The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL
Tracing the unwritten, interwoven and interdisciplinary in architectural history and theory LINKS
Architectural History MA 2021-22
Recognitions, Inhabitations, Orientations, Translations
This publication is a collation of final dissertation extracts submitted by the 2021-22 Architectural History MA cohort, published in conjunction with a symposium, held at The Bartlett School of Architecture on 19 November 2022.
With thanks to the keynote speakers at the symposium:
Founding member of Assemble
Director of Manchester University’s Architecture Research Group
Publication URL: https://www.bartlettarchhistory.com/
Symposium Convening and Hosting
Charlotte Morgan Sandy Rattray
Publication Design and Editing
Hester van den Bold
Geethanjali Raman Frank Simpson
Marianna Janowicz Zijiao Li
Eglė Pačkauskaitė Danae Santibáñez
Yanyu Sun Symposium Supervisor
The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL 22 Gordon Street London WC1H 0QB
© of the texts: authors; © of the images: see p. 132. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher.
Architectural History MA 2021-22
Cohort and Academic Staff 10-11
Introduction: Missing Links 12-13
Hester van den Bold, Charlotte Morgan, Frank Simpson
Out of the Shadows: Study of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s Thought and Practice in Post-War Britain 16-19 Eglė Pačkauskaitė
The Landscape Beyond the Highway: Reclaiming the Depopulated Villages West of Jerusalem 20-24 Mira Idries
At the Mouth of the Western World: Textuality and Myth in the place-making of Shannon—or Rineanna 25-29 Frank Simpson
30-35 Ajeng Hendriati Divine Thresholds 36-39 Geethanjali Raman 40-43 El Fancourt
From Paleis te Koningsplein to Istana Merdeka: A Case Study of Indonesian Architectural Identity from the 1870s to the Present Day
Queer Hybridity: How London’s Queer Spaces Have Gained Value for the Community Through Layered Aspects of Performance, Class Identity, and Activism Under Threat
Learning from Leakiness: Washing Lines and Atmospheric Practices in Somers Town and Vanbrugh Park Estate 46-50 Marianna Janowicz
Vacant Spaces in Gran Torre Santiago: A Study on the PostPandemic Obsolescence of the Office Building Typology 51-54 Nicolás Penna
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Architectures of the Voice: An Experiment in a Biopolitical Genealogy of Public Address Systems 55-59
Eva Tisnikar 60-63
The Power of the ‘Busto’: Portrait Statues in the Library of Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) and Reflections on the Significance of Busts in Libraries Today
No End of Forgotten Lesson[s]: A Study of Two Anglo-Boer War Memorials in England 64-68
The Resurrection of the Nash Terraces in Regent’s Park: From the Gorell Report in 1947 Until the Adoption of Final Proposals in 1962
Missing? The Presences and Absences of Writing a Feminist Architectural History of Rosemary Stjernstedt 77-81
Walking-Writing Urban Waterways: Tracing Fluid Relations in the Post-Industrial/Post-Human City Charlotte Morgan
89-93 Yanyu Sun
Navigating Transnational Identity: Interpreting Architectural Understanding of the Shipping Container and its Mobility to Explore Chinese Emigrant Identity
Mumbai in Transit: The Evolving Landscapes of Transport Infrastructure 94-96 Ruchika Agarwal
Online Neighbourhood: A Study of the Relationship of Digital Media, Urban Space and Urban Experience in Kings Cross Central
101-105 Danae Santibáñez
The ‘As Found’ and ‘The Ugly’. Non-Linear Time in the Post-War Curatorial Practices of Architects Alison Smithson and Lina Bo
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Spectacle, Uncanny, and Everyday Life in Domestic Interior Photography 108-111
Post-war Principia. The Impact of Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism on British Architectural Debates and Practices (1949-1957)
Representations of the Street: The Role of the Architectural Journal Page in the Critical Debate Around Park Hill’s Streets-in-the-Sky
Horseracing, Matchmaking, and COVID-Health Code: The Evolution of Urban Public Space in Central Shanghai (1862-present)
Britain and Sweden: A Mid-Century Architectural Love Affair 124-127
Sandy Rattray Reappraising Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities in Translation 128-131 Hester van den Bold
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Architectural History MA 2021-22
Hester van den Bold
Patricia Cerón Anthony Davis Scarlett Deamer El Fancourt
Marianna Janowicz Zijiao Li
Yumeng Long Korrakot Lordkam Shelagh McNerney Charlotte Morgan
Allan Murray-Jones Manola Ogalde
Frank Simpson Yanyu Sun
Heinz Weber Zijian Wei Jan Zachmann
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Course Director: Peg Rawes
Eva Branscome Ben Campkin
Mario Carpo Murray Fraser
Clare Melhuish Barbara Penner
Jane Rendell David Roberts
Nina Vollenbroker Robin Wilson
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Introduction: Hester van den Bold, Charlotte Morgan, Frank Simpson Missing Links
Missing Links represents the collective effort of the 2021-22 Architectural History cohort of how to research, write, and practice architecture, history, and theory today. This publication highlights that engaging with architecture and spatial practices through different methods, and in close conjunction with other disciplines, benefits the field as a whole. This approach gives space to those who have been historically overlooked—the voices, places, bodies and stories omitted from the canon—in a collective, continuous process of uncovering.
The written excerpts presented in this publication give an insight into the diverse modes of researching, working and exploring that were shaped throughout our shared time at The Bartlett School of Architecture. Our cohort came together in London from various places across the planet, and from different academic fields, professions, and paths of life, with a shared interest in better understanding our built environments and tackling questions surrounding space and its representation.
As the first ‘post-pandemic’ Architectural History cohort at The Bartlett, we experienced the transition from online to in-person teaching and learning through hybrid modes of working. Remaining COVID-19 restrictions did not prevent us from creating safe ways of getting together, such as the practice of group walks across London neighbourhoods, often led by our academic staff. Walking remained a key social and learning activity throughout the academic year, including during our field trip to Newcastle, and features as a key research methodology within a variety of the excerpts that follow.
The individual texts are organised into four chapters, each presenting a different collective understanding of ‘missing links’ within the practice of architectural history: Recognitions , Inhabitations , Orientations and Translations . In their plural form, these terms allow for multifaceted readings of each text and highlight different modes of working. Collectively forming the acronym RIOT, they indicate the need to disrupt singular canonical architectural historiographies.
Missing Links invites a circular reading. Beginning with an exploration into the work of planner Jaqueline Tyrwhitt and ending with an analysis of the translated works of Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of Great American Cities , along multiple interlinking sites and themes, this publication aims to trace the untraced, interwoven, and interdisciplinary tenets of architectural history and theory.
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The Recognitions chapter contains fragments of essays across a range of disciplines and focuses that illuminate architectural, historical, theoretical, and embodied knowledges that lie outside of traditionalised architectural discourse. Recognitions brings forth and lays claim to the unsaid, the uncovered, and the untraced, from recognitions of land and voice to individual and collective recognitions. Opening with an exploration of planner Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, to a reclaiming of the landscape of West Jerusalem, to mythopoesis in the far Western coast of Ireland, a tracing of Indonesia’s architectural identity, discourses of the Sabarimala Temple, and a tracing of the Queerness of London’s built environment. This chapter questions the legitimacy of memory, ownership, and canonical categorisations which elide that which does not ‘fit’.
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Out of the Shadows:
Study of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s Thought and Practice in Post-War Britain
‘The planner obviously needs a thorough knowledge of his job but beyond that he must have plenty of courage and tact and—above all—a practical imagination that enables him always to look just ahead and see a future pattern of richer life that is attainable—given the will to work towards it’ 1
Mary Jaqueline Tyrwhitt (1905-1983) was a multifaceted character in planning history. Classified as a planner, educator, landscape architect, editor... and arguably an historian and author, she is to be understood as a skilled researcher, thinker, and practitioner. Born in Pretoria, South Africa, she was brought up in Britain, becoming an international citizen through her work in the United States, Canada, India and across Europe, with her archives containing letters from friends and colleagues who struggled to remember which address she settled in at the time of writing.
Despite her life-long planning career and having been a key participant in the most pivotal moments in architectural history, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt remains a lesserstudied figure—her history interpreted by some as one of compliant invisibility. While introducing the AA’s ‘Plan the Planet’ conference on the career of Tyrwhitt, organiser John Palmesino remarked that the speakers were ‘not there to celebrate her’, because ‘there was a reason why she was in the shadows…’. 2 Countering Palmesino’s comment that she was ‘a woman in the shadows’, I show instead that she established her own practice amongst majority of men colleagues in the professional fields, including planning and academia. 3 Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to actively highlight her visibility and offer a feminist ‘gendered practice’ 4 as a means to re-read her contribution.
1 Test for Festival of Britain Handbook, 1957, TyJ/14/6, The Jaqueline Tyrwhitt Papers, The RIBA Collections.
2 Territorial Agency, “Plan the Planet – Part 1” filmed 2015, Architectural Association, 11:30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuTH67irbOM&t=693s
According to John Palmesino, the speakers were ‘not there to celebrate her’, because ‘there was a reason why she was in the shadows… she never really became this heroic figure - we don’t want to somehow do today what she didn’t want to have happened during her lifetime.’ They were instead ‘there to celebrate the space she opened up - this space of multiple and collective leadership’ that Palmesino thought was ‘really what is at stake in understanding her legacy…’
3 Ellen Shoshkes, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing), 173. Ellen Shoshkes quotes a letter from Sigfried Giedion to Jaqueline Tyrwhitt after her appointment at Harvard as an assistant faculty member: ‘The main thing for you will be: to be as female and silent as possible, an as little as possible a school master; especially in this tense atmosphere!’
4 Jane Rendell, ‘Subjective Space: A Feminist Architectural History of the Burlington Arcade’, in Desiring
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• Illustration by Author, 2022.
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Histories of Tyrwhitt so far shy away from the question of gender, instead attributing her work to the men she was associated with. 5 It is worth noting that the most recent, and the only existing, monograph about Tyrwhitt was written by Ellen Shoshkes in 2016. Since it is the first book of its kind, it shows an effort to introduce and narrate the historically linear trajectory of Tyrwhitt’s life and career. Perhaps traditional empirical methodology has resulted in overlooking the notion of subjectivity, but having witnessed the lively and ambitious nature of Tyrwhitt’s vast amount of work I struggle to agree with accepted discussions which suggest she is a ‘woman behind a man’, an ‘intermediary’ or a ‘catalyst’. 6 However, considering the time during which Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s career unfolded, it is easy to conclude that her visibility was overshadowed by the dominance of male figures in planning and architecture—but not erased. 7 Archival material alone shows her as an active agent in the architectural sphere, and my research addresses this by focusing on the post-war period in the UK. I pay attention to archival material, which has not been addressed previously, and build upon existing empirical studies of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s background, while also ‘weaving’ in new narratives, which bring her to the forefront of her history. By looking at the archives containing Tyrwhitt’s own work and her gendered historical experience, I argue that Jaqueline Tyrwhitt did not work ‘willingly’ behind a man, nor was she ‘in the shadows’—the mere amount of work she accomplished denies these notions.
My method comprises of using lesser-known pieces of archival evidence and close reading of their historical context to understand Tyrwhitt’s planning approach, as well as addressing her subjectivity in the built environment with an emphasis on questions of gender. To do this, I examine three key artefacts discovered in the archives: Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s draft documents for the work she did for the Festival of Britain 1951 ( National Archives ), sketches for the festival’s Town Planning exhibition ( RIBA Archives ) and undated diagrams referred to as her own ‘thinking machines’ ( Strathclyde University Archives ) which exemplify methods of communicating thought through drawing. Each of these moments in Tyrwhitt’s history are discussed
Practices: Architecture, Gender and the Interdisciplinarity, ed. Katerina Rüedi, Sarah Wiggleswort and Duncan McCorquodale (London: Black Dog Publishing, 1996), 218.
5 Ellen Shoshkes, ‘Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Founding Mother of Modern Urban Design’, Planning Perspectives 21 (2006): 179. ‘Tyrwhitt’s great contribution, especially to the planning arm of the Modern Movement … is underrecognised, largely because she worked willingly as the ‘woman behind the man’ - notably as a disciple of Patrick Geddes, translator and editor of Sigfried Giedion, and collaborator of Constantinos Doxiadis.’
6 Shoshkes, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design, 3.
7 Matt Thomson, ‘Reviewed work(s): Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design by Ellen Shoshkes’, Utopian Studies 25, no.1 (2014): 244. ‘The planning profession rarely celebrates its heroes, whose limelight is often taken by political decision makers, more senior managers, and prominent named architects, most of whom, particularly over Tyrwhitt’s working life, are usually men.’
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in the wider historical contexts of post-war planning policy, displayed at the Festival of Britain, and rationalisation of modern thought, which Tyrwhitt used to make women visible in planned communities. As the director of research at the Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruction (APRR), Tyrwhitt gained valuable insight into everyday lives of the general population, including those of women, allowing her to employ objective data in her work. Her attention to subjectivity was concerned with a ‘human scale’ 8 in the urban environment, visible in her representational methods, which comprised of geometric diagrams illustrating spatial and temporal relations between the individuals and their planned habitat.
Following the subject of representing ideas through drawing, I attempt to trace some of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s planning strategies by close reading of her grid diagrams in order to distinguish her contributions to the work of prominent planning collectives— APRR and CIAM. This contemplates the dichotomy between collaborative method and lack of visibility. Both forms of Tyrwhitt’s practice are equally important and have underlying methodology that I begin to unravel by interpreting her personal ‘thinking machines’ as theoretical frameworks—the method she used to translate the diagrams of Patrick Geddes into viable planning solutions. By treating her thinking through notation as her remaining voice, I aim to find common threads between Tyrwhitt’s universal visual language for the benefit of interdisciplinary knowledge in planning, and holistic approach in her own practice that recognised the notion of feedback in human settlements.
My research aims to resurface Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s methods to highlight the historical importance of her contributions to the architectural and planning practices. Her reflexive methods—nowadays associated with feminist research—rejected hierarchical notions of ‘paternal’ planning policies, instead turning to informed provisional approach, which exemplified attention to individual subjective needs as vital to the well-being of the commons. The purpose of the dissertation, therefore, is to contribute to the written history of women in architecture and learn from the practice of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, who was also an active historian—always looking back to find lessons for future progress. Utopian in nature, Tyrwhitt’s work has the potential to encourage the imageries of a better tomorrow and ways to actively work towards it.
8 Gwen Bell and Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, ‘Human Identity in the Urban Environment’ (London: Penguin Books, 1972) ‘Several dominant figures of the first half of the twentieth century have emphasised the need for understanding of population characteristics, planning for future growth, and the creation of programs for present action, and three of them have provided tools which can make it possible to maintain human identity throughout urbanisation process.’ (p.16)
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The Landscape Beyond the Highway:
Reclaiming the Depopulated Villages West of Jerusalem
To all the travellers of this precious homeland, Who walked, and continue to walk its surface, Desiring to learn all its phenomena 1
This is a work about lost historical landscapes, reimagined and reclaimed in the present. Loss, as much an emotion related to the past, also resides in the present, merging into the affectivity and spatiality of the everyday life. In this essay, I address the landscapes of three depopulated Palestinian villages west of Jerusalem: Sataf, Ein Karim, and Imwas, by considering the hegemonic Israeli infrastructure in the city, and its subversion through Palestinian mobility.
The villages, destroyed and depopulated by the Israeli occupation in 1948 and 1967, have become a symbol of a past Palestinian life, entrenched with memories and reminders of loss and dispossession. My essay focuses on these villages, designated today as Israeli touristic and recreational sites, partially constructing a historical reading of their landscapes. More importantly, it attempts to observe their reality through the lens of the ‘colonial present’, 2 i.e. within the contemporary parameters of the Zionist settler colonial project in Palestine. Examining recreational and pedagogical tours to these villages by Palestinian Jerusalemites, I argue that this mobility portrays a facet of spatial resilience.
Villages to Landscapes: Temporality
My study employed walking as a performative technique of research, and focused on local knowledge through discussions and on-site interviews. Having grown up in Jerusalem, the walks I conducted during my research represent a continuation to numerous previous journeys I have taken to these villages. Although scholarly in essence, these walks still intersect with various experiences by Palestinians on recreational tours in the depopulated villages. But are Palestinians in this case mere visitors? Owners? Pilgrims paying homage to a lost history? Tourists?
1 Shukri Arraf, Geographic Sites in Palestine Between Two Eras - Two Maps (Kufr Qare’: Dar Al-Shafaq, 1931).
2 Thomas Philip Abowd, Colonial Jerusalem: The Spatial Construction of Identity and Difference in a City of Myth, 1948-2012 (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2014), 5.
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This was one of the questions that made me ponder the affective value in acknowledging the temporality of landscape, and consider the tension surrounding the relationship between the villages’ past and present.
Naturally, this complexity arises from the contradiction between the villages’ history of violence and dispossession, on the one hand, and the contemporary potential for touristic leisure therein, on the other. Amidst this contradiction is also the status of the Palestinian Jerusalemites as users and frequenters of these spaces of leisure, and here I refer specifically to the residents who do not originate from these villages, and therefore share a different connection to them than the descendants.
The reason for this specification is to observe the ‘colonial present’ from a space beyond that of memory and nostalgia. For Rochelle Davis, this n ostalgia has framed the village in the Palestinian imagination as a romanticised ideal, especially considering ‘Palestinians’ current status as landless and dispossessed refugees’. 3 The subjects I address here, however, do not necessarily conform to this refugee status, but are still subject to the systematic Israeli strategies of alienation and subjugation. Under these conditions of Israeli-colonisation, therefore, a rising mobile lifestyle can be observed, especially amongst middle class Jerusalemite individuals and families. Through this lifestyle, the depopulated villages transcend their connection to the past and memory, merging into a contemporary landscape that responds and caters to an urgent need for human contact with greenery and openness, becoming a leisurely and liberating infrastructure of sorts.
This reflects more than a romantic longing for an idealised image of the lost agricultural lifestyle or the life ‘before catastrophic change’ that Davis asserts, 4 as it also harshly exposes the contemporary crisis of dwelling in Jerusalem. The stateless status of Palestinians as mere ‘residents’ in their city only intensifies this condition of deprivation, where their access to the depopulated villages is conditional, posing them—in technical terms—as tourists or travellers, compared to the Israelis who live in the settlements built on the villages’ lands, while also being exclusively offered opportunities of allotment on the razed ‘wild’ parts.
To evoke the image of a ‘tourist’ here, a term that would be locally frowned upon and deemed trivial and belittling to the Palestinian right to the land, is not to impose it or to contradict these local claims.
3 Rochelle Davis, ‘Mapping the Past, Re–Creating the Homeland: Memories of Village Places in Pre-1948 Palestine,’ in Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, ed. Ahmad H. Sa’di and Lila Abu-Lughod (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 72-73.
