Good city thinking
The following essay addresses the discourse around the good city, trying to understand the importance of having a thinking on the topic rather than providing solutions for a good city.
Providing solutions for the good city pose questions such as: good for whom? what is good? etc. These questions prompt that good and city are two words that form more questions than answers. In these nebula of questions urban design plays an important role because its nature is in the urban and therefore in the city. As Madanipour points out, urban design occupies a potentially strategic place in shaping the city of the future (Madanipour, 2006).
Madanipour uses two words that are fundamental in this conversation: city and future. It is therefore important that urban design is concerned not only with the present but also with a long term thinking about cities: the future that is open-ended, even though not infinitely malleable (Friedmann, 2000).
The questions that arise are: What does thinking about the future means? How is possible to imagine something in the future? What is the role of this exercise?
City and Society
When thinking about the good city naturally every person imagines a physical condition to be improved but the physical environment is not the only force that shapes the city. For example, city and urban society cannot be detached (Lefebvre, 1970/2003). Hence the urban society is, combined with the city, an important force in urban development.
“Thus, no discussion of the good life can ignore the particularities of the urban way of life” (Amin, 2007, p.1012).
To aim for a good city therefore a good society has to be formed.
Towards a better view: Utopia and its importance
'Good society for a Good city' can be a slogan for a utopian manifesto alla Fritz Lang in Metropolis (1927) .
In the movie, the role of the slogan is to provide a vision of the future and guide the development of the city.
Therefore, "in order to bring about a world that is fit to live in, we need new and solid ideas for living, persuasive images of the good society” (Friedmann, 2000, p.461)
This persuasive image is defined as utopia and "today more than ever, there is no theory without utopia. Otherwise, a person is content to record what he sees before his eyes” Lefebvre wrote (Pinder, 2013, p.1).
Someone could argue that a utopia is just one vision of the good city but since every citizen has its own image of the good city, it is not possible with one utopia define what is the good city. This statement is correct but misunderstands the role of utopia. “Utopian thinking, at least as far as planners are concerned, is historically grounded in specific emancipatory struggles” (Friedmann, 2000, p.464). Therefore, the role of utopia is very important in helping citizens to achieve a future that will be better than the present situation. Helping to achieve is the key concept for utopia. Utopia does not provide solutions but suggestions for the future....