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Numéro 77 Décembre 1997

Emplois du temps

Francis Godard
On the new urban temporality

Today, the past no longer furnishes a
meaning to present action and the future
slips away into the uncertainty of becoming.
In city planning, the supporters
of durable development cannot harmonize
their « long time » with the « short
time » of investors or local politicians.
However, big cities appear to be just so
many anchorage points for public regulation
of segmented time schedules. The
notions of speed and accessibility
replace those of distance or proximity.
Services are subject to the growing individualization
of customs. Collective
rituals are threatened in cities which
function à la carte and without interruption.

Jean-Yves Boulin
Negotiating time in the city European experiments

In spite of a few innovating experiences
in adapting institutions to the diversification
of time schedules in Italy, reflection on urban rhythms in Europe remains
in the embryonic stage. Adjusting the
hours of schools, transportation systems,
public services and businesses to the
multiplicity of individual habits
becomes a wager when work no longer
dictates the pace of society to the extent
that it did a decade ago.

Sandra Bonfiglioli
Policies of urban time in Italy

In the beginning of the ‘90’s, a few Italian
cities implemented a policy of
coordination of working hours in public
services in order to reduce the
constraints of time, notably for young
working women with small children.
These innovations were the result of
pressure from women’s organizations.
The widening of time slots and their
harmonization permit a less synchronized
utilization of the city. Transforming
time liberated from working
hours into individual time completely
changes the framework and the perspectives
of city planning. Negotiation
with local government is the only way
to reduce urban dysfunctionning.

Alessandra de Cugis
A law on time for Italian cities

The coordination of time schedules in
different Italian cities has provoked tension
and a number of misunderstandings
between public services and businesses,
politicans and inhabitants, employed
and unemployed, young and old, men
and women. Technicians and politicians
are learning together their new role as
social arbitrators with regard to the organization
of time. On the initiative of
women activating for the law on time,
informal groups, advertising campaigns,
and collective charters, adapted to
the different local contexts, are now multiplying.

Justin O’Connor
Providing public space for night life

The example of urban centers
in Great Britain

For a short time now, the question of
night life has become an integral part of
discussions on revitalizing urban centers
in Great Britain. It is not only a question
of the hours kept by pubs, night
clubs or drug stores, but of a number of
activities previously practiced during
the day. The uniform consumer economy
which dictated the principles of
urban renovation never aborded the
question of cultural life or local identity.
The industrial model which created
a separation between public spaces
accessible during the day, and those closed
and controlled at night, today hinders
the modification of the regulation of life
in the city by night.

Dietrich Henckel
Urban forms and work periods

Work is still the principal organizer of
time in the city. With the overall reduction
of working hours, two models of
the workweek have appeared : that of
four nine-hour days and that of six sixhour
days. Their different effects on
daily life or on leisure activities still
remain hypothetical. Flexible hours,
temporary work and occasional work
all contribute to a growing individualization
which renders the collective entity

Thierry Pillon
The effects of the individualization of work time on public spaces

Alternating between work, unemployment
and training does not only segment
time, but places. More and more, the
work we do, or wait for, or hope for,
infringes on other activities. But the fact
that making contacts is facilitated in the
city permits one to counter this tendancy.
Certain executives meet up with each
other regularly in certain cafés in order
to recreate ties distended by their nomadic
existence. Public places are a haven
during breaks in a segmented day.

Francis Jauréguiberry
Urban existence wounded by technological brutality?

In the race against time, the portable
telephone is a precious tool which allows
one to multiply physical time and communication
time. But its utilization is
not necessarily appropriate in cafés,
where one often wants to take a break
from urban agitation and accelerated
rhythms. In such places, the violence of
those who are « connected » proves that
solidarity is now more to be found in
sound waves than in one’s physical surroundings.

Michel Bonnet
Temporality and the student : mobility without quality

It is impossible to reduce daily transportation
time to a simple sequence of
transition between two activities. Unlike
other socio-temporal categories, that of
the student shows forms of off-beat
mobility, which are less strained and
tense. His full time preoccupation with
his future autonomy cancels the
constraints of movement and reduces
the functional separation of urban

Antoine Picon
The age of the cyborg in the territory-city

The metaphor is a way of apprehending
the complex reality of the contemporary
city. Abandonning a « hard » system in
favor of a « soft » one, the territory-city
presents more analogies with the world
of electronic games than with the material
structure of computers. In the virtual
landscape of games, composed of
multiple and simultaneous events, the
rhythms of the industrial city disappear,
and the progression of the individual
makes rules unnecessary. The cyborg,
an electronic creature, a hybrid half
machine, half man, symbolizes the
figure of the city dweller, subjugated to
the heterogeneity of time.

Caroline Varlet
The ages of city planning : an investigation in Parisian urban history

The ZAC (Zone for Concerted
Development) of Reuilly Diderot

Partners in city planning conjugate the
city in several tenses : in the future for
the consultants, in the present for the
contractors, in the past perfect or the
future perfect for the inspectors. For the
city planner, urban temporality is evolutive,
malleable, and alterable. For the
politicians, it is multiple, uncertain and
experienced in diverse ways. For those
concerned with patrimony, it is continuous,
cumulative and symbolic. These
everpresent differences result in
conflicts and negotiations which give a
sense to the regulations of city planning.

Viviane Claude
Hypotheses on the professional memory

Urban materials
Engineers, architects and experts
construct the professional memory of
city planning through contrasting but
complementary accounts of the
moments which marked urban politics.
Vogues and fashions or the ambition of
a generation thus explains inventions,
disappearances and reappearances of
concepts and techniques. In spite of the
progressive decline of the enthousiasm
which caracterized the Reconstruction
period, the claims on the paternity of
realisations, doctrines or techniques
attest to a common patrimony of ideas
and pratices.

Hélène Orain
There’s a time for everything

Never before have we heard so much
talk about work time, and yet it represents
no more than 14 % of our wakened
hours. This shows the degree of its
symbolic ascendancy, which dominant
utilitarianism nevertheless reduces to a
simple instrumental variable, like those
found in surveys on transportation or
the relation between budget and time.
On the contrary, a comprehensive
approach to daily life takes account of
the plurality of the dimensions of time
with regard to the diversity of practices,
or the relation which exists between
established rhythms and the actual time

Salvador Juan
A voyage through texts and times

The modern calandar in Europe (1582)
transformed time into an economic utility
to be managed rationally. The industrial
era and mass consumption augmented
the division and the rotation of
functional time, stripping the individual
of his ritualized spatio-temporal framework.
Today a service oriented
society is faced with the problem of finding
a new path between a productivism
which destroys social time and a
conservatism which limits ties and

François Ascher
From living just in time to chronocity

The history of occidental society is
profoundly marked by a utilitarian
conception of space and time, which
implies that the mastery of these two
things represents a gain in fortune and
prestige. The acceleration, the intensification
and the continual flow of
communication throughout the world
completely disrupts social and local
rhythms. The once segmented time
configuration of the industrial city has
now become one which squeezes in
diverse activities alongside work. In a
socio-economic context marked by
incertainty, city dwellers become the
strategists of individual moments and
the simultaneous management of multiple
tasks. It is up to chrono-city planners
to rethink a city without bridles
and without respite.