2007 was a milestone in the history of humankind: for the first time, more people lived in cities than in the country. Cities are increasingly important for the world’s economy, ecology and health. American sociologist Richard Sennett, British-Canadian author Doug Saunders and Brussels specialist Véronique Lamquin talk to Karel Verhoeven about (the effects of) urbanization.
The city scrutinized
What are the potential success and failure factors of Brussels? What are the strengths and pitfalls of our capital, and how can we raise the quality of life in Brussels structurally? With the knowledge they acquired from cities like Los Angeles, Mumbai, London and Shenzhen, we ask Richard Sennett and Doug Saunders to cast a gaze on Brussels.
Arrival City, the best book about cities
‘The best book about cities since Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ was The Guardian’s verdict on Arrival City by Doug Saunders.
With his survey of 20 key places in the world, the British-Canadian author clearly hit a nerve. He delved into the greatest migration movement in history – that from country to city – and came to the conclusion that the future of cities lies in transition areas.
It is in these areas that urban migrants look for something to hold onto, people of the same origin, the same religion and culture. It is from these areas that migrants gradually explore their new city and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to flourish in it. As a result, transition areas are dynamic and possess a huge economic potential.
Between ville and cité
In his recent study Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, the American sociologist Richard Sennett takes us with him into the slums of Medellín and to Google’s head office in Manhattan.
Using these and other examples, he renders the tension between ville – the physical, tangible city – and cité – the feeling of urban cohabitation – concrete. He makes the case for an ‘open city’, where not everything is planned and where there is room for creativity, and for a city that is designed in such a way that people interact better.
While Mr Sennett and Mr Saunders know cities around the world, from Mumbai to San Francisco, Veronique Lamquin, editor of Le Soir's Brussels pages, is at home in Brussels. She shares her knowledge with both experts and the public so that we don't talk in general terms but specifically about the case of the city of Brussels.
Richard Sennet and Doug Saunders will sign their books at 21:30 in KVS. Books will be for sale at the signing.
Passa Porta, KVS