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Urban Design Thinking


URBAN DESIGN THINKING A Conceptual Toolkit

Kim Dovey Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc


Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square London WC1B 3DP UK

1385 Broadway New York NY 10018 USA

www.bloomsbury.com BLOOMSBURY and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2016 © Kim Dovey, 2016 Kim Dovey has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury or the author. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: HB: PB: ePDF: ePub:

978-1-4725-6695-9 978-1-4725-6694-2 978-1-4725-6804-5 978-1-4725-6800-7

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Dovey, Kim, author. Title: Urban design thinking : a conceptual toolkit / Kim Dovey. Description: New York : Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. Identifiers: LCCN 2015043992| ISBN 9781472566942 (paperback) | ISBN 9781472566959 (hardback) | ISBN 9781474228503 (xml) Subjects: LCSH: City planning--Philosophy. | BISAC: ARCHITECTURE / General. |  ARCHITECTURE / Criticism. | ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning. Classification: LCC HT166 .D6645 2016 | DDC 307.1/21601--dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2015043992A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. Typeset by Fakenham Prepress Solutions, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 8NN


For Simon and his generation


CONTENTS List of Illustrations Acknowledgements

Introduction

1 Urbanity

ix xiii

1 9

2 Access

17

3 Mix

25

4 Density

31

5 Action

39

6 Drama

49

7 Interface

57

8 Type

69

9 Image

79

10 Discourse

85

11 Memory

95

12 Place

105

13 Character

115

14 Authority

125

15 Resistance

135

16 Globalization

145

17 Privatization

153

18 Shopping Malls

159

19 Enclaves

169


20 Towers

177

21 Tourism

185

22 Codes

193

23 Graffiti

201

24 Advertising

209

25 Informal Trading

217

26 Informal Settlements

225

27 Temporary/Tactical

235

28 Creative Clusters

245

29 Transit Urbanism

253

30 Complex Adaptive Assemblage

263

References Index

273

viii CONTENTS

283


List of Illustrations Frontispiece: Graffiti – Valparaiso Plates 1 Functional mix mapping – Jiyugaoka, Tokyo 2 Interface mapping – Fitzroy, Melbourne 3 Mapping creative clusters in Melbourne and Sydney 4 Multi-modal isochrones, Melbourne Figures 1.1 Grand Central Station, New York 1.2 Agora and Forum 1.3 The urban DMA 2.1 Rome, 1748 2.2 Block size and interface catchments 2.3 Permeability and interface catchments in three morphologies 3.1 Paris 3.2 A mix of synergies 4.1 Kowloon Walled City 4.2 Different morphologies at identical plot ratio (FAR) 4.3 The urban density assemblage 5.1 Marrakech 5.2 Fixed/semi-fixed/unfixed – Bryant Park, New York 5.3 Overdetermined and underdetermined – Bilbao and Melbourne 5.4 Affordances – Wave, Melbourne; Listening, Paris 5.5 Place Pompidou, Paris 5.6 Enclosure and Encounter – New York 5.7 The panoptic city – Sydney 6.1 Florence 6.2 The permanent audience – The Metropolitan Museum, New York 6.3 Performing in a vacuum – Melbourne 6.4 Smooth and striated beaches 6.5 Discipline and learning – Melbourne Public Library, 1860s and 2010s 7.1 East Village, New York

9 11 15 17 19 20 25 30 31 33 35 39 41 42 43 44 46 48 49 50 51 54 54 57


7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 12.1 12.2 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4

Porosity – Spanish quarter, Naples 58 Five interface types 59 Interface examples 60 Secondary interfaces 62 Scrambling the interface – IJplein, Amsterdam 64 Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York 65 Interface adaptations – Bogota, Melbourne, Brisbane 66 Dubrovnik 69 Typology of types 70 Remember and experiment – Kreuzberg, Berlin 72 Borneo-Sporenburg, Amsterdam 73 Apartment buildings as ‘detached’ houses – Hayward, California 74 Row becomes courtyards and tower – Hanoi 74 Vernacular types – Skyros, Greece 76 Paris 79 The lure of the labyrinth – Yazd, Iran 81 Transparency – Mumbai 83 Stari-Most Bridge, Mostar, post-reconstruction 84 Las Vegas 85 The People’s Path, Beijing 87 State on the Move – Melbourne 89 Dialectic imagery – Bangkok 91 Federation Square proposal, Melbourne 92 Poundbury 95 Remembering losers – Placa Rovira, Barcelona 96 Getting the balance – Tilla-Durieux Park, Berlin 97 Holocaust Memorial, Berlin 98 Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Washington 98 Sukarno’s last erection – Monas, Jakarta 100 Free West Irian Monument, Jakarta 101 Farmers or communists? – Heroes Monument, Jakarta 102 Suharto’s excuse – Arjuna Wijaya Monument, Jakarta 103 Marrakech and Tokyo 105 The one-hectare plaza – Prague, Siena, Paris 109 Lisbon 115 Protecting purity – Camberwell, Melbourne 117 Protecting difference – Fitzroy, Melbourne 118 Creating consistency – Beacon Cove, Melbourne 119 Constructing difference – Caroline Springs, Melbourne 120 St Peter’s Square, Rome 125 Authorizing the nation 130 State authority or urban opportunity – Rajpath, New Delhi 131 Golden Egg, Astana 131

x  List of Illustrations


14.5 Reichstag dome reconstruction, Berlin 132 15.1 Central, Hong Kong, November 2014 135 15.2 Pearl Square, Manama, Bahrain – during and after the Arab Spring, 2011 136 15.3 Disciplined demonstrating – New York City, August 2004 137 15.4 Tiananmen Gate, June 1989 139 15.5 Democracy Monument, Bangkok 141 15.6 Catching the global gaze – Bangkok 2010 142 16.1 Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai 145 16.2 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao 147 16.3 Burj Khalifa, Dubai 150 17.1 Granary Square, London 153 17.2 Private parks – New Town, Edinburgh 154 17.3 Defining Publicness 155 17.4 Interweaving open-public space, quasi-public and public enclaves – Santiago 156 18.1 Myer Emporium, Melbourne 159 18.2 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan 161 18.3 Diagramming the mall 162 18.4 City Center versus city centre – Minneapolis 164 18.5 Mall as church – Manila 165 18.6 Grafting the mall onto Bristol – Cabot Circus 1999 (left) and 2009 (right) 166 18.7 Santa Monica Place, Los Angeles, 2005 (left) and 2010 (right) 167 19.1 Trilogy at Vistancia, Phoenix 169 19.2 Retro-gating – Belleville, Santiago 171 19.3 Public and private networks – Orange County, California 174 20.1 Houston 177 20.2 High-rise 178 20.3 The commanding view 180 21.1 Florence 185 21.2 Queuing at Machu Pichu 187 21.3 Balinese ‘Gangs’ and the impermeable beachfront – Legian, Bali 188 21.4 Klong tours – Bangkok 190 21.5 The picturesque slum – Medellin 191 22.1 Central Park, New York 193 22.2 The Paris section 195 22.3 Casa Mila, Barcelona 196 22.4 Flexible envelopes – Melbourne 197 23.1 Getsemani, Cartagena 201 23.2 Graffiti and morphology – Fitzroy, Melbourne 203 23.3 Graffiti as place identity – Valparaiso 204 23.4 Street art as advertising – Santiago 205

List of Illustrations  xi


23.5 23.6 23.7 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 25.1 25.2 25.3 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 26.7 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 28.1 28.2 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 30.1 30.2

Authorized street art – Venice Beach, Los Angeles Painting/erasing – Surry Hills, Sydney Fitzroy, Melbourne Sukhumvit, Bangkok Three kinds of urban advertising Times Square, New York Urbanity as advertising – Venice, Las Vegas Ban Panthom, Bangkok Applied Physics, Bangkok A spatial typology of street trading East Bandra, Mumbai Informal settlement location types Productive laneways and barren enclaves – Dharavi, Mumbai Estera de la Reina, Manila Core Plus Project – Aranya, Indore Comuna 13 and Santo Domingo – Medellin Dharavi Berkeley, 1983 Temporary/tactical projects Parklet, San Francisco Paris Plages Diagramming the temporary/tactical Temporary cafe, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, 1991 Fitzroy, Melbourne Morphologies of creative clustering Ueno, Tokyo Multi-scale thinking – transit modes, morphologies and issues Capacity mapping, Melbourne Spaces of possibility – Melbourne Transit without development – Bus Rapid Transit system, Bogota Panarchy diagram Complex adaptive assemblage

