Biblio 3W
(Serie  documental de Geo Crítica)
Universidad de Barcelona 
ISSN: 1138-9796. Depósito Legal: B. 21.742-98 
Vol. IX, nº 551, 10  de diciembre de 2004


Horacio Capel
Universidad de Barcelona, Spain

Translation from the Spanish language: Robin Ried

1.- Three fourths of the world population is already urbanized, and the constitution of the universal Pantopolis" may be foreseen. The problems of the future of the cities are the problems of the future of Mankind.

2.- The city includes different dimensions; simultaneously encompassing urbs, civitas and polis. Urbanism considers all of these dimensions, not only the physical dimension.

3.- Until now the responsibility of urbanism has been attributed to architects and engineers. They are responsible for the positive results as well as the negative consequences of their actions.

4.-  There is nothing worse than a good architect that makes mistakes; moreover, if he is a bad architect the consequences may be irreversible.

5.- It would be worth it to scientifically investigate the hypothesis of prestigious architects that 80 percent of the architects are inept, and that 90 percent of what they have designed and built is simply trash.

6.- In urbanism, the terms sustainability, ecology, and landscape should not be used in vain. Architects should be under surveillance and disqualified when they speak of obsolescence, when they say that works are "in dialogue with", that they are "metaphysical spaces", etc.  In historical cities, in no case would it be acceptable to declare a work as "uninhibited", "audacious", "informal", or "fun", or to claim that the "liberty of the artist" permits the destruction of the urban network or existing buildings.

7.- Architects should be capable of "projecting in theory and putting into practice buildings that meet the needs of human beings while assuring that they are beautiful" that is to say, architects should try to achieve the ideal proposed by Alberti in the XV century.

8.- There are no aesthetics without ethics.

9.- Urbanism has been elaborated on and imposed on from the top down. We need another kind of urbanism that goes from the bottom up.

10.- Dialogue is essential.  We need to avoid the pretentious attitude of technicians who claim to be the masters of wisdom and knowledge.

11.- Technicians and politicians should be at the service of their citizens to meet their needs and demands.

12.- From what is said in point #2, it may be inferred that up until now the idea that technicians should only be architects or engineers should be decidedly rejected. Urban problems are of such a nature that they demand the study and participation of different specialists and technicians.

13.- Urban norms must be modified in such a way that citizen participation may be enlarged through dialogue.

14.- The role of social movements should be given value.  Participation should become a basic urban tool in a manner that will create public debate, that will guarantee the control of the decisions that are being adopted.

15.- City inhabitants should be treated as citizens and not as clients. Those who do not pay their taxes cannot claim anything.

16.- In cities, only closed spaces of individual and familiar character should be permitted.  The closing of buildings, neighborhoods, or public equipments should be totally prohibited. It is necessary to fight against exclusive spaces with real barriers (i.e. gated communities) and virtual barriers (slums dominated by the mafia.)

17.- All money within the building industry must be legalized. The legalization of black market money that grows within real estate promotion should not be permitted.  The fight against illegality and corruption should also include this dimension.

18.- Citizens have the right not to be satisfied with the structure and organization of their cities, and also have the right to request that they be renewed and rebuilt. However, renovations and reconstructions should benefit the population and not the real estate industry.

19. -All citizens should be guaranteed access to housing and public services. It should be acknowledged that the invisible hand of the real estate market is incapable of resolving housing problems, and therefore public policies are needed to solve them.

20.- To be beautiful, the city must first be comfortable, just rich, socially balanced and politically democratic. If a city meets these conditions, it will resolve its problems of form, putting architects and other technicians at its service.

21.- Urban planning is necessary.  The movement against planning should be considered terminated. Planning is an indispensable instrument to rationalize territorial occupation and city organization.  It cannot be left at the mercy of real estate speculators that seek its benefits; instead, it must be controlled.  Planning should be under public control and direction, and should require public management instruments. Planning should include the objectives and goals of the future, which should aid the construction of the present.

22.- Heaven and hell are here.  If liberty, equality, well-being, and solidarity exist, cities are heaven on earth.
If exclusion, poverty, violence, and oppression dominate, cites may become hell.  It depends on our governments, on social norms that we are able to elaborate and build on, and on ourselves.

23.- The same physical milieu can be a theater of liberty and of coercion.

24.-The relationships between form and function and form and social life should be studied.

25.- What history has accumulated should be respected above all.  The conservation of increasingly scarce historic built patrimony is essential.  This conservation should be done against the interests of real estate speculators (and numerous architects) who favor new buildings. Frequently the destruction of buildings and other works does not correspond to the needs of society, rather to the logic of real estate promotion.

26.- Buildings we need today should be built, before all, in new spaces in which the wisdom and imagination of architects propose new and imaginative forms, better than those in the past.

27.- City governance needs clear juridical norms, it also needs to have a decided will to achieve fulfillment, and to have one authority that is able to oblige the accomplishment of these norms.  This is to say, city governance needs one efficient public administration.

28.- The more or less progressive character of legislation that is being elaborated is expressed through mechanisms for the recuperation of plus value generated by planning, through public investment in social equipments, and also through the role which is given to citizen participation in elaboration, management, and control of urbanism.

29.- Urbanism is a complex process.  Public administration must negotiate with different urban agents, each one of which defends its own interests.  The administration should also mediate between its conflicts and differences in the benefit of all of its citizens. This negotiation and mediation should be conducted from powerful positions of the public administration, with a singular legislation that permits to defend the common good.

30.- The consumption of energy and materials has grown in an unmeasured manner.  In rich societies this drives to a totally unacceptable squandering of resources.  All this must have a limit.  This means less private transport, more public transport, and less air conditioning. The squandering of resources must not be permitted in the building of cities.  This means opting for a compact city, and putting limits on the speculative possession of housing.

31.- We must defend the maintenance of the urban tradition of public space protected by legal norms and public administration. It is expected that architects contribute to the design of public space that facilitates social relationships, social dialogue, and urbanity.

32.- We also need to remember that public space belongs to all society and that we must all contribute to its maintenance.

33.- The demand for services is unlimited and grows without stopping, in education, social services, health etc.  All this is without a doubt positive, but represents one cost which demands not only public resources but also a cooperative behavior and solidarity.

34.- We need to construct utopias and to debate alternatives about the form to organize the city. Debate is necessary even with anti-establishment movements.  Mankind has advanced through dissidence.

[Final]- The city can resist and survive.  It can resist speculative, manipulative, and egotistical people, corrupt and incompetent politicians, conceited and arrogant technicians who consider themselves exclusive depositories of science and wisdom. For this it is necessary to act politically in the largest sense of the term.  It is necessary that democratic order, urban norms, and management organs defend the public interest.  But social compromise and decided citizen action are also necessary.

[Coda] -  This declaration can be enlarged with proposals of other citizens who are interested in the subject after the corresponding debate.


The justification of this Declaration may be seen in Biblio 3W. Revista Bibliográfica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Barcelona, 10 de diciembre 2004, vol. IX, nº 551

© Copyright: Horacio Capel, 2004
© Copyright: Biblio3W, 2004

Bibliographical Reference

CAPEL, H. El futuro de las ciudades.  Una propuesta de manifiesto. Biblio 3W, Revista Bibliográfica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Barcelona, Vol. IX, nº 551, 10 de diciembre de 2004. []. [ISSN 1138-9796].

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