4 Davis, ‘Mapping the Past, Re–Creating the Homeland’, 72-73.
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• Top left: Visualising Sataf’s terrain: ruins, trees, and dominant roads. The destroyed village’s greenery and Top right: View from the Israeli recreational park built over the lands of Imwas. The touristic ‘palimpsest’ shows afforested areas with hiking trails on the higher terrain. Ein Karim’s colonisation and transformation into an also evident in the contrast between the indigenous Bustan and the Israeli-afforested mountain in the background.
Bottom: A section through Ein Karim’s former Palestinian agricultural area or ‘Bustan’, which has become a Illustrations by Author, 2022.
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scenic views have made it a main recreational destination for Palestinians. shows in the expanded Roman spring in the lower terrain north-east of the former village and the ‘Israeli neighbourhood’ after its depopulation signifies the contradictory nature of its landscapes, background. touristic site today.
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Rather, by eliciting the historical and contemporary relevance of the field of tourism, I attempt to position this relationship with landscape within its rightfully affective and contradictory nature—current need versus memory, trauma versus pleasure.
In their article Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Cultures, and the Promotional Landscape of Tourism in Ontario, Canada’s ‘near North’ , Grimwood et al. argue:
No doubt tourism is often complicit in marshalling settler colonial power, [...] yet research also suggests that tourism holds promise as a means for enabling resistance to settler colonialism. 5
Several parallels can be drawn between the Jerusalemite context and that of this study which discusses the relationship between Indigenous culture and tourism in Ontario, starting with the colonial appropriation of the colonised landscapes and the attempt to conceal past cultures under the claims of ancient connections between the settlers and the land. The other main parallel is that of the potential within tourism to become a site of disruption of settler colonialism. Particularly, I find the authors’ suggestion that indigenous ‘indifference to tourism’ is itself an asset and a sign of a genuine reclamation of land, most relevant and provocative in the case of the depopulated villages of my study. 6 For while Palestinians have little to no sovereignty over the villages’ landscapes today, making both official Palestinian tourism and architectural preservation extremely difficult, a subconsciously touristic lifestyle of recreation can indeed become a significant form of resistance.
My intention in evoking this connection between the villages and a subtle form of resistant and reclamatory informal tourism is to attempt to imagine them anew as spaces of future potential rather than static objects for past-oriented archaeology and historiography. Imagination and the embodied space of touring thus represent an alternative sphere for reclamation and preservation that engages with ‘historical’ landscapes on a performative level, making them part of a larger contemporary discussion entrenched in the daily life of the city and connected to its infrastructure.
5 Bryan S. R. Grimwood, Meghan L. Muldoon, and Zachary M. Stevens, ‘Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Cultures, and the Promotional Landscape of Tourism in Ontario, Canada’s “near North,”’ Journal of Heritage Tourism 14, no. 3 (4 May 2019): 233–248, https://doi.org/10.1080/1743873X.2018.1527845.
6 Grimwood, Muldoon, and Stevens, ‘Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Cultures, and the Promotional Landscape of Tourism in Ontario, Canada’s “near North,”’,233–248.
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Textuality and Myth in the place-making of Shannon—or Rineanna
At the Mouth of the Western World: Frank Simpson
At the Mouth of the Western World is an exploration into the place-making and placeness of Shannon—an area of Ireland situated on the far Western Coast. For this exploration, I utilised various interdisciplinary methods, including mythology, textuality, spatial theory, philosophy, geography, creative writing, architectural history, and historiography. The interdisciplinary method aims to highlight the complex assemblage that constitutes Shannon’s core, and its identity. The site is separated into three distinct parts—the ancient Estuary, the supermodernised Airport and Free-Zone complex, and the Town—which make up the thesis’ framework of analysis.
This extract concerns the roots of mythology and mythmaking—or mythopoesis—in the tradition of Irish place-naming. The chapter, titled “Estuary”, is concerned with the mythological, textual, and historiographic origins of placeness on the Shannon Estuary. The area has undergone various permutations in the formalisation of Shannon as place. This extract uses my own creative interpretation of the Shannon Estuary site, through poetics, site-observations, and images.
On the bank, There heralds a tongue-tied sob— Grief stricken and diesel choked, Where the serpent, sating itself on sea-salt, Gores itself into that iron lung.
Chewed breaths turn stiller yet, As the metallic chimera binds together— That stinging wail which sits thick in the air, Around the language of false proof.
On the bank, That faceless tiger swallows whole Realm-Echoes of that witless girl, Drowned, reborn— Dispossessed. 1
1 Author, ‘THROUGH THE MOUTH’ (2022).
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• Poetic Illustrations by Author, 2022.
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This chapter begins with a textual entry into the land. Of a site riddled with tensions, of myths against myths in the formation of physical and cultural identity. A site of misplaced names and traditions, that fold and unfold in a constant territorial concertina. From notes taken through walking the estuary, a poem written to reflect the boundaries of Shannon, and an image taken at Illaumanagh cemetery, the creative entry marks an anchorage in space. This chapter unveils the process of mythmaking, textuality, and narrative in place-making.
The importance of naming in the construction of places is historically and mythically integral to Ireland. To give a name to a place is to shape it. In Irish folkloric tradition, namesakes are tied to mythological narratives. The Dindsenchas represents this quality most attentively—as it is a collection of lore and legends compiled through various medieval Irish sources. The Dindsenchas was ‘rendered’ into a verse format between the ‘ninth and twelfth centuries’, and marks the etymological, historical, and mythological roots of placenames. 2 In direction translation, ‘ Dindsenchas ’ means ‘place-lore’. 3 Etymologically speaking, this term connects it to its modern Irish language counterpart, ‘ Dinnseanchas ’, which means ‘topography’. 4 Irish placeness is embedded in a tradition of orality and narrative.
The area in which Shannon Town and its adjoining Airport sits upon, was in fact, not called Shannon. Historically, the area was known as Rineanna—which literally translates to ‘ point of the marsh ’. 5 In the airport’s first iteration, it was still named Rineanna—and then, without trace, Shannon Airport was baptised. At some period in the 1940s, between the dismantling of the temporary airfield and the construction of the fixed airport site, Rineanna dissolved and became Shannon. The subsequent town developed to house Airport and Free-Zone workers of the area, similarly named—Shannon Town.
In the mythological place-naming, the River Shannon was named after the goddess Sínann, the granddaughter of the sea god Lir. Seeking knowledge from Connla’s Well—a well of eternal wisdom—Sínnan drank from its water. The well flooded over,
2 Gregory Toner, ‘Authority, Verse and the Transmission of Senchas’, Ériu 55 (2005) : 61, https://www.jstor.org/ stable/30007975 (Accessed 13.09.22).
3 Toner, ‘Authority, Verse and the Transmission of Senchas’, 61.
4 The Irish-English Dictionary, s.v. ‘Dinnseanchas’, accessed 13 September, 2022, https://www.teanglann.ie/ en/eid/Dinnseanchas.
5 A Dictionary of British Place Names, A. D Mills (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), s.v. ‘Rineanna’, accessed 25 August, 2022, https://www-oxfordreference-com.libproxy.ucl.ac.uk/view/10.1093/ acref/9780199609086.001.0001/acref-9780199609086-e-11006.
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carrying Sínann to sea, drowning her and birthing the Shannon. 6 It is common in Irish mythology, for the birth of rivers to be the product of the death of a goddess. 7 Places are named through their mythological counterpart. They are spoken into the land. The ancient verba concepta of the River Shannon speaks embedded life into Ireland. It represents flowage, connectivity, life, and reflexivity.
It is important, in this discussion on myth, to understand that myths are ‘open’ and not closed sources of knowledge or information. 8 As shifts occur in societal structures, so too does the interpretation of mythic imagery. 9 The act of mythopoesis in the construction of the Shannon Estuary’s naming and contemporary importance speaks to this idea of the openness of mythic imagery and interpretation. Myths are built upon and against myths in the concretisation of identity and place-making. In the contemporary mythopoesis of the Shannon Estuary:
The new world does not necessarily refute and replace the original myth, but it is alloyed with it so that it supports and affirms it, makes it more meaningful, and the new cosmopoesis—creating a new world and making a new universe of meaning—contains the old world. 10
So, in this—we can understand how the footprints of the historical-mythological imprints of the Shannon River, and by extension the estuary, becomes an integral element in formulating a “new world”, or a new mythological fra mework. Returning to the Dindsenchas, Toner notes that the verse mnemonic form, transferred orally, retained a linguistic and cultural effect of the preservation of memory. 11 Codifying and rendering placeness through oral poetic traditions was a method that bore witness to the past, to transfer the knowledge of place-lore and history. 12 The dissolution of Rineanna to Shannon is a form of mythopoesis.
6 Tricia Cusack, Riverscapes and National Identities (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2019), 166.
7 Patricia Monaghan, Encyclopaedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore (New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004), 396.
8 Angela Bourke et. al, ‘Society and Myth c. 700-1300’, in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Volume IV: Irish Women’s Writings and Traditions (Cork: Cork University Press, 2002), 250, accessed 24 August 2022, https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1fkgbdv.10.
9 Bourke, ‘Society and Myth c. 700-1300’, 250.
10 Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling, The Domestic, Moral and Political Economies of a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), 144.
11 Toner, ‘Authority, Verse and the Transmission of Senchas’, 62.
12 Toner, ‘Authority, Verse and the Transmission of Senchas’, 62.
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For, through the truths concretised through the process of naming, this process implies an authorship of the land. It implies that the site itself is bound to a mechanism of authoring that is constructed through narrative and language.
Whilst, in the classic Irish tradition, namesakes are founded on narrative myths— the mythopoetic footprint of Rineanna is masked and obscured through the policyoriented concretisation of new myths; of supermodernity, of globalisation, of extended capital and imperialism. The Shannon, as a geographic-historic splitting point between East and West, became a locus of industrious and modernist impulses after the concretisation of the Irish Free State in 19 22. 13 Thus, in this process of naming, the mythological power of the River Shannon is sublimated into its technological power.
13 Cuscack, Riverscapes and National Identities, 173.
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From Paleis te Koningsplein to Istana Merdeka:
A Case Study of Indonesian Architectural Identity from the 1870s to the Present Day
With more than 1300 ethnic groups, each with a distinctive set of cultural practices, it is very challenging for Indonesia to define a collective identity for itself as a proud independent nation. As a cultural product, Indonesian architecture is very much involved in this tricky post-colonial undertaking. Adding to the difficulty are physical remnants from past colonial rule by the Netherlands, in what was then termed the Dutch East Indies. Indonesian presidential palaces are no exception to this equation. Given that the Indonesian president acts both as the leader of the state and the government, presidential palaces are very much seen as the built embodiment of national iconography, making them ideal places to examine what is meant by the term “Indonesian architecture”. As its subject matter, this dissertation focuses specifically on what is considered Indonesia’s primary presidential palace, Istana Merdeka (Merdeka Palace), which had originally been known as Paleis te Koningsplein (Koningsplein Palace). With the use of literature reviews, archival research and conjectural plan reconstruction, the exploration of Merdeka Palace’s physical and functional aspects since its establishment during the colonial era to the present day demonstrates the complexity of Indonesian national identity.
The imposition of the Neo-Palladian Dutch Empire Style architecture for the new palace of the Governor-General in what was then Batavia demonstrates the constant hierarchy between the European ‘occident’ to the non-European ‘orient’, wherein European culture was always regarded as superior. 1 Despite only having small amounts of tropical elements in its architecture—such as the opened-up interior spaces—these barely existent elements were mostly concealed by the “true” European Neo-Classical façade. According to Said, studies of the relationship between imperial/colonial power and the dominated subject is no t done just to understand that unequal relationship, but also to study the formation and meaning of the dominating nation’s cultural practice themselves. 2 In this case of the original Koningsplein Palace, the strong use of European culture as the physical symbol of colonial power spoke for the national identity formation of the Dutch East Indies as being very much an extension of the Netherlands.
1 Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 2nd ed. (London: Vintage, 1994), 134.
2 Said, Culture and Imperialism, 244.
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Top: Koningsplein Palace’s Front Elevation
Bottom: Merdeka Palace Conjectural Plan - Soeharto’s Era (1965) - Present Day . Drawings by Author, 2022.
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• ‘Japanisation’ of Koningsplein Palace’s Interior in 1942 . Drawing by Author, 2022.
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The state of Koningsplein Palace during the Japanese war-time occupation and in the transitional period demonstrates a similar notion of national identity. The addition of minor Japanese elements was undertaken to conceal the previous Dutch national identity in favour of this new conqueror. Once again, the presence or identity of the native population was left muted by its occupier. Imperialism, according to Said, although its battle was mainly about land, meant that all issues came to be reflected in the same cultural narrative, which in that instance came through the ‘Japanisation’ of Merdeka Palace’s interior rooms. 3 Following that war-time era and despite already declaring their own independence, Indonesian identity was still left in the shadows by the returning Dutch authorities in Jakarta. Their continuing exercise of power in the period between 1945 to 1949 in sites such as Koningsplein Palace demonstrates what Spivak terms as epistemic violence, the colonial’s constitution of the colonial subject as ‘other’. 4
After President Soekarno’s triumph in 1949, Merdeka Palace as a piece of Dutch colonial legacy saw many “Indonesianisation” measures implement ed by him and all the further six presidents. The early years of Indonesia’s independence imposed rather small, ad-hoc but nonetheless impactful changes on the overall identity of the palace. Simple yet direct changes in the functions of the palace’s interior spaces reflects Said’s proposition that culture acts as a crucial source of identity. 5 The appropriation of Dutch colonial heritage for the main official residence and locus for the highest political power in the country shows the attempt to decolonize the previous colonial culture. 6 However, Indonesia’s post-colonial settings, as discussed by Abidin Kusno, is more than just about domination and resistance, but also comprises ‘a complex relation of power, unresolved contradictions and the ambivalence of colonialism that exist both in colonial and postcolonial situation.’ 7 Hence, in addition to the straightforward and ad-hoc co-optation of colonial legacy, Merdeka Palace in post-colonial Indonesia also acts as an agent of neo-colonialism by those in the ruling elite. The obvious domination of Javanese and Islamic cultures within the palace’s interiors and grounds emulates what Bhabha notes as unequal
3 Said, Culture and Imperialism, xv.
4 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, ed. Bill Ashcroft et al. (London: Routledge, 2006), 31.
5 Said, Culture and Imperialism, xv.
6 Abidin Kusno, The Appearances of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia (Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2010), 150.
7 Abidin Kusno, Behind the Postcolonial (London: Routledge, 2000), 25.
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forces of cultural representation in the contest for political and social authority. 8 Adding to that is the current image of Merdeka Palace as a distant and unreachable institution by the ordinary Indonesian public, whose struggle is ironically represented by the palace itself. This exercise of power in Merdeka Palace by the ruling authorities bear similarities with that of the past colonial power which imposed a certain European identity belonging to the dominating power to be the national identity of the country.
Considering Merdeka Palace’s utterly colonial outlook, the research for this dissertation set out with an expectation of being a study about a rather straightforward European—“orient” dynamic in architectural form . Instead, Merdeka Palace’s appeal to the colonial past emulates what Said refers to as ‘interpretation of the present’ to the extent that it involves uncertainty as to whether if the past is really over or if it continues. 9 This study has revealed that Indonesian post-colonial identity formation contains complexities that lie beyond the marginalisation of the native population by Dutch or Japanese colonists. Despite being no longer within the hands of the previous occupying powers, the post-colonial power strategy of the current Indonesian government still reflects that of the colonial past where minority groups are subjected into cultural silence. Be it by the past colonial power or the present post-colonial nationalistic government, Merdeka Palace as the current architectural representation of the ultimate political power in post-colonial Indonesia is, like it was during colonial times, an agent of “latent Orie ntalism”. 10
8 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), 245.
9 Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1.
10 Edward W. Said, Orientalism, 8th ed. (London: Penguin, 2019), 206.
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Nestled deep inside the Periyar forest reserve in Kerala, Sabarimalai is the seat of a 11th century temple dedicated to a celibate male deity, Lord Ayyappa. The heterogenous identity of the deity and the devotees typifies the shrine, inviting a footfall of almost 40-50 million annually, making it one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the world. 1It is more well-known, however, for a certain peculiarity that may have at least a few parallels in South India but is not very common elsewhere. Traditionally, menstruating women are barred from breaching the threshold of the temple. The rationale for this perplexing convention presumably lies shrouded in ideas of spiritual chastity and piety, and ancient beliefs about the preservation of sacred and religious space. In 2016, as a response to multiple pleas filed by several independent parties, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India questioned the practise of banning women at the temple, citing concerns about gender justice. In 2018, a five-judge bench ruled in a 4:1 verdict that women were to be allowed inside the temple, deeming the temple a secular space and placing fundamental rights as a cornerstone of “constitutional ethos”. The decision sparked pan-India outrage, giving rise to riotous demonstration and conflict and escalating into controversy that resonated throughout the country. Local outfits, enraged pilgrims and religious leaders lobbied against blasphemy and the misappropriation of religious space. The controversy grew even stronger on the digital realm, as the latter part of 2018 and early 2019 saw strong online campaigns against female disenfranchisement and exclusion. Inspite of the glaring polarity in opinions, the inherent nature of the site and its religious connotations made it difficult to arrive at a conclusive decision. In late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic became rampant in India and the temple was sealed off for a few months, reopening only recently in 2021. It still retains the initial age restriction it did before the Supreme court ruling— that no women of menstruating age are allowed to enter.
The attempt to define and attest claim to space was a critical point of debate in the Sabarimalai issue. When the right-wing conservative party in India, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), came to the helm in 2014, it capitalised on the Hindu majority in the country and aggressively asserted its “Hindutva” ideolog y, or a policy of “cultural nationalism” as the rightful identity of the nation. Since then, Hindutva—the imagination of India as a majoritarian Hindu nation—has permeated deeply India’s secular, multi-religious, multi-ethnic social fabric. In rhetoric and in practise, it points
1 Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam, ‘About Sabarimala’, accessed 15 July 2022, https://sassbharath.org/ about-sabarimala/.
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to the utopian ideal of a singular homogenous cultural belief, or to the indivisibility of space. It has also resulted in the evolution of the “nation-spa ce”, or the demarcation of a very specific sacred geography—a demarcation encompassing, but hardly limited to, the physical boundaries of India. 2
The paradigm is somewhat reminiscent of contemporary studies on spatial theory that illuminate the dimension of the” abstract” or the “metapho rical”. 3 At the face of it, Hindutva’s characteristic emphasis on homogeneity is in stark contrast with these theories, which indicate that space may be fragmented yet related through intangible links. 4 However, the two concepts markedly concur in their departure from geometrical definitions of space, propounding the production of a sphere through social practices, processes and interactions. The resultant space, in this case, the nation space, which has been recast as sacred space, is a material entity that can be, owned, appropriated, controlled, regulated and even disputed.