All photographs and diagrams without attribution are by Kim Dovey.

xii  List of Illustrations

206 207 208 209 211 212 214 217 220 222 225 226 227 229 231 232 233 235 238 239 240 241 244 245 248 253 255 258 260 262 267 269


Acknowledgements My first thanks are due to the many students who have engaged with my urban design theory classes over more than a decade at the University of Melbourne. Their questions, arguments, experiences and scepticism have been the testing ground for my urban thinking. I have collaborated with a lot of colleagues over the period that the ideas in this book have been germinating and it is very easy to forget where they came from. Fragments of some chapters are based on more extensive works that have been previously published as variously cited in the text. I owe a particular debt to co-authors Ian Woodcock (Chapters 13 and 23), Ross King (Chapter 26), Stephen Wood (Chapters 7, 13 and 28) and Elek Pafka (Chapter 4). I also want to acknowledge other collaborators whose ideas may be apparent here: Richard Tomlinson (Chapter 26), Simon Wollan (Chapter 23), Kassama Polakit (Chapter 25), Eka Permanasari (Chapter 11) and Quentin Stevens (Chapters 5 and 6). Elek Pafka and Lucy Pike have been creative, meticulous and critical research assistants, editors and interlocutors on all chapters of the book and its conception. Many current and former PhD students have contributed in various ways as teaching and research assistants: they include Kate Gamble, Ammon Beyerle, Hesam Kamalipour, Nastaran Peimani, Milena Duric, Gethin Davison, Mira Ristic and Solmaz Hosseinioon. The most intense learning about cities comes from travel and I am grateful for the rich mix of invitations, conferences, fieldwork trips and ‘holidays’ that have served as fieldwork. A number of chapters draw upon research funded by the following Australian Research Council projects: DP0344105 (Chapters 12 and 13), LP100200590 (Chapter 23), DP0987867 (Chapters 7 and 28) and LP0669652 (Chapter 29). The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne has supported this work through various forms of research support. I am grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for a month-long fellowship with a wonderful group of academics and artists at Bellagio in 2012. Families are always left for last but this is also pride of place: Sandy, Kess, Adam, Dex, Seb and Simon (to whom this book is dedicated). They are the necessary antidote to too much urban design thinking – my love and thanks to them all.


Introduction There is nothing so practical as a good theory Kurt Lewin (1951)

This is a book designed to inspire critical thinking about urban design. Of course it is also hoped to inspire a better quality of urban design but it is not a book about ‘best practice’. The subtitle of the book suggests a particular way of thinking about theory as the invention of concepts to be used as tools for thought. Thus an urban design theory is something to be applied to the city for the purpose of better understanding it and changing it. Like any tools, such concepts may work well or badly in different contexts – a hammer is no use for digging a hole. While understanding the city and changing the city are always integrated in practice, my concerns here are mostly with understanding the city as a basis for change. While it is conceived as a toolkit these are tools for thinking and not recipes for practice. Those who seek a ‘how to’ manual for urban designers will be disappointed. Cities are far too complex for formula-driven approaches and good urban design requires a complex mix of quite different kinds of approach. The key premise here is that poor urban design is always based on poor urban thinking – on an inadequate conceptual toolkit. Urban studies is a vast field and this is a relatively modest book that is designed to open some windows onto various ways of seeing the city and urban life. It is not a textbook in the sense of summarizing received knowledge but it does bring a range of existing and contested approaches together into a framework that can be loosely described as assemblage thinking based in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). This is not the only framework I am interested in but it provides particular capacities for rethinking the city in ways that prioritize connections between things over things-in-themselves: differences over identities, co-functioning over functions, complex intensities over simple densities. Assemblage thinking involves understanding the morphogenetic processes through which the city emerges. It is based in a philosophy of becoming rather than of fixed forms and identities. Assemblage is variously termed assemblage thinking and assemblage theory, which reflects the fact that it is at once both a means of engagement with the world and a more formal theoretical discourse. One of the paradoxes is that assemblage thinking does not necessarily require assemblage theory – the finest of urban design thinkers, Jane Jacobs, simply wrote about how the city works – she was an


assemblage thinker par excellence. The corollary also holds in that a focus on theory as the end rather than the means can inhibit one’s thinking. My point here is that while this is an urban design theory book, it is a book about urban design rather than about theory. Ultimately theory must be judged on its usefulness, so I will introduce it as necessary in the context of the critique. The book is a product of many years of teaching urban design theory to students of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture and urban design. This has been a period of rapid expansion in the field of ideas in urban studies and urban design. A primary concern has been to establish connections between the academic abstractions of urban studies and the specific urban outcomes that are the concerns of urban design. The book also stems from a range of research projects focused on different urban place types and issues: shopping malls, corporate towers, housing enclaves, neighbourhoods, centres of power, creative clusters, informal settlements and transit-oriented developments. A concern for the concept of ‘place’ threads many of these together – a multi-scalar concept that is treated so uncritically or so sceptically by so many, yet one that has considerable significance in everyday urban life and a key role in the discourses of urban planning and politics. The book is organized into thirty short chapters and is conceived a bit like a city that the reader might explore one street at a time, not necessarily in order, while drawing connections between them. The book begins by exploring a range of conceptual lenses through which we might understand the city, and proceeds to explore the application of such thinking to a range of particular urban issues and project types. I begin with the question of what is Urbanity, what is urban design and what might we mean by the ‘right to the city’? The chapters on Access, Mix and Density introduce what I call the urban DMA. These are the morphological principles of concentration, co-functioning and connectivity based in the work of Jacobs that I suggest are the necessary, if insufficient, conditions for urban intensity. Action and Drama explore ways of understanding everyday life, discipline and performance in public space. Formal patterns and typologies emerge in the chapters on Interface and Type. Those on Image, Discourse and Memory explore the world of representation and meaning – the construction, legibility and transparency of urban narratives. Place and Character explore the experiential dimension of the city, the emergence of a sense of place and urban atmosphere, the pursuit of character and authenticity. In Authority and Resistance I examine the role of urban design in the legitimation of political order and the use of urban space in practices of resistance. These are followed by critiques of Globalization and the Privatization of public space. Shopping Malls, Enclaves, Towers and Tourism explore major global urban types. I then turn to questions of urban governance through a discussion on Codes, Graffiti and Advertising. Issues of urban informality are explored through a focus on the Informal Trading and Informal Settlements of cities of the global south. Temporary/Tactical explores the movement towards the informalization of formal cities. Creative Clusters asks why creative industries incubate in particular kinds of urban morphology. Transit

2  Urban Design Thinking


Urbanism outlines the challenge of transforming low-density car-dependent cities. The book closes with a discussion of the city as Complex Adaptive Assemblage. The framework of a large number of short chapters is designed to provide a broad range of very concise windows onto particular kinds of urban design thinking. These short chapters are not academic papers and cannot replace the more detailed research in these areas. The danger is that the reader learns a little about a lot but with little depth. Yet the detailed research is necessarily specialized and rarely draws the horizontal interconnections between different ways of thinking about urban design. The reader learns a lot about a little but with little breadth. These disparate lenses are not gathered under any overarching framework, indeed I suggest that this condition of conceptual multiplicity is the condition of urban design theory – urbanity is a condition of multiplicity. The book is also intended as a multiplicity and a learning assemblage. My hope is that readers may find their own threads through this work – the index may be a useful place to start. Another place to start is through the photographs and diagrams, many of which are selected to illustrate multiple parts of the text and the interconnections between them in a more spatial language. While some of these interconnections are pointed out, many are not and the text would ultimately become inaccessible if they were. While there is no single narrative progression through these thirty chapters, the book moves from formalities towards informalities, from analytic lenses to global issues and project types. The goal has been to move constantly up and down in scale, from the particular to the general and back again. It is in the interstices between these chapters that many of the key lessons can be found. There are a number of conceptual threads that extend through most chapters of the book. First is the concept of an urban DMA – an alliance of density, mix and access – that is introduced in the early chapters and then resonates through many others. This is a synergy between the ways cities concentrate people and buildings, the ways they mix differences together and the networks we use to get around the city. This work is strongly based in the early work of Jacobs (1961) but updated, expanded and linked into assemblage thinking. There is no formula for the urban DMA but it does set limits to what is possible – a low-density, mono-functional cul-de-sac is an anti-urban form. Minimum levels of concentration, co-functioning and connectivity are necessary, if not sufficient, to any form of urbanity. A second thread is to draw out interconnections between objective and subjective, measurable and non-measurable dimensions of the city. These are the material and expressive poles of the urban assemblage. Material forms incorporate both spatial morphologies and the actions and flows of bodies in public space – the things we can measure. While density, mix and access, based in urban morphologies, are relatively measureable, the ways we experience, imagine and remember the city are much less so. Urban design thinking is at once science and art. This is a matter of drawing connections between the morphologies and experiences of the city: of understanding the relations of urban forms and flows to the emotional, social and

