rigorous form of empirical attention to situations and contexts; and “spatial orderings” are to be handled within the field of urban studies and spatial planning, looking back at least at two very influential conceptions (Schmitt and Simmel). The journal’s aim, in such a perspective, is studying how cities and territories are changing according to a vision of space as complex network, physical and virtual, dealing with environmental issues, on one hand, and societal changes due to ICT, on the other, where different subjectivities encounter and clash. It is a different task compared to CRU – Critica della Razionalità Urbanistica 1994-2008. Today, starting from space means looking for a new encounter between urban research and spatial planning, in a critical perspective traced by three challenges spatial orderings would deal with:
- beyond democratic deliberation and mere shared decision, assuming an emotional perspective to understand relations of power/knowledge concerned with new communicative practices;
- beyond tolerance and unconditioned hospitality, towards pragmatic and responsive practices of recognition of otherness in the urban;
- beyond sustainability, towards a new conception of habitability.

• Towards virtual spatial orderings
Carlo Donolo
The contemporary meta-polis, at the core of this article, is regarded both as the global conurbation made of different networks of cities, and as a network-city between global cities and megacities in constant expansion. Most important, in the meta-polis the global and the urban co-exist, whereas the urban is the dominant factor. The city is physically and symbolically produced; the artificial is anchored to the physical, as well as to flows of energy, matter and living beings. At the same time, it makes the virtual expand, as this works as a layer of experience, language and project. Given its virulence and semiotic power, the virtual penetrates all layers, transform and power them, as it becomes the dominant mode which everything depends upon. In such a perspective, the physical and political city becomes cognitive, reflexive and may be experienced just as virtual, as something which is to be thought in order to exist. As an unlimited power, urbanization has no more borders, losing the strategic feature of the traditional city. In such an expansive movement, aporias arise corresponding to voids, lacks and even antibodies, in a frame of radical disorder. In such a perspective, the author wonders what kind of orderings may arise, no more just spatial, but also virtual.

• Strategic planning as strategic navigation
Jean Hillier
In this article, spatial planning is represented as an issue of strategically navigated becoming. Planning evolves, functions and adapts; attempts to embrace a future that is not determined by the continuity of the present, nor by the path-dependent repetition of the past. It is concerned with the future transformation of place, incorporating a combination of social, environmental, economic and political values about society. The author argues that planning practice is concerned with trajectories rather than specified end-points, being a field of experimentation, where processes are based on communication and involvement of actors rather than the top-down imposition of goals and policies. In regarding spatial planning as an experimental practice working with doubt and uncertainty, engaged with adaptation and creation rather than scientistic proof-discovery, the author suggests a definition of spatial planning as strategic navigation along the lines of the investigation of ‘virtualities’ unseen in the present; the speculation about what may yet happen; the inquiry into what at a given time and place we might think or do and how this might influence socially and environmentally just spatial form.

• A minor public
Cristina Bianchetti
In the last two decades, urban planning has increasingly been detaching from the old ideological anchorage it has been based upon over the 20th century. Modern contrastive forms have been progressively substituted by the evocation of feelings, images and emotions, stepping away from history and moving towards life and experience in a shared social perspective. In such a “peaceful” framework, the author wonders how the public has changed: what kind of social sharing and what kind of spatiality does it now require? In contemporary European cities, the public is no more an homogeneous entity, but something very articulated and dispersed. A “minor public” emerges, made of subjects capable and responsible for their choices, to use languages and techniques of contemporary art and communication; to join associations, to cooperate and somehow determine their decisions in the real. Such a public, a vague and undetermined contemporary middle class, requires a different spatiality, often produced as temporary space. In such a perspective, questions arise about the project of spaces for the public as a plural and dynamic entity.

• Spatial dimensions of plural cohabitation: critically re-discussing the idea of tolerance
Stefano Moroni, Francesco Chiodelli
In the relation between tolerance and space, the first term is usually considered as problematic, whereas the second would deserve little investigation. The main point, in this article, is that space is, instead, highly problematic and complex as well, and this problematic nature acts back on the concept of tolerance itself. Space is regarded just as a physical entity, i.e. land and buildings; tolerance as some form of acceptance of plural conceptions of the good and life styles of different individuals. More specifically, the concept of tolerance is paralleled to a mix of personal fundamental freedoms (the freedom of conscience, religion, expression, and so on) to be guaranteed for individuals considered as ends per se, i.e. moral autonomous entities deserving respect as such. The article deals with what the public actor has to do in order to guarantee tolerance in such a perspective. To do this, it provides six typologies of urban spaces based on property regime, in a range from fee simple absolute property to open access public property. The discussion focuses on a mid-term of the range, which is not full private nor full public, designing a new “topography of tolerance” in urban spaces.

• Things which count: new horizons of agency in spatial planning
Giancarlo Paba
Contemporary cities are crossed by two main kinds of insurgent subjectivities, mutually influencing: human minorities and non-human actants, things included. As for the first set –  children, elder people, migrants and foreigners, anomalous bodies provided with different physical and mental capabilities – it  makes way to a “city of differences”, claiming a new planning paradigm based on recognition of these forms of citizenship, regarded as agents of innovation and social transformation. But this process of citizenship expansion is not sufficient, and other forms of non-human agency reclaim a space. These include animals, as well as “things”, i.e. actants actively collaborating with human activities and practices. The author argues that it’s necessary to widen democracy beyond traditional domains  towards interactive practices, in order to include not just the interests and needs of human beings, but also the demand for respect and response coming from “significant others”. To support his argument, he offers an interpretation, among others, of Patrick Geddes’s early work as a biologist interested in “disputed organisms” (i.e. middle-species of animals and vegetables), quite ignored but nonetheless as relevant, according to the author, as Geddes’s better known theories in the field of planning (Cities in evolution).

• The new urban question: environment, mobility and social inequalities 
Bernardo Secchi
The contemporary big city is the scene of the crisis which is now pushing western economies. The crisis concerns three dimensions, mainly: environmental, societal (in terms of an increasing divide between rich and poor) and mobility (in terms of generalized inaccessibility to places, as a form of spatial injustice). As any crisis, even the present one entails a spatial and/or technological reorganization of production, new social relations and geopolitical assets. As such, its outcomes on the urbanization of the planet and the whole welfare system in metropolitan areas are massive. In this framework, the article deals with the project of the city and the territory, focusing on some possible ways-out from the crisis in terms of a new status of urban planning and design. The concepts of isotropy, porosity, permeability, connectivity and accessibility are put into play, to counteract urban fragmentation due to big infrastructures; to guarantee accessibility as a right to the city; to reclaim a radically different culture of movement and mobility in a highly dispersed metropolitan perspective; to support mobility not just of people and goods, but of all species (human, animal and vegetable) in a sustainable perspective.