The narrative of Hindutva anoints sacred space as the space of the nation. However, at Sabarimalai, this notion is challenged, and, to an extent, overturned. Embedded deeply in India’s geo-political space and yet diametrically distinct from its counterparts, the temple is also an instance which uses religion as a driver for the creation of a meta-space, albeit through a logic very different from that of the right-wing nationalists. Given the multiplicity of its devotees, stringent ritualistic associations and a complex political context, Sabarimalai offers a unique opportunity to study numerable permutations of interaction and contestation. In this paper, I attempt to delve into the dynamics of this ecosystem, addressing the specific processes that constitute its unique identity. Using spatial theory as method, I investigate the locus of space through time, illuminating how it metamorphoses into the agent, the medium and the product at various stages.
Traversing sequentially from narratives of tradition to contemporary events, the research begins with localized encounters of religion and space. Using the concept of meta-space, or the idea of an extended intangible realm onto which the material world projects itself, the discourse is then taken beyond the immediate context of the site. Employing concepts of bio-politics and heterotopia to address structures of gendering, religious hegemony, activism and conflict, the research explores the role
2 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian politician states that one of the conditions for Hindutva is the equivalence of punyabhoo (holy land) to pitrabhoo (fatherland).
3 K. Knott, ‘Spatial Theory and Method for the Study of Religion’, Temenos 41, no. 2 (2005): 153–84, https:// eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/3621/.
4 S. Deshpande, ‘Hegemonic Spatial Strategies: The Nation-Space and Hindu Communalism in TwentiethCentury India’, Public Culture 10, no. 2 (January 1, 1998): 249–83, https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-10-2-249.
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of politico-religious ideologies in re-organizing existing systems of belief, ritual, and social interactions to understand how space mobilises a politics of faith.
This is done by dividing the research into three parts, each of which unpack a specific moment of significance: first, deciphering the identity of the temple before the ruling; second, inspecting the events leading up to the ruling and its interpretation; third, analysing the semantics of the activism, demonstration and discord in the aftermath of the ruling. Within each of these domains, I determine the nature of ecological interactions that are engendered as a result of location, time, function and space. I use theories such as post-structuralism 5 and social constructivism 6 as starting points to relate spatial theory and religion. I also extensively draw upon Mircea Eliade, and his theory of “axis mu ndi”, 7 or the interaction between divine and the human realms at certain sites. In religion, these standpoints offer a bottom-up approach, urging a closer look at the elaborate liturgy and attached meanings intrinsic to a particular faith. Throughout the paper, there is a consistent effort to construct a narrative that begins at Sabarimalai, treated as Ground Zero, which then oscillates between individual to community to nation, all the while consuming and feeding into cross-disciplinary discourses on the subject at hand.
5 Jonathan Murdoch, Post-Structuralist Geography (New Delhi: SAGE Publications), 2006.
6 Lily Kong and Orlando Woods, Religion and Space: Competition, Conflict, and Violence in the Contemporary World (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2016), 5-6.
7 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane; the Nature of Religion, trans. Wiliard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1959 Reprint), 196.
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• Traditional Pilgrimage Route To Sabarimalai : The perilious terrain leading to the Ayyappa “Sannidhanam” (Sanctum sanctorum) is an integral part of the pi lgrimage. Author’s Image, 2022.
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How London’s Queer Spaces Have Gained Value for the Community Through Layered Aspects of Performance, Class Identity, and Activism Under Threat
As 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of Pride in London, the focus of this dissertation felt incredibly relevant, especially as the rights and existence of queer folks are repeatedly debated topics, from issues such as conversion therapy, bathroom use, and the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes. To be queer in London is to be queer in a city of multiples and hybridities. Queerness exists in different forms across the metropolis, with each borough having its own culture. The central point of this is Soho, the so-called ’gay village’ of London, 1 but outside of this area, many dynamic queer communities and spaces exist. These spaces make up significant portions of London’s queer histories, yet many are consistently at risk of closing, and many already have. In a study by Ben Campkin and Lo Marshall for UCL Urban Laboratory, they discovered that between 2006 and 2017, over 106 nightlife venues were closed, 2 a number that is far too high for a city of this size with such a rich queer history. Therefore, it was important to understand what aspects keep a venue space under threats of closure, and how these aspects come together to create queer venue that is able to survive through a pandemic, redevelopers, rent increases, and whatever else might pose a risk to the continued success and durability of a queer venue.
This dissertation looked at the venues which are still open, taking three in particular as case studies: the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), Gay’s the Word bookshop, and the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Each has its own particular chronology, telling a story of how queer identity has developed and evolved in each area, but then also across London. Queer studies have intersected with architectural histories for many years, but there is an absence of work which takes the physicalities of a building and links it to queer studies and identity. This research is necessary as although there are extensive works on London’s past and present queerness, 3 there
1 Johan Andersson, ‘East End Localism and Urban Decay: Shoreditch’s Re-Emerging Gay Scene’, The London Journal 34 (January 2009): 55.
2 Ben Campkin and Lo Marshall, LGBTQ+ cultural infrastructure in London: Night venues, 2006-present (UCL Urban Laboratory London, 2017).
3 Peter Ackroyd’s Queer City (2017) and Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures of the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 (2005) offer detailed chronologies of queer identity in London, from its ancient roman origins to the present day. These are much more social histories, which is why this research is focussed the built environment in order to create a more comprehensive picture.
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is little to account for how architecture and built spaces have become recognised spaces for the queer community. The literature used for this dissertation ranged from reading about transgender theory, histories of working men’s clubs, geographies of London; as well as many hours spent in the wonderful Bishopsgate Institute Archives, pouring over extensive witness statements from raids on Gay’s the Word, the listing application documents for the RVT, and the numerous images of drag and cabaret performances at the Working Men’s Club.
A key part of this research was defining queer , a historically contentious word. It was used instead of the LGBTQ+ acronym throughout rest of the dissertation. The acronym, while it has been expanded to include more sexual and gender identities, still ends up excluding many members of the community. Queer, therefore, has been used in its stead, offering more umbrella term that encompasses the multiple identities. This definition applies to both the people who inhabit these spaces, and the spaces themselves. My research essentially aimed to understand what needs to happen in a space’s existence to allow it to be defined as queer, whether this is through use, heritage, customer base, or location.
Each of the spaces offers something different to the queer community, including a bar to get drunk in, and watch a drag show; a place to be engaged in queer stories and literature, to be ’surrounded by so many queers, real and fictional’; 4 and a space that is a queer nightlife venue upstairs as well as a “traditional” working men’s pub downstairs. What each of them offer is explored in the three main chapters of this dissertation, where the venues are paired thematically under categories that fit them best. The RVT and Working Men’s Club are brought together through performance, offering a look into how performance acts are a part of queer entertainment but also how queer people perform their identities too. Class identity is explored between the Working Men’s Club and Gay’s the Word, in how they are accessible and inaccessible for queers on lower incomes, but also how their histories as spaces make them intrinsically entangled with class debates, such as the use of the bookshop as the headquarters for Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). Thirdly, the threats and raids on Gay’s the Word and the RVT are a physical representation of threats to the queer community, with both being raided by the police in the 1980s. When all these themes were brought together, a common thread of hybridity was highlighted, one that applied to how the spaces operate, their customers, and what they represent for the queer community in London. 4 Entry for ‘Gay’s the Word’, Queering the Map, accessed 26 June, 2022, https://www.queeringthemap.com/.
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• Pride Flags at Leadenhall Market, May, 2022. Author’s Image.
The longevity of these buildings is a strong testament to how they have been rallied around by the communities that use them because they are valuable and safe spaces in which queer people can exist. Their importance is seen through their continued popularity, with all three still open and hosting events, even after the pandemic. Queerness is spread throughout the city, with multitudes of pride flags hung up across various locations, even outside of Pride Month, and the physical locations where queer people can exist acting as more tangible representations of how London has queerness built into its fabric.
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Inhabitations contains a selection of essays that pertain to issues of inhabitation in the built environment and contemporary urbanisms. Inhabitation, here, refers to both the embodied and dis embodied qualities of architecture, the built environment, and the experience of place. Following a relational path, Inhabitations invites interpretations of the built environment across themes—such as justice, labour, memory, and biopolitics. From ecologies of laundry drying in London estates and, to the contemporary condition of empty office-blocks, to the biopolitical implications of the architectures of personal address systems, portrait statues in libraries, the post1947 housing projects of Regent’s Park, and the studies of Anglo-Boer war public memorials—this chapter addresses the varying modalities of inhabitation in space and place in contemporary urbanisms.
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Learning from Leakiness:
Washing Lines and Atmospheric Practices in Somers Town and Vanbrugh Park Estate
As Carolyn Davidson writes in ‘A Woman’s Work is Never Done. A History of Housework in the British Isles 1650-1950,’ the threat of contamination of clean washing in industrial Britain was very real:
It was particularly demoralizing to dry linen in towns and cities, especially those with manufacturing industry. For their atmosphere was so polluted that the linen was soon covered with little specks of soot. In addition, there was the difficulty of finding space to hang it out of doors. 1
The limitations to drying laundry outside that are voiced by Caroline Davidson— the risk of being rained on or contaminated—still remain obstacles that need to be negotiated today, to varying extents. We can now begin to understand how city planning, housing policy and the practice of doing laundry intersect and relate to issues of spatial justice. Being limited by external air pollution will likely cause more washing to be dried indoors, which can in turn affect internal air quality. This problem was relayed by Farah, who I spoke to in Somers Town. She told me she doesn’t have any outdoor space so dries her washing inside. It caused issues with mould and damp in the past, she tells me, with particularly bad effect on her son, who has a lung disease. Farah deals with the problem w ith the use of a dehumidifier. 2 For Siobhan Graham in Vanbrugh Park estate, on the other hand, drying her washing outside is out of question during spring and summer as she is allergic to pollen which wet clothes easily absorb. 3 On the other end of the spectrum, external drying can be a source of positive atmospheric negotiation, mediated by technology, such as in the case of Duncan Brown, a resident of Vanbrugh Park estate who usually dries his washing in his private garden and uses the Rain app on his phone to establish a good time to do laundry. 4
1 Caroline Davidson, A Woman’s Work Is Never Done: A History of Housework in the British Isles, 1650-1950 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1986).
2 Interview with Farah, resident of Somers Town, carried out on 29.07.2022.
3 Interview with Siobhan Graham, resident of Vanbrugh Park Estate, carried out on 30.07.2022.
4 Interview with Duncan Brown, resident of Vanburgh Park Estate, carried out on 30.07.2022.
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• ‘ Where do you dry your washing ?’ Poster advertising interview drop-in session in Somers Town. Author’s Image, 2022.
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• Drying yard in Vanbrugh Park Estate with posters advertising resident interviews. Author’s Image, 2022.
History MA 2021-22
Air-drying laundry requires a level of sensitivity, or attunement, not only to the weather, but more broadly to air quality. James Payne, another resident of Vanbrugh Park Estate, tells me how he uses the hot dry air around his wood burner to dry his family’s laundry indoors in winter. The ceramic tiles near the wood burner heat up too and they can be very useful for drying your socks on, he says. 5 Doing laundry is in this sense an ‘atmospheric practice.’ 6 It requires a basic but specific kind of wisdom and active participation in the control of one’s environment. Daniel Barber calls these behaviours ‘thermally induced social practices.’ 7
Following Barber’s thought, it could be said tumble dryers were made for the fossil economy—and they do not foster individual agency over atmospheric practice. Air drying laundry, on the other hand, requires the development of climate intelligence and ‘thermally induced social practices’ 8—which are, according to Barber, the key to climate responsive architecture. Drying laundry outside is ‘active passive’ in the terms set out by Daniel Barber. It uses ‘passive’ solar heat and air but it requires active ‘thermally induced social practices’—carrying, hanging laundry, then taking it down when it’s dry, all while paying attention to the weather.
Both Somers Town and Vanbrugh Park estate drying yards are sites of exposed intimacies and thermally induced social practices. Even if not designed with the environmental agenda at the forefront, they provide a useful precedent in the simple gesture of airing wet laundry. And they provide an infrastructure that requires active attunement to the weather and environment. They are sites that make visible the breathing of houses.
What does the knowledge that we are not immune to industrial pollution inside our homes mean? It means that the home is not the safe, private spa ce we thought it to be, for one. The contamination found inside the home is derived from analogous industrial systems to the ones which pollute the air outside. It also means that we can move towards understanding architecture as an assemblage of breathing bodies. ‘Buildings don’t breathe, we are told’ 9 writes Helen Mallinson but if breathing
5 Interview with James Payne, resident of Vanbrugh Park Estate, carried out on 30.07.2022.
6 Klaus K. Loenhart, ‘Beyond Gravity – Approaching Interwoven Atmostories’, in Breathe: Investigations into Our Atmospherically Entangled Future, ed. Klaus K. Loenhart (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2021), 53.
7 Daniel A. Barber, ‘Active Passive’, South Atlantic Quarterly 120, no. 1 (1 January 2021): 103–21, https://doi. org/10.1215/00382876-8795754, 104.
8 Barber, 104.
9 Helen Mallinson, ‘Air Rights’, in Agency: Working with Uncertain Architectures, ed. Kossak, Florian et al., Critiques, v.5 (London; New York: Routledge, 2010), 174.
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is an exchange of gases and microentities then they do. So do damp clothes, mould spores, tumble dryers, dehumidifiers and so on.
Can we think of air-drying laundry as a low-stakes atmospheric practice akin to ‘weathering’ described by Hamilton, Neimanis and Zettel? It definitely facilitates an embodied experience of weather and climate. One of the recurring themes in conversations carried out for this project was the speed with which laundry dries in the heatwave of 2022. To dry laundry outside is to have agency but it is also for air to have agency.
This can lead us to think about questions such as: Who and what is allowed to breathe? And what is being breathed in? Can the discussion about the feminist interior, as a site of reproductive labour of doing washing, aid the conversation about the ecosophic ‘invironment,’ 10 as a way of ‘making the air conditions explicit’? 11
Klaus Loenhart defines the task of what he calls ‘biometeorological design’ as ‘to conceive sympoietic processes and assemblies and to develop new aesthetic techniques that help to make the systemic entanglements tangible and public.’ 12
I think of laundry washed on dhobi ghat in India, where, hung up on river banks it creates cooling atmospheres. Or about La Borda, a cooperative housing project by Catalan architectural practice Lacol. There, drying laundry appears to be a continuation of the porous façade, which features openable louv res to adapt to external conditions. The residents also share communal washing machines, which sit displayed in an open lobby. The presence of washing lines in architecture (and architectural photography) is significant—it echoes the inclusion of linen in one of the photographs of Vanbrugh Park Estate in the AR. At La Borda laundry becomes public and atmospheric.
10 Loenhart writes ‘there is no natural outside, […] every outside is another inside’ and uses the term ‘invironment’ to describe an ‘all-encompassing inside’. Loenhart, ‘Beyond Gravity’, 51.
11 Helen Mallinson, ‘From City Air to Urban Space: Passion and Pollution’, The Journal of Architecture 19, no. 2 (4 March 2014): 235, https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2014.907329.
12 Loenhart, ‘Beyond Gravity’, 68.
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Vacant Spaces in Gran Torre Santiago:
A Study on the Post-Pandemic Obsolescence of the Office Building Typology
This dissertation will examine one of the major impacts that the COVID-19 has had on our cities, namely, the abandonment of the office as the predominant workplace due to the pervasive spread of remote work. Far from correspond ing to a conjuntural event, it will be shown that this process was already underway before the pandemic. To support this assertion, this essay will review several authors whose work will help to understand this change from a technological, cultural and economic point of view. To avoid studying the subject in a purely theoretical way, this paper will focus on the Gran Torre Santiago as a case study. This skyscraper is the tallest building in Chile and has remained largely vacant since its completion in 2014. Through a historiographical account of this project, it will be argued that the tower embodies the country’s recent history which has been strongly shaped by the same failed neoliberal policies that allowed the proliferation and subsequent obsolescence of office buildings all over the world. Finally, the findings of this investigation will help to speculate about the future of the office building typology. As cities all over the world rely on the existence of central neighbourhoods specialised in office buildings, the decline of this typology is emerging as a subject of the utmost importance for 21st century architecture. Thankfully, at the same time it can be an opportunity to correct some of the mistakes of the past.
During the lockdown, like many people around the globe, I killed the boredom by watching television shows on my laptop. As I wanted to stay optimistic, my usual choice was any of the comedies that the streaming service recommended to me. Probably because of the times that we were living in, there was one which I remember with special fondness: the American version of The Office . This sitcom, aired between 2005 and 2013, is a window to a pre-pandemic world where nothing exceptional—at least in appearance—happened. The plot revolves around the everyday life of the employees of a paper and office supply sales company who have plenty of time to do anything but work due to the decreasing demand for their products. While watching the show, I could not help identifying with them and was even a little bit nostalgic about going to my own office. This was not, of course, because of the work itself, which I began doing remotely without much trouble, but because of all the social encounters that, just like for the characters in the show, were a fundamental part of my everyday life. Whatever the case, the show foreshadowed a neoliberal economy that was already in crisis, where semiskilled workers of the service industries (salesmen, secretaries, human resources,
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management, accountants, etc.) lived under the permanent anxiety of becoming unemployed overnight. Less than a decade after its finale, it would be unthinkable to film The Office in today’s Work From Home (WFH) world.
Like those employees selling paper in an increasingly digital world, when the pandemic broke out I had been working for five years in an architectural practice that specialised in the design of office buildings. As lockdowns extended and remote work became the norm, almost all of our projects were suspended or put on hold. When talking to colleagues and the people involved in the real estate business (fellow architects, contractors, builders, clients, providers, etc.) they all insisted that this was just a temporary thing. However, as the time went by and telecommuting remained, it became increasingly difficult to sustain that viewpoint. Was the time of the office, once a vital technology, over? 1
As the subject of this paper was born from a personal concern, this question will also be approached in a similar manner. It has been said that Chile, my home country, has anticipated many historical processes before they happened in other parts of the world. It famously did so when Salvador Allende became the first socialist president democratically elected. It did it again when the country became the world’s ‘first experiment with a neoliberal state formation’ 2 during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, a system that is still in place by means of the 1980 Constitution imposed by that regime. Although this model was very successful in economic terms, it failed to curb inequality, a situation that was the breeding ground for the social unrest that led to general outburst in 2019. These contradictions also found expression in the country’s built environment, nowhere more visibly than in the cluster of skyscrapers in Santiago’s financial district. These buildings, which proudly stand against the Andes mountain range backdrop, offer an image that has nothing to do with the life conditions in the poor barrios that look at them from a distance. However, just as with the country’s apparent development, there was something unsettling in this picture: Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest tower of the ensemble, had been largely uninhabited since its inauguration in 2014. Perhaps it would not be unreasonable to think that these vacant spaces also were an anticipation of things to come.
To investigate this, I will focus on Gran Torre Santiago as an object of study. This 300-metre skyscraper was designed by the Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli and is the tallest building in South America to date. To understand such a colossal
1 This question is borrowed from Mario Carpo’s recent article ‘Op-ed: The office was once a vital technology, but its time may be over’, The Architect’s Newspaper, 17 March, 2022, https://www.archpaper.com/2022/03/oped-office-was-once-a-vital-technology-but-its-time-may-be-over/.
