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Shall we read the city?

Every city is a special open book. As time goes by, urban planners, architects, political leaders as well as a number of ‘non-experts’ – dwellers, users and visitors – fit together a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle that is made up of buildings, streets and spaces, but also of intangible materials, memories, senses and visions. With their planning and their works and also with their omissions and mistakes they endlessly redraft, amend, complete and transform the “book of the city” either in partnership, autonomously or coming into conflict with each other. Even the most passive readers or the most unsuspecting users leave their marks on it, willfully or not. This book is about all of us.

If we wish to become critical readers and creative authors of the book of the city the mere realization of our own responsibility and also that, in effect, the book is entwined with our life does not seem to suffice. We must also learn the basic vocabulary, the grammar and the syntax of the language of architecture and urban planning, but we should also train ourselves to search for new passages, neglected pages and alternative ways of reading this book that is constantly under construction.
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