Associate Professor Jason Rebillot has contributed a chapter and essay to a new edited volume entitled The Horizontal Metropolis: Between Urbanism and Urbanization (Cham, CH: Springer Verlag, 2018). His essay, “Better Living Through Extensity” draws from the work of a handful of socialist, anarchical, and libertarian thinkers in positioning an extensive urbanism as a radical environmental project. The book emerged out of a symposium held at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in September 2015, at which Rebillot was a presenter and panelist for the session “Issues and Challenges of a New Urban Ecology”. The book also features essays (among others) by Paola Viganò, Charles Waldheim, Stephen Cairns, Bénédicte Grosjean, Brian McGrath, Christophe Girot, Els Verbakel, Thomas Sieverts and David Grahame Shane.
In the essay, Rebillot offers a critique of the compact city as a model of sustainability:
“On the one hand, there is an implication that any model of urbanism not compact or clearly delimited in spatial extent is detrimental to the environment. On the other hand (and taking the metaphor of society’s ecological footprint quite literally), it implies the very opposite: that compact urban form and a heightened distinction between urban and rural are crucial elements for our survival. The crudity of these formulations belies the great complexity of territorial systems, and is open to significant interrogation. At the same time, it is out of step with maturing concepts in fields such as critical geography, including that of planetary urbanization.”
From the book’s editors:
This book provides an overview of the Horizontal Metropolis concept, and of the theoretical, methodological and political implications for the interdisciplinary field in which it operates. The book investigates the contemporary emergence of a new type of extended urbanity across regions, territories and continents, up to the global scale. Further, it explores the diffusion of contemporary urban conditions in an interdisciplinary and original manner by analyzing essential case studies. Offering extensive content on the Horizontal Metropolis concept, the book presents a range of approaches intended to transcend various inherited spatial ontologies: urban/rural, town/country, city/non-city, and society/nature. The book is intended for all readers interested in the emergence and development of new approaches in cultural theory, urban and design education, landscape urbanism and geography.