Introduction 3


political affects of everyday urban life – the sense and poetics of place, character, home, atmosphere; the urban buzz or intensity. The real city is not limited to data. One of the key threads drawn from assemblage thinking is a set of twofold concepts that resonate together in urban assemblages. Primary among them are formal/informal, organized/self-organized, tree/rhizome and striated/smooth. This involves an engagement with one of the great dilemmas of urban design thinking – how to organize the city while enabling its self-organizing capacity: how to plan for the unplanned, how to govern for spontaneity? This is a key aspect of assemblage thinking that is latent in the urban DMA and particularly pertinent to later chapters on governance and informality. Formal/informal is a twofold concept of intersecting forces – the relationship is neither binary nor dialectic. It is a key framework for understanding practices of power in everyday urban life. The critique of tree-like structures in urban design stems originally from Christopher Alexander’s seminal essay ‘A City is Not a Tree’, another form of assemblage thinking, the implications of which have not been fully explored (Alexander 1996 [1965]). With a background in mathematics Alexander argued for the importance of lateral connections and an understanding of the city as a ‘semi-lattice’ – a mix of hierarchy and network. Within assemblage thinking the tree-like structure is contrasted metaphorically with rhizomic modes of practice – migrating laterally and sprouting between the interstices of a larger order. While the tree has a stem upon which the whole depends, the rhizome is a distributed network that cannot be easily killed or uprooted. As Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 15) put it: ‘Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more a grass than a tree.’ So is the city. The distinction between the ‘striated’ and ‘smooth’ has a key role in assemblage thinking. The striated is linked to the strict or stringent, contrasted with the smooth – a slipperiness where one slides seamlessly from one point to another. Striation involves the inscription of territory and identity where ‘being’ has become stabilized, as opposed to the smooth space of ‘becoming’. The ‘smooth’ is identified with/contrasted with the ‘tree-like’ strictures of hierarchical control. Smoothness is identified with flows; striation with structures and strategies. The smooth and the striated are not types of space or place so much as tools for thought; every real place is a mixture of the two in a reciprocal relation where they are constantly ‘enfolded’ into each other (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 486). All spaces are at once smooth and striated; all urban design involves forms of striation. As Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 500) put it: ‘Even the most striated city gives rise to smooth spaces … smooth spaces are not in themselves liberatory. But the struggle is changed or displaced in them, and life reconstitutes its stakes … Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us.’ The twofold is a not a binary nor a dialectic but a condition where one folds into the other. The fold is not a ‘crease’ or boundary, rather it involves a focus away from things and onto movements and ‘flows’ rather than points of stability – particularly onto flows of desire as the primary productive forces in any city.

4  Urban Design Thinking


Another key concept that recurs throughout the book is the ‘diagram’. This is at once the most difficult and the simplest of concepts. At the simple level it is a graphic representation of a set of relationships or forces. A diagram shows how something works in an abstract way, but unlike numbers or words it is a form of spatial knowledge. It is close to a map in that it represents a territory; it is not a plan nor a design yet it often reveals capacities and possibilities for the future. In assemblage thinking a diagram is also called an ‘abstract machine’ – abstract like a diagram but machinic in that it is productive – not merely an abstract ideal but immanent in the world. Diagrams are certain alignments of forces that work in a particular way. The concept can be traced in part to Foucault’s notion of the dispositif or apparatus – a set of forces that in his theory was primarily engaged in the production of a disciplined subject. There are a number of figures in the book that are diagrammatic, intended as tools for understanding how different urban assemblages work. A final thread is a focus on the dynamics of change and adaptation, escalations and paralyses, resilience thinking. This involves a linking of assemblage thinking to complex adaptive systems theory through the idea of the city as a ‘complex adaptive assemblage’. Resilience thinking involves a focus on the properties that enable or constrain regime change, the emergence and dissipation of identity. This involves an understanding of the morphogenetic and adaptive processes that drive the dynamics of urban change. Under what conditions can urban change escalate out of control or become paralysed? Resilience is not necessarily a good thing since the most intractable of urban problems are often deeply resilient. Much of the theory here is not new but I suggest that this is a new way of bringing it together and drawing out the connections between disparate concepts. Koestler (1964) famously defined creativity not as an act of invention from nothing but as the act of creating an intersection between two previously unconnected frames of reference. My goal here is to intersect many different ways of thinking about the city. The chapters are metaphoric windows or lenses because they inevitably frame and distort the city as they engage with it, selecting some things to see while leaving others hidden. I seek to draw both contrasts and synergies between existing theories since it is often the space between theories that is most fertile for new thinking. I have conceived the book as an assemblage of approaches that the reader might engage with at a variety of levels in different orders and with different outcomes. Assemblage thinking is not an umbrella under which disparate theories sit, rather it is a means of connecting them and particularly of understanding the alliances, synergies and dynamics between them. The goal is to produce better ways of thinking rather than formulae. The book is written primarily to demonstrate the application of particular ways of thinking rather than the exposition of theory. Theory is the toolkit, the means rather than the end – once the hole is dug or the frame is built, then the shovel or the hammer go back into the toolkit, where it may become useful for something else entirely. The writing is intended to be as concise and accessible as possible. In this

Introduction 5


regard I see two major threats to critical urban design thinking – the tendency for academic writing to drift into jargon and for concepts to be misapplied. Jargon is the production of a private and therefore inaccessible language. The work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) certainly fits this category and the many neologisms (lines of flight, body-without-organs, abstract machine) are a serious barrier to comprehension. There are no easy entry points into assemblage thinking because one needs to think in a different way in order to understand – it is the deep end wherever you dive in. There are many scholars and designers who apply such theory within the fields of architecture, urban design, landscape and architecture, yet proceed in very different directions to mine. This is not the place to critique such approaches, merely to comment that Deleuzian thinking suggests that such multiplicity is a good thing – there is no correct way to use conceptual tools. As Massumi (1987: xii) puts it: ‘A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.’ In the end the test for a theoretical concept is one of usefulness. Does it help us to understand the city with greater depth and complexity or does it produce a certain closure of thought? Jargon can be necessary to accurately describe new concepts, it is one way in which language is renewed. Yet jargon also protects theory against the critique of those who cannot or will not follow the writer into this private language. The strength of Jacobs’ writing, and the key reason her work has been so profoundly fertile, is that she utilized an everyday language to write about urban complexity. Her work is not immune to formulaic practice as analysis of most current urban design codes would reveal. Jacobs was not averse to the invention of new words where the language is insufficient – note her coining of the term ‘unslumming’ to challenge the language of slum ‘redevelopment’ and ‘upgrading’ (Jacobs 1961), but it is also one of the least recognized of all her insights. The second major threat to critical thinking is the widespread misapplication of theory that often reaches epidemic levels in design fields, where detailed reading is unpopular and where theory is often used to legitimate formal fashions in boom/bust cycles that can swiftly make the latest theory look obsolete. Misapplication may be due to conceptual misinterpretation but it more often involves a premature closure of thought. Innovative formal imagery that represents or expresses a theory captures the design imagination in graphic form while ignoring a deeper potential. Theory is turned into symbolic capital and a form of legitimation. When future civilizations look back on the early twenty-first century it will be seen as the era of urbanization – the time when rural-to-urban migration transformed the proportion of people living in cities: when cities expanded massively in size and joined to form polycentric regions. For better and for worse, future generations will be largely stuck with the urban design frameworks we create now. Major decisions about built form and spatial structure have great inertia: they cannot be changed with new policies or buildings because they largely shape the framework for such decisions. In this sense urban design is the most permanent of built environment

