Last February (the 28th), Richard Sennett lectured at Harvard GSD on his book titled Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation.
I unfortunately could not attend his lecture. This video is consequently an enjoyable occasion.
His lecture The Architecture of Cooperation tackles the question of shared space. More broadly central to this lecture is the concept of cooperation — similar to the concept of shared, or allow me for taking this risk of associating Heidegger's concept of dasein — central to his warmly recommended book Being and Time — with the notion of cooperation. How can people — who differ racially, ethnically, religiously, or economically— cooperate online, on street corners, at work, in local politics, on public space…, in short in a network-centric society? I will not talk over his book. However, I agree with his idea of placing the concept of cooperation as the most urgent challenge in this new era. In this instance, cooperation is the basis of what constitutes a built environment.
As Martin Coward, whose enquiry questions the relationship between cities, security and contemporary warfare, pointed out, the built environment can be seen as both a region and an equipmental whole. It is a very difficult task to sum up Martin Coward's thought in few sentences. In a nutshell, the built environment must be viewed as a shared space, a spatiality in which we co-appear and co-exist.
Suggested article: Martin Coward | Between us in the City
also Suggested book: Martin Coward | Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction || Routledge, 2008 ı In particular Chapter 3: The Built Environment and Shared Spatiality pp 54-71. Based on the Heideggerian concept of dasein, Martin Coward addresses the question of shared spatiality at a urban military scale. But it seems to me that his concept of shared spatiality is particularly closed to the general meaning of cooperation.
Allow for placing these notions in a strictly architectural discussion. It seems to me that in this information age, these concepts of shared spatiality, cooperation, bottom-up will be central to shaping new approaches to building and planning cities, to reinvent new relations between citizens, and citizens with cities, and citizens and space, between citizens and buildings, buildings and dwelling, and we can continue the list.
Architects and planners will unsurprisingly be exploring these notions of shared spatiality, cooperation, bottom-up in the future. Many projects already address these questions at various scales. These include: Communication and bottom-up. The importance of the way stories are being told, Unknown Fields Division, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, Lateral Office/InfraNet Lab, David Garcia Studio, Tactical Urbanism. The list will be growing fast.
Suggested book: The importance of the way stories are being told | VV. AA. || dpr-barcelona, 2012
Suggested workshop: Covert Operations: Hacking the Landscape || Unknown Fields Division
Some examples of planning cities based on these concepts of relations, shared spaces and cooperation can be found in Japanese architect Ryûji Fujimura and theoretician Atsushi Miura's recent book Design Architecture and Society in the Post-March 2011 (３•１１後の建築と社会デザイン), or even, in sustainable communities-based planning, that promotes shorter commutes, walkable lifestyles, inclusive smart growth and green growth. The title of Mimi Zeiger's essay: The Interventionist's Toolkit: Our Cities, Ourselves deserves a particular attention.
Suggested article: Mimi Zeiger | The Interventionist's Toolkit: Our Cities, Ourselves || Design Observer, 2011
My take is that if I only put a focus on the title, it reveals an urgent task to reconsidering cities as being in relation with citizens, and even citizen being in relation with citizen who do not share same background, race, social class, religious, or sexuality.
In another scale is the importance of sharing, cooperation, bottom-up as new approach to building materials. Many architects and engineers implement research in building materials that link materials, buildings, environment, and users as the Architectural Design issue titled Material Computation: Higher Integration in Morphogenetic Design partly highlighted.
Credit: The Harvard GSD