An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Open City

Cities worldwide are being confronted with perpetual economic challenges, flows of migration, and increasing
vulnerability to the consequences of global changes. Within contemporary urban lines of conflict, the ‘open city’
has resurfaced in urban scholarship as a potential guiding principle to the contradictory tendencies and calamities
of cities. Despite the often approving and positivist take on the concept, the open city is not a homogeneous
concept, and a variety of understandings – that are mostly limited to a specific discipline – are in circulation.
These different understandings evoke a range of associations, leading to different interpretations of the concept
and potentially conflicting properties associated with the term. Within the Open City: Theories, Perspectives, Instruments
research project, we propose an interdisciplinary framework, which derives insights of openness from
spatial, socio-economic and temporal dimensions, to systemise different understandings of openness and relate
them to each other. To do so, we use a research design based on the method of assemblage that allows a variety
of perspectives on the same research object. This paper presents how the outcomes of different disciplinary
perspectives and research methodologies have been assembled to reach conclusions on the theoretical debate
regarding the concept of openness and to further develop tools for the practical use of the open city concepts.


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