6  Urban Design Thinking


practices. There are many contested and often complex definitions of urban design: mine is simply the ‘shaping of urban public space’. Yet such a simple definition begs further questions – what do we mean by ‘urbanity’, ‘public’ or ‘city’? I will return to these in the following chapter. Another way to define urban design is in its relations to the major city building disciplines and professions of urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture and property development. In this context urban design is the decidedly multidisciplinary zone of practice that occurs where these disciplines and professions intersect. Urban design is distinguished from architecture in that it operates at larger scales and with a primary concern for spaces and connections between buildings. It is distinguished from urban planning through a focus on morphologies and formal design outcomes. It differs from landscape architecture in its concern for assemblages of buildings and intensities of traffic and function. Each of these disciplines has its own languages, territories, borders and ideologies – they are not called disciplines for nothing. Urban design, however, is not strictly a discipline nor a profession. It is a branch of knowledge only inasmuch as the knowledge of which it is comprised involves a complex intersection of many other branches. It is a profession only inasmuch as it appears ubiquitously on the letterheads of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture firms. Urban design is not without its ideologues, but it crosses these borders and blurs these territories. Rather than a separate discipline that sits alongside, it is the intersection and the interstice between them. Urban design resists reductionism: it is not a branch of urban planning, architecture or geography; it cannot be reduced to economics or environmental, social or aesthetic critique. This multidisciplinarity is a large part of what makes urban design so interesting yet complex. Urban design is not a profession in the sense that there is no body of knowledge that can be certified as a guarantee of good urban design practice. Yet it has a logic and a language of its own; it is a spatial discourse of plans, maps and images as much as words and numbers. While there is knowledge and skill that we hope all urban designers might share, much of what an urban designer needs to know will come from other fields. On the one hand this includes what is collectively known as urban studies – social sciences, fine arts, anthropology, psychology, literary criticism, philosophy, geography, economics, history and politics as applied to the city. On the other hand major urban design decisions need to be informed by civil engineering, hydrology, earth sciences and the ecological sciences. Urban design is at once an art and a science, but it is also neither – urban design thinking is a between condition. Many fields of knowledge have legitimate claims over the shaping of urban space and it is often the tension between such claims that gives the field its vitality. A key skill for urban designers is the capacity to think about the city in many ways at once and to understand the city as a multiplicity. More than simply knowledge about the city, urban design involves the imaginative task of inventing urban futures, a combination of both creative and critical thinking. Urban design is driven by a range of desires for a better future in someone’s terms

Introduction 7


– for beauty, safety, freedom, pleasure, sustainability, identity, happiness, privacy, status, social order, information, profit, adventure, power. While cities embody a multiplicity of ‘publics’ with often conflicting interests, the fact of sharing public space entails a shared interest in its future. Urban design inevitably mediates conflicts between different desires and interests, particularly where public interests conflict with private interests. What is ultimately at stake in urban design thinking is the future of this great cauldron of productivity and creativity we call urbanity. Cities bring us closer together, they produce productive and creative encounter, giving us access to ideas, people and experiences that enhance life. We remain in the early days of understanding the generative and productive potential of cities and urban design is a key component of any such understanding. Urban design does not cause anything so much as it mediates, enables and constrains; it creates capacities, possibilities and tendencies. It was the great nineteenth-century economist Alfred Marshall (1890) who first suggested there was ‘something in the air’ of the city that made it more economically productive. This phrase is suggestive of an atmosphere, the character of urban life, the buzz of urban intensity. In the end this cannot be reduced to economics because the city is productive of much more than wealth – new ideas, forms of subjectivity, art, cultures, ways of seeing, public debate. The best of cities are highly efficient urban ecologies where we can live better with less – where the big issues of social injustice, poverty and environmental degradation can be addressed in part through the shaping of public space. The goal here is to enter into this complexity, not to resolve or reduce it but to understand it – to ‘stand under’ the city and embody its contradictions and multiplicities as a basis for acting upon it. The reader should emerge with more questions than answers. The key to knowledge, as Socrates suggests, is to understand how little we know.

8  Urban Design Thinking


1

Urbanity

Fig. 1.1  Grand Central Station, New York

The term ‘urban’ is derived from the Latin word urbanus – ‘courteous’. Urban space is shared with people whom we do not know and who do not share our views or background. To be urban or urbane is to show courtesy, to respect difference. The term ‘city’ comes from the Latin: ciuis – citizen: a denizen of the city. As with the term ‘urban’, we see a linkage of the spatial to the social, identifying a certain kind of place with a certain kind of person. The term ‘city’ shares this root with ‘civic’, ‘civil’ and ‘civilized’ – to be civil is to be courteous. Urban space is not necessarily a place of friendship or bonding, it is a place where the ties are often weak but are based on the right to share public space and obligations to respect the rights of others to do likewise. When someone enters the military they are no longer ‘civilians’ – war is the breakdown of the civil code. The Greek word for city was ‘polis’ and again we find similar linkages to the discourse of ‘politeness’, but also to the idea that codes of civility in the city need to be ‘policed’ through ‘politics’ and ‘policy’. Finally, we come to the word ‘public’. The Latin publicus meant ‘belonging to the people’ – privacy, by contrast, was originally a space of ‘deprivation’ for those who were deprived of citizenship and public life. The public realm is a space of interaction with others – a space of publicity (Figure 1.1). These terms – urban, polis, city, public – collectively refer to an urban public space that is largely defined by the sociality and formality of encounter with difference. Urban space is a place of exchange and traffic in people, ideas and goods. What we often refer to as problems of crowding and density cannot be separated from


urbanity as intense encounter. Urban design as the shaping of urban public space involves the framing of these spaces of public encounter. Public space is at once objective and subjective: an assemblage of streets, buildings and public spaces where we learn public behaviour, where citizenship and subjectivity are produced and reproduced. Whatever the differences of identity, class, ethnicity, age, ability or politics, public space is shared in common. It is the primary site where a sense of the ‘common’ becomes embodied in everyday life, before it becomes ‘community’.

Western Public Space In his book Flesh and Stone, Richard Sennett (1994) explores some key moments in the history of the relationship between the body and urban space in Western cities, a narrative I will use as a framework for understanding urbanity. The birth of democracy in Greece in the fifth century bc involved the production of the agora as an open public space of assembly. Largely a marketplace, it also had a range of political, military, sporting and religious functions. Such public space was the space of freedom for citizens – children, slaves and women were non-citizens and were ‘deprived’ of access to public space; the private realm was therefore a space of deprivation. Citizenship involved the obligation to speak your mind in public and this exposure of ideas was linked to the exposure of the body – nakedness in public space was accepted as a mark of strength and civility. The physical urban space of the Athenian agora was a large but relatively undefined open space of about four hectares with a major diagonal thoroughfare (Fig. 1.2A). Many different buildings appeared in and around the agora during different periods of ancient Greek history, including temples, law courts and long colonnades known as stoas along the edge. The stoas were open-sided public buildings of indeterminate function that offered shelter from the heat, wind and rain. However, the agora was not enclosed and the spatial organization was somewhat informal; the ground surface was flat with no privileged space from which to speak. Urban design was deployed to enable a flow of traffic in people, goods and ideas. This was the place where Socrates established the Western tradition of the search for truth through dialogue and critical thought; truth was to be discovered through debate in public space. The agora was a space of contestation that included (during one period) a race track. The agora was not a site of harmony; it became the place where Socrates was condemned to death for corrupting the young and undermining authorized religion. Sennett’s history then moves to Rome, where the primary public space becomes the ‘forum’. Despite its beginnings as a forum for debate under the Roman republic, under imperial power it emerged as a site of one-way communication. The introduction of the imperial Rostra as an elevated and privileged location from which to speak was enclosed by public buildings and legitimating temples that frame a space of less than a hectare (Fig. 1.2B). The power of the state becomes stabilized in hierarchical urban form as public debate is moved to the interior. The imperative is to ‘look and obey’ rather than debate ideas as urban design is enlisted in the

10  Urban Design Thinking


Fig. 1.2  Agora (A) and Forum (B) (Source A: Benevolo, L. (1980) The History of the City, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 90, fig. 148. Source B: Patterson, J. (1992), ‘The City of Rome: From Republic to Empire’, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 82, pp. 186–215, p. 191, fig. 1.)

