Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities
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Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities

Edited by Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The majority of the world's population now live in cities, nearly a quarter of which boast populations of one million or more. The rise of globalisation has granted cities unprecedented significance, both politically and economically, leading to benefits and problems at national and international levels. The Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities explores the changes that are occurring in cities, and the impacts that they are having, at the local, national and global scale.
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Chapter 4: Antifragility and the transformative idea of slow urbanism

Richard Bower

Abstract

In contrast to the assumption of global urban growth as inevitable and unending, this chapter poses a counter-proposition that frames the principles of the Cittaslow (or Slow City) movement and Nassim Taleb’s exploration of Antifragile structures as offering alternative grassroots and anarchistic propositions for urban development. The disparate yet congruent propositions of Slow and Antifragile cities are explored through the critical intersection of their underlying themes that necessitate an alternative vocabulary of urban development methodologies. Examples of such methods are subsequently highlighted by practices and ideas drawn from further interdisciplinary urban discourses – Marcus Westbury's Creating Cities', Dan Hill's Dark Matter and Trojan Horses, and Nabeel Hamdi’s The Spacemaker's Guide to Big Change. In exploring these texts this chapter seeks to frame a critical counter narrative to the conventions and assumptions that produce Westernized space and the dichotomies that continue to prevail and underpin the process of global urban development: formal and informal space; Global North and Global South; emergent and historic city growth; public and private space. In response to the conventions of neoliberal politics and economics, the alternative proposition for slow and antifragile urban development is driven by the social agency of grassroots local enterprise and the strategic manipulation of processes and relationships that produce cities. The transformative idea of slow urbanism reimagines cities and citizens as co-producers of sustainable urban change through the shared pursuit of alternative social and political relationships. By exploring the intersection of these interdisciplinary perspectives this chapter proposes a critical foundation of practicable methodologies that together highlight the potential of slow urbanism principles to support the realization of ‘Antifragile’ cities.

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