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The city of knowledge: rethinking the history of science and urban planning

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Focusing on the building boom in Restoration England, this paper argues that architecture and planning were closely intertwined with experimental natural philosophy, providing models for understanding and organizing new spatialities. 'Design' emerged as a crucial term during this period, designating both the process of conceptual planning and practical realization with which natural philosophers such as Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and John Evelyn were concerned. The aim is to situate convergent histories of architecture, planning and experimentation within overlapping intellectual, social and political contexts. My contention is that the rise of experimental philosophy and the transformation of the English cityscape were inseparable events and that analysing them in terms of conjunctural processes can shed light on the ways in which the urban environment shaped scientific knowledge and practice, at the same time as science helped to produce the post-Restoration city.

Keywords: architecture; co-production; design; experimentation; natural philosophy; spatialities; urban planning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of History, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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