Paragon City:

for Well-Balanced Living and Multidimensional Growth & Progress

Makan Rafatdjou

Makan RAFATDJOU in an Architect, Town Planer and Urban Designer Born in 1961 in Teheran and
leaving in Paris.
He is PhD from Starsbourg Architecture School and PhD from French Institut Of Urbanism
(Saint-Denis University of Paris)
Very Close to Works of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, Françoise Choay and Alberto Magnaghi … He
has his own Office Since Nearly Thirty Years in Paris,
With Some Very Important Ecological Urban Projects
(Eco-Quartier des Docks at Saint-Ouen, Eco-quartier Coeur de ville at Bezons, Villeneuve Saint
Georges Master Plan…)
and Many Housing and Mixed-used Projects
He is Actually the Chairman of French Institut of urbanism (Gustave Eiffel University of Paris)
and the co-Chairman of Paris Urbanism School (Gustave Eiffel and Creteil Universities of Paris


The future had already began since a long time and we are still falling behind : our present way of life leads directly to the end of the world for all humankind, while we have no other world to spare, and the gap between our conscious of the approaching disaster and the needed actions to avoid it becomes everyday greater! We are not condemned to the unacceptable, but to change quickly and radically, and most to change the whole changing process itself: manner of thinking, methods, means and agents! To make happen a global and radical alternative source of a never seen before well being and well living together for all people around the world, in deep accordance and harmony with their historical societies and geographical countries which constitute the human rich diversity, needs some prime answers: What do we have to change? (which finalities, which aims?), how are we going to proceed to this change? (which modalities, which tools?), and who is going to think and act that change? Do we act as only and lonely experts, some happy few fellows with highly wishful thinking, kind of new “avant-garde” writing a new holly story, holding the truth, knowing everything better than others, and going to show them the right thing to do? Or are we some well intentioned experts and intellectuals mobilizing on their own scale different thoughts and experiences and trying together to contribute in uncertain conditions to create the possibly conditions of a new general knowledge and empowerment, mixing policies, experts and citizens to make happen a new world on the base of the ancient one? Our historical task now is not to imagine the “best ideal” world while the continuing present leads to the “worst” world. Because it is our human irreducible specificity not only to live in a world but to make our own world, to give a real chance to a peaceful and harmless future for all people over the world, means to re-question the place of the mankind, and the manner how he transformed the whole world to build the human world in it from the first beginning up to now, from the first shelters and farms to our extractive and carbon economy, digital and neoliberal metropolitan territories. In all our still “prehistorical” civilizations we forgot that “the” world” and “our” world are the same unique world! Now we are aware that there is nothing more foolish and suicidal to think that there will be at least a little chance for a good human world in a whole damaged world!!! So we have to banish all kind of violence between the humans in an uneven development, to the other living beings and to the nature; to replace territorial alienations by territorial emancipations; to reject any kind of “creative destructions” mortal illusion by taking care and repairing our whole world to be able to transmit it in better conditions to our children and make the future open again for them. “Making a better transition” must be our permanent aim : better and better by doing our best step by step, and learning from what we have done to improve far more what to do, without any pretention of having the ideal answers (because never sure to make the right questions) or the final solutions (because there is always human evolution and will be no human achievement). Actually we are face to face with a huge double challenge, ecological and climatic imperatives and extreme social emergencies, pushing us to find livable solutions for the end of the world” and the end of the month” at the same time!!! To answer the both vital issues needs to decolonize our minds, imaginations, thoughts, actions and practices far beyond what we have learned and experienced! Trans/forming our world to make happen a radically new one in or der with the limits of the world uniqueness, the mankind universality, the biodiversity and all biotopes, the sociodiversity and all territo rial singularities, means a triple duty: – To preserve all our existing heritage without any nostalgy but as a fundamental and stable part of our evolutive identities, meaning at the same time our wide range liberty and our responsibility to give senses and limits to it, – To transform at the present these heritages and the existing territories, meaning to invent any necessary, equitable and lively solutions for all the urgent needs and demands of all people, – To open new paths and new perspectives for a desirable, sustainable and hopeful future. We can no more afford our actual and disastrous territorial reality : the increasing urban sprawi riding to a deep ecological impact for the rest of territories, the urban ideological domination with no regards for people living out of cities, and the metropolitan and megapolitan imperialism leading to out of control, bad living, anxiety inducing, unhealthy and highly uneven huge cities, just as the actual pandemic crisis proves it! In an urban world if the cities are a very large part of the problems, the solutions will never be found only in the cities but in a new ter ritorial balance founded on our omni-scalar condition, from local to global and back. All our lives and activities impact all scales and are impacted by all scales at the same time. That means to think global/act local, assuming the uniqueness of the world and all our priceless and limited natural commons (air, water, soil…), but also to think local/act global assuring the wide range singularities of human contextual territories. That leads also to clear our conscious of scales from its translation by levels as it has always been done through the whole history! Levels proceed from stacking logics always producing a bottom beneath and a top over, sources of uneven hierarchies. Scales proceed from entrenchment dynamics, which invite us to conceive the relations between them in a new way, to reinvent their permanent interrelations, both interactions and interdependences, to link together the right to the autonomy for each scale with the duty to cooperate with all other scales. The Anthropocene territorial turn must be founded and reinvented in a whole new territorial metamorphose towards a global, metabolic and equal development of all its parts, or no transformation will be enough efficient to overcome actual urban and rural problems. The ecological challenge cannot be reduced to the sustainable de velopment or resilient cities, even if they are a very important part of it. It means no more to do whatever we can do, but to rightly choose what we must do in every pertinent scale from micro to macro. Reconciliating civilization and nature is a huge task in regard of our mostly short comprehension of the nature complexity and its own dynamics and potentialities. It means the search of a new alliance between humans, all their artefacts, all flora and fauna with their whole world we just began to apprehend, and the unliving but essential and vital parts of the nature. This aim can fundamentally upset our actual human organization (political, economical, social, cultural, territorial….) in order to establish a new hierarchy of values: first of all the life value, and the primacy of everything protecting every life sources and taking care of all lives; secondly the common value, and the primacy of everything essential to lives on earth, which cannot belong to anyone, to any particular society or nation, and even not only to humankind, and must and should be imperatively shared on highly good conditions, and only then the use value, the exchange value and the market value.