Urbanity 11


legitimation of power (Sennett 1994: chapter 3). The body is now to be covered and controlled just as the alignments of buildings are brought into a linear and axial order. Triumphal arches emerge at both ends to frame the spectacle of the choreographed entry, especially the return of victorious troops from battle. Urban design is deployed to tell a singular story, to limit debate and order the world. The larger city, especially in the colonies, becomes organized as a model of a larger ideal world with its axes, quarters and grids. European cities in the Middle Ages later become enclosed within walls like giant gated communities (Sennett 1994: chapter 7). Within these walls the ghetto develops as a sector of the city which is designed to prevent random encounter – cultural differences and marginalized identities (particularly Jewish) are contained by spatial division. Places within the city become enclosed with boundaries that operate as a social prophylactic to control the encounters between different classes of people. Singular belief systems are preserved and constructed through the enclosure of urban public space; urban design is deployed to stop urban mixing. With the eighteenth century and the Enlightenment we find the city being opened up with a new belief that justice might be found in the opposite of enclosure, in visibility and transparency (Sennett 1994: chapter 9). The French revolution was celebrated in what is now Place de la Concorde in Paris by toppling the statue of the king and removing all the trees. This vast and flat open space became symbolic of liberty, fraternity and equality – the birth of the Enlightenment. The guillotine was set up and the heads rolled to the cheers of the crowds who became consumers of urban spectacle. We can see here the emergence of the idea that a vast unobstructed space can represent freedom, with later echoes from the Washington Mall to Tiananmen Square. In the nineteenth century with the rise of capitalism and modernity we see a growth of individualism: a crowd of individuals in a world of strangers (Sennett 1994: chapter 10). The ideal of urban anonymity emerges as the right to not be spoken to on the street. This is also the age of the urban flâneur and a renewed importance of pavement and cafe life in major European cities. For Sennett this marks the emergence of the idea of public life as a ‘mask’ of the ‘true’ self – an inversion of the ancient Greek notion of revealing and becoming oneself in public space (Sennett 1974). The enlightenment involved the formation of a new kind of citizen – the docile subject in a disciplinary society and a public space of state surveillance (Foucault 1977). Private space is, in turn, reconceived as a place of freedom, a refuge from the difficult city and a retreat to a supposedly more true self. The suburb, a term that originally meant ‘less than urban’, begins to become privileged over the city. With twentieth-century modernism comes a renewed desire to order the city – a place for everything and everything in its place. Older cities with mixed functions and labyrinthine spatial structures were replaced with clean lines, visibility and purified urban order. We see a new marginalization of women and children, and their displacement to the suburbs. Urban design is deployed to reduce uncertainty; to control and order the city under conditions of surveillance. For Sennett (1994: 365) a kind of

12  Urban Design Thinking


grey neutrality emerges in urban design, citizens withdraw from urban engagement. This in turn legitimates the use of public space for instrumental functions and private interests as capitalism produces a commodification of public space. A key lesson from Sennett’s work is that the importance of urban life lies in the encounter with difference. Differences are relationships between different things, while identities are thing-like in the sense that we can grasp them in the mind like concepts or objects. Difference is a contrast, a between condition that is not easily grasped; it is the productive ground from which identity emerges. Learning to grasp the urban design dimensions of the city as an assemblage of differences is a key task of this book. Urban design thinking requires that we excavate the city as a cauldron of differences where identities are produced. This is only a history of Western cities, yet there are some parallels in Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Persian cities with histories that are different, but just as long and interesting. In all of these changes over time and across all of the differences between cities, the story of urbanization is one of how different societies and power regimes deal with the task of mediating conflicting interests, assembling the city and shaping urban space. So why does this intensive urbanity matter? I want to conclude here with a series of brief comments on the importance of a vital urbanity and therefore the importance of urban design in five key dimensions – economic, environmental, political, aesthetic and social.

What’s at Stake? The rapid urbanization of the planet and the incredible growth of cities is not due to a general preference for urban over rural life; it is because cities are the primary engines of wealth, innovation and cultural creativity – they produce jobs and therefore opportunities. However, not all cites are equally productive. The economic benefit comes, in part, from the tacit knowledge one gets from intensive engagement in networks of face-to-face contact. Intensive urbanity produces informal learning like a good university campus where you learn more between classes than in them. The urban assemblage – the people, practices, streets, buildings, open spaces and flows of connectivity – becomes both a school from which we learn continuously in everyday life and an incubator that enables and stimulates the production of wealth. The economic benefits of cities have long been recognized, but the benefits of urban intensity are more difficult to understand. In a knowledge-based economy based on flows of ideas, the shaping of urban space becomes crucial to productivity. The economic advantage that the city produces through the shrinkage of distance is also an environmental advantage. Distance is friction and concentration of activity saves energy. In a context of urgent adaptation to climate change it has become clear that urbanization is not the problem and potentially provides dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The rampant car-based suburbanization of the twentieth century is inconsistent with low-carbon futures that are generally modelled on relatively compact cities and intensive public transit networks. The concentric metropolitan model of the city with a downtown surrounded by suburbs

Urbanity 13


is no longer the major driver of new urban development, which is becoming focused on polycentric networks and mega-city regions. However, this does not mean that the intensified urbanity that has driven the city through history has become obsolete. Rather we are seeing an urbanization of the suburbs through intensified walkable transit nodes as a key model for low-carbon cities. Urban design will always be characterized by struggles over politics and power, over the uses of public space and questions of spatial justice. The shaping of public space is widely deployed to control and segregate populations by social class, ethnicity, religion, age and gender and to neutralize its social and democratic potential. In the sense that public space is common space, the shaping of public space requires some notion of a ‘public interest’ for its legitimation. Herein lies the basis of Henri Lefebvre’s (1996) famous proclamation of the ‘right to the city’ that identifies citizenship with rights of access and appropriation of public space. This much-used phrase is more difficult to define than to proclaim; however, this is the tradition of the agora extended to all citizens and all public spaces within the bounds of a civilized urbanity. The ‘right to the city’ means that the design, use and meaning of public space is always in contention. This intersection of desires is a large part of what makes it public and makes urban design so interesting. One of the great paradoxes of urban design is that while there is a strong tradition in understanding the composition of buildings and public spaces that form the city as a work of art, the most potent of urban aesthetic impacts are created by many hands rather than a single controlling vision. The city is a palimpsest that emerges as the result of multiple layers of creativity, erasure, history, politics, economics and technical invention. The urban aesthetic is often linked to the sublime – an experience that overwhelms us rather than submitting to our gaze like a beautiful object or scene. Walter Benjamin (1978, 1979) suggests that unlike the work of art, the city is perceived obliquely in a state of distraction as we go about our everyday lives. It catches us unaware as memories and dreams are triggered by chance encounters, fragments, forms and juxtapositions. For Benjamin, urban imagery has a liberating potential that often comes from the juxtaposition of images (Buck-Morss 1991). In the end, the importance of this shaping of public space lies more in how it works than what it looks like. For Sennett (1973) urban encounter in public space has a key civilizing function – we become more fully human through encountering and negotiating difference in civic space, by shedding singular beliefs and accepting multiplicities of identity. For teenagers in particular, the encounter with urbanity is a liberating experience that opens life paths other than those laid down by parents, family and social class. From this view the importance of urbanity lies in the ways engagement with difference is spatially framed. Cities designed to avoid such mixing based on the fear of difference are fundamentally anti-urban; the retreat to a closed or purified sense of place leads to a stunting of identity formation. In the end, what is at stake in urban design thinking – in the ways we choose to shape and share urban public space – is the future of urban civilization.

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The Urban DMA The idea of urbanity as an intensive but random encounter with difference does not mean that public space might be randomly organized. The paradox of urban diversity is that unstructured encounters in public space can be structured; this is a key focus in the following chapters and I will briefly introduce them here. What I call the urban DMA is an assemblage of density, mix and access that comprises a structural core that is necessary, although insufficient, for the emergence of urban intensity (Fig. 1.3). This concept is derived directly from the greatest of all urban assemblage thinkers Jane Jacobs. In her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities she articulated what she called the four conditions for urban diversity – the need for short blocks, mixed primary uses, old buildings and concentration (Jacobs 1961). While the language has changed and the concepts have been extended, this remains the most powerful theory of urban design yet invented. It embodies an account of interconnections and synergies between things rather than things in themselves. What follows is a reconceptualization and elaboration in terms of three primary concepts of density, mix and access. This does not depart from what Jacobs wrote but reconfigures and applies it at multiple scales. These are conceived as conditions for urban intensity, productivity and creativity rather than simply diversity. Her principles of ‘mixed primary uses’ and ‘old buildings’ as conditions for urban ‘diversity’ are here combined as mix – formal, functional and social. ‘Short blocks’ becomes shorthand for richly interconnected access networks.

