projective reactive

On the difference between the continental French and analytic English in planning and design. The continental modus operandus is ‘what can make life better;’ the analytic is ‘how do we get it done.’

So, in planning and design, the continental says ‘let’s plan so that it is better,’ while the analytic ‘Let’s do what we’ve always done.’ In the continental there is a commitment to a model or an idea, while in the analytic there is a reliance on mimicry and precedence.

This is from an article in AR by Farshid Moussavi:

The UK and French systems are diametrically opposite. The French system is projective: architectes-urbanistes draw up masterplans to inform decisions made subsequently for each site. The UK system is reactive: there is no holistic vision going forward, and applications are decided individually. In the projective model, as the planning officers are advised by their architecte-urbaniste, they can take the position of design negotiators. In the reactive model, the planning officers must act as Feng Shui masters and divine the dynamics of a given site solely grounded on past decisions. As in any stare decisis legal model, this curbs future thinking and encourages the retroactive and conservative.

Farshid Moussavi: Planning is an art form

2 Comments so far
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sounds like the continental approach is ideological/theoretical and the analytical is the empirical/consensual (cultural?)

Comment by

Hmm – not sure. Both are cultures and both at their extremes – scientism, obscurantism – could be seen as ideological. Analytic is definitely empirical, but also theoretical. Theory is the Greek word for spectator in a theatre – theoros – who is watching evidence presented from the stage. Don’t know how consensus fits. I just posted a new one on this topic – have a look.

Comment by Peter Rudd

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