Who is the city for?

Europe’s housing crisis affects everyone, but is especially a concern among millennials. Unaffordable rents and prices as high as the new luxury apartment blocks popping up everywhere raise a question about the actual purpose of cities. Read a compilation of our articles on urbanism, housing, and cities.

Aerial view of houses at Eixample residential district. Barcelona, Spain. Photo courtesy of Richard Sennett.

The criminalization of homelessness was written into the Hungarian constitution in 2018. Punitive measures are not unique to the Orbán government. But within Europe only Hungary has outlawed ‘habitually staying in a public space’. Vera Kovács gives a European overview:

The war on rough sleeping

Open cities might not be the most beautiful, but they are the most human, and also, most humane. In his Democracy Lecture of 2018, Richard Sennett addressed desegregation, cities’ capacity to adapt to climate change, the obsolescence of smart cities and social porosity, as major concerns of his work and legacy as an urban planner:

The fight for the city

Walter Benjamin described Naples as a ‘porous city’ that absorbs heterogeneity. This applies equally to other harbour cities, as Franco Bianchini and Jude Bloomfield point out in a piece on cultural hybridity, economies of informality, and strategies of creativity in Istanbul, Liverpool, and Marseille, too:

Porous cities: On four European ports’ (2012)

Culturally-led urban strategies rely on selective images of cities; they do not necessarily reflect a socially and ethnically diverse urbanism. Under the surface, Malcolm Miles argues, it is not civic renewal but economic and commercial motives that drive the ‘cultural city’:

A post-creative city?’ (2013)

The ‘smart city’ industry is continually conquering new terrain, but shows disdain for the private sphere and puts the intelligence of governments and city-dwellers to the test, argues Elke Rauth:

Smart tales of the city’ (2015)

European cities’ Muslim presence is often concealed through formal restrictions on mosques and other signs of religiosity. Yet, Luiza Bialasiewicz says, Muslims are also exposed as threats to the public order:

The political geographies of Muslim visibility’ (2017)

Informal construction in Yugoslavia started as a response to housing shortages but, after 1990, it turned into a way to make money. To see Belgrade’s semi-legal architecture as proof that urbanization can be democratized is, Dubravka Sekulic maintains, to fatally overlook market forces.

The ambiguities of informality’ (2018)

This selection is part of our 4/2019 newsletter. Subscribe here to get the bi-weekly updates about latest publications and news on partner journals.

Published 21 February 2019
Original in English
First published by Eurozine

© Eurozine

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