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The caring city: ethics of urban design

Davis, Juliet ORCID: 2022. The caring city: ethics of urban design. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

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This book sets out to consider the potential of urban design in terms of care in cities. It is concerned with how urban design supports the diverse inhabitants of cities in meeting their needs and developing capabilities, enabling them to thrive and flourish into the future. It is also concerned with the role of urban design with respect to care practices and relations - with its potential to condition the dependencies of people on others, to foster patterns of interdependence, and to enact care for future generations. For a long time, the potential of design with regard with care or caring was principally explored through particular spaces associated, for example, with the care of children, the elderly, refugees, homeless people, disabled people and the sick. The result is a rich and still rapidly growing corpus of studies of typologies of care-centred architecture – from the hospitals, hospices, historical asylums and day centres of healthcare to the nurseries and schools of childcare, to the residential settings of care in families and communities (see, for example, Briller and Calkins, 2000; Worpole, 2009). Though important exceptions exist (such as Mitchell et al, 2003), the significance of urban design was not considered to the same degree. Hence, relatively little emphasis was placed on the relevance of the locations of particular spaces of care in cities relative to other land uses for care. Similarly, relatively little emphasis was placed on the role of various aspects of urban form and qualities of urban places and infrastructures in how people are involved in and practise care for one another and in communities. This relatively narrow focus on the potential of design regarding care has been gradually broadening in recent times, however. Since around 2010, an increasingly wide array of urban places and infrastructures have cropped up in literature as important ‘spaces of care’, encompassing streets, cafés, museums, allotments and other urban green spaces (see, for example, Munro, 2013; Artmann et al, 2017; Mangione, 2017, 2018). There is rising here interest in how morphological characteristics of neighbourhoods shape caring relations, including the accessibilities and porosities of infrastructures and amenities (Barnes, 2011; Kullmann, 2014; Bates et al, 2017). A widening lens on care beyond institutions and contexts of formal care has in turn led to greater focus on the physical and material qualities of spaces of informal care between neighbours, friends and even strangers (for example, Williams, 2005; Kehl and Volker, 2013; Pont et al, 2013). There is an emerging conceptualization of urban care as the repair of places impacted by traumas of decline, conflict or redevelopment (for example, Till, 2012). Informed by environmental studies and the climate emergency, there has also been an increasing emphasis on how architecture and urbanism, or the life of built form, may embody care for the resources and fragile ecologies of planet earth upon which all life depends (see, for example, Fitz et al, 2019). As part of these lines of exploration, there has also been growing discussion not just of how design may shape care practices but also how it may embody an ethics of care and actually be a care practice (Fathers, 2017; Bates et al, 2017). To date, however, there has been no single monograph devoted to the caring potentials of urban design. This is the gap in theory which this book sets out to fill. Across its eight chapters, I explore how urban design is relevant to care needs, relations and practices pertaining to diverse citizens in multiple ways. I show how urban design can respond to care needs and help create capabilities. I also show how an ethics of care can be reflected in urban design practice and become embodied in urban places to foster more humane, attuned and resilient cityscapes than many live in today.

Item Type: Book
Book Type: Authored Book
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Publisher: Bristol University Press
ISBN: 9781529201215
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Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 April 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 11:07

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