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On 9 June Professor M. Christine Boyer (Princeton University, USA) delivered a lecture on the open society and the relationship between architecture, planning and democracy in the 20th century. The lecture was followed by a conversation in response to issue #16 of Footprint, which examines the commons and the urban environment. The evening carried the name 'Open Societies, Common Spaces'.

Open Societies, Common Spaces

Developments such as open-source planning and the rise of the ‘commons’ (new forms of collective action) invite us to consider the limits of the public and private domains and the meaning of citizenship. These practices present alternative social models for the use of urban space and offer resistance to big business, which has monopolized urban space around the world under the heading ‘creative cities’. But how accessible are these common spaces? How do the ‘commons’ measure up against the idea of an inclusive, open society? And how exactly do they relate to the logic of the ‘creative class’?


  • Lecture by Professor M. Christine Boyer on the historical background and dilemmas of the open society in relation to architectural and planning issues.

  • Conversation with Heidi Sohn and Stavros Kousoulas, compilers of issue #16 of the periodical Footprint, which examines the commons and the urban environment.


Professor M. Christine Boyer specializes in the history of the city, city planning and computer science. She has been a professor at Princeton University since 1991, and has taught at Cooper Union, Columbia University and Harvard University. Her publications include The City of Collective Memory (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1994) and CyberCities (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996). 

Heidi Sohn and Stavros Kousoulas are staff members of the Theory Section of the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal is an online peer-reviewed periodical published since 2007 (

Jaap Bakema Study Centre

The evening builds on the theme of the Dutch entry to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, entitled Open: A Bakema Celebration, and is part of ongoing research conducted by the Jaap Bakema Study Centre into structuralism, the welfare state and the open society. Following the exhibition on Herman Hertzberger and Dutch Structuralism in 2014, a second exhibition is scheduled for autumn 2016. It will illuminate the interdisciplinary aspects of structuralism, from architecture to system theories, in an international context.



20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam