Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2022
There’s this famous saying that rivers are the birthplace for civilizations and civilization is the graveyard for rivers. So that is not something that we can live with. We can’t become the graveyard for rivers and water.’S. Vishwanath, Biome, Interview, Bengaluru 2020
Throughout this book thus far, I have focussed on ways of thinking about the role of urban design in shaping everyday and unfolding care practices and relations, albeit ones that stretch and transform through time. In this chapter, in contrast, I wish to consider how urban design might be thought of in relation to care in a somewhat different sense – as care for the world that future generations will inhabit.
Thinking of urban design in terms of, or as, care, as I have shown throughout the book, always requires an understanding of the potential for care to extend beyond settings of face- to- face encounter and practice. This is because design- as- built continues to shape needs, practices and relations well beyond the timeframes of design. It is also because, in a related way, the people who shape a given place when it first emerges are not necessarily the same as those that do so later, and these groups may, in addition, never meet. Thinking of care in the context of design, therefore, requires a different framing of the nature of care relations to that developed by early care ethicists such as Nel Noddings (1984) and Diemut Bubeck (1995), for whom face-to-face encounter and exchange was paramount. As I began to suggest in Chapter 1, it requires a framing akin to that developed by Engster (2015) and Sevenhuijsen (2003), for whom care can also be performed for and with others in non-face-to-face contexts such as through social care policy. However, thinking of design as care for future generations poses a particular challenge given that it requires an anticipation of needs that lie well beyond the present, needs that may be substantially shaped by actions and decisions that those living on planet earth today take. Those future people, in addition, are not only not in the world now to express their needs but, in the future, will have no means of giving feedback on the quality of care that their ancestors demonstrated for the environmental contexts of their lives.
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