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Against the Plan

  1. Sebastiano Fabbrini


European integration subverts our common understanding of “the rear view,” as it openly rejects planning or finality and, instead, unfolds as a gradual process, exploiting the spillovers and unintended consequences that occur when multiple states come together. The hypothesis of this study is that, within such fragmented system, walking in a straight line, having a goal and knowing where to go undermine the possibility of building. Con- versely, the buildings in the limelight result from a zigzag process, driven by contingency and informality. What is purposely designed as a front view tends to remain on paper due to a widespread concern for and distrust in the power of planning and, over time, that space is occupied by objects that respond to the logic of the rear view. The following analysis traces two case studies that illuminate how this tension played out in the early part of the integration process: on the one hand, a set of unplanned buildings that marked the spontaneous entrenchment of Brussels as the primary seat of the European institutions; on the other hand, a set of unbuilt plans for a single European capital on the Franco-German border. This is a unique op- portunity to explore how things get shaped and built within our complex, supranational system.



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