Fig. 1.3  The urban DMA

Urbanity 15


The question of density is one of how much activity, population and built form can be concentrated into a given urban area. Density shortens distances between people and the places they need access to. How close can we get to where we want or need to be? Mix is fundamentally about differences and juxtapositions between activities, attractions and people. Rather than diversity as an end in itself, mix is a means of generating random encounters and of enabling flows between different categories of people, buildings and functions. The study of mix is a study of co-functioning – the alliances and synergies between functions: between home, work and play; between production, exchange and consumption. What is the attraction between different parts of the mix? Access is about how we get around the city. How do we make connections between where we are and where we want or need to be? What are the access routes and are they tree-like or networked? How permeable or fast are they at different scales and for different modes of transport? What mix of walking, cycling, car, bus, tram and train do we use to navigate urban space how does it differ at different scales? The synergies between density, mix and access are often referred to in the more object-oriented language of urban planning as those between built form, land use and transport. Here they become a conceptual triangle of connectivity, co-functioning and concentration – we need connections between different people and places because they co-function, and we need them concentrated because that enables connections. We can also see this as a triangle of forms, functions and flows. The densities of built form are largely congruent with population densities and transport flows. Yet the understanding of flows makes no sense in isolation from the functions that attract those flow and the ways flows are mediated by the urban forms that frame them. Urban intensity emerges within the confines of this urban DMA. Like biological DNA it does not determine outcomes but sets a framework for what is possible. Density, mix and access are necessary but not sufficient preconditions for urban life.

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2

Access

Fig. 2.1  Rome, 1748 (Giambattista Nolli)

The social condition of urbanity is one of relatively random encounter between strangers in public space. Yet this randomness is also inevitably structured. Another way of saying this is that the sociality of the city is geared to the spatiality. Good cities are structured to maximize random social encounter and this is a significant part of how they work as urban economies and ecologies. We often think of cities as being full of traffic, a word that gets some pretty bad press with connotations of danger, congestion, illegality and so on. Yet flows of pedestrian traffic together with the traffic in ideas, identities, images and products are at the heart of what makes cities urban. As the shaping of spaces of random encounter, urban design is largely about organizing traffic. How do we get around the city? How have public space networks been shaped and how does movement flow through them? In what ways do they enable and constrain urban connectivity?

Permeability/Catchments Access networks differ markedly at different scales. At the scale of the metropolis high-speed networks of public transport and freeways generally dominate. As we zoom in to smaller scales vehicles move from freeways to arterial and local road networks; and other modes of access such as cycling and walking become competitive. At the neighbourhood scale we are generally dealing with a mix of all movement modes, but pedestrian movement comes to the fore. At this scale it is public space networks and building footprints that become key mediators of access. It is the permeability of this neighbourhood network that Jacobs identified as a key characteristic of urban vitality; her phrase for it was ‘short blocks’ and she suggested that


an effective urban pedestrian network would limit block length to about 100 metres (Jacobs 1961). This was consistent with the Greenwich Village neighbourhoods she lived in but not with large parts of the broader New York grid where block length ranged up to 280 metres. She observed that neighbourhoods with shorter blocks and more corners, tended to have richer networks of pedestrian encounter. Network permeability is a property of the ‘ringiness’ of public space, the intensiveness of interconnectivity, the capacity to move through the network using a multiplicity of pathways. The key analytic technique is to map the network of accessible public space pioneered in 1748 by Nolli in his famous map of Rome (Fig. 2.1). This map shows a highly permeable network of publicly accessible spaces that is not simply a map of blocks and buildings but also of public pathways into and through buildings. The blocks here range from about 20 to 100 metres in length and average about 50 metres depending on how they are measured. So why did Jacobs settle on 100 metres as a maximum? The answer to this is to be found in the concept of ‘pools of use’ – the zone of walkable access from any given location. This may be the pool of customers for a local shop, park or school, or it may be the pool of useful amenities within walkable access of where we live. As block size increases, access to parts of the city that are potentially within walking distance become blocked. While permeability is in one sense a mathematical property of the network, measures of it are problematic. Shortcuts are often available through private property, shopping arcades are closed after hours, and any measure of block length becomes somewhat arbitrary in a relatively informal morphology (such as the Nolli map). The size of a walkable pool of use also depends on the distance that we presume people will walk – one of the most difficult questions of urban design. The answer depends at least on topography, climate, culture, safety, season, time of day, design quality, health and competing transport modes. A distance of 500 metres is often used but should always be seen as elastic: within this range, impermeable blocks of greater than about 100 metres can be a problem. The most obvious measures of permeability based on average block size (length, area, perimeter) can be misleading, especially where a single elongated block can disrupt flows without impacting the average. The most useful measure is what Pafka (2014) has termed ‘area-weighted average perimeter’, where each block perimeter is multiplied by its area and then averaged across a study area. However, the pursuit of small blocks as an end in itself means that permeability will peak when the blocks disappear entirely – when there is nothing to get access to. Any attempt to measure permeability must understand it as a form of porosity, a capacity to penetrate the pores of the city. It is an interstitial condition, a form of relationship between solid and void, between public and private space. Permeability is a condition of the public space network that enables and constrains access to the attractions of the city. The network in any given location enables access to a pool of use or pedestrian catchment – a zone of walkable access sometimes known as a ‘ped-shed’. The relationship between permeability and catchment size is well established; higher

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Fig. 2.2  Block size and interface catchments

permeability creates a greater catchment area, but again there is little point in measuring a catchment if there is nothing to catch. The attractions of the city depend in large part on density, which I will discuss in Chapter 4; however, it is also important to understand that most attractions are entrances that line the public/private interface. The pool of use can also be measured as an ‘interface catchment’ – the total length of public/private interface that can be reached within the pedestrian catchment. The interface catchment will increase with permeability yet also decrease as streets get wider; it is a measure of pedestrian catchments that incorporates some measure of what is being caught. A maximum block size of about a hectare, while avoiding elongated blocks, can be a useful rule of thumb for urban design thinking, but it needs to be combined with interface catchment as a measure of possible attractions that are accessible within a certain distance or time. Fig. 2.2 compares a grid of 100-metre blocks with one of 500-metre blocks at a scale of a square kilometre and maps the total length of interface accessible from the central point within a 500-metre walk. The 500-metre grid gives access to 4 km of interface, while the 100-metre grid gives access to 16 km. If street width remains constant, then there is an inverse relationship between block size and interface catchment. Increased permeability and increased street width will both increase the ratio of public to private space. Figure 2.3 compares a range of cities with different morphologies at a scale of a square kilometre and measures both the average permeability and interface catchments. Average block size (AwaP) ranges from 315 in Nagoya (high permeability) to 550 in mid-town Manhattan. Jacobs’ work was modelled on the more permeable Greenwich Village. An average 100 metre block length will produce an AwaP of about 400, which is close to the Barcelona plan (450). The interface catchment (within 200

Access 19


Fig. 2.3  Permeability and interface catchments in three morphologies (Maps by Elek Pafka)

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metres) is both mapped and measured; here the impact of street width is apparent, as Barcelona has less interface access than Manhattan despite the higher permeability. Walkable access declines within walkable distance of any major impenetrable boundary such as a river, coastline, lake, freeway, railway or escarpment. A waterfront location, for instance, has roughly half the interface catchment of one located 500 metres back within the same fabric. Yet any consideration of average block size becomes distorted if we try to incorporate the effect of the freeway or water body as if it were a giant block. Block size and interface catchment are different yet related ways of thinking about walkable access and they are useful in tandem.

