Richard Sennett GSD Lecture 2012 – The Architecture of Cooperation

Here, Richard Sennett talks at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on “The Architecture of Cooperation.” Watch all of it, but I found very interesting the point (at around minute 44) where he discusses the city as a body, springing from the introduction in New York City so many years ago of the “Spanish Marqueta”/Spanish Market which was going to be placed either at the edge of Spanish Harlem bordering the rich neighborhood at 96th street or in the middle of Spanish Harlem… You can learn more about the market here, but apparently as Sennett mentions the market was bought up recently by a ‘Cuban multinational’… A complementary passage from his 2011 book–well represented in that lecture–reads “Edges come in two sorts: boundaries and borders. A boundary is a relatively inert edge; population thins out at this sort of edge and there’s little exchange among creatures. A border is more of an active edge, as at the shoreline dividing ocean and land; this is a zone of intense biological activity, a feeding ground for animals, a nutrient zone for plants. In human ecology, the eight-lane highway isolating part of the city from each other is a boundary, whereas a mixed-use street at the edge between two communities can be more of a border” (p. 79).

Also, Sennett’s second book in the ‘homo faber’ series (after The Craftsman from 2008; listen to Sennett discussing that book on NPR with Diane Rehm here) is in print (Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation 2011) and his plan is for the last volume (in progress) to be on urban design “a book on making cities” that will follow logically from the first two (the city as a craft and a cooperative activity).


Artist Lee Jang Sub: The City is an Organism


Check out the art work by Lee Jang Sub, who imagines the city as an organic being — his work is featured on this year’s volume of the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, due out soon.

The organic metaphor for the city was behind many of the nineteenth-century plans for urban restructuring–such as those by Haussmann in Paris and Ildefons Cerdà in Barcelona.