I’ve been really excited and pleased by how much attention and conversation my post on the entropic city has generated. Since then I’ve found a lot of interesting thinking that folks have been doing, primarily in Europe, about this issue. There’s this group of papers from a conference in Paris in 2008, this traveling exhibition from Spain, from around the same time, and this series of studies in Germany. Of course, in America people are thinking about temporality too. The Festival of Ideas for the New City last weekend in New York, which I regretfully could not attend, included a panel on The Heterogeneous City, for example, and included all kinds of exhibitions, interventions, and celebrations of the unexpected, the in-between, the temporary and the engaging. The AIA in New York is also showing this exhibition on “Jugaad Urbanism” — resourceful, dynamic, innovative — in India.
This is urbanism, but maybe it’s not planning. There’s something profoundly anti-planning about all of this, in fact: an admission that economies, communities, and narratives cannot be predicted in advance, and that the best urban experiences and most resilient and dynamic urban environments result from a significant amount of serendipity and, yes, entropy.
So I’m excited about this. I’m excited that these projects get academics and artists and economists and practitioners all together — in one room! — to talk about how the boundaries between our fields are disappearing and that all of our work, together, is what constitutes building the cities of the future. But I want to see something more systemic happen: on the level of law and regulation, and on the level of institutions, because that is where cultural norms and expectations are stored and judgment is meted out.
As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about institutions lately. And from that thinking has come a new project, UNI Schools, which I will be working for Boston Street Lab to implement in the Boston Public Schools next year. You can read my proposal for UNI Schools here.