Magazine article New Internationalist

Building and Dwelling

Magazine article New Internationalist

Building and Dwelling

Article excerpt

Building and Dwelling by Richard Sennett (Allen Lane, ISBN 9780713998757)

This commanding, sprawling, frustrating book is held together by the title's dichotomy: building and dwelling, or, as Richard Sennett refers to it more often: ville and cité. Ville refers to the built environment; cité evokes the consciousness of city life. '... in New York, traffic jams at the poorly designed tunnels... belong to the ville, whereas the rat race driving many New Yorkers to the tunnels at dawn belongs to the cite'. Building and Dwelling is about how architecture negotiates these two ideas in thought and practice.

Sennett's style is famously diffuse and meandering, winding like a flâneur between subject and place, with a rapid-fire enlisting of philosophers to help make his case. This sometimes works; it is sometimes trying. …

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