Discipline the City



Revisiting the book Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (2014) from the perspective of Singapore, the discussion makes the case for a sensitivity for the way buildings and cities age, deteriorate and ultimately die – what we call a feeling for the inert. It is argued that such a sensitivity is generally underdeveloped in architecture and urban design, where the disciplinary practice of design focusses on the beginning, rather than middle and end, of a building’s life. How can one propose a broader definition of design to accommodate the complex dynamics of buildings and cities in time? What is the importance of such an approach for considering a wider ecological of design, and what this means for cities like Singapore?


Stephen Cairns
Stephen Cairns is Director of the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore, and Professor in Architecture at ETH Zurich. He is a designer, writer and teacher who is motivated by a curiosity about buildings, cities and society and how design, as a discipline and practice, can catalyse innovative and sustainable relationships between them. He has published and exhibited on migration, creativity and divergent forms of urbanisation, and in 2014 co-authored (with Jane M Jacobs) Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (MIT Press).


Jane M Jacobs
Jane M Jacobs is Professor and Director, Division of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. She trained in Human Geography at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and completed her PhD at University College London. She researches, publishes and teaches in the fields of urban studies, postcolonial studies, and qualitative urban methods. Her publications include Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (1996) and Cities of Difference (1998). She is the co-author of Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (MIT Press 2014).