Adaptations A key task for urban design thinking is to understand the various urban forces that lead to greater and lesser urban permeability. Market forces can be used to generate a more permeable urban fabric because an impermeable fabric creates a market for shortcuts that can be profitable. Central Melbourne, which has a primary grid of 100 by 200 metre blocks was subdivided by speculative activity in the nineteenth century to create an intricate network of laneways and arcades. Initially these were mostly service laneways but are now revitalized as pedestrian backstreets and arcades that feed off the market for shortcuts. This revitalization succeeds primarily where it can live off the passing trade – the dead ends are largely undeveloped. Market forces, however, also operate to reduce permeability through a desire to monopolize access to key public attractions. This is often the case along beaches, waterfronts or parklands where housing or hotels create an impermeable barrier that produces a quasi-monopoly (Fig. 21.3). Impermeability is also produced by conflict between access networks at different scales – freeways, railways and arterial roads often become barriers to access and movement at neighbourhood scale. Such imperme­ability is often enforced at the smaller scale with barriers designed to stop pedestrians crossing major streets. On the other hand community resistance to through traffic is an impediment to the development of high-speed access networks. Just as major streets are impermeable to pedestrian traffic, so every pedestrian precinct becomes impermeable to vehicular traffic. The forces that lead to a lessening of permeability generally include the desire to retreat from the city into private enclaves, gated communities and the suburban cul-de-sac (Fig. 19.3). The enclave is essentially anti-urban – an escape from the through traffic of encounter with difference. The tree-like street structure of many suburbs strangles networks of interaction and encounter between people. Friends who may be just 50 metres away as the crow flies can be up to a kilometre to walk; pools of use are minimized and parents become chauffeurs. In suburban developments we often find that the car network develops independently of the pedestrian network – to provide permeability for pedestrians but not cars. The design of urban spatial networks is a political and economic issue where different interests intersect, where the desires to walk can be in conflict with desires

Access 21


to drive or take public transport, where public interests can be violated by private interests. The concept of permeability has become mainstream to urban design thinking, but it has also become formularized and can be manipulative. High levels of permeability at the heart of a shopping mall are incorporated into a highly impermeable project at the larger scale. Principles of permeability apply to buildings as well as to cities, interior spaces that are highly interconnected have an enhanced capacity to generate random encounter. The lessons of urban design connectivity can be applied within architecture but they can also become ideology – bedrooms and seminar rooms cannot function with through traffic. Conversely not every part of public space needs to be interconnected to every other part, there are places of retreat and relaxation which add value to the sense of urbanity created by welltrafficked networks.

Spatial Syntax While such measures of permeability and interface catchment are important at the neighbourhood scale, at the larger scale of the metropolis other measures of connectivity and access become useful. Spatial syntax analysis as developed by Bill Hillier (1996) and colleagues is arguably the most sophisticated attempt to measure and understand the ways that urban morphology structures the economy of movement within cities at multiple scales. The key characteristic being measured here is network integration – the degree to which any part of a network is spatially integrated with the larger network. Integration is a different property to permeability in that it calculates an integration value for each link in the network according to its topological measures of access to all other links in that network. Its primary usefulness lies in predicting higher movement flows through accessible streets with high levels of integration. Integration can be measured by distance, by the number of nodes one must pass through, or the number of axial links. Hillier argues that the measure of axial links is the most effective predictor of pedestrian flow because such movement is strongly structured by what we can see – that we choose visible routes that are obvious rather than the shortcut that is not (Hillier and Vaughan 2007). However, this surely differs between insiders and outsiders; those with sophisticated spatial knowledge of the network will generally choose the route that is shortest in time. Since integration is always relative to a network, then there is the issue of where one draws a boundary around the network, especially under conditions of polycentric city-regions. Only in small towns and traditional cities is there such a thing as a ‘whole’ network. At the neighbourhood scale a street may be integrated with the neighbourhood, while the neighbourhood is segregated from the city. This is indeed what has happened with many housing projects; demonstrating the dysfunctionality of such a spatial structure has been a major contribution of spatial syntax analysis. Urban spatial structure is a key mediator of power in urban design deployed as a means of segregating different kinds of people by social class, race and age

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(Hillier and Hanson 1984). However, a key problem for any measure of integration is that fundamentally different integration measures emerge depending on where one draws the boundary of the network (Ratti 2004). Spatial syntax analysis can be very insightful under conditions where an access network is relatively clearly bounded such as a whole city or a building or enclave within it; yet it can also be misleading at neighbourhood scale. A key distinction in spatial syntax analysis is between global and local networks, between through movement and to movement (Hillier and Vaughan 2007). Global streets are those we travel through as the means to an end, while local streets are those we must use to get to an attraction. Global networks are based on choice and competition between routes, while local access is compulsory. To get access to any urban attraction I must use the local street where it is located, but on the way I will choose from a range of global paths through the network. The more integrated parts of the network are global. Vaughan and Hillier argue that the global networks of many cities take the shape of a ‘deformed wheel’ with a loose centre, some (often crooked) spokes and a loose rim. This is demonstrated in relation to cities as diverse as London, Tokyo and Atlanta. One of the key insights from spatial syntax analysis lies in the ways that the more integrated and connected parts of the network attract flows and that these flows in turn attract the kinds of function that need flows (primarily visitation functions such as shops, public functions), which in turn attract more flows. Integration also attracts density, which again enables greater flows and concentrations of attraction. These are multiplier effects between density, mix and access. Any change to the network changes the flows within it and can impact upon the functional, formal and social mix. One task for urban design thinking is to understand these complex synergies; strategic changes to the access network are some of the most important of urban design decisions.

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3

Mix

Fig. 3.1  Paris

What is an assemblage? It is a multiplicity which is made up of many heterogeneous terms and which establishes liaisons, relations between them … Thus the assemblage’s only unity is that of co-functioning. Gille Deleuze in Deleuze and Parnet (2007: 69)

Cities work through bringing different kinds of activity, people and buildings into accessible proximity – they are ‘multiplicities’ rather than singularities. The city as assemblage has no unity beyond this co-functioning; it is not a collection of parts, rather the parts are defined by the alliances that they enter into. The urban mix is about the relations between different functions, buildings and people – the interconnections, alliances, synergies and flows between them. Jacobs’ key insight was to understand the productive co-functioning of different activities and the damage caused by modernist urban zoning, which separates them. But it is not only functional differences but also formal and social differences that create the synergies of the great city. The mix is not simply a soup, designed to smell and taste good; it is an assemblage of attractions and interconnections between where we are and where we need to go. If the question of access addresses the question of ‘how do we get around?’ (the network of flows), then the question of mix addresses the question of ‘what’s the attraction?’ because these flows are flows of desire. Different


kinds of people seek out certain activities and people who in turn are attracted to different kinds and scales of spatial form. Ultimately this is a mix of functional, formal and social mix – a mix of mixes (Fig. 3.1).

Functional Mix Modernist zoning was invented to prevent the worst excesses of industrial production from poisoning and polluting the residential and commercial areas of the city. There remain good reasons for some forms of zoning, particularly for industrial functions; however, Jacobs’ call for the mixing of functions is now well embedded into most forms of urban design thinking where it has become both catch-phrase and formula. The arguments here are several. Functional zoning at neighbourhood scale inhibits walkability because shops, housing, school and work will not be within walking distance of each other. A singular function also produces a singular street life rhythm with peaks when everyone uses public space and troughs when it can be barren. Functional mix links to public safety because barren streets can be dangerous, but also to the efficient use of public space, which must be designed to cope with peak use and will be underutilized at other times. Jacobs made a distinction between primary uses that set the tone of a neighbourhood, and ancillary functions that depend upon the primary functions for their viability. A mix of primary uses also gives rise to a secondary mix of ancillary functions. Any understanding of mix entails an understanding of how mix changes at different scales. At the scale of a building there may be a vertical mix with retail on the ground floor and housing or offices above. There may be a mix at the street level with different functions in different buildings. At the neighbourhood or district scale there may be a mix of retail, production, recreation and so on. The ways that we slice this cake has generally been inherited from the urban planning categories that were used to separate functions under modernist zoning: retail, residential, commercial, industrial, education, recreation, community and so on. In this sense if modernist zoning has been fully implemented, then the zone plan becomes a functional mix map. The principle of mixed-use, however, confounds any such mapping. The more richly intermixed the functions of a neighbourhood, the more difficult they are to map – good cities and districts resist functional mapping. Furthermore, categories inevitably overlap: is a park community or recreation? Is a hotel residential, retail or entertainment? Is a hospital residential or community? What do we do where a house is also a shop, or where production happens in a home office or workshop? Should hospitality functions such as cafes and restaurants where we meet and socialize be seen as different from boutiques and banks? If we seek to resolve such questions with a proliferation of functional categories, then the map soon becomes unreadable. The functions of the city do not exist preformed, waiting to be mapped as it were. The city embodies a multiplicity of functions and how we slice this cake depends on what we want to know about the city. What we most need to know is how the city

