A Thought Experiment
Today’s cities face the challenge of mediating between the interests of developers and citizens. London’s frenzied skyline is an extreme example of the consequences of a liberal model where each plot simply explodes within itself. If postwar planning was overly regulatory, what we have now is a loss of common sense that urbanizes but endangers urbanity. Affecting metropolises in different ways, this problem has been the object of a dialogue between the Swiss Simon Kretz and the British David Chipperfield, in the context of a mentorship program sponsored by Rolex that connects creative young people to established professionals. Besides a theoretical discussion, the project involves a didactic experiment where 36 ETH Zurich students explore alternatives to the polarized stands of public and private initiatives. Their proposals do not try to offer a closed solution, but to show the potential of design as a catalyst for collective debate on the city. A real place is used for this exploration: the site of the old Bishopsgate station (one of London’s most disputed spots, thanks to its strategic location), and nine hypothetical scenarios are reflected upon.
On Planning – A Thought Experiment presents the research through theoretical texts and practical cases. Careful edition and an effort to uniformize graphic languages enable the reader to compare options. As a final synthesis, the last chapter offers a list of principles in the manner of a manifesto, with the aim of deoxidizing current processes of urban planning.