Pax Metropolitana: Urbanism and Its Relationship to Violence and Peace

By Matthew Soules.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While it’s common knowledge that the world has experienced unprecedented urbanization over the last century, it is much less known that during the same period the planet has witnessed a major decline in many categories of violence. Contrary to everyday perception, recent studies demonstrate that the contemporary world is characterized by a remarkable peacefulness when compared to previous decades and centuries. Indeed, at the outset of the 21st Century, the world appears both more peaceful and more urban than ever before. This paper explores the hypothesis that the concurrent decline in violence and rise in urbanization may not be entirely unrelated. In pursuing this conjecture the paper considers the spatial ideologies of militaristic cultures and compares and contrasts them with spatial configurations that intensify intercultural exchange. Through this comparison, the paper touches upon formal and programmatic conditions that can be understood as intensifying heterogeneity and intercultural empathy as opposed to fundamentalist purity and intercultural antagonism. Finally, the paper speculates that while the contemporary city, in a general sense, may be understood as an engine of peace, certain urban configurations can be considered as more peace enhancing than others.

Keywords: Urban Form, Social Interaction, Violence and Peace, Intercultural Exchange, Contemporary Urban Design

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.25-33. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 164.138KB).

Prof. Matthew Soules

Assistant Professor of Architecture, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Matthew Soules is the director of Matthew Soules Architecture (MSA) and an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. His research focuses on the socio-political dimensions of contemporary architecture and urbanism and is framed around a constellation of three topics: The Social City, The EcoMetropolis, and Asset Urbanism. Matthew's work has been published widely, including in Harvard Design Magazine, Praxis, and 306090. The work of MSA has received provincial, national and international awards, including the Architectural Institute of British Columbia's "Emerging Firm Award" in 2010.