Designing Disorder: Experiments and Disruptions in the City (Paperback)

Designing Disorder: Experiments and Disruptions in the City By Richard Sennett, Pablo Sendra Cover Image

Designing Disorder: Experiments and Disruptions in the City (Paperback)

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Rethinking the open city

Planners, privatisation, and police surveillance are laying siege to urban public spaces. The streets are becoming ever more regimented as life and character are sapped from our cities. What is to be done? Is it possible to maintain the public realm as a flexible space that adapts over time? Can disorder be designed?

Fifty years ago, Richard Sennett wrote his groundbreaking work The Uses of Disorder, arguing that the ideal of a planned and ordered city was flawed, likely to produce a fragile, restrictive urban environment. The need for the Open City, the alternative, is now more urgent that ever. In this provocative essay, Pablo Sendra and Richard Sennett propose a reorganisation of how we think and plan the life of our cities. What the authors call 'infrastructures for disorder' combine architecture, politics, urban planning and activism in order to develop places that nurture rather than stifle, bring together rather than divide, remain open to change rather than rapidly stagnate.

Designing Disorder is a radical and transformative manifesto for the future of twenty-first-century cities.
Pablo Sendra is Lecturer in Planning and Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. He combines his academic career with professional practice in urban design. He is Co-founder of the urban design practice Lugadero and Co-founder of Civicwise. He co-edited and co-authored, respectively, the books Civic Practices and Community-Led Regeneration. He is part of the City Collective for the journal City.

Richard Sennett’s first book was The Uses of Disorder in 1970. His other books include The Fall of Public Man, Flesh and Stone and Respect, as well as the recent Homo Faber trilogy: The Craftsman; Together; Building and Dwelling.
Product Details ISBN: 9781788737838
ISBN-10: 1788737830
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Pages: 160
Language: English
“In this very readable essay, Sennett pushes on the ideas he developed in his ‘Uses of Disorder’. The upshot seems to be the ‘open city’; the antithesis of places like New York’s Hudson Yards; a pre-determined, real-estate driven ‘community’ that can only degrade over time. Given contingent times, a necessary critical view of the modern urban realm.”
RIBA Journal

“The promotion of this sense of impotence, and the resulting inertia, are encouraged by a patronising capitalist ‘nanny state’ on behalf of corporations for whom profits, not people, matter. The only antidote to that inertia is surely to start planning the ‘disorder’ promulgated by Sendra and Sennett.”
Morning Star

“Timely and relevant … For both Sennett and Sendra, cities are at their best when they resist homogeneity and promote difference, and when they empower people to actively shape and reshape their built environment and its public uses.”
—Eoin Ó Broin, Irish Times

“A bold invitation to take sides … a city of power (Hudson Yards) versus a city of the people (the Garment District in New York City), before formulating the no less audacious goal of the book: to enable urban spontaneity by means of design.”
—Plácido González Martínez, Journal of Urban Design

“Evocatively, he paints a picture of brittle cities, which serve closed systems and whose buildings are destroyed rather than adapted as their use changes.”
—Charmaine Chan, South China Morning Post

“This book can be seen as an ongoing and open-ended conversation rather than a static presentation of the authors’ points of view … a very lively and engaging read.”
—Judith Ryser, Urban Design

“I thought of my home town, Dublin, while reading Pablo Sendra and Richard Sennett’s Designing Disorder. Here, the authors explore ethical urban design in an age of privatisation, hostile architecture and widespread surveillance.”
—Naoise Dolan, Observer (“Best Books of 2020”)

“A good public space should offer the possibility of surprise. Sennett and Sendra contrast the idea of the ‘brittle city’ or the ‘closed city’ with the idea of the ‘open city’: a place that can change as its residents’, visitors’, and workers’ needs change. A building, street, or neighborhood should always remain ‘incomplete,’ so that it can adapt with the times … worth reading as a guide to post-pandemic urban-space management.”
City Journal

“This short, 154-page book, contains thought provoking ideas, philosophies and history regarding experiments and disruptions in an urban environment.”
—Kevin Cassidy, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books