2 David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 7.
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• View from my office desk towards Sanhattan, Gran Torre Santiago on the right. Author’s Image, 2020.
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skyscraper was built in a modest city like Santiago, it will be necessary to review its broader context, arguing that it represents a culmination point in the country’s recent history, which has been strongly shaped by the implementation of an uncompromising neoliberal agenda. As the same ideology is to be blamed for the uncontrolled proliferation of this building type all over the world, the findings on this particular case study will be a valid tool to understand the office vacancy phenomenon in other geographical locations.
However, the decline of the office building typology cannot be explained by economic reasons alone. A second major factor to analyse will be the technological aspect. It would have been impossible to implement remote work successfully without fast internet connections and software to work online. However, these two variables still do not explain the abandonment of the office building as the ultimate workplace by themselves, as they both already existed before the pandemic. A third major factor to analyse is culture. For reasons that will be ex plained later, there was and still is a prejudice against working from home as it is seen as not as productive as working from the office. Only through the imposition of compulsory lockdowns was it possible to realise that remote work was a viable option.
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Architectures of the Voice:
An Experiment in a Biopolitical Genealogy of Public Address Systems
Soundscapes of urban public spaces have been changing because of the advancement of technology, social and political changes, as well as the ongoing climate and ecological crises. One of such changes in the contemporary neoliberal city is the acousmatic voice projected through a set of speakers into various public spaces, like the train and underground stations, hospitals, supermarkets, and schools. The acousmatic voice—when the source of the voice is hidden, unknown or removed—is used to address the citizens and guide, warn, suggest, declare, and dictate their everyday actions. The loudspeakers, voices, statements, technology, and other processes behind such public address (PA) systems are normally left unquestioned and operate behind a veil. Furthermore, the announ cements in London are increasingly using pre-recorded female voices, which is a contrast to the predominant use of male voices even just a few decades ago. 1 How do these voices change the way public spaces are structured, governed and regul ated? What can architectural history uncover by studying soundscapes in and of public spaces?
As there is no historical or theoretical overview of their development, the thesis proposes to critically approach the rise of PA systems in urban public spaces to reveal the structural and societal mechanisms that construct the contemporary neoliberal city. Contemporary societies increasingly rely on technology to regulate urban public spaces, and London is known to be one of the most heavily surveilled cities in the world. An average citizen, for example, is caught on a CCTV camera more than 300 times a day. 2 While the visibility of surveillance cameras (and security personnel) is meant to contribute to crime prevention, I suggested it is precisely the obscurity of loudspeakers and the overall ambiguity of PA systems that increase their effectiveness and promote their widespread use. As authors note in Spaces Speak, Are You Listening , ‘injecting noise of whatever kind into an acoustic arena is nothing more than the exercise of sonic power: social or political, autocratic or democratic, supportive or destructive.’ 3
1 Not only in London, but elsewhere in other Western cities as well. Ian Rawes, ‘Women’s Voices Call the Shots in Recorded Announcements - Sound and Vision Blog’, British Library: Sound and Vision Blog, 25 August 2010, https://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2010/08/womens-voices-call-the-shots-in-recorded-announcements. html.
2 ‘Research – Big Brother Watch’, Big Brother Watch, accessed 22 July, 2022, https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/ research/.
3 Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture (London: MIT Press, 2007).
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The securitisation of urban spaces is also part of wider issues around neoliberal and market-oriented redevelopment projects happening throughout London. Private corporations own and maintain public spaces in exchange to build more and bigger than what would otherwise be allowed under local zoning ordinances. 4 This produces areas of privately owned public spaces (POPS) where people’s behaviour is subject to ambiguous or hidden rules set by individual corporations. As Brandon LaBelle neatly puts it:
[W]hat forms might being political take today when the power of people is contorted by operations and systems that are mostly never apparent or exposed, that are safeguarded behind racist and sexist mechanisms, that rely upon vague and volatile market forces, and that actively withdraw into secret arrangements and fluid networks, except in those instances when individuals make transparent, through acts of insurrection, the troubling work of governmental, militaristic or corporate agencies? 5
In various POPS in London visitors are not allowed to photograph or film, yet there are many CCTV cameras covering every angle of the space. A security guard will reproach you, or instead someone might even address you over the PA system and proclaim this is not allowed. As geographer Michael Gallagher writes, power is generally portrayed as exercised through technologies of visibility, that is ‘in the act of observing, exercis[ing] power over those who are observed’. 6 As a response to LaBelle’s question, I suggested one form of being political then is focusing on sound in the built environment and conceptualising power as ‘ﬂuid and dynamic, even where it appears to be unidirectional or immovable’. 7 Many hidden systems in place can surface through an embodied and situated critical practice of active listening.
4 For more on neoliberal restructuring of cities see: Neil Brenner and Nik Theodore, ‘Cities and the Geographies of “Actually Existing Neoliberalism”’, Antipode 34, no. 3 (June 2002): 349–79, https://doi. org/10.1111/1467-8330.00246.
5 Brandon LaBelle, Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance, Sonics (London: Goldsmiths Press, 2018), 11.
6 Michael Gallagher, ‘Sound, Space and Power in a Primary School’, Social & Cultural Geography 12, no. 1 (2011): 49, https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2011.542481.
7 Gallagher, 49. He is referring to Foucault’s conceptualisation of power.
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Who holds this power, and who determines how, where, or when is it exercised?
According to Jane Rendell, the boundaries denoting private and public spaces are never neutral, but culturally constructed contours that change historically and show specific value systems, 8 just like urban soundscapes.
The way we hear today is different to the way people perceived their environment even only a few decades ago—listening is as much about physics and biology, as it is about culture. This thesis traces the development of PA systems by focusing on three historic moments that have defined their widespread use today. I analyse the ‘Speaking Statue’ presented in the first book on acoustics from the seventeenth century; the first modern version called the ‘Automatic Enunciator’ from Chicago in 1911; and the famous London Underground ‘Mind the Gap’, namely the first automated announcement implemented in 1969. I critically approach them by following a structure inspired by the PA system block diagram itself; starting with the architecture (the space into which the sound is projected), followed by technology and then focusing on the voice. The thesis maps different relations between public and private spaces, and theorises their contemporary intersections like in the case of POPS. Contemporary resistance to hidden governmental and corporate systems therefore could and perhaps should be auditory—the society that privileges vision is challenged through sound.
8 Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between (London: IB Tauris, 2006), 18.
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• Spectral pitch display from one of the underground station recordings . Author’s Image, 2022.
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The Power of the ‘Busto’: Anthony Davis
Portrait Statues in the Library of Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) and
Reflections on the Significance of Busts in Libraries Today
In 2019, I visited the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library in Weimar and found myself standing in the room as the rest of my group went for coffee. Gradually, I realised I was not alone. Round every corner, from ahead and above, faces watched. These were statues, busts and paintings of literary, historic and mythological figures associated with the library and with Johann W. von Goethe who helped organise it. The experience was disquieting and overwhelming.
Statuary busts were common in libraries in Britain, too, especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The combination of books and sculpture is, as Francis Haskell wrote, ‘an association between the written a nd the visual of great cultural significance’. 1 The practice became rarer in Victorian times but continues— the late Paul Getty created the finest British private book collection of the latetwentieth century in a purpose-built room at Wormsley with busts in alcoves above the bookcases and placed companionably among the comfortable chairs.
My reaction was not an anomaly. Library busts excite strong feelings. For example, in August 2020, the Director of the British Museum announced that the bust of the collector-philanthropist Sir Hans Sloane would be moved from its prominent position in King’s Library because of Sloane’s connections with slavery. 2 In November 2021, Cambridge University installed a bust of Brazilian educationali st Paulo Freire in the Faculty of Education library as ‘a symbol of “tolerance and dia logue” at a time of “culture wars” on campus.’ 3
My dissertation considers two questions prompted by these observations:
• Why do people put busts in libraries?
• What are the effects on visitors and readers?
1 Francis Haskell, History and its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 38.
2 ‘British Museum removes statue of slave-owning founder’, The Guardian, 25 August 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/aug/25/british-museum-removes-founder-hans-sloane-statue-overslavery-links. One can still admire him in his original spot in the lobby of the British Library, though, or on a pedestal in York Square, Chelsea.
3 Hazel Shearing, ‘Cambridge sculpture makes a stand on culture wars’, BBC Online, 26 November 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-59406106.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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I focus on the library that Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) installed at 49 Great Ormond Street, London, in a room designed by James Gibbs, probably between 1732 and 1734, comparable with the famous library of his friend Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, at Wimpole Hall. Though demolished in the 1880s, an illustration of Mead’s library remains along with details of the library’s contents. 4 It is particularly useful as a basis for discussion as a private collection owned by a professional man at a key moment in library history. Mead’s library was situated in a part of London suitable for the status of wealthy professional which he achieved, in a house intended to reflect and enhance that status and I show that the same can be said of the library and the busts in it.
The traditional answer to the first question is that the busts are in some way a visual guide to finding the books. 5 As I show, however, the position is altogether more complex. The placing of busts derives predominantly from socio-political factors— notably status, tradition, commemoration, power, gender and, especially for Mead, a sense of community with other scholars sharing the aim of disseminating knowledge, a community reflecting a centuries-old Humanist tradition involving books, artefacts and networks typical of the learned societies of which Mead was a prominent and active member.
Adopting the “atmosphere” and “living presence” theories of Ger not Böhme and Caroline Van Eck, the dissertation shows how busts work powerfully as a paratext external to the books, mediating between the library users and authors. The placing of busts in libraries connects with contemporary portraiture such as the genre of paintings of learned men and women with books and a bust or two in the background and also with the classical tradition of dialogues of and with the dead which were particularly popular in the early eighteenth century. Mead’s primarily masculine library (an expression of patriarchy) is contrasted with Queen Caroline’s library in St James’s Palace where the display of busts of kings and queens is a subtle display of power including, unusually for the time, feminine power. I identify contemporary comments where the users of libraries show themselves influenced by and reacting to the ‘living presence’ of the busts, for example in correspondence by Alexander Pope (another friend of Mead). 6
4 Matthew Maty, Authentic Memoirs of the Life of Richard Mead, MD (London, 1755). The contents of the library were auctioned after Mead’s death and annotated auction catalogues are preserved in the Bodleian Library and elsewhere.
5 See for example André Masson, The Pictorial Catalogue : Mural Decoration in Libraries (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1981) and Le Décor des Bibliothèques du Moyen Age á la Révolution (Geneva: Droz 1972).
6 See, for example, The Correspondence of Alexander Pope ed. George Sherburn, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), iii,135-36.
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The effect on the user is subtle and involves a tension between the realism of the image and its limitations, facilitating a disconcerting dialogue between the library user and the “face” which looks at them. One reason why busts c an be disturbing is tension between recognition of a potential to see, hear and respond to a statue set against awareness that the object is not real and can do none of these. This perception has implications for dealing with controversial statuary in our times: sensitivities over busts endure and it is revealing to ask why that is.
One answer is that, as has been seen, statues of all kinds invite a dialogue. It is not just that they appear to offer an example (the viewer can ignore that if they choose) or symbolise something—it is that they engage the viewer in some ways like a living person does. By his image in the British Museum, Hans Sloane becomes present and appears to speak or at least be capable of speaking. This can perceived as a one-way dialogue—he speaks from the past with views that may be thought obnoxious today, but as he cannot hear, he shouts his message with impunity and the library user has no choice but to be confronted with it, disempowered and deprived of any effective response.
If that is correct, it complicates how to answer demands to remove busts of people whose ambiguous or inconsistent actions raise complex moral questions—Sloane being an example as a slave-owner and major philanthropist whose contribution to British life is undoubted. Is it sufficient to “retain and explain”? Perhaps not. The bust “speaks” but there is no real dialogue to be had. Those offended, sensing their disempowerment, will not be content if their voices cannot be heard. An explanation alone is insufficiently eloquent, not wholly adequate to negate a living presence which seems to speak but cannot hear.
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No End of Forgotten Lesson[s]:
A Study of Two Anglo-Boer War Memorials in England
My study focused on two memorials in England dedicated to the Second AngloBoer War (1899-1902): The South African War Memorial in Duncombe Place, York by G. F. Bodley, and the Royal Artillery Boer War Memorial near the Mall, London by Aston Webb. The two memorials, which took very different shapes and forms stylistically, commemorate the same conflict, and were conceived during a period of social, political as well as architectural, change. Through a comparative analysis of the decision-making processes behind their respective conceptions as well as the design philosophies applied by their architects, this study aimed to shed new light on the meanings of two very different manifestations of the practice of commemorating the same conflict. This is further viewed against the broader background of practices of war commemoration, and the rise of contestations against public memorials and statues in recent years prompted by social movements.
In 1901, the acclaimed imperial poet Rudyard Kipling summarised the Boer War with the powerful words ‘we have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good’ in ‘The Lesson’. What seemed to be a deep reflection of Britain’s failings turned out to be still too optimistic, as the war would eventually drag on and only end in 1902. The war, a colonial and imperial conflict declared in October 1899 proved to be the longest, bloodiest, most expensive, and humiliating war for Britain within the span of a century, between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War. The sheer scale and material cost of the war created significant tensions within society and resulted in widespread political, social, and economic consequences. Yet, the Boer War is a conflict largely ignored by the existing literature. Although the 2000s saw a relative resurgence in literature in time for the centenary of the conflict, it marked the inevitable fact that the generations directly involved in the war have passed and that the conflict, already obscured by decades of warfare that followed, is further fading from public memory. When mentioned, it tends to be isolated and overshadowed by other major conflicts in the twentieth century; the continuum between the Boer War and the later World Wars is often unaddressed.
What has been further neglected is the importance of commemorational activities and acts of remembrance that came with the war. In many ways, the memorial building, and processes of memorialisation became precursors to what would happen in the aftermath of WWI, when for the first time systematic building of war memorials truly became common practice in the nation.
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• Yorkshire Boer War Memorial, York. Author’s Image, 2022.
• The Royal Artillery Boer War Memorial, London. Author’s Image, 2022.
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Consequently, it would be difficult to walk through any English town today without noticing a war memorial of some sort. Architecturally, the construction of Boer War memorials coincided with a distinct shift in architectural style and taste from the Gothic-dominated Victorian architecture, towards Edwardian architecture, dominated by Baroque and Classicism.
This study revolves around two memorials, largely ignored by the existing historiography, especially in terms of their meanings in relation to the wider physical spaces around them, as well as their place in relation to the careers of their creators/architects. Today, they both occupy a space at the leafy heart of their respective cities, their steps used as temporary resting places by tourists and passers-by, with very few that stop to look at the somewhat lengthy inscriptions intended to remind future generations of what occurred in what is now a distant past. Yet, the legacy of the war is still very much alive, and the memorials, especially when taking into consideration their wider surroundings and spatial context, are very much part of the contemporary public memory. Throughout the period of preparation and especially the finalisation of this report, the two locales continue to be woven into the fabric of history. For example, earlier this year, to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a statue of the Queen had been commissioned to be placed on the West end of York Minster as part of the wider developments scheme that would also incorporate Duncombe Place. The Mall and the Victoria Memorial, which had been the main stage of celebrations for the Jubilee, also became the key stage of the late Queen’s ‘final journey’, as it was through the Mall and, of course, past the Royal Artillery Memorial that the Queen’s flag-draped coffin took its final procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster.
The memorials that served as the main foci of this study marked an interesting point in history, as Britain indulged in multifaceted projects of imperial imagemaking, while fiscal, social and military reforms that came as a result of the war actively progressed. The lengthy processes of decision-making for these memorials suggest an important, though gradual, change in practices of war remembrance and commemoration. The nature of memorials from the First World War onwards would emphasise more the trauma, destruction, and death as a result of the conflicts and, with the aid of Modernism, became increasingly abstract. More traditional portrayals of victory and glory based on symbolism and allegory, on the other hand, became less favourable. Architecturally, they helped to mark a significant stylistic shift from Victorian Gothic to Edwardian Classicism, with the latter being deemed suitable for Britain’s Imperial image and powerful position on the world stage. Since their conception, the meanings did not extend and develop like other memorials to commemorate further conflicts. Furthermore, they did not bec ome subjects of contestation in recent years.
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However, it is important to highlight that, when viewed on their own, the two memorials only provide a brief snapshot of a complicated, extensive conflict that had profound consequences. As memories of war gradually fade, further conflicts often arise due to how differently they are remembered, and the Boer War is no exception to this. When viewed against their counterparts in South Africa, it is clear that the English memorials only tell a partial and limited story of the war. Though the conflict has largely faded from British public memory, it remains very much alive in South Africa, as the nation still grapples with the destructive effects of its colonial past and history of Apartheid. With these in mind, as the memorials continue to occupy a permanent place in spaces of public significance, it is important for their meanings to be consistently questioned and reviewed.
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The Resurrection of the Nash Terraces in Regent’s Park:
From the Gorell Report in 1947
Until the Adoption of Final Proposals in 1962
For much of the 40 odd years that I have spent in London, I hav e lived near Regent’s Park including, in more recent years, in restored Nash terraces. This left me with a desire to apply some of the skills I learnt at The Bartlett to seek a better understanding of how the terraces came from a state of dereliction after the Second World War to their current state. The condition of the terraces was caused both by bomb and blast damage, but also neglect as skilled workmen and materials were in desperately short supply, with the result that there was widespread water penetration in what were timber framed buildings. I knew that Lord Gorell has been appointed by Clement Attlee, the then prime minister, in 1946 to report on the future of the terraces, and I accepted what seemed to be the prevailing narrative that the Report, which recommended restoring a number of the terraces, had led to the restoration of almost all of them. I knew that the Report itself was held in the British Library and of substantial records, both about the Committee and more generally about the restoration, held in the National Archives.
In the event, what I found was a much more complex story than I expected. Yes, the Gorell Report, which said that there ‘are, in fact far more lugubrious experiences in London than that to be obtained from a general survey of the Nash Terraces in Regent’s Park’, did recommend restoration of some of them, and yes, most of them, more than the Committee recommended, were in the event restored. But the terraces, or at least many of them, remained at risk of destruction for many years. The problem was money.
The Committee itself suggested that the total cost of restoration would cost, in 1947 money, £5,000,000. This was a multiple of probably 5 times the total annual net income from all its property of the body responsible for the terraces, which over the period became the Commissioners of the Crown Estate. I found several instances in government files of ministers, including Chancellors of the Exchequer, enthusiastically endorsing restoration whilst refusing to allow central government funds to be used for the purpose.