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works in terms of co-functioning. If we seek to understand the city as an economy, then we might decide to cut the cake in terms of production, exchange and reproduction. This will produce an understanding of where goods and services are produced, where they are bought/sold and where we live, sleep, eat and so on. Yet again there are many sites where they overlap, and these overlaps are fundamentally important because this is where many of the synergies between functions are found. One of the more interesting typologies to emerge resonates with this tripartite division of production/exchange/reproduction but with a focus on drawing out the overlaps rather than erasing them (Hoek 2008; Nes, Berghauser Pont and Mashhoodi 2012). In the original version this is a triangular division into ‘working’, ‘living’ and ‘amenities’, where the mixes between these categories are also mapped. Thus the triangle is divided into three points (work, live, amenity) plus three hybrid categories between them and the mix of all three. The category of ‘amenity’ is a catch-all intended to cover all retail, community and entertainment functions. This is a simple but powerful model for mapping and understanding the functional mix of a city because it can show the degree of mixing. I suggest, however, that ‘amenity’ is too broad a term and can be replaced by the concept of ‘visiting’. The population in a given building, street or neighbourhood at any particular time will be there because they live there, work there or are visiting. Sites of visitation will include shops, museums, parks and theatres. It is possible to map the urban fabric into sites that are primarily places of living, work or visitation, or in terms of the various mixes between them. When we undertake this kind of mapping at a district scale (as in Plate 1) we can see those areas with relative concentrations of where people work (blue), live (red) and visit (yellow). If the mapping is undertaken at cadastral scale then it also shows the mix within each site – work/visit (green), live/visit (orange) and work/live (purple). The purpose of functional mix mapping is not simply to understand where functions or land uses occur, but to understand the co-functional relations between them. Plate 1 maps a highly mixed neighbourhood around a transit node in Tokyo that developed without modernist zoning (part of a PhD study by Milena Duric). It shows a largely residential hinterland (red), a concentration of retail around the station (yellow) and some scattered centres of employment (blue). It also shows that clustered around the station are substantial areas of orange (live/visit) and purple (work/visit) that mix primary functions within the same building. This is a highly mixed neighbourhood that might be contrasted with a suburb (entirely red), a shopping mall (yellow) or a financial district (blue). While we may learn a lot about functional mix by mapping it in this way, it remains limited to land use and does not incorporate measures of floor space devoted to different functions. Again, one cannot understand mix without recourse to density. A mixed-use index has been developed by Hoek (2008), who suggests that the highest level of mix is achieved when residential floor space in a given territory equals that of all other functions; the relative levels of mix can then be mapped across the city. Such an index, however, is somewhat arbitrary and blunt. Any mixed-use index will

Mix 27


depend upon the scale of the territory chosen for analysis and many current studies are limited to the scales at which data is available. The paucity of cadastral data has meant that measures of mixed-use at walkable neighbourhood scale remain in a nascent stage.

Formal Mix The formal mix refers to the range of different buildings and lot sizes in a given district. This is the principle one finds beneath Jacobs’ call for the retention of old buildings, not necessarily as heritage but as incubators of low rent and marginalized activities. The deeper principle here is one of a mix of old and new buildings as well as a mix of small and larger ones. As buildings age they deteriorate in quality, they often lose the functions for which they were designed, the building style loses its currency and the rental value declines. If the average lot size is relatively small, then some buildings are replaced or upgraded to become high-rent while others remain to deteriorate and become obsolete. A small grain or lot-size also produces a formal diversity in the architecture, more scope for different layers of architectural expression with each generation. If an entire district is small grain, however, then there is little scope for larger buildings and the different range of functions that are housed within them. A mix of functions needs a mix of both old/new and large/ small-grain. Grain size can change over time through subdivision or amalgamation; site consolidation to enable large-grain development is one of the key threats to a vibrant urban mix. A small-grain morphology enables a mix of building age to emerge and to be sustained over time. Small-grain development produces a mix of owners and often a resilient resistance to transformational change. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether such change is justified. Smaller grain, however, also constrains density.

Social Mix The principle of social mix is one of avoiding spatial segregation according to wealth, ethnicity, gender, age or ability – the ways good cities integrate social classes and their more marginal members. The range of different functions housed in a range of different buildings of different sizes links to the range of different people who will live and work there. For Jacobs the diversity of an urban district – the mix of functions, buildings and people – is not an end in itself but is fundamental to the vitality of the city, its economic and social life. She also saw this diversity as vulnerable to a process of self-destruction. Diverse districts with an intensive mix of people, buildings, functions and street-life vitality are attractive to investment. Retailers want to be near the 100 per cent location, people want to live nearby; popularity leads to price increases and redevelopment for the up-market customer. This in turn leads to a displacement of marginal and low-rent uses and people. The market pursues short-term rather than long-term goals, it consumes its own values in a form of

28  Urban Design Thinking


‘place suicide’ where success attracts self-destruction. Cities need to preserve place amenity as an attractor of investment, people and ideas; to protect and expand their tax base rather than exploit its short-term potential. The mix moves up-market to become a less diverse collection of banks, boutiques and bistros that service a new and rather singular social class. The displacement of marginal uses and derelict buildings is linked to the displacement of marginal users and residents. Jacobs’ concept of the self-destruction of diversity is strongly linked to planning theories of gentrification – the market-led process of neighbourhood change where a higher social class displaces a lower social class.

Gentrification Gentrification is a positive feedback cycle where the more that the buildings and functions of a neighbourhood move up-market, the more attractive it becomes and this stimulates the market for more of the same. Gentrification generally has a bad name in the literature because it is defined in terms of the ways markets produce a relentless displacement of the poor. The academic literature on gentrification is somewhat split between those who attribute it primarily to economic or cultural forces. The economic argument sees it as inherent to capitalist property markets – produced by the ‘rent gap’ between what a property earns in rent and the prospective rent if it were upgraded (Smith 1996). In Jacobs’ terms this is a process of removing the rent gap between old and new buildings along with marginal functions and populations. The cultural perspective is to see gentrification as largely driven by the demand of middle classes for the lifestyles and amenities of the inner-city (Ley 1994). This is in many ways a false dichotomy. The attraction comes primarily from the synergies between density, mix and access that are offered by the inner-city. The rent gap emerges most strongly in older and somewhat derelict inner-city neighbourhoods where property values are low relative to measures of access and amenity. Neighbourhoods that have become concentrations of poverty (sometimes slums) often have a high level of formal and functional mix, but the social mix is often low. In such cases the early phases of gentrification can enrich the formal, functional and social mix. The social mix is also part of the bundle of attractions that co-produce gentrification in the first place. It is often pointed out that artists and creative producers comprise the vanguard of gentrification – producing the initial mix, giving the place identity a creative edge, making it safe for the middle classes. After these early phases gentrifiers often become involved in leading resident resistance to further gentrification; seeking to stem the erasure of social, formal and functional mix. The challenge is to understand the factors that operate as a brake on gentrification and that might prevent the loss of social mix. The issue of mix in urban design needs to be understood not only as a functional, formal and socio-economic mix but in terms of the interconnections and synergies between them – the mix of mixes. Fig. 3.2 shows diagrammatically how this multiplicity of attractions and synergies works. The formal mix of lot sizes and building

Mix 29


Fig. 3.2  A mix of synergies

types is geared spatially to the functions of work, living and visitation that produce them and are enabled and attracted by them. The mix of incomes and rents that support a social mix are geared to both the building stock and the mix of housing, jobs and amenities. The mix of old and new buildings as well as a mix of lots helps to sustain the mix of rents for both housing and marginal enterprises. These relations are not causal but reciprocal – forms of synergy where one mix is geared to another that is geared to another in turn. And this mix of mixes is in turn geared to access and density – the other key components of the urban DMA.

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4

Density

Fig. 4.1  Kowloon Walled City (Illustration copyright © by Hitomi Terasawa. Source: Terasawa et al. 1997)

At the simplest level, the concept of urban density is defined as the degree to which people, buildings and activities are concentrated – they are not in the city so much as this concentration is the city. Yet when we interrogate this concept of density it turns out to be a multiplicity of interconnected concepts. Density has long been central to debate about cities yet poorly understood and often confused. In physics density is a simple measure of weight per volume, yet urban densities may entail measures of building height and coverage or of numbers of people. If our interest is buildings, then do we focus on sites (net densities) or incorporate streets and open space (gross densities)? If our interest is populations, then do we measure those who live, work or visit and at what time of day, week and year? There are distinctions between the ways density is measured and experienced. Perceptions can be influenced by the type, height and coverage of buildings, and by the social mix of people whom one encounters. Population densities may incorporate crowding within private spaces (interior densities) and crowds in public space (exterior or street-life densities). There is a considerable academic literature on density, including attempts to clarify definitions (Boyko and Cooper 2011; Cheng 2010; Rapoport 1975), catalogues of formal outcomes (Fernández Per, Mozas and Arpa 2007; Lampugnani, Keller and Buser 2007; Boeijenga and Mensik 2008) and speculative designs (Maas, Rijs and Koek 1998), yet confusion persists. One way to understand these issues is first to divide them into densities of buildings and of people, and then try to understand how