chapter  7
10 Pages

The open city

ByRichard Sennett

The cities everyone wants to live in should be clean and safe, possess efficient public services, be supported by a dynamic economy, provide cultural stimulation, and also do their best to heal society's divisions of race, class, and ethnicity. The Brittle City represents a view of society itself as a closed system. The closed system is a conception which dogged state socialism throughout the 20th century as much as it shaped bureaucratic capitalism. This view of society has two essential attributes: equilibrium and integration. When the city operates as an open system – incorporating principles of porosity of territory, narrative indeterminacy, and incomplete form – it becomes democratic not in a legal sense, but as physical experience. The discussion of walls and borders leads logically to a systematic characteristic of the open city: incomplete form. Incompleteness of form extends to the very context of buildings themselves.