Denise Scott Brown’s active socioplastics and urban sociology: from Learning from West End to Learning from Levittown

Urban, Planning and Transport Research 10 (1):131-158 (2022)
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The article examines the impact of the study for Levittown of urban sociologist Herbert Gans on Denise Scott Brown’s thought. It scrutinizes Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Steven Izenour’s ‘Remedial Housing for Architects or Learning from Levittown’ conducted in collaboration with their students at Yale University in 1970. Taking as its starting point Scott Brown’s endeavour to redefine functionalism in ‘Architecture as Patterns and Systems: Learning from Planning’, and ‘The Redefinition of Functionalism’, which were included in Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time (2004), the article sheds light on the fact that the intention to shape a new way of conceiving functionalism was already present in Learning from Las Vegas, where Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour suggested an understanding of Las Vegas as pattern of activities. Particular emphasis is placed on Scott Brown’s understanding of ‘active socioplastics’, and on the impact of advocacy planning and urban sociology on her approach. At the core of the reflections developed in this article is the concept of ‘urban village’ that Gans uses in US in The Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian-Americans (1972) to shed light on the socio-anthropological aspects of inhabiting urban fabric.

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Marianna Charitonidou
Athens School of Fine Arts


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