Urban Utopias and New Construction: Building a Just City Today |

Urban Utopias and New Construction: Building a Just City Today


Over the course of more than a century the grand utopian visions of reformers who responded to the depredations of the industrial revolution were first transformed into models of urban design, then into strategies for urban redevelopment. Thus the alternatives to market capitalism of Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier became garden city landscapes and towers in parks. When these formulas were resisted through elite critiques and popular movements in the last decades of the twentieth century, utopian impulses were finally reduced to small plans, while just outcomes were replaced by the search for democratic processes. What were once holistic constructs by which to judge and replace existing cities became talking cures of perfect discourse. In contrast, I argue that it is time to re-apply philosophical ideas about justice to the environment we are building today. Empirical discussions of Amsterdam and Singapore show that the values of equity, diversity and democracy can, indeed, be approached in real cities, and that they are worthy of our efforts as planners and policy makes. The talk concludes with a visitor’s thoughts on the strains within Singapore’s mature planning environment, as exhibited in the recent Population White Paper.

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Professor Norman Fainstein, Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Thursday, 21 March 2013
12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Seminar Room 3-5,
Level 3, Manasseh Meyer,
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,
469C Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259772

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