Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

The Modern City Revisited

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

The Modern City Revisited

Article excerpt

The Modern City Revisited, Thomas Deckker (ed.), London, E&FN Spon, 2000, 272 pp., £29.00 (p/b)

Whether or not one subscribes to the view that we live in postmodern or late-modern times, the shift in sensibilities as well as the undermining of taken-forgranted attitudes and assumptions experienced in recent years amounts to a refreshing and stimulating challenge to all those involved in planning and architecture. These disciplines have reacted in different ways. In planning there have been attempts to rethink Modernist principles in the light of 'New Times' and argue that its progressive, Enlightenment ideals do not need replacing so much as re-asserting. Others, myself included, have taken a different tack and tried to explore a more postmodern planning. In between are a multitude of positions. In architecture one can trace similar genealogies and trajectories.

The theoretical and ideological spaces between such disparate positions can often seem polarised, incommensurable and unbridgeable. As the editor of this book puts it:

The ardour with which Modern architects promoted their ideals of the Modern city can scarcely match the vehemence with which the public, and public authorities, opposed them. (p. 1)

In the face of such antagonistic viewpoints there have been, broadly, two approaches to providing a way forward. The first is to try bridge the chasm through taking less extreme versions and interpretations of both viewpoints and finding common ground. The result is a more humble modernism and a less nihilistic postmodernism. The second approach is a form of revisionism-modernism/ postmodernism is not what you think. This book partly falls into the second category:

There is a very good reason to revisit the Modern city. …

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