S E M I N A I R E

How to make a community as well as the space for it

vendredi 8 décembre 2006 par Doina Petrescu

Artists, philosophers and political theorists have critically approached the notion of community, trying to understand the sense of ‘being-in-common’ beyond the generic and undifferentiated term. They have introduced a notion of community that exists only through time and space determinates, in the very articulation of person-to-person, of being-to-being ; suggesting that the politics of community cannot be separated from the politics of place.

‘Community to come’

The term ‘community’, is at the core of all regeneration programmes, and remains for me problematic when used uncritically, and tokenistically, as in the language of governmental policies and regeneration programmes. In this discourse, ‘community’ is a generic term undifferentiated and associated with deprived neighbourhoods. It is, as Jeremy Till puts it in our co-edited book Architecture and Participation ‘a wishful and wistful hope that fractured territories can be reconsolidated into some semblance of community, without ever specifying what that word may actually mean’.(1)

Artists, philosophers and political theorists have critically approached the notion of community, trying to understand the sense of ‘being-in-common’ beyond the generic and undifferentiated term. They have introduced a notion of community that exists only through time and space determinates, in the very articulation of person-to-person, of being-to-being ; suggesting that the politics of community cannot be separated from the politics of place.

Questions around the term ‘community’ in socio-politics, overlap with those surrounding the notion ‘public’ in art and architecture. Like ‘community’, ‘public’ is a generic notion, most often understood as what is ‘common’ ; of shared or of common interest, or as what is accessible to everyone. Public has a cognitive dimension, but also a political and poetic one. It may also have a double meaning, of social totality and specific audiences. The notion of ‘public’ has been variously articulated, ie. ‘public realm’, ‘public sphere’ or ‘public space’ ; each time conveying an ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings.

Many architects and planners today advocate the necessity of having more public space in the city. Richard Rogers in his report Towards an Urban Renaissance (Urban Task Force, 1999) calls for such public spaces, envisaging them as squares, piazzas, unproblematically open to all. However, as Doreen Massey notes in her recent book For Space, ‘from the greatest public square to the smallest public park, these places are a product of, and internally dislocated by, heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting social identities/relations’.(2) This is what gives real ‘public’ dimension. Public space should be, then, described in terms of its evolving relations, as a space in permanent mobility, not only physical but also social and political. Architects and urban planners might learn that creativity is required where the conflicting nature of public space is revealed ; by way of imagining solutions, or of making sense together, etc.

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Doina Petrescu
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Poids : 148.1 ko
N° Document : 707


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