The city that never was: Utility

How might notions of flexibility and synthesis produce more nimble and resilient settlements? Panelists discuss.

May 17, 2013

Recorded on February 22, 2013.

As seen in the United States or Spain, the development of urban infrastructure is often held up as a kind of panacea for alleviating economic and social ills: High-speed railways or new airports are often seen as recipes for urban and economic success. Yet the permanence, mono-functionality, and singularity that characterize many of these systems as traditionally conceived often lead to unintended consequences for urban growth, and unachieved projections result in white-elephant infrastructure. This panel engages how rethinking these systems of infrastructure through notions of flexibility and synthesis might produce more nimble and resilient settlements capable of negotiating the instability that characterizes 21st-century urbanization.

—Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, from their introduction to the panel


This video from The City That Never Was, a February 2013 symposium that took the current economic crisis in Spain as a point of departure for rethinking global patterns of urbanization and settlement, presents highlights from the presentations and panel discussion organized around the theme of Utility. In these excerpts, Dominique Alba outlines her traffic-easing projects along the River Seine in Paris; Rania Ghosn argues for a geographic perspective on infrastructure; and Enric Batlle describes the effects of massive, stranded infrastructural projects in Spain.