We don’t coexist with non-human living and unliving beings in worlds apart, we cohabit together on the same planet with a very badly advanced countdown. The Anthropocene ecological turn means to reinvent this cohabitation by a wholly revolution in our manner of thinking, making and organizing our world through a symbiotic conception and development process. In contrary to a very common and false sense an inhabitant is not a resident, and to inhabit cannot be reduced to reside somewhere. In its primary sense inhabit is a human aptitude, both faculty and ability, meaning to leave marks. But in difference with other animals humans leave marks with traces made by a wide range of previously thought dwelling actions arranging and transforming an existing space in a real place, part of a territory, part of the world. Inhabit is an anthropogenetic and sociogenetic competence as universal and singular as the language. It is a global act mixing praxis (producing), poiesis (creating) and mimesis (representing), and be yond our actions transforming physically and materially a space, it consists on the sense we give to a place through all dimensions of our everyday life and activities, and how this place make sense to us, and somehow make us back (genius loci)! For a very long time, making places was a shared human practice source of a specific shared sense of the place everywhere on earth. It is now the prerogative of highly specialized experts (architects, urban designers, town planers, landscapers, urban engineers…) finding more or less successful solutions to some more or less well defined problematics express by other experts and policies. But not only our actions are less and less efficient in the right way, but we globally and collectively fail to share the sense of the places, cities and territories we build, arrange and manage with inhabitants, making them suffering from a deep lack of understanding, and creating a strong alienation by confiscating their real control of their own living spaces. The right to the city, and to the territory, mean the city and the territory by all as the imperative condition of the city and territory for all. The Anthropocene anthropological turn means a never seen global territorial act, a new collaborative inhabitance practice in order to overcome actual social labor division fragmenting the sense of the place, and constitute a new general intellect and action well-shared by everyone, in which experts have a new and huge responsibility

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