Urbanity and the Right to Difference

by

Ileana Apostol

Keywords

  • right to the city
  • difference
  • engagement
  • urban commons
  • civility

After The Urban Revolution (1970), the following book written by Henri Lefebvre and published at Gallimard was The Differentialist Manifesto. He wrote this Manifesto with the conviction that the world of difference is another manner of thinking, acting and living, and later on he elaborated on the right to difference as a condition to provide the right to centrality in the city. To build an understanding of Lefebvre's dialectical thinking requires, nevertheless, explorations of his writings across their continuum. Thus I bridge in this essay the insights of these two crucial works, which form the basis of my argument for affirming differences without exclusion within an ideal of civil urbanity.

This theoretical journey was inspired by the ongoing political processes regarding the conception and implementation of collective forms of housing, workspace and living in Zurich, Switzerland. As they hint at the social role of spatial designers as citizen-activists, I suggest further that their civic presence and their role as communication vessels have the potential to revive the relevance of the spatial design professions.