The cultural criticism of Lewis Mumford and the creative city planning as an answer to the ecological crisis of modern civilisation

    Gábor Kovács   Affiliation


The book of young Lewis Mumford (1895–1990) entitled Sticks and Stones: A Study of American Architecture and Civilization (first published in 1924) is a condensed version of his philosophy of city and a research program completed in his rich oeuvre. The title is telling: the starting point of Mumford is the idea that the architecture of a city is an objectified presentation of the value-system of the given civilisation. Stick and stones are not only sticks and stones: the material infrastructure is an embodiment of the values of civilisation, which are the basic motivating factors behind human actions. In other words: city is a mirror of civilisation; if the observer decodes the message encoded in sticks and stones, he/she gets the value-structure of the civilisation having produced the city. However, there is a mutual interdependence: human beings living in the city are not only passive possessors of a heritage determining one-sidedly their actions but they modify and restructure urban spaces: sticks and stones form our values, at the same time our values influence the concrete arrangement of sticks and stones. Creative city-planning is vital important. It gives possibility for the redirection of a civilisation’s future historical way. At the same time, creativity, in Mumford’s interpretation, does not mean the profit-generating capacity of the city; it has to serve the well-being of all citizens.

Keyword : architecture, city, city-planning, civilisation, creativity, ecology, Lewis Mumford, Sticks and Stones, values

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Kovács, G. (2023). The cultural criticism of Lewis Mumford and the creative city planning as an answer to the ecological crisis of modern civilisation. Creativity Studies, 16(1), 145–157.
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