This issue came to a head in 1957, at which stage little by way of restoration had been done, although work by the Crown Estate and the Ministry of Works (which used a number of the terraces as government offices, some until the 1960s) had done much to preserve the buildings. In the spring of 1957 the Crown Estate
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proposed, in a submission to the Cabinet that, whilst some terraces would be restored, many, including some of the ones recommended for restoration by the Gorell Committee, would be destroyed and replaced. Whether or not the proposal itself was leaked, over the summer of 1957 the overall thrust of the recommendation became public. My dissertation takes up the story:
It was in the weeks before this paper was sent to [the responsible minister] that the possibility of large-scale demolition of the Nash terraces became public, and the Crown Estate and Ministers found themselves the subject of public denigration. It would seem that the story was first mentioned in a local newspaper, the Marylebone Mercury , and became significant news rapidly.
It is not intended to detail the public response in this dissertation. Perhaps a few points made in a BBC Panorama programme presented by Woodrow Wyatt may give a flavour. He interviewed Summerson who described the park as ‘the only place of continuously refined architecture in London’. 1 Sir William Halford, an architect and town planner, and later President of RIBA, said that Regent’s Park was, he thought, the most beautiful town park in the country, and perhaps the world. He added that the terraces were badly constructed, and ‘completely out of date, impossible to run’. Summerson added that the houses were ‘obsolete’. He now wanted all the terraces to be preserved, if not ‘what we shall get is so much worse than what we had’. Modern architecture ‘has no imaginative appeal whatsoever’. Wyatt concluded that his own view was that ‘if we are prepared to pull down all, or some, of the Nash Terraces in Regent’s Park, as a nation, then we will pull down anything’.
After this, of course, no politician was prepared to sanction anything along the lines of what the Crown Estate had proposed, and the Crown Estate went away to work on a public statement of what it proposed as an alternative. The statement which resulted—approved by the Cabinet—included plans to restore Cumberland Terrace, then nearly vacant. To quote again:
Economically, the most important [part of the statement] was that the Crown Estate was itself to restore Cumberland Terrace to plans to be prepared by the de Soissons’ firm. Some houses within it were to be retained, and others converted into flats. ‘It is clear that we cannot expect anything like an ordinary commercial return from this investment. We feel, however, that any large landowner with the necessary means should be ready to make some unprofitable contribution to preserve lovely buildings. This will be our main contribution in Regent’s Park.
1 Sir John Summerson was a distinguished historian of, inter alia, Georgian London.
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• View of a restored part of Cumberland Terrace, Regent’s Park . Author’s Image, 2022.
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The importance of the restoration of Cumberland Terrace was, among other things, to see how financially viable restoration of the Terraces really was. The public might have been more interested in the public declaration that attempts would be made to preserve all the other terraces by Nash and Burton, ‘if this can be achieved without undue capital cost’, and that, whilst there was some uncertainty, ‘no plans existed for the demolition, or for any change to be made to the elevation of, any other Terrace’.’
The restoration of Cumberland Terrace was a relative economic success and showed that restoration was financially viable. Virtually all future restoration was done by private companies. In general, the pattern was the erection of new buildings behind the original facades. Of the original Nash buildings, the much-altered Someries House was demolished and on its site the Royal College of Physicians erected their new headquarters, designed by the distinguished modernist architect Sir Denys Lasdun. Two other terraces were demolished and replaced behind facades which were identical to the originals. The path to full restoration was not smooth, as discussed in the dissertation, but it was eventually achieved.
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Orientations concerns movement through space, place, and time. Thus, this chapter is guided by methods of interrogation that focus on relational practices of the effects of movement, transience, and positionality in understanding qualities of the built environment. Tracing uncovered paths, this chapter aims to cultivate the kinaesthetic and fluid experiences of architectural space and i dentities. From tracing the architecture of Rosemary Stjernstedt, to walking-writing the urban waterways of Sheffield, to a relational architecture of shipping containers in Chinese emigrant identities, to the transport infrastructure of Mumbai, to the digital placemaking in the contemporary urban experience of Kings Cross, and to the presentation of nonlinear temporality in the curatorial methods of architects Alison Smithson and Lina Bo—this chapter spans a range of topical intrigues, in-between spaces and modes of traversal.
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The Presences and Absences of Writing a Feminist Architectural History of Rosemary Stjernstedt Alton East
Wandering through the estate, from Clarence Lane, it’s difficult to identity when West becomes East. I walk, anticipating a transition which never really comes.
As the architecture unfolds, I keep asking—Did Rosemary Stjernstedt design this building? Can I sense a Swedish-ness to it? I try to trace the block names and colour schemes, but they are elusive and slip away. I wonder if I will recognise Stjernstedt in the buildings or landscape, what form this would take and if she could be sensed at all.
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I curve along Eastleigh Walk, passing terraced maisonettes and a semicircle of green. A sign ‘BEWARE! Chihuahua on duty!’ is pinned to a low wooden fence and adhesive stained glass is crudely stuck onto a front door. I hear the metallic groan of a gate behind me and the hiss of the 265 bus doors. Net curtains, some with scalloped hems, some detailed with petals and leaves, adorn win dows. Flowerpots perch on bricks, raised to catch the morning light. White and pink roses spill over speckled concrete…
I find it hard to sense the architecture amongst the tenants, their daily practices, and their transformation of the space. Stjernstedt, or any designer, recedes into obscurity on this low-rise lane. Instead, I see the people who continue to make and remake the estate. Eastleigh Walk is meant to be lived rather than viewed. There is pleasingly little for the passing architectural voyeur.
I catch glimpses of point blocks through the trees, their light grey bricks and metal framed balconies. As I ascend, they momentarily reveal fragments of themselves. However, they are mostly obscured by each other, the trees, and the undulating landscape. The experience is incremental and successive. I hardly recognise the site from the plans and aerial photographs at the London Metropolitan Archives. There, the ten blocks were clearly laid out and simultaneously visible. I saw from an uninhabitable position.
As I approach Witley Point, the façade remains stubbornly opaqu e. I can’t see the internal layout, amenities, or materials. I am utterly exterior to the block. I try to remember the specifications listed in architectural journals and pause to see if a resident will leave the entrance open.
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I. Daily Practices . Author’s Image, 2022.
II. Fragments . Author’s Image, 2022.
I am drawn to the point blocks, conscious of their uniquely Swedish design. Today, their jutting sections are emphasized by the direct sunlight and dense shadows. I wonder if this is where Stjernstedt is most palpable on the estate. I trace the perimeter of Hilsea Point, hoping to induce a sense of Stjernstedt through my physical motion.
I’m surprised by the number of trees on the site. Yew, pine, holly, cedar, silver birch, walnut, lime and at least two other types which I can’t name. 1 They are inconsistently spaced and positioned, barely acknowledging the buildings. Thick roots rupture the ground, reaching towards the street curb and a copse crowds the recycling bins next to Eashing Point. I can’t decide whether the low-rise flats and maisonettes are integral or incidental to the landscape.
As I walk amongst the cluster blocks, layers of brick and leaves alternate and give way. The architecture transitions into the landscape; facades are dappled with shifting shadows and ground floor balconies rest on green clearings. The buildings have settled amongst the site’s natural contours. Alton East doesn’t feel urban. The divisions between housing and park are soft and porous. It has been designed with an appreciation of what is, as well as what will be.
I’m reminded of a remark made by Oliver Cox, ‘Stjernstedt was good on landscape’. 2 Stjernstedt grew up in Aberdyfi and moved back to Wales when she retired. She preferred to live rurally and was an enthusiastic member of a walking society for Welsh-speaking naturalists. 3 From this position, surrounded by coarse boulders and thick foliage, I feel as if I’m somewhere rural.
1 ‘As much as possible of the park-like character of the site’ was preserved on the scheme, including ‘over 700 mature trees’. For more details, see ‘Housing Project to the LCC in Portsmouth Road, Roehampton, London S.W.15’, The Architects’ Journal, 15 November, 1951, 588.
2 Conversation with Oliver Cox and Jean Cox, by Elain Harwood, 25 September 2002, provided 29 June 2022
3 Interview with Rhisiart Hincks, friend of Rosemary Stjernstedt, 26 July 2022.
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• III. Projections . Author’s Image, 2022.
• IV. Transitions . Author’s Image, 2022.
Walking-Writing Urban Waterways:
Charlotte Morgan Tracing Fluid Relations in the Post-Industrial/Post-Human City
The where of to begin .
This essay takes a walking route along two major waterways in Sheffield, UK, as a site from which to shape a situated analysis of material, spatial and interspecies relations in the post-industrial city. The route follows stretches of both canal and river from the urban centre into its peripheries, where the remains of industry operate alongside micro-nature reserves and a former district high street selling wares with watery connections.
Sheffield’s waterside wealth was generated through the steel industry, as the place in which stainless and crucible steel was invented and innovated throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The unique geographic location of the city created ideal conditions for this industry; it is situated among hills on ground rich with coal, iron and millstone, and its five rivers facilitated power and transportation. The vast industrial expansion of the UK cities from their medieval origins have been comprehensively researched and written. Rather than contribute further knowledge to this field, this essay seeks to write the site through its waters and atmospherics via embodied encounters framed by theory and practice.
Water is material, spiritual, sensual, and constitutional. Essential for the proliferation of life, water sources tell stories of how cities came to be, and the health of a city and its inhabitants is dependent upon that of its waters. The text therefore considers the significance of urban waterways beyond their designations as sites for commerce, leisure, or development, and beyond neoliberal ideals of sustainability and greening (or blueing), to consider their embodiment of climatic extremes and the fluid connections between human and non-human bodies and the material landscapes we inhabit.
Linking domestic spaces to vast infrastructures and movements of capital via bodies and minds, water flows through both the urban environment and urban imagination, as both material and metaphor. 1 Through symbolism and mythology, it is implicated in changing understandings of health, morality, sexuality, planetary care, ancestral time, and the permeable boundaries between self and other, nature and culture. This text therefore foregrounds the interplay of the physical and psychological within
1 Matthew Gandy, The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity and the Urban Imagination (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014), 2-12.
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our understanding of a city’s past and present and our visioning of its future, and navigates the changing waterscapes of city and body through narratives of decline, decay, rebirth, and regeneration, shifting temporalities, disrupted binaries and notions of grief and haunting.
Walking - writing
Through solo and collective walks, archival research, practices of site-writing and an engagement in theory, I attempt to write with the site as both practice and methodology. 2 Through it, I attempt to find my way with others; with fellow walkers, damsel flies, kingfishers, ghosts, goddesses, macroinvertebrates, mutants and mallards. I walk in weathers and move through memories and mourning to write with rocks, rivers and reservoirs, across deep time.
As spatial, relational acts of togetherness, I propose that collective or solo walks hold the potential to disrupt individualist, masculine, noble, exclusory traditions of walking and provide a productive means of navigating ethical worldly relations. Rather than creating new heroes for the canon and adding underrepresented subjects to a landscape from which they have been absented, these are practices of revision focused on the conditions of the here and now. 3 Itinerant, relational and writerly, these are critical spatial practices through which we might navigate the intersectional political representation of othered human identities, engage in more-than-human ethics, challenge the exclusions and issues inherent within phenomenology and walking, and find productive ways to veer off course. 4
Conceived as a series of coilings and confluences, the structure of the text is influenced by non-linear narrative styles within arts and theory, and the form of the waterways themselves. The essay form is disrupted by a meandering flow without singular argument, expressing the shifting material, temporal, social, spatial, and psychological nature of the urban encounter. The images I include aim to express something of the dreaminess, ghostliness, and multi-temporality of the urban experience.
2 I take from Jane Rendell’s definition of site-writing as that which brings the situatedness and subjectivity of the author in relation to sites and objects of study, both material and remembered or imagined. See Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010), 1-20.
3 On an approach to revising histories of walking I refer to Deirdre and Cathy Turner, “Walking Women: Shifting the Tales and Scales of Mobility,” Contemporary Theatre Review 22:2, (24 May 2012): 230.
4 For a development of critical spatial practice as interdisciplinary practices which operate at the intersection of theory and practice, art and architecture, and public and private, see Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between (London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2006), 1-12. On the critical potentials of disorientation, I refer to Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 3-5 and 178.
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Divided into two parts as my walks lead from canal to river, the essay is formed around key thematic sections relating to bodies, minds and materials: along the canal I encounter ‘changing states’, ‘apparitions’, ‘pearlescence’, ‘minerality’, ‘porosity’ and ‘cloud forms’, while the river brings ‘suds, amniotics and seepages’, ‘orientations and intersections’, and ‘the weir(d)’ into focus. The passage below is an extract from the river section at Salmon Pastures.
RIVER Suds, amniotics and seepages
Asphalt, welding, lubricants, melting; hot rolling, grinding and meat. A densely packed landscape of low-rise commercial units sits behind the r emaining façades of a Victorian high street, inscribed with the language of trade and bodies in a poetry of process and exchange. A valley of sheet metal, it branches out of the city like a prosthetic arm. As a circle of water, The Blue Loop cuts through thirsty lands, dry and hardened with tarmac and concrete.
In these watery environs, janitorial products sit in shop windows alongside fishing tackle, discount bathtubs, hydroponic supplies, adult accessories, and aquatic, amphibious animals. Pet shops and sex shops point to the ‘exotic’ but bear no signs of life. I cross the River Don at Washford Bridge and make my way down to a secluded spot where the land rises from shallow waters at a subtle gradient. The water here trickles and pools, smoothing stones with pressures over time beyond comprehension. It flows gently with the nourishing promise of continuance.
A loop walked and cycle broken, Waters congeal as cells form, tongue and spleen. A current, no longer present.
One morning, the next, something missing; a pause. No show; clear blue. A flow dammed, contained.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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Collections of eggs, bobbing and swaying, passed between the fingers of bathers as humans and fish once shared this stream. Public urinals were built over the river at regular intervals. Downstream, a forest of fig trees grew from seeds excreted by biscuit-eating workers into a river which, warmed by hot metal and industrial byproducts, simulated the Mediterranean conditions required for the fruit to flourish. The river here flowed over iridescent, slippery skin and flowed on sullied with human and chemical waste. I squint to catch sight of underwater life moving through translucent tones of umber and rust. 5
5 Trout and salmon are reported to have returned to the River Don, and work is underway to make more permanent courses for them to navigate. “Salmon found in River Don at Sheffield.” Accessed 10 August 2022. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/salmon-found-in-river-don-at-sheffield.
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Navigating Transnational Identity:
Interpreting Architectural Understanding of the Shipping Container and its Mobility to Explore Chinese Emigrant Identity
This dissertation follows the images of shipping containers in my memories and experiences, to explore strategic movements , settlements and unsettlements of a transnational subject and its identity finding its location in the city of Shenzhen, Melbourne and London. I put emphasis on the aspects of strategic as an overlay across two types of movement that follows flows of global capital emerged in the late 20th century. One, the development of intermodal container shipping in the commercial logistics network; the other describes the characteristics of the practice of migration among Chinese emigrants moving away from China since the country entered the global economy in the 1980s. Through observing the movement of the shipping container in the three port cities, I will reflect on my own subjectivity being a Chinese emigrant moving overseas for better opportunities of work and education.
The lens I take to observe shipping containers from is the architectural perspective. I argue, shipping containers can guide towards new understanding on the construction of architectural space. Shipping containers are embedded in a larger network of logistics and oceanic infrastructure, which has been studied extensively in fields of geography, economics, political science and global studies. 1 In this context, my research will also reveal potential for architectural history and theory to intersect with other disciplines. By inviting an interdisciplinary approach to redefine architectural space, structure and technology allows progressive impact on architectural practice.
Aaron Tobey reviewed the positions of shipping container in its state of moving through the set of port structure emerged from the process of containerisation. 2
1 Charmaine S Chua, ‘Logistical Violence, Logistical Vulnerabilities’, Historical materialism: research in critical Marxist theory 25, no. 4 (2017): 167–182; Elisabeth Schober, Camelia Dewan, and Johanna Markkula, ‘Container Ships: Life Cycles, Chains of Value, and Labor in Maritime Logistics’, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology, https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.374; Jean-Paul Rodrigue, Claude Comtois and Brian Slack, The Geography of Transport Systems (London: Routledge, 2009); Alexander Klose, The Container Principle: How a Box Changes the Way we Think (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2009); Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); Charmaine Chua, ‘Sunny Island Set in the Sea’, Digital Lives in the Global City: Contesting Infrastructures, edited by Deborah Cowen, Alexis Mitchell, Emily Paradis, and Brett Story (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2020), 238-247.
2 Aaron Tobey, ‘Architecture at Sea: Shipping Containers, Capitalism and Imaginations of Space’, Architecture
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• Shekou Container Terminal - departure point of my journey to overseas in Shenzhen. Author’s Image, 2022.
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The shipping container, as a transferable and economically scalable standardised unit, informs a new conception of space that challenges the traditional understanding of architecture that often privileges the formal and morphological attributes of building. Such attributes are often considered as timeless and static . In the context of individualistic neoliberal economy and late capitalist expansion, the shipping containers compresses space and time into one capsule connecting labour, resources and value as part of a supply chain around the globe. 3 Thus, mobility of shipping containers suggests the capacity of architecture to embody multiple temporalities and become a flexible technological agency. As an agency distributing resources within the global supply chain, when the shipping container gets stuck in transit, it can cause blockage in the smooth flow of capital, revealing vulnerability of the networks of people and goods concealed behind capital. 4 From another perspective, the shipping container can lead to reimagination of what constitutes architecture, particularly how functionally, it can become an active force to resist capitalist fluidity rather than passive acceptance of formal construction. 5
Architecture of the shipping container will be perceived as a fluid concept in this thesis, as it trespasses different fields of knowledge in interpreting movements of goods and people around the globe. For the purpose of unders tanding my transnational identity in this thesis, the movement and condition of the shipping container I observe will serve as a metaphor to present the movement of my body and my subjectivity as I encounter Western culture in Melbourne and London as a Chinese emigrant. The term metaphor itself embodies qualities of transit, transaction, movement and belonging. 6 It projects a spatial quality of crossing territories and boundaries in languages and contain meanings of words to be carried or transferred into another context. This will be adopted in the way I narrate my and Culture 5, no. 2 (2017): 191–212.
3 Tobey, ‘Architecture at Sea’, 195.
4 Justinien Tribillon, ‘Lost in Transit’, Architectural Review (May 2022): 8; Høyer Hege Leivestad, ‘The Shipping Container’, History and Anthropology 33, no. 2 (2022): 202, https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2022.2066094.
5 Tobey, ‘Architecture at Sea’, 192; Justinien, ‘Lost in Transit’, 8-9.
6 Its etymology traces back to the Greek word “metapherō”, made up of “meta” and “pherō”. “Meta” meaning “along with”, “across” and “pherō” meaning “to bear”, “to carry”; together, the phrase means “to carry over” to “transfer”. What is noticeable is how both “meta” and “pherō” project spatial quality of the term, as crossing territories and boundaries of words, and containing meanings of words to be carried or transferred into another context. Reference: Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, “μεταφορά,” A Greek-English Lexicon, Perseus, accessed on 18th July 2022, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, μεταφορ-ά (tufts. edu); Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, “φέρω,” A Greek-English Lexicon, Perseus, accessed on 18th July 2022, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, φέρω (tufts.edu); Helene Cixous also talks about metaphor as a tool of transport for words in languages.
