The Porous City

with Richard Sennett - sold out

  • Debate
  • Lecture

Date: Wednesday 24.01.18
Time: 20:00 (doors: 19:00)
Where: Roodkapje, Delftseplein 39
Admission: € 10,- (€ 6,- Students)
Language: English

Due to illness Richard Sennett has unfortunately cancelled his visit to Rotterdam. He is very sorry and we hope we can start looking for a new date soon. If we find a new moment for this public talk bought ticket(s) will remain valid. We will keep you updated and hope to welcome you back soon.


On January 24 renowned American sociologist Richard Sennett will visit De Dépendance for a lecture on the ethics of the open, porous city. His lecture will be followed by replies from Marguerite van den Berg (assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam), Ania Molenda (Amateur Cities), and Tina Rahimy (political philosopher Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences).


Something has gone radically wrong in our conception of what a city should be. The cities everyone wants to live in should be clean and safe, possess efficient public services, be supported by a dynamic economy, provide cultural stimulation, and also do their best to heal society’s divisions of race, class, and ethnicity. But these are not the cities we live in. The ‘closed city’ – segregated, regimented, and controlled – has spread from the global North to the exploding urban agglomerations of the global South. Dominant forms or urban growth have become mono-functional, isolated in space, and sealed off from their surroundings. The most popular form of residential housing, world-wide, is the gated community.

To look at cities in a more embracing way, renowned American sociologist Richard Sennett argues for an ‘open’ and ‘porous’ city, where citizens actively hash out their differences and planners experiment with urban forms that make it easier for residents to cope. His vision is far from the functional, efficient, conflict-free city, but instead a physical environment that is incomplete, mixed and intense, with spaces that allow the identities of its inhabitants to be as fluid and complex as the city itself. In such a city, whatever virtues of efficiency, safety, or sociability people achieve, they achieve by virtue of their own agency.

Richard Sennett is the author of The Craftsman, The Fall of Public Man, and The Corrosion of Character. He teaches urban studies at the London School of Economics and at Harvard University, and is a senior fellow in Columbia University’s Center for Capitalism and Society. For thirty years, he has directed projects under the auspices of the UN that aim to guide urban development in the twenty-first century. His new book Building and Dwellings – Ethics for the City will be published in spring 2018.

Organized by De Dépendance in collaboration with Amateur Cities. This program is part of the project Research by Debate and kindly supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL, The Municipality of Rotterdam, the Erasmusstichting, the Fleur Groenendijk Foundation, and STOER.

Two Sennett lectures! On the 25th of January Sennett will give another lecture in Rotterdam,  focussing on ‘Designing the Open City’ (Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst)