social urbanism

Dudziarska II, from ongoing documentary project on how the post-transformation Poland manifests itself in architecture and urbanism.

I’d described the history of Dudziarska project here. The temporary social housing designed as a short-term harbour for people kicked out of council tenancy or other projects was built in the middle of nowhere, and in a manner that intentionally was considered as a motivating factor to get out of there as fast as possible. Instead, without much surprise, the Dudziarska blocks turned into a ghetto dubbed the worst address in Warsaw. In 2010, as a part of art intervention, blocks were painted with Malevich’s Black Square and Mondrian compositions, and during Warszawa w Budowie festival there was a special bus trip to the district to show it off. This action was generally perceived by the inhabitants as a safari-like. In 2017, the city authorities admitted the absolute failure of the Dudziarska project, and announced a gradual abandonment of the estate and its demolition or change of character.

Les Choux, Créteil, Paris, France.

(Arch. Gérard Grandval, 1969-74)

Photo by Carlos Traspaderne with Hasselblad 500 C/M & Ilford film.
What would cities look like if they were designed by mothers? | Christine Murray
Architecture’s lack of diversity shows in the urban environment, says Women in Architecture awards founder Christine Murray
By Christine Murray

The regeneration projects of the past decade are more about planters and cappuccinos than access to free drinking water, public toilets, cheap groceries and a post office. They appear to solve only the first-world problems of the monocultural illuminati who created them.

Hi here’s another list of things I’ve read that are really important to me, on the loose theme of ‘fantasy urbanism.’ I still haven’t read Dhalgren.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. This is the most essential thing to read if you are even tangentially interested in anything about this list i think. Revelatory to me as a pulpy-literalistic fantasist.

Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson. Inspired by the Calvino book, an enormous overview of planned or dreamed cities that were never built.

Kalpa Imperial by Angélica Gorodischer. Some of my favorite secondary-world fiction I have ever read. Short stories from the history of an empire at the ludicrous extreme of size, depth, history. The English edition was translated by Ursula K. Le Guin who is my favorite.

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. Beautiful book and deals with an invented setting and urban spaces with a more densely intellectual approach than I have ever seen.

Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas. An architectural history and “retroactive manifesto” for Manhattan, but some of the most interesting bits are about Coney Island in particular. Huge futuristic conflicts underlie every modern city.

The City & the City by China Miéville. This isn’t a lot of people’s favorites of his because its fantastic elements aren’t the loudest, but it’s so smart and bewildering and develops an allegory for emergent social strata in urban spaces that is really compelling.

The Event Factory by Renee Gladman. Just finished this; it feels loose and dreamlike and engages very clearly with real feelings of exploring new spaces, radically repurposing urban environments…

Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy. Not as totally concerned with cities as the rest of the list, but a really exciting and unusual example of worldbuilding from an intentionally political/utopian perspective.

Surregional Explorations by Max Cafard. The first few essays in this book deal with Surrealist and Situationist approaches to urban space and the unconscious of cities; it’s a weird jumbled book but I liked it

The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.
—  David Harvey, The Right to the City


The party is a ring of book smugglers, illegally distributing books, and maybe printing presses and parts thereof.


  • party members can be anything, from starry-eyed idealists to greedy criminals, and still have a vested interest in working together from lvl 1
  • characters have a reason to travel far and wide
  • perfect for “zooming out”: you can start small passing leaflets to the next village/district and end up distributing to the whole kingdom
  • you can easily combine wilderness and urban environments, social encounters and combat, monsters randomly blocking the roads and law enforcement (or other nefarious organisations) going specifically after the party
  • which books are illegal and why? who writes them? who reads them? who wants to spread them and who wants to collect them? these are great worldbuilding questions for the DM. you can make a setting out of this.
  • player choices include the risk Vs reward considerations that arise in every criminal adventuring endeavour, but also, should ALL books be smuggled? what about the ones we disagree with? what about the dangerous ones? what about the Book of Vile Darkness? what about all that terrible poetry? :p


  • there are literally no cons