. Hélène Cixous and Mireille Calle-Gruber. Rootprints : Memory and Life Writing. Translated by Eric Prenowitz. (London: Routledge, 1997) 23.
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experience: I attempt to give possibilities in which my transnational identity and the experiences of my movement crosses and intersect with the path of shipping container at port terminals in Shenzhen, on railways and roads in Melbourne, and in brownfield sites in London. Such are neutralised, homogenised, distant spaces where capital flows and strives. I am following a methodology of situated and speculative thinking in architecture raised by Isabelle Doucet and Hélène Frichot. By allowing my experiences of passing through passenger terminals, adapting to, and orientating myself in new cities to produce resistant forces contesting against the fluidity of universal, authoritarian conception of urban spaces governed by neoliberal ideology. 7
Key ideas and argument
Upon establishing the agency and metaphor of the shipping container that I will be using throughout my writing. I refer to again, the main enquiry of my dissertation, is to locate my own migrant subjectivity: the Chinese transnational identity. The above conceptions of shipping containers suggest in major, its relationship with global capitalism , which I argue, is central to the metaphoric link between the shipping container and my transnational identity. Global capitalism, in the time of the 1970s and the 1980s, relates to the idea of late capitalism, embodies key attributes of flexibility , fluidity which contradicts against rationality , strategies 8 Contradictions is how I feel constantly when I attempt to mediate between unfamiliar cultural contexts, framework of knowledge in educational institutions when I encounter new places and experiences. This feeling constrains me, alienates, and disconnects me from finding a sense of belonging as a person moving away from home. In searching for appropriate reflection on this identity I found familiarity in reading works by Aihwa Ong, Rosi Braidotti and Sarah Ahmed—with a focus on transnational Asian identity, flexible citizenship, nomadic and stranger encounters, this body of work act as the theoretical framework in constructing my identity. 9
7 Isabelle Doucet and Hélène Frichot, ‘Resist, Reclaim, Speculate: Situated Perspectives on Architecture and the City’, Architectural Theory Review 22, no. 1 (2018): 1; Isabelle Doucet and Hélène Frichot, ‘Resist, Reclaim, Speculate: Situated Perspectives on Architecture and the City’, Architectural Theory Review 22, no. 1 (2018): 1–8, https://doi.org/10.1080/13264826.2018.1418127; Doucet and Frichot sought to develop a methodology of writing architectural history and theory from a situated perspective to mediate between theory and practice, the framework of knowledge production is referenced in Donna Haraway’s theory of situated knowledge: Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575–99. https://doi.org/10.2307/3178066.
8 The historical period I focus on interpret begins from the 1970s and the 1980s to present. The literature by Kim Dovey, David Harvey, Johnathan Raban are the ones I have reviewed for this dissertation to build my understanding of postmodern architectural and urban spaces to interpret different my experiences in cities. Kim Dovey, Fluid City (Australia and New Zealand: UNSW Press, 2005), 88-92; David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1989), 3-9.
9 Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (London & Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 4; Rosi Braidotti, ‘Writing as a Nomadic Subject’, Comparative Critical Studies 11, no. 2-3 (2014):
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In Braidotti and Ahmed’s narrative, subjectivity of a migrant is a constructed and acquired set of knowledge and ways to understand the world. Both Braidotti and Ahmed emphasise the situatedness of subjectivity as a force of resistance to places a migrant encounter and inhabit—Braidotti refers to such as an ‘ecology of belonging’ while Ahmed interprets it as ‘being at home’. 10 Belonging and home in as defined in the world of migrants, is not singular, which is constantly readapting and clings to the subject’s present encounter, memories, and cultural understanding they carry with them. Attachment and belonging felt through in one’s subjectivity come from the inside of a migrant, is well-contented—such is comparable to the relationship between the shipping container and the objects it holds. Without the cargos, the container is an empty shell seemingly absent and overlooked in context of transferring and moving goods. Thus, belonging, like shipping containers, projects an ability of containment of life and materials moving across multiple geographical locations in the world.
The relationship between global capitalism and transnational identity is broad yet dynamic. Such can be explored with a more solid and grounded perspective through using the shipping container as a metaphor. I will argue that journeys and histories of the shipping container can metaphorically present the chase for capital, socioeconomic power and strategic movement of my Chinese transnational identity.
176-182; Sara Ahmed, Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (London: Routledge, 2000) 77-94; Rosi Baridotti, Nomadic Theory (New York: Columbia University Press), 254-256.
10 Braidotti, ‘Writing as a Nomadic Subject’, 177; Ahmed, Strange Encounters, 77.
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Mumbai in Transit:
The Evolving Landscapes of Transport Infrastructure
The city of Mumbai has seen a universe of activities happening within it over the passage of time. When it was colonized, it became the city wherein India met the world. It then went through a phase of modernization after independence, as it got back on its own feet and embraced the new ways of governing itself and planning its own growth. Post-1991, India entered into a third phase, that of globalisation, and experienced rapid infrastructural development. This was also the time during which it underwent a change in its identity, with its name switched from Bombay to Mumbai and many of its iconic infrastructural buildings shedding their colonial identities and assuming new names too, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
With its exploding population causing an overload on the limited infrastructure, the quality of life for Mumbai’s citizens has been suffering for a few decades and needs urgent improvement. A plethora of new transportation projects and proposals are in the pipeline, some already in progress and some set to begin soon. In this dissertation, I examined two of these colossal infrastructural projects—one based on heritage conservation and the other based on a global futuristic vision through transport networks—and analysed their impact on the city at the moment and in the future.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) has been an iconic station for more than a century in the heart of Mumbai, and a redevelopment project is set to take over soon. Although the new proposal aims to improve connectivity and passenger convenience, it does seem to overlook the “heritage” aspect of the project in its desire to make CSMT a world-class station that provides everything one could ever need. All the proposed modifications are based on the model of a global international terminus that the CSMT does not need to be. These plans, eerily similar to that of the station’s western counterparts, might not be necessarily relevant for a developing economy like India, which has a rich heritage that it could lose in the process. The project instead needs a sensitive approach that respects the building, its culture as well as its needs. The Mumbai metro is another project that will bring a host of benefits to the city in terms of connectivity and distribution of commuters. However, if not handled carefully, the type of infrastructure and culture that the metro offers might prove fatal to that of the local trains which have been the city’s backbone for decades.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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As UNESCO observes: ‘Urban sustainability can be realised based on effective management of population density and resource consumption, while methodologies and mechanisms that boost synergies within built environments can support developing economies in preventing the destructive impacts of abrupt urbanisation.’ 1
In an article by Business Standard , published on 21st July 2022, 2 it was revealed that the IRSDC, the agency proposing and overlooking the redevelopment of CSMT, has just been dissolved. The project has therefore gone back to scratch and all the processes that happened till now after several delays, namely the formation of the basic proposal, bidding, and shortlisting of bidders, have all gone to waste. Everything will be started with a fresh palette. It happened because Indian Railways underwent an internal restructuring, and hence all projects under IRSDC were shelved.
With an economy so massive, many institutions and stakeholders are involved, often with conflicting interests. To add to this, the political disputes among ruling parties exacerbate the trouble and confusion. These perplexities form the core of the reasons why most projects in Mumbai are either realised only partly, or several years after the first proposal, while others never see the light of the day. With the IRSDC now closed, it will be interesting to see the new proposals that will arise, and the counterproposals by activists and urban planners that ensue. Although Mumbai is globalising at thunderous speed, it has a fair share of buildings and precincts that emanate an “Old World” charm. However, one thing is guaranteed: the city will always remain a melting pot of people from all over the country with different opinions and interests. And hence Mumbai will never lose its appeal as one of the most complex yet beautiful cities in the world.
1 UNESCO, Culture: urban future: global report on culture for sustainable urban development (Paris, UNESCO: 2016),175.
2 Dhruvaksh Saha, ‘Mumbai’s CSMT facelift plan back to drawing board due to railway revamp’, Business Standard, 21, July, 2022, https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/mumbai-s-cstmredevelopment-shelved-due-to-restructuring-in-indian-railways-122072001071_1.html.
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A Study of the Relationship of Digital Media, Urban Space and Urban Experience in Kings Cross Central
The social, experiential, and physical spaces of a city are more and more often defined, navigated, and experienced with data generated by digital devices. 1
Urban branding, public space design and visual culture are key elements for placemaking in urban regeneration projects. The concept of placemaking was introduced by Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte calling for urban planners to create ‘human-centered cities’. 2 In this contemporary moment and in the competition for relevancy against other cities, images and perceptions about urban experiences are enhanced through digital media to promote a distinct urban visual culture. This competition between cities is discussed at length in the cultural economy and creative cities discourse, which seeks to mobilize creativity as an urban strategy in development. 3 Along with placemaking, the character of a city is not just set in motion by urban strategies. The urban visual culture is perpetuated by the community where the city is not only constructed through physical materiality but also through mediums of representation. With the ability to document and circulate images about neighbourhoods on visual social media platforms, distinct urban imaginaries represent physical spaces, especially neighbourhoods that are centered on experience economy.
I propose that digital media not only aid in the visualization of urban life experiences, but also are an infrastructure which produce an online neighbourhood, a curated and limited representation of activity in the built environment. It promotes engagement with the urban fabric and acts as a catalyst in the movement of people into urban space. Not only does this paper contribute to the ongoing discourse about digital media, urban life and the built environment, but it also serves as an invitation to architectural and urban scholarship to explore this discourse further and think about the role of digital technologies in the built environment.
1 ‘Introduction: Seeing The City Digitally’, in Seeing the City Digitally, ed. by Gillian Rose, Processing Urban Space and Time (Amsterdam University Press, 2022), pp. 9–34 (p. 9) <https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv2j6xrs3.4>.
2 Monica Degen and Isobel Ward, ‘Future Urban Imaginaries: Placemaking and Digital Visualizations’, in Seeing the City Digitally, ed. by Gillian Rose, Processing Urban Space and Time (Amsterdam University Press, 2022), 112, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv2j6xrs3.8.
3 Charles Landry, The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, 2nd ed. (Bournes Green, Gloucestershire: Comedia, 2008).
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I have noted a distinct phenomenon, where the development of digital media has changed the way people experience urban space.
A term I coined as digital placemaking—the use of digital media to construct an experiential and distinct visual narrative of place. My research examines the relationship between the physical urban space and virtual urban space of the Canalside steps in Kings Cross, as its urban activity is highly circulated through digital media. Germaine Halegoua, communication and media scholar, proposes that digital placemaking ‘re-placeing the city’ a ‘subjective, habitual practice of assessing and combining physical, social, and digital contexts in order to more fully understand one’s embeddedness within urban places and to reproduce a unique sense of place through the use of digital media affordances’. 4
There are many social media applications that contribute to this phenomena, Facebook, TikTok and WhatsApp, but I will narrow the focus onto the perception of urban space presented by Instagram users, since this application is the most prevalent for image sharing. Instagram has the ability for users to document and circulate their experiences in urban space through photography and videos which curates an experiential view of urban space. Instagram, launched in 2010, is regarded as a communication and social technology which can facilitate image sharing between urban dwellers in the built environment. 5 Images are vital in shaping the perception associated with urban life, these images construct a ‘new urban imaginary’. 6 Instagram users engage in a selective process and are more likely to share certain desired experiences and rule out undesirable ones: ‘Instagram images, in turn, become operative in changing the city’ 7 with a similar position and focus. 8 One hundred thousand postings that tend to not deviate from the curated visual narrative. Who are the gatekeepers perpetuating this narrative? A homogenous representation is constructed even though it has been generated and uploaded by a diverse public.
4 Germaine R. Halegoua, The Digital City: Media and the Social Production of Place (New York: NYU Press, 2019), 5, https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1jk0hr9.3.
5 John D. Boy and Justus Uitermark, ‘Reassembling the City Through Instagram’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42, no. 4 (2017): 612, https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12185.
6 Degen and Ward, 112.
7 Degen and Ward, 130.
8 This figure was recorded at the time of research.
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• Author’s Image, 2022.
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This research seeks to answer three questions in observation of the digital placemaking phenomena which occur in urban spaces:
How is the online neighborhood created and presented digitally?
How do these projections feed back into how people physically experience urban space?
What or Who is excluded from the online neighbourhood?
In this contemporary moment, our social experiences are shifting towards the online neighborhood. Digital media aid in visualization of urban life experiences, and also as an infrastructure which produce a selective representation of urban activity. Digital placemaking is a selective and exclusionary practice, as there is a hierarchy of what gets added to the online neighborhood. Not all tags are created equal, and not all images are represented equally. These are social productions and hold space in the digital world, dependent and independent of the physical space they represent. Halegoua and Polson have noted that these practices help urban dwellers to better ‘understand embeddedness within urban places and to foster a unique sense of place within a rapidly changing urban environment’. 9 When I compared my site observations with the digital observations, I noted there were contesting narratives, the one happening in the urban space and the one represented online. The nuances of urban life are apparent on site, but when you observe the online neighborhood, they are omitted. Maintenance, noise, construction, trash, and workers become invisible figures. The aim of my research was to expand this discourse into our discipline, as these are interesting themes for us to investigate. They have been discussed at length in the communications and media scholarship, should we not engage more with these theories as well?
9 Halegoua and Polson, p. 574.
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The ‘As Found ’ and ‘The Ugly ’.
Non-Linear Time in the Post-War Curatorial Practices of Architects Alison Smithson and Lina Bo
The post-war period fuelled global transdisciplinary critical thinking, in architecture up-and-coming architects Alison Smithson and Lina Bo developed radical curatorial projects that criticised modernity’s linear historical time approach. While Smithson’s contribution in the collective exhibitions ‘ Parallel of Life & Art ’ (1953) and ‘ This is Tomorrow ’ (1956) defined the ‘ as found .’ Lina Bo’s ground-breaking ‘glass easel’ (1947-1968) an expography for the MASP Museum, along with the exhibitions ‘ Bahía ’ (1959) and ‘ Nordeste ’ (1963) introduced the concept of ‘ the ugly .’ Although the ‘ as found ’ experiments with archaeology and ‘ the ugly ’ with anthropology, both concepts adopt a non-linear time approach to challenge modernism’s functional linearity and re-think inhabitation based in the architectural programme and the collective experience.
This thesis is about non-linear time in curatorial practices and what kind of spatial relation it builds. Founded in a transdisciplinary approach, th is research draws from art history to establish methodological connections with the theory and production of architecture. Through a detailed analysis of Aby Warburg’s non-linear method, I will expose the means he uses to materialise it spatially. Consequently, I will follow some initial patterns with more detail, by inspecting two case studies of post-war non-linear curatorial practices: Alison Smithson in England and Lina Bo in Brazil. While a 2018 thesis already associated both architects to investigate alterity in the architectural design approach, 1 a 2019 publication investigates the display design of the architects’ exhibitions, as part of a bigger cultural milieu. 2 This report focuses on discovering what kind of architectural relations can be drawn from the curatorial practices of the architects informed by non-linear time, whilst giving space to their overlooked personal critical theories.
In this research I will focus on researching Alison Smithson’s and Lina Bo’s nonlinear approach to their post-war curatorial practices. I am recognizing two areas that have been left out of previous literature and investigations. The first one is a matter of where to place the non-linear approach within the architectural cycle of a project. Former and contemporary readings of the non-linear tim e have ubiquitously
1 Jane Hall, ‘Spaces of Transcultural Resistance: Alterity in the Design Practices of Lina Bo Bardi and Alison and Peter Smithson’ (PhD diss., The Royal College of Art, 2018).
2 Penelope Curtis and Dirk van den Heuvel, Art on Display 1949-69 (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2019).
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addressed the architecture project itself. This approach is present in heritage and restoration methods and lately, in the multithreaded or a non-linear digital design process. Conversely, I will place my research in a theoretical and experimental area of architecture that focuses is a transdisciplinary methodology of associations, rather than the materiality of what is built or will be built. Secondly, to complete views that have been exiled or diluted by collaborations, this research is conducted from the singularity of Smithson’s and Bo’s creative characters.
Given the above, this report works around two hypotheses. The first assumption considers that both Smithson’s and Bo’s curatorial methods develop a unique spatial scheme based on its relational capacity, informed by Aby Warburg’s non-linear approach. The second hypothesis infers that because of Smithson’s and Bo’s own intersectionality as female architects within the post-war context, both of their critical views were somehow overlooked and exiled from architectural history.
Therefore, this investigation raises questions that relate with the theorization of design, the production of space and the relevance of author-self. In terms of design principles, the main inquiry is how does art history’s non-linear approach inform architecture? Then to fully understand its impact on space I will work with two questions: what kind of programme does the non-linear approach impart upon the exhibited and the space? And what does this programme mean in architectural terms? To review the importance of considering both architects singular views on curatorial practices, I ask why were they left out? And how is their revalorization relevant now? With all these inquiries I am opening to discussi on alternative methods that critically review contemporary issues of the built environment.
Hence, why is this relevant now? I have three main objectives t hat I aim to achieve with this dissertation, all of them are embedded in contemporary discussions. The first one is placed within the ongoing discussion about the commodification of architecture and the kind of relationships it promotes. Therefore, the core objective of this report is to analyse and consider how the application of non-linear time approaches enable the formulation of healthier and inclusive relations in the built environment. Complementary to the former, I aim to contribute with a critical review of what do visual aesthetics mean for culture and contemporary society. Lastly, my purpose in re-tracing overlooked singular theories aims to bring back diversity and subjectivity as part of the formulation of the built environment. As well as to challenge authorship as a modern product by re-thinking the impact of personal contributions informed by feminist theories. 3
3 Carys J.Craig, ‘Symposium: Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright Law’, Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 15, no. 2 (2007): 207-268, https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/ jgspl/vol15/iss2/5/
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Following the hybridity of the hypotheses and research question s, I will employ a combined methodology to unpack this investigation. On the hand I will use an iconological approach to investigate the meaning of the spatial relations produced by non-linear curatorial practices. Consequently, to broaden the scope after having identified some connections among theories, I will use a study case methodology focalising in the curatorial practices of Alison Smithson and Lina Bo, framed in the post-war context. Considering that this investigation is focalising in analysing theoretical and spatial production from the perspective of the creator persona. This report will not contemplate the use ethnographic resources or interviews because they relate more with the user perspective.
The structure of this thesis is consciously organised based on thematic associations and not chronologically. Every chapter is organised in sections, being the first section always a contextual analysis of the main subject of the unit. The first chapter presents the origins of modern linear time to introduce the non-linear time critique. After which I review modern architecture exhibitions based in their conceptions of time and design display. The second chapter starts by identifying Aby Warburg’s method as a non-linear curatorial approach based on a scheme of relations. The second part of this unit follows common points between Warburg’s model and Alison Smithson’s and Lina Bo’s post-war curatorial approach. In chapter three, deconstructs both study cases by establishing, curatorial approach, curatorial programme, and it’s the meaning. The last chapter reflects on the relevance of singular contributions, informed by feminist theories of non-linear time.
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• Alison Smithson, The Economist Buildings . Author’s Image, 2022.
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• Lina Bo, SESC Pompeia . Author’s Image, 2016.
Translations concerns the relationship with history, theory, media, and practice in architectural discourse. Through media, cultural, physical, and linguistic translations—this chapter is concerned with the multimodal notion of translatory practice in architecture. From identifying the uncanny in the d omestic architectural photography of Soopakorn Srisakul, to tracing the impact of Wittkover in mid-century architectural debates, to the relational representational practices of architectural journals and design, the linguistic and cultural translation of usage in the People’s Park of Shanghai, to the relationship between British and Swedish architects in the mid-twentieth century, and the reappraisal of Jane Jacob’s work in multiple global translations. This chapter asks of the practices of translation—‘what is missed, what is lost, what is found and what is gained?’
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Spectacle, Uncanny, and Everyday Life
Korrakot Lordkam in Domestic Interior Photography
From the beginning, one primary impression of architectural pho tography is the absence of humans. The representation of architecture in photography in the early periods and arguably until today then notably tends to reflect architecture’s flawless condition, namely without defilement, weathering, or chaotic crowd. The home, regardless of the dweller’s history and traces of life, likewise ordinarily represented its perfect situation, no different than other classes of building. However, whilst the home, in reality, barely holds its excellence consistently considering its everyday life usage, its representation tends to imply ideals and moralities of domestic space through the absolute and permanent condition of images in photography.
In this essay, my main purpose is to question the construction of the idealistic representation of domestic space in photography. I found the works of Soopakorn Srisakul, an architectural photographer who mainly works for design and home decoration media in Bangkok, Thailand, prominent in expressing everyday life scenes and objects through domestic interior photography. One of his works, the photographs of Phra Pra Daeng House , a residential project designed by All(Zone) situated in Samut Prakan province not far from the capital Bangkok, are outstanding as an example of such an everyday life inclusive strategy. Exercising equipment, house cleaning supplies, child’s toys, and other familiar household objects are explicitly displayed in the photographs to the extent that they sometimes even seem hostile to the scene.
The vitality of everyday life objects in Soopakorn’s photographs leads me to an art discourse that regards trivial and mundane incidents. Still life paintings, analysed by Norman Bryson, is an art that depicts and represents matters that do not associate with anything noble 1, neglect the presence of humans 2, as well as evaluate the total autonomy of objects. 3 In addition, paintings that depict the rhyparos , the waste or filth subjects that were commonly seen in genre paintings, are also prominent in the study. Both discourses help to comprehend the explicit eerie senses in Soopakorn’s photographs that result from the depiction of real-life situations that
1 Norman Bryson, ‘Rhopography’, in Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting (London: Reaktion Books, 1990), 87.
2 Bryson, ‘Rhopography’, 60.
3 Norman Bryson, ‘Still Life and ‘Feminine’ Space’, in Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting (London: Reaktion Books, 1990), 142.
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are commonly avoided in conventional domestic photography. Namely, Soopakorn leaves the found household objects where they were, snaps random moments of the domestic incidents, and evaluates these materials as the primary source of his images. Undoubtedly, most residential photographs for publicity purposes do not conform with the real-life situation as much as Soopakorn’s, as they are generally staged carefully and beautifully to represent the preferable conditions of the houses, to the extent that many times extract the houses out of space and time. In other words, through the conventional representation, the home is represented as a rigid, secure, and stable place. Soopakorn’s work, interestingly, represents the home in an unstable manner. The home becomes uncertain in its protected territory, as it is revealed its latent impression of everyday life, weathering, and others obscured incidents that were overlooked and considered pathological by most conventions of domestic interior photography.
I consider that the discovered sense can be aligned with Sigmun d Freud’s psychoanalytic term: the uncanny. According to Freud, the uncanny is the sense that relates to fear regarding the dreadful encounter of the return of something familiar but in an unexpected or unfamiliar form. 4 In other words, the uncanny sense is the result of the involuntary occurrence of something that seems usual or recognisable, but such things hold a peculiar or estranged condition which could cause distressed or uncomfortable feelings, such as an encounter with an image of a ruined stage of a once dream home, which is not preferable or expected to be seen. 5 Therefore, the vitality of everyday life incidents that considerably alienate from the aloof architectural space in Soopakorn’s photographs relate to what Freud defined as things that demand to be hidden and repressed but have returned and come to presence. 6 The uncanny, an uncomfortable sense resulting from such an uncommon approach, has the capability to reveal mundane and pathological phenomena of domestic space that have been disregarded along the way of the construction of domestic space representation, which mostly represented perfectness or moral virtue.
4 Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’, in The Monster Theory Reader (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020), 60.
5 Joanna Lowry, ‘An Imaginary Place’, in Theatres of the Real (Brighton: Photoworks, 2009), 82
6 Freud, ‘The Uncanny’, 63.
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In her analysis of contemporary documentary photographs regarding the peculiarity of modernity in home and everyday life environment, Joanna Lowry writes:
These odd spaces created by our security and safety services—services that are central to the operations of the nation state—are the ultimate uncanny spaces. Places that should be safe for us and that should be familiar—our homes, the street outside our door—are exposed in these photographs as nothing other than training grounds for catastrophe. 7
The sense of the uncanny, as being discussed, I believe, is an uncommon sense that conventional architectural photography would rarely choose to pursue. The sense, as Lowry suggests, has the potential to reflect the fragility of social norms and conventions that the modern world has created. Here, I suggest that conventional architectural photography, especially ones that concern the domestic interior space, aligns with such fragility when they construct themselves with some rigid values. In other words, the construction of domestic interior space through photography that commonly disregards the mundane, intimate, and delicate aspects of life undeniably screened and concealed fragile social ideologies, existing latently within the order of the architecture of photography.
7 Lowry, ‘An Imaginary Place’, 84.
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Photograph of Phra Pra Daeng House in Samut Prakan , Thailand, 2018, by Soopakorn Srisakul. The image shows a central ventilation void as a substantial architectural element peculiarly presented with a hanging cloth and household cleaning equipment. Photograph courtesy of Soopakorn Srisakul.
The Impact of Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism on British Architectural Debates and Practices (1949-1957)
In the 1940s, a singular architectural sensibility toward the classical tradition emerged in Europe. In part, it responded to Le Corbusier’s persistent inclination toward antiquity and mathematical regulating systems, as well as to the incipient revisions of early modern discourses and its conflicting relation to the past. In Britain, this classicist tendency found expressions in theory and design. Anthony Vidler has argued that the acknowledgement of a ‘Neo-Palladian’ sensibility in the architectural practices of postwar Britain ‘is now a commonplace of intellectual history.’ 1 There, this tendency was especially determined by the impact of the work of German émigré art historians on a new generation of British architects and critics, who came under their sphere of influence through their writing and teaching in Britain.
In particular, scholars have studied the role of Rudolf Wittkower in the amplification of this classicist inclination. Specifically, there has been research about the influence of one of his most influential books, Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism , which was published in London in 1949 and received with unexpected success. Many of the studies allude to British journal publications, which directly or implicitly react to Wittkower’s book. Nevertheless, only a few of them seem to examine the original sources in detail.
Consequently, the start point of this research is the close reading of a selection of book reviews, articles, public letters and debates published in Architectural Design , Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects , and Architectural Review in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The texts depict the theoretical assimilation of Wittkower’s book by a series of critics and architects, such as Kenneth Clark, A. S. G. Butler, Alison and Peter Smithson, John Voelcker, Ruth Olitsky, Arthur Trystan Edwards, Reyner Banham, Nikolaus Pevsner, and Wittkower himself. This analysis of primary sources is complemented by references to later publications of the late 1950s and 1960s, which historicise and revise this historical moment.
Within this framework, the question this essay aims to respond to can be phrased in a quite simple manner. What are the main theoretical debates animated
1 Anthony Vidler, ‘Mannerist Modernism: Colin Rowe’, in Histories of the Immediate Present. Inventing Architectural Modernism (London, England: The MIT Press, 2008), 68.
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by Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism in Britain and documented in local journal publications in the post-war period ?
The analysis of British publications shows that the book prompted a dominating interest in the problem of proportion in architecture. For most of the authors, proportion is loosely understood as a system of coherent principles, founded on elemental geometrical order and controlled numerical relationships. The documents also reflect an intellectual attraction toward the idea of unity between art and science, which was crucial in Wittkower’s depiction of the Renaissance. At the same time, many of the authors suggest relationships between Wittkower’s Architectural Principles and Le Corbusier’s Modulor , and between classical proportion and industrial standardization. The recurrence of these debates seems to align with the prevailing modern sensibility in the local scene.
Paradoxically, the sources also reveal discussions around the validity of universal principles in art and architecture. Some of the articles point out the emergence of new aesthetic values, in many senses opposed to the classica l, like the “new brutalism” and the objet trouvé . This seem to simultaneously reflect the embryonic crisis of modern narratives. Despite these ambivalences, this research suggests that Architectural Principles was ultimately a modern construction of the Renaissance, enthusiastically received by a (still) modern audience.
In line with this, the dissertation concludes that the fundamental characteristics of Wittkower’s method in the book are common to the discourses of modern architecture. In both kinds of historical constructions, a system of values is epitomised in a set of great masters and their seminal writings, 2 architectural form conveys meaning, abstract and typological aspects of architecture prevail, and logic and syntax displace taste and style in the characterisation of buildings. In this sense, it can be said that Wittkower’s approach to the study of the Renaissance and its architectural production is fundamentally modern in nature.
In light of this, it is not surprising to know that Wittkower had a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical debates about modern architecture, its conceptualisation and historicisation. Notwithstanding his background in classical art history, he was familiar with the writings of Sigfried Giedion, Nikolaus Pevsner and Le Corbusier. Referring to Wittkower’s awareness of the state of the art, his wife, the interior designer Margot Wittkower, stated: ‘We read it all.’ 3
2 In Wittkower’s constructions, Palladio and his Quattro Libri are to Renaissance architecture what Le Corbusier and Vers Une Architecture are to modern architecture. Vidler suggests that in Rowe’s early essays, Le Corbusier was the Palladio of modernity.
3 See Footnote 106, in Alina A. Payne, ‘Rudolf Wittkower and Architectural Principles in the Age of Modernism’,
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• Author’s Image (2022): Diagrams showing the interrelation of numerical ratios, as reflection of universal harmony. Francesco Giorgi in De Harmonia Mundi Totius ,1525. Redrawn by the author, based on figure 42b reproduced in Rudolf Wittkower, Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism (New York/London: WW Norton & Company, 1971/1949), n/p.
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Finally, the particular British historical circumstances after World War II should not be obviated. In a RIBA debate, 4 Peter Smithson claimed that in the late 1940s and early 1950s British architects were trying to find in Palladio’s architecture an intelligible order to believe in. The hopeless situation of the time, as depicted by Banham in 1966, 5 might have contributed to the need and pursuit of new architectural principia , grounded on a rule-based system, abstract order and geometrical synthesis. Thus, by provisionally turning their gaze to the principles of the age of Humanism, young architects were perhaps trying to glimpse a silver lining in the smoking ruins of post-war Britain.
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 53, no. 3 (September 1994): 338.
4 ‘Report of a Debate on the Motion ‘that Systems of Proportion Make Good Design Easier and Bad Design More Difficult. Held at the R.I.B.A., 18 June, 1957’, Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects 64, no. 11 (September 1957): 456-463.
5 Reyner Banham, The New Brutalism: ethic or aesthetic? (London: Architectural Press, 1966).
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Representations of the Street:
Role of the Architectural Journal Page in the Critical Debate
Around Park Hill’s Streets-in-the-Sky Park Hill … looks like the building by which 1961 is destined to be remembered.
- Peter Reyner Banham
The term “streets-in-the-sky” describes an external circulation typology for highrise housing blocks that sits on the side of the building and is open to natural light and ventilation. Compared to access balconies, streets-in-the-sky are considerably wider, allowing room for social interaction, and are less frequent, usually only on every third floor.
Streets-in-the-sky first appeared in the early 1950s and became increasingly popular in post-war housing scheme proposals throughout the decade. Through its provision of horizontal access to multiple flats via internal staircases, this new typology provided the financial advantage of reducing the number of expensive lifts while at the same time allowing double aspect for all apartments. The first implementation of streets-in-the-sky on a significant scale was Sheffield’s Park Hill in 1961. The estate was celebrated as a great success and has been covered extensively by the architectural press. Its critical acclaim led to a boom of deck-access housing estates throughout the country.
Nevertheless, the cheap construction and low maintenance of many of the subsequently built estates and the promotion of critiques that directly associated streets-in-the-sky with anti-social behaviour led to the demise of the typology during the Thatcher government, and the typology never recovered from this stigma. 1 The lively debate that developed around this new proposition of space turned streets-in-the-sky into one of the most contested architectural inventions of 20thcentury architecture in Britain. Several, sometimes contradictory, studies have been conducted about its social value and the history of its rise and fall has been told numerous times. 2
What has not received extensive attention, however, is the role of the architectural
1 In Utopia on Trial: Vision and Reality in Planned Housing (London: Hilary Shipman Ltd, 1985), the author Alice Coleman draws on Oscar Newman’s defensible space theory and claims that deck-access estates foster criminal activities through their network of multiple escape routes.
2 For a detailed history of streets-in-the-sky see Christopher W. Bacon, ‘Streets-in-the-sky: The Rise and Fall of the Modern Architectural Urban Utopia (unpublished PhD diss., University of Sheffield, 1982).
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print media page in the critical debate around this new spatial invention. The time of its development was a very prolific phase for the architectural press in the United Kingdom. Journals like The Architectural Review (AR) and Architectural Design (AD) established themselves as strong critical voices within the profession and fundamentally shaped the architectural debate at the time. Both magazines covered the opening of Park Hill in 1961 with lengthy articles. The AR published a criticism by Reyner Banham and AD dedicated an entire issue to the city of Sheffield with illustrations by Roger Mayne.
With English Heritage’s announcement to list the estate in 1998 and the city’s controversial decision to hand it over to a private developer, a new critical discussion has re-emerged in recent years. Exactly 50 years after its first appearance in the architectural press, Park Hill has demanded its attention again with the opening of the first redevelopment phase in 2011. Over time, a whole body of representations was created to shape an opinion about this radical new typology. Not only was there an uncertainty about its spatial qualities, but also the perception of its sociological function and values has continuously been evaluated and re-interpreted. Hence, this study suggests, that the portrayals of Park Hill within these influential architectural journals have significantly impacted the public perception of this contested typology.
This dissertation, therefore, takes Park Hill as a case study to assess the role of the journal page in the critical debate around streets-in-the-sky. As the first built and first listed streets-in-the-sky structure in the United Kingdom, Park Hill simultaneously exemplifies the historic value of this typology, as well as its present relevance, and its extensive coverage within the architectural print media offers a wide range of sources to draw on. By taking the journal article as a historic testament, this study explores how the UK’s leading architectural print media have constructed a diverse set of representations of this new proposition of space and examines, how these representations have shaped the critical debate. Through a comparison between its historic and contemporary representations, this study further examines how the discursive culture around streets-in-the-sky has changed between Park Hill’s implementation in 1961 and its redevelopment today.
By using the journal article not only as a source of information, but as a site of construction of the contested discussion itself, this dissertation unveils a different reading of the history of Park Hill and its streets-in-the-sky. As compilations of distinct voices with individual ideologies and subjectivities, the articles are valuable artifacts of the complexities and contradictions within architectural history. They present different readings of this new typology and reflect the complex agendas that were involved in the construction of these portrayals and the discussions behind them.
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• One of Park Hill’s continuous Streets-in-the Sky, connecting the individual building blocks. Author’s Image, 2022.
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With the assessment of streets-in-the-sky through its portrayals on the journal page instead of its built manifestations, this study provides an alternative theoretical comprehension of this typology through the ‘method of theorising architectural history from the archive of journal publishing’. 3 This methodology draws on Naomi Stead’s perception of ‘criticism as a translation’. 4 Following Stead’s method of attention to the page, I am examining how each of these articles ‘relocates and constructs the architectural object’. 5 Through in-depth study of the articles as a whole, I am investigating, how these representations in text, drawing, and image have been instrumentalised to construct a certain image of streets-in-the-sky.
This in-depth analysis of the journal page reveals the fundamental role that these articles played in the classification of streets-in-the-sky as a Brutalist workingclass typology and highlights the antithetical editorial agendas behind these representations. The comparison between the historic and contemporary articles further draws attention to the changed role of the critic within the close entanglement of the journals with the industry today and discloses, how this commercial bias precipitates a marginalisation of Park Hill’s streets-in-the-sky and a reversal of its Brutalist ethos in its contemporary media representations.
3 Robin Wilson, Image, Text, Architecture: the Utopics of the Architectural Media (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 9.
4 Naomi Stead, ‘Three Complaints about Architectural Criticism’, Architecture Australia 92, no. 6 (2003): 52.
5 Stead, ‘Three Complaints’, 52.
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Horseracing, Matchmaking, and COVID-Health Code:
The Evolution of Urban Public Space in Central Shanghai (1862-present )
Ma—The Horse, Mother, Code, and Question Mark
The People’s Park dominates the heart of Nanjing Road in Shanghai, constituting one of the world’s busiest commercial streets. Built on the former location of the British-established Shanghai Race Club (SRC), the imprint of the rounded racetrack is still visible on maps. British-style horseracing has a notable history in Shanghai, and its popularisation has facilitated the flourishing of the prestigious central area in Shanghai and its surroundings, which allowed its successive prosperity as a business district. It also accelerated the city’s urbanisation and the formation of a modern public space. However, the development of SRC largely remains unrevealed to the public since this architecture has been targeted as the hotbed for imperialism in pre-modern China. In 1952, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) transferred SRC into the People’s Park and Square, marking the emancipation and the beginning of a nostalgic and unexpected new chapter of the site, which has become the base of the most famous matchmaking corner in China since 2005, and has been digitalised and assigned with a unique QR code in 2022, blended with historical memories and challenges of the times.
Starting in 2005, People’s Park has become the meeting place for the resurgent matchmaking event known as the Shanghai Matchmaking Corner (SMC), where parents, mostly middle-aged mothers, gather regularly on weekends to find a marriage partner for their unmarried children. 1 Matchmaking, as a classical method of marital arrangement in ancient China, has become a tradition that continues to be practiced since its origin.
In this section, I scrutinise the causality of the matchmaking corners, a gendersensitive space, employing Sara Ahmed’s theory of ‘orientation’, interprets the role exchange between mothers and daughters through Luce Irigaray’s conception of women as the ‘sexed object’ and the intertwined relations of this public urban space with the Chinese society. Through problematising the human-animal proximity in architectural history, I demonstrate that the Chinese lives in intensive competition, like the racehorses. Boys and girls in China have been educated by their guardians in their youth that study is the most important thing and the only thing they should
1 Yang Yijun, ‘A marriage made in the city park’, China Daily USA, 30 May 2011, http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/ life/2011-05/30/content_12602013.htm.
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concentrate on before adulthood. As they grow up, parents want these young men and women to find someone who matches perfectly in all aspects, from biological features to familial and educational backgrounds, as soon as possible. Nevertheless, this process is never that easy, in which women are in a passive and more brutal circumstance than men or should be standardised like a racing game when humans are decomposed into data and treated as racehorses.
From 1 April to 1 June 2022, Shanghai went through the first provincial lockdown after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, adopting the Health Code System (HCS) and a series of other restrictive rules for public health surveillance.
The HCS runs on two of the most widely used Chinese social media apps, WeChat and Alipay. All dwellers must obtain a personalised QR code through the app to certify their health status by regularly taking the lateral flow test. Resulted in three colours: red, yellow and green, the green one is the most desired, which indicates the negativity of Covid and signals the freedom of movement, whereas a yellow code means self-isolation from 7 to 14 days, and a red one is a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an allocated space. 2 Moreover, having a yellow or red code equals not being infected; the HCS works as an alarming system that selects from the test’s result and the user’s travel history. If one has been to an area that has diagnosed cases or been in contact with someone who has been indeed or potentially infected, the result of the code will be affected.
The HCS was an immediate creation of the epidemic’s burst two years ago. Shanghai issued a new code with the most up-to-date policy in April 2022 of the Site’s Code, requiring citizens to scan it as they enter a public space. 3 The personal code functions as a passport that one needs to show for inspection, however, the site’s code commands people to declare their health to the place. This innovation of the HCS serves the ultimate purpose of controlling public health while the level of supervision draws a closer connection between a site and a person. Thinking anthropomorphically, the Site’s Code is its personal health code that records the visitor’s information, determines the architecture’s health status. The People’s Park has its Site’s Code, in which counts numerous, including every major facility, for example, the Tea Room.
2 Fan Liang, ‘COVID-19 and Health Code: How Digital Platforms Tackle the Pandemic in China’, Social Media + Society 6, no. 3 (July-September 2020): 1–4, https://journals-sagepub-com.libproxy.ucl.ac.uk/doi/ full/10.1177/2056305120947657.
3 Meiqing Jiang,‘“Scan and Go”, Starting From 5 April, Shanghai Implemented the “Site’s Code” and Other Epidemic Prevention Methods’ [4月5日起 “扫码通行”, 上海推行“场所码”等防疫措施], Eastday [东方网], 1 April, 2022, https://j.021east.com/p/1648803376037706.
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Therefore, urban architecture and infrastructure have been transformed and attached to the value of cyberspaces where the barriers between humans and nonhumans have been reduced and all creatures and objects carry their digital doppelgangers.
The architectural reform of this site differs as time changes, and the three critical subjects each link to an epic event. The three subjects are homonymous in simplified Chinese and written with many identical strokes. They are paired bilingually (with the pronunciations) as the horse 马 (mǎ), the mother 妈 (mā), and the code 码 (mǎ). The shape of 马 repeats three times, and indeed, it is also the focus of the dissertation that initiates the argument of the relation between humans and nonhumans, and concludes, as the conclusion of this project is titled 吗 The Question Mark: Past and Future.
This study is anchored on the souled animal; the equine is a diverse species with distinct indicative meanings in Chinese culture. Different components constitute various meanings as the horse 马 being invariable, for instance, having the female 女 (nǚ), the character the mother 妈 is engaged with femininity. However, composed with the side of the stone 石 (shí), it has an extended meaning of stubbornness as the stone is mainly impenetrable, which might have foretold the companionship of the Health Code with the Chinese will not soon disappear. Having the component of the mouth 口 (kǒu) also means access and openness, adding the horse as the o ther half, the question mark 吗 (ma) ends the discussion with further questions about the continuity of the evolution of this urban public space as the city and city dwellers grow while technology and ecology are iterating, and in what direction it may go or must go.
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• The common gathering place for the matchmaking event, Shanghai People’s Park , July 2022. Author’s Image.
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A Mid-Century Architectural Love Affair
Britain and Sweden: Sandy Rattray
British and Swedish architecture and town planning were unusually influential upon each other from the 1930s to the early 1950s. This linkage influenced some of the most important building projects of post war Britain and Sweden, including Harlow New Town and the Alton East Estate at Roehampton in Britain and the new Stockholm suburb of Vällingby in Sweden. This dissertation examines that period and traces the dialogue through British and Swedish architectural journals and other publications. The mutual interest came to an abrupt end in the 1950s when British architects increasingly rejected the ‘soft modernism’ that the Swedes had pioneered to move towards a tougher, more Corbusian aesthetic. At the same time, the Swedes adopted a more industrialised and less artistic form of building and, as a result, the search for lessons from the British, particularly about landscaping and picturesque design, was put aside in the rush to build the enormous and now much criticised ‘million program’ housing project. The link between British and Swedish architecture and town planning was broken, and, subsequently, became all but forgotten.
The beginnings of British interest in Swedish modernism can be traced to the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930, after which many British architects travelled to Sweden, and the Architectural Review and other publications provided significant coverage of new building there. As an example, Lionel Esher observed of British architects in the 1930s that: ‘As was customary, one took a trip to the Continent, and first to Stockholm.’ 1
After the Second World War Sweden, which had been neutral, provided one of the few places to look for innovative modernist architecture. The architect Peter Smithson provides the reason: ‘Between 1939 and 1949 there was no new architecture in Europe; building ceased because of the war. To see a new building that had been built in those ten years, you had to go to Scandinavia or South America.’ 2
Just as importantly, Sweden was promoted as a model of a new social-democratic and egalitarian society, providing an additional allure for architects in other
1 Lionel Esher, A Broken Wave: The Rebuilding of England (1940-1980), (London: Allen Lane, 1981), 21.
2 Peter Smithson, Peter Smithson: Conversations with Students: A space for Our Generation (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), 16.
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• The Lawn, Harlow New Town, Britain’s first tower block, constructed in 1951 in a Swedish, soft-modernist style. Author’s Image, 2022.
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European countries like Britain. In 1936 Marquis Childs, a socially concerned American newspaper reporter, wrote Sweden: The Middle Way , 3 a short book which described both the co-operative movement and the reform policies of the Sweden’s Social Democratic Party, and which became a surprise best-seller. As the political scientist David Arter observes: ‘Following Childs’ analysis, Sweden became not just another state but a model for other states, its solidary “peopl e’s home” respected as a shining example of consensus politics and the product of an historic compromise between capital and labour.’ 4 In Britain, the New Fabian Research Bureau published an influential study, Democratic Sweden , in 1938. 5 The authors were clearly impressed by what they found, declaring ‘there has been in this country a growing interest—by no means confined to the Labour Party—in a people who appeared unostentatiously to have rid themselves of many of the evils which have racked their more powerful neighbours.’ 6
Equally, after the war the Swedes paid more attention to Britain, and in particular British town planning. Ebeneezer Howard (1850-1928), Raymond Unwin (18631940), Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957) as well as the pro-British Garden City theorist Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) were names well known to Swedish architects and town planners. Swedes were prominent in their visits to Harlow New Town, begun in 1947, which received extensive coverage in Byggmästaren , the leading Swedish architectural journal. Sven Markelius (1889-1972), a founding member of CIAM and one of the architects of the Stockholm Exhibition, in one of his first actions as town planner of Stockholm, commissioned a report titled ‘Nutida Engelsk Samhällsplanering’ (‘Contemporary English Town Planning’), which particularly reflected John Henry Forshaw and Patrick Abercrombie’s ‘Greater London Plan’ of 1944. In short, the leading Swedish architect of the period felt the need to look to Britain for models of town planning, and especially the harmonious placing of buildings with landscape that British picturesque design had provided to the world. The footprint of this can be found in the new suburb of Vällingby, completed in 1954 and one of the key projects that Markelius delivered as Stockholm town-planner.
In Britain, perhaps the clearest post-war symbol of Swedish influence was the Alton East Estate at Roehampton, constructed by the London County Council between 1952-5. The estate reflected a mix of tower blocks (‘point-blocks’) and maisonettes
3 Marquis Childs, Sweden: The Middle Way (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1936).
4 David Arter, Scandinavian Politics Today (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 45.
5 Margaret Cole and Charles Smith, Democratic Sweden: A Volume of Studies Prepared by Members of the New Fabian Research Bureau (London: Routledge, 1938).
6 Cole and Smith, Democratic Sweden, ix.
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(‘slab-blocks’) which were both surprisingly modern but also reflected elements of the English vernacular—brick facades and pitched roofs meld together in some of the earliest tower blocks in Britain (the first was at Harlow New Town in 1951).
The rupture with Scandinavian ‘soft modernism’ is aptly illustrated by Alton West, built shortly after Alton East in a more formal, Corbusian style. A new generation of architects had rejected the Swedish influence. As Nick Bullock observes, ‘The editors of Architectural Design , by 1955 the journal of the new avant-garde, were attacking the previous generation’, due to the latter’s ‘lack of rigour and clear thinking, the romantic pasticheries of the Festival of Britain and its off-spring, the free empirical manner derived from Sweden.’ 7
Ultimately Swedish architecture and planning separated from Britain just as much as British architecture and planning did from Sweden. The reasons were different, although the hardening of modernism was a common theme. It is, perhaps, fanciful to imagine there might have been a different ending. But what is clear is that in both Britain and Sweden the residents of the housing that was constructed in the second half of the twentieth century preferred the softer modernism that Swedish functionalism, or ‘New Empiricism’ as The Architectural Review termed it, represented. While the profession clearly moved in one direction in both countries, in neither did they bring the population along with them.
7 Nicholas Bullock, Building the Post-War World: Modern Architecture and Reconstruction in Britain (London: Routledge, 2002), 96.
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Reappraising Jane Jacobs’
The Death and Life of Great American Cities in Translation
Hester van den Bold
Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) has become a fundamental text to architectural historical and urban discourses across the globe. In their essay ‘For a Critical Practice of Translation in Geography’ (2016) Shadia Husseini de Araújo and Mélina Germes note how translations cannot be seen as pure transferrals of meaning but result in an intermediate product which provides space for new representation and meaning, amplified by shifting frameworks. Translation as a practice is a powerful force, ‘a power that is manifested predominantly in the steps involved in translation, the source and target languages and how the translation is carried out.’ 1The following paragraphs give insight into the first chapter of my thesis, a critical reappraisal of Death and Life’s international dissemination in translated form. Studying the legacy and reception of this work as experienced in its translation provides opportunity to move beyond and destabilise dominant discourses.
The plurality of Death and Life
Over the past seventy years, a vast amount of literature has appeared on Jacobs. Her legacy has been the subject of conferences and organisations often surrounding milestones of both Death and Life and Jacobs’ life, celebrating her impact on various constituencies, from planners, architects, politicians, to community activists. Essay collections have appeared, interrogating and “reconsidering” Ja cobs’ legacy and the continuing impact of her thought. Jacobs as a persona alongside her book have become lead evidence for a variety of opposing points of view: Jacobs as an activist, a journalist, fundamentally anti-planning. Death and Life as a manual for urban planning, as a critique of urban planning in general, or as a critique of blue-print master planning, emerging at a specific historical moment in an American context, particularly New York City. The documentary film Citizen Jane (2017) exemplifies the latter. It presents the common reference to Jacobs’ confrontation of New York’s city planner Robert Moses, thereby emphasising Jacobs’ role as an activist.
1 Shadia Husseini de Araújo and Mélina Germes, ‘For A Critical Practice of Translation in Geography’, ACME an International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 15, no. 1 (2016): 5.
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Translation: signifying importance
In ‘The Task of the Translator’ (1923), Walter Benjamin writes that a work’s translations mark a text’s ‘stage of continued life’ as translations are always issued from the text’s afterlife, reinstating its fame. 2 Similarly, within discourse on Death and Life , the extent of the book’s international and repeated translation into multiple other languages and its appearance in other countries signals its wide-reaching importance. This seems to be a reappearing phenomenon from the moment of the book’s publication up to present day and across different media. In a 1969 New York Times magazine article on Jacobs, Leticia Kent describes that Death and Life ‘became required reading in American colleges, and was followed by British, German, Spanish, Japanese and Czech editions’, further noting its status as a classic. 3 Reflecting on Death and Life’s legacy in the 21st century in 2015 in an academic paper, Dirk Schubert also turns to list various translations from across the globe, further adding the impressive number of ‘over a 100 editions’ as a credential for this ‘best seller’. 4 The fact of translation therefore imbues status to a piece of writing, implying its significance for an extended audience.
Tracing translations as a method
I argue that the plurality of Jacobs’ persona is directly reflected and augmented through the translations of Death and Life as they appear across the globe. But first, let me briefly reflect on how I established an overall impression over the extent of her dissemination in translation, paying particular attention to how they materialise. This goes hand in hand with the consideration of Jacobs as a voice worth translating and distributing, even if the outcomes to how she is understood and thus represented—her transformation within translation—might be vastly different.
In Paratexts (1987), French literary theorist Gerard Genette outlines how p aratextual elements don’t just inform how a reader encounters a text, but how they allow the text to come into existence, marking its physical presence. Paratextual productions
2 Walter Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida, eds. John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte, trans. Harry Zohn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 73.
3 Leticia Kent, ‘The New York Times Magazine: “Jane Jacobs: Against Urban Renewal, For Urban Life”, 25 May 1969’, in Ideas That Matter: The Worlds of Jane Jacobs, ed. Max Allen (Owen Sound, Ont; Washington, D.C.: Ginger Press; Island Press, 2011), 21.
4 Dirk Schubert, ‘Jane Jacobs’s Perception and Impact on City Planning and Urban Renewal in Germany’, in Contemporary Perspectives on Jane Jacobs: Reassessing the Impacts of an Urban Visionary, ed. Dirk Schubert (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015), 137.
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surround [the text] and extend it, precisely in order to present it, in the usual sense of this verb but also in the strongest sense: to make present , to ensure the text’s presence in the world, its “reception” and consumption in the form […] of a book. 5
Paratextual elements therefore serve as means of identification of a text, constructing its validity—they allow me to trace the presence of a text. Paratextual elements become indicators for the existence of translated editions of Death and Life .
I started by reviewing literature written on Death and Life to establish a chronology and distribution. However, I quickly realised that this method resulted in a distorted overview of the translations. Schubert’s 2015 article mentions its German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, and Turkish language editions. 6 He leaves out an early translation (into Czech) and is also not aware of various other editions that appeared in the mid to late 2000s. Yet, Schubert’s article led me to discover a more fruitful way of working. He footnotes the website ‘LibraryThing’ an online service allowing individuals to store and share catalogues for books, films and music. The website imports data from Amazon as well as almost 5000 libraries across the world, including the Library of Congress and the British Library. The entry for Jacobs’ Death and Life provides an overview of its editions and lists their ISBN, which I reviewed by expanding to the domains of goodreads.com and WorldCat.org, searching if they lead me to tangible objects or at least their traces. 7 These included book covers, identifiable publishers and translators and their websites, sales websites of the books (Amazon, AbeBooks, and local booksellers), mentions in blog posts, and reviews or articles on the editions published surrounding their appearance.
To date, I identified translations into twenty-one languages, with the first appearing in 1963 (German) and the last in 2021 (Ukrainian), with at least 38 different editions. I observed how the last century has seen an increase in translations of Death and Life in new locations to coincide with the 50th and 60th anniversary of the book’s first edition. The constant growth of editions has shown me that it is likely not exhaustive, and as translations of Death and Life are still being issued, will continue to do so.
5 Gerard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, trans. Jane E. Lewin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511549373.
6 Schubert, ‘Jane Jacobs’s Perception and Impact on City Planning and Urban Renewal in Germany’, 138.
7 ‘Workdetails: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs’, accessed 18 August 2022, https://www.librarything.com/work/25885.
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Title Language Editions (Publisher & Date)
Tod und Leben großer amerikanischer Städte German
Verlag Ullstein 1963; Bertelsmann Fachverlag 1971; Vieweg 1993; Birkhäuser 2014 [e-book 2015]
Muerte y vida de las grandes ciudades Spanish Ediciones península1967; 1973; Capitán Swing 2011
Vita e morte delle grandi città Italian Enlaudi 1969; Edizioni di Comunità 2000; Enlaudi 2009 アメリカ大都市の死と生 Japanese
鹿島出版会1972; 1977; 2010
Smrt a život amerických velkoměst Czech Odeon 1975; Mox Nox 2013 Déclin et survie des grandes villes américaines French P. Mardaga 1991; Éditions Paranthèses 2012
Morte e vida des grandes cidades Portuguese WMF Martins Fontes 2000; 2011 美国大城市的死与生 Chinese (simplified)
译林出版社 2005; 2006; 2020; 2022 偉大城市的誕生與衰亡 Chinese (traditional)
聯經出版事業股份有限公司 2007; 聯經出版2019
Bokförlaget Daidalos 2005 گرم و یگدنز یاهرهش گرزب ییاکیرمآ
Den amerikanska storstadens liv och förfall Swedish
Farsi Tehran University Press 2007 ןתומ ןהייחו לש םירע תויאקירמא תולודג Hebrew Babel Tel Aviv 2008 Dood en leven van grote Amerikaanse steden Dutch SUN Trancity 2009
Umiranje in življenje velikih ameriških mest Slovenian Studia humanitatis 2009 미국 대도시의 죽음과 삶 Korean 그린비 2010 Смерть и жизнь больших американских городов Russian Новое издательство 2011
Smrt i zivot velikih americkih gradova Serbian Mediterran Publishing 2011 Büyük Amerikan Şehirlerinin Ölümü ve Yaşamı
Bulgarian Стефан Добрев 2018
Turkish Metis Yayınları 2011 Смъртта и животът на големите американски градове
Smierc I Zycie Wielkich Miast Ameryki Polish Centrum Architektury 2018 Didžiųjų Amerikos miestų mirtis ir gyvenimas Lithuanian Leidykla lapas 2020 Смерть і життя великих американських міст
CANactions Publishing House 2021
Figure 1. A current overview over the translated editions of Death and Life
• A current overview over the translated editions of Death and Life , by the Author, 2022.
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Front Cover Artwork by p.17 p.22 - 23 p.26 p.31 - 33 p.39 p.42 p.47 - 48 p.53 p.58 p.61 p.65 - 66 p.71 p.79 & 81 p.85 - 87 p.90 p.95 p.99 p.104 - 105 p.111 p.114
Symposium Graphics Team
© Eglė Pačkauskaitė
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© Nicolás Penna
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© Anthony Davis
© Zijian Wei
© Allan Murray-Jones © Flo Armitage-Hookes
© Charlotte Morgan © Yanyu Sun
© Ruchika Agarwal
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© Danae Santibáñez
© Soopakorn Srisakul
© Manola Ogalde
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p.118 p.123 p.125 p.131
© Jan Zachmann © Zijiao Li © Sandy Rattray © Hester van den Bold
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