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Urban and Regional Research Collaborative Seminar: Henco Bekkering

October 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Title: On Permanence in Urban Design. Transformation and Tradition

To retain their ³longue duré², cities need sound technical substance and networks. Just as important is that their physical structure contains meaning, as the means to enable people to connect – mentally – to their environment and thus help sustain permanence, in a social and a physical sense. The transformation of our cities under Modernism have not taken this into account. They have often been violent and destructive. If a more careful attention is given to tradition as a means to enable historical continuity, this can be prevented. Moreover, any urban design is always part of a context, a larger whole. Much more stays the same than changes. This is simply a question of scale: the scale of the context. By definition realizable programs look alike at any moment in time and place. The necessary differences to give a place its individual character can only be derived from the specific local characteristics and forces of the context.

By referring to the context, the designer distracts meaning from the existing situation. The result in any city is layered. The legibility of the historical layers results in historical continuity. This approach to urban design will be illustrated with a series of projects by the office the lecturer held in the Netherlands.


October 30, 2009
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm