11th October 2013
Radical Democracy and the Urban Condition
Many of the contemporary protest movements, ranging from the anti‐globalisation protesters in Seattle to the Occupy Wall Street movement or the protesters in Syntagma Square, have articulated a critique of representative democracy, outlining a democratic deficit, and demanding radical democracy. Within the built environment, this demand has been formulated as a call for participation, whether on the level of urban planning, urban design, or architecture. The paper proposed here intends to provide a critique of the transposition of an abstract ideal to concrete practice by interrogating the ideal of radical democracy, and the relationship of theory and praxis. As the urban crisis deepens, and with growing protest movements in the worst hit countries, the need for an alternative based on radical democracy and ‘the right to the city’ is becoming urgent, and requires, as Georg Lukács argued in another context, theories that mediate between abstract theory and concrete practice.
Tahl Kaminer is Lecturer in Architectural Design and Theory at the University of Edinburgh. He is a cofounder of the academic journal Footprint, editing three of its issues. In 2011, Routledge published his PhD dissertation as the book Architecture, Crisis and Resuscitation. He has also co-edited the volumes Houses in Transformation (NAi, 2008), Urban Asymmetries (010, 2011) and Critical Tools (Lettre Voilee, 2012).