Book review: Sennett, Richard (2018). Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewAcademicpeer-review


The title of the book says it all: the design of the built environment (building) has a strong impact on how people live in the city (dwelling), and how they relate to each other (ethics for the city). Sennett identifies two aspects of cities: the city as a ‘built environment’ and the city as ‘how people dwell in it.’ A distinction that he explains by referring to the two words for city in French: ville, how the city is built, and cité, how the city is lived. Distinctions between form and function, or place and space, are other ways to illustrate this contrast. The core argument of the book is that ville and cité should interact. Problems arise, when building and dwelling are separated. Builders need to look after the quality of dwelling, dwellers cannot do without responsible builders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-355
JournalInformation polity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019


  • Urban complexity
  • Smart cities


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