How urban paradigms of efficiency, sanitization and surveillance transform city life into seamless "experience" and erode the non-normative
In cities across the world, a new urban condition is spreading rapidly: an ever-increasing push toward efficiency, sanitization, surveillance and the active eradication of any aberration, friction or alternative. From Dubai, Hong Kong and London to Amsterdam and Cairo, the smooth city, with its gated communities and theme-park zones, insidiously transforms urban life into seamless "experience." While the demand for safe, clean and well-functioning urban environments is understandable, the ascent of the smooth city corrodes the democratic and emancipatory potential of cities, leaving little space for the experimental and the non-normative. Smooth City investigates the origins, characteristics and consequences of "smoothness" and points toward possible alternatives.
René Boer (born 1986) is a critic, curator and organizer in and beyond the fields of architecture, art, design and heritage. Based in Amsterdam, he is a founding partner of Loom: Weaving New Worlds and an editor at Failed Architecture.