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For Jane Jacobs, the city is a fundamental unit of diversity; she develops her ideas in the city around this key axiom. Diversity provides an ethical orientation and thus defines what a just city should achieve. For Jacobs, justice is represented by peoples' inherent right to ‘make cities’. According to Jacobs, cities become just places by their ability to facilitate the spontaneous dynamics among social fabrics and urban spaces to generate the beauty and value of cities. This contribution picks up this claim for diversity and develops a theoretical lens to explore how diversity is incorporated in urban design. We use a theory on pluralism—Cultural Theory—to analyse forms of managing urban space in different types of goods. This is applied to analyse four idealistic urban spaces in the city of Leipzig
5. Conclusion: The mosaic makes the just city
What does this mean for Jane Jacobs' ideal of a diverse city? We contend that instead of taking a normative point of view on diversity to guide design principles, urban design should be informed by rationalities and consequential ways of managing urban space, which lead to differing and conflicting ways of managing urban space.
Linking contradicting rationalities of Cultural Theory to the management of urban space – which we describe as economic good (Hess & Ostrom, 2003)) – we show that urban design always is imperfect, awkward, or clumsy from the perspective of another rationality. This is evident for Cultural Theory, as a situation, which is considered rational from one rationality always is irrational from other rationalities, as they exclude each other. Thus, Cultural Theory informs planning not to purse perfect, but rather “clumsy solutions”. Such clumsy solutions are polyrational by definition (Schmitt & Hartmann, 2016; Verweij & Thompson, 2006).
Regarding urban design, this clumsiness, i.e. polyrationality implies inherently conflicting understandings and convictions of how urban space is used and managed. Subsequently, different rationalities lead to different types of economic goods. (i.e. ways of use of urban space). We conclude that four different rationalities lead to four different cities: the private city, the common, the club and the public.
This proposes a new way of thinking diversity. As it does not necessarily mean that this is the only way to capture diversity of rationalities in the context of urban design, but it is a viable way, making diversity analysable (Douglas, 1999; Mamadouh, 1999; Verweij, 2011) and enrich the ongoing and debate on diversity in urban planning. We therefore propose that being aware of the four cities supports urban planning to analyse and consider diversity, as demanded by Jacobs. Based on this, the theoretical approach should lead to further empirical work to test its applicability.