Architecture and Value-Sensitive Design

  • Jeroen van den Hoven
Part of the Urban and Landscape Perspectives book series (URBANLAND, volume 12)


The philosopher of technology Langdon Winner (1980) has drawn attention to the fact that artifacts can embody values and can be said “to have politics.” The case study that he used to vividly drive this point home to the reader concerns the work of the famous New York architect and urban planner Robert Moses. In the 1920s, Moses designed large urban projects in New York. One of the projects that he was involved in was the design and construction of a series of overpasses on New York parkways. Caro’s elaborate study of the life and work of Moses gives us reason to believe, according to Winner, that Moses designed some of the overpasses intentionally low so that buses taking the poor and (mainly) colored population to the beaches near New York could not drive under them. Buses in the new design could no longer be routed to the recreational areas. Indirectly, the overpasses thus functioned as a mechanism and barrier separating black and white middle class. Although there is some controversy over whether Moses really intended his design to have the effect of racial segregation, these overpasses provide a clear-cut illustration of the political and morally relevant effects that designs, built structures, and artifacts may have. With his account of “The Politics of Artifacts,” Winner was one of the first to point systematically to the value-ladenness of artifacts. According to Winner:


Crime Prevention Future User Urban Planner Racial Segregation Design Turn 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Section Philosophy/3TU. Centre for Ethics and TechnologyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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