Urban Utopias and New Constructions: Building a Just City Today

Prof. Susan Fainstein, Professor of planning at Harvard Graduate School of Design
Prof. Norman Fainstein, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Urban Studies, President Emeritus, Connecticut College

Prof. Si-Ming Li, Director of David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, HKBU 

Date : 18th April 2012 (Wednessday)
Time : 4.00PM - 6.00PM
Venue: RRS 905, 9/F, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Ho Sin Hang Campus, HKBU 

Over the course of more than a century the grand utopian visions of reformers who responded to the depredations of the industrial revolution were first transformed into models of urban design, then into strategies for urban redevelopment. Thus the alternatives to market capitalism of Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier became garden city landscapes and towers in parks. When these formulas were resisted through elite critiques and popular movements in the last decades of the twentieth century, utopian impulses were finally reduced to small plans, while just outcomes were replaced by the search for democratic processes. What were once holistic constructs by which to judge and replace existing cities became talking cures of perfect discourse. In contrast, we argue that it is time to re-apply philosophical ideas about justice to the environment we are building today. Through empirical discussions of Singapore and Amsterdam, we show that the values of equity, diversity and democracy can, indeed, be approached in real cities, and that they are worthy of our efforts as planners and policy makers.