Urban void and the deconstruction of neo-platonic city-form

Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (2):205 – 218 (2009)
Abstract
Urban void sometimes amplifies alienation within urban space, and thus leads the way to the human craving for authenticity. Juxtaposing urban void with the conventional notion of urban objects, furthermore, conforms to Nietzsche's distinction between Dionysian and Apollonian deportment. The Apollonian is at the founding of the Platonic myth of the Ideal City and its modern descendant, the myth of the Rational City. Modern urban planning has been object-directed and, consistent with the historical trend since the Renaissance, has become a constituent of a Neo-Platonic mythology that insists on forging a city as an urban technological artifact. Most existing urban parks and squares, as well as suburban gardens, within this approach, only augment the subordinate standing of urban voids. Yet the significance of urban void, as the unplanned place that represents the pre-rational, the genuine and the unadulterated, ought to lead to its re-introduction into city-form as a conduit for self-reflection and authenticity. Recognizing urban void for its significance may reintroduce an important Dionysian feature into city-form, leading to deliberate carving of authentic urban spaces
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