The City Within the City

The City Within the City

A + U, Tokyo, Special Issue, November 1977, pages 69-152. Reprinted in: Architectural Design, volume 54 (1984), Jul/Aug pages 70-105. Also in: Léon Krier: Houses, Palaces, Cities, Demetri Porphyrios, editor, Academy Publications, London, 1984. With added sections from “The Cities Within the City II”, Architectural Design, volume 49 (1979), Jan pages 18-32; and “The Reconstruction of the European City”, Architectural Design, volume 54 (1984), Nov/Dec pages 16-22.


A city can only be reconstructed in the form of urban quarters. A large or a small city can only be reorganized as a large or a small number of urban quarters; as a federation of autonomous quarters. Each quarter must have its own center, periphery and limit. Each quarter must be A CITY WITHIN A CITY. The quarter must integrate all daily functions of urban life (dwelling, working, leisure) within a territory dimensioned on the basis of the comfort of a walking person; not exceeding 35 hectares (80 acres) in surface and 15,000 inhabitants. Tiredness sets a natural limit to what a human being is prepared to walk daily and this limit has taught mankind all through history the size of rural or urban communities.

There seems, on the contrary, to be no natural limit to the size of a functional zone; the boredom which befalls man while driving a car has made him forget any sense of physical limit.

The form of the city and of its public spaces cannot be a matter of personal experiment. The city and its public spaces can only be built in the form of streets, squares, and quarters of familiar dimensions and character, based on the local tradition. Whether of grand metropolitan or intimate local quality, the streets and squares must present a permanent and familiar character. Their dimensions and proportions must be those of the best and most beautiful pre-industrial cities, obtained from and verified by a millennia-old culture.

After the crimes committed against the cities and landscapes of Europe over the last few decades in the name of progress and efficiency, the professions of architecture and engineering deserve nothing but the contempt of the population. The function of architecture is not, and never has been, to take one’s breath away: it exists to create a built environment which is habitable, agreeable, beautiful, elegant and solid.

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The City Within the City

Yes, your work matters

Will Potter Interview at The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, covered at the always relevant Green is the New Red

I was interviewed by Dara Greenwald for the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest about the Green Scare, and labeling political activists as domestic terrorists.

One area that was particularly interesting, and has not been discussed much on this site, is the implications of all this for artists. Check out the interview for a bit more on Steve Kurtz, the Boston LED-terrorists and the Graffiti Research Lab.

Here’s an excerpt:

DG: Do you have advice for artists and media makers who might care about these issues?

WP: Your work matters. That may sound silly or simplistic, but I have met so many amazing artists who sometimes look down on their own work as if it is not “real” activism. But you have so much power to educate and inspire, to shake up widely held beliefs and reinforce values that matter.

There have been so many days when I couldn’t feel more down, more hopeless about all of this, and then stumbled across a tiny, spray-painted stencil on the street, or a song, or a video, or a performance, and felt like I had a fire lit under me. So I’ll say it again: Your work matters.

What kind of work is going on? Quite a lot actually, and the complete engagement of artistic and tech communities is really refreshing.  (See:

Doing work like this:

Related Post: Art/Graffiti I like

Yes, your work matters

Cool Graphics

As a follow up to my earlier posting about Radiohead’s new distribution methodology; here are some interesting graphics, plus a good song. It’s no secret that I am a big fan of that wonderful blow to top-down distribution model they have delivered, some of the consequences of which I had described here.

Freedom to artists; you own the means of your production, and also distribution… Below the fold: how the video was made…By scanning using 64 rotating lasers…

It occurs to me that this is a different type a simulcrum–instead of looking inward and being created synthetically, it’s pulled information from the external environment which is distorted as it is mapped. –enough!–watch and listen)

But it is also interesting for architects/urban planners–instead of a series of 2-D images (as in google street view) now there’s the possibility that google trucks will just go around scanning in information with rotating lasers–and we’d have all that info in 3D.

Below the fold: how the video was made…By scanning using 64 rotating lasers…

Hat Tip: La Petite Claudine

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Cool Graphics

Do you still think a Macintosh is simple?

Forwarded in an email, I am unsure of origin. But, the Mac requires 59 steps, the Lenovo takes 6 steps (I don’t count the last step, “Turn the computer right side up, and power it on.” Duh!)

Replacing the hard drive on an iBook G3 "clamshell":

Replacing the hard drive in a ThinkPad X20:

Do you still think a Macintosh is simple?

But it was . . .

Just finished the book “Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World” by Brian Cudahy. It was an interesting and good book in many respects, but extremely frustrating in others. It really needed some diagrams and more pictures, as well as a little more discussion of how the global economy was affected by the development of the container ship. Towards the middle, the writing style and lack of diagrams or drawings both dragged it down a bit, so I am recommending the book with the advice to read Chapters 1-4 and 6, and then the others if you are really interested. There are many things covered very well, and discussion about the network effects of a very simple (from a technical standpoint) innovation goes to the heart of what innovation really means. So on a quality scale the book is 8/10, mainly for a lack of pictures or diagrams, but the subject matter rates a 10/10 on the importance scale. Also there are some very interesting examples of open-source methodologies, and the advantages of technology unencumbered by patent restrictions.

My favorite quote:

Measured against twentieth-century innovations in fields such as electronics or nuclear medicine, a thirty-five-foot box that can be securely stacked atop similar boxes and that can be lifted by a crane hardly seems like cutting edge technology. But it was,

Continue reading “But it was . . .”

But it was . . .