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A new humanist urbanism based on peer experience?

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th March 2013

Øyvind Holmstad has alerted me to a series of so far 13 contributions in Metropolis magazine, doing the rounds in the p2p urbanism community around Nikos Salingaros.

This is the gist of the manuscript by Robert Lamb Hart , which starts here:

“My basic idea has been to step back, look at the unfinished cultural revolutions of Modernism, and continue to build on their defining enterprise—the rapid advance of reliable sciences. The impact they have had on construction-related technologies has been enormous. But the insights of the maturing sciences of nature and human nature—of evolution and ecology and how human biology interacts with an environment—are only beginning to be applied systematically in design education and day-to-day practice. We have valuable bodies of knowledge about the physical environments we build “out-there” on the land—places that profoundly affect how we all feel, think, and act everyday over a lifetime—yet we are only beginning to understand how each of us actually experiences those environments, “in-here,” and why we respond and react the ways we do. In the design professions we are, in a sense, like doctors trained more deeply in anatomy than in a patient’s total experience. That’s more or less left to informed “intuition” and, in the case of our professions, ideologies or “design sense.”

Contemporary knowledge of the biological foundations of “experience” is potentially as revolutionary in its own way as the re-discoveryof the arts and natural philosophy of Greece and Rome by the humanists of the European Renaissance. We now have effective ways to understand the exceptional skill of the artists and designers who, over millennia, have been creating the world’s great places. We can’t know what was in their minds, of course, but we can know why we respond to their work as we do. Some very smart people are at work in this field, learning and writing about nature and human nature, and I have laid out a sketch that applies my understanding of their findings and ideas in an organized perspective—a way of thinking about design that I call “a new humanism.”


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