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Expo #18

Join us in the search for the antidote to the 'Smooth City'

Last year, the Urbanistas were asked if we would write a review of René Boer's new book 'Smooth City' for Archined. We jumped on the opportunity and found it an incredibly thought provoking book. Boer argues that the urban world around us is becoming increasingly homogenous, controlled and perfect - smooth cities where "nothing transgresses, nothing smells". His book analyses both where this phenomenon comes from, and makes powerful arguments as to why it's so damaging. Because although on the surface the smooth city may seem clean and convenient, the reality is a city based on control, exclusion and blind consumption.

He introduces the idea of the 'porous city' as the antidote to this 'smoothing' of the urban realm and begins to explore what this looks like, and where it currently manifests. But we were left wanting more. At times it felt like the book was very critical of us as designers - as though we are always serving the 'Smooth City' - but it didn't give us much to go on in terms of good examples that we could use to improve the work we do.

Archined has asked us to write a follow-up article sharing good examples of the Porous City. We would like to open this discussion to the wider Urbanistas network and discuss what exactly porosity looks like based on successful projects.

We'd like to open the discussion with a few specific examples, pitched by a few Urbanistas. If you are interested and know of a good example (not necessarily that you have worked on, but maybe studied, or visited on holiday...) then let us know.

🗓️ Date: Wednesday, 28th February 2024

🕒 Time: 19:00

📍 Place: to be announced

But hang on, what is the porous city?!
Boer describes the porous city as one defined by "openness, fluidity, ambiguity, collectivity, diversity, transience, but also by encounters, appropriations, collisions, conflicts, negotiations and experiments" (p.161). It leaves space for 'designed disorder', space for diverse groups to be able to participate and make their mark on the city. The city becomes a place to grow, to own and to form your identity.

If you're eager to know more, you can read our article here, and get Boer's book here. Both highly recommended! :)

Keep an eye on our social media for more information and hope to see you on February 28th!

PS: Just a reminder that our Expos are women-only - sorry men, you are very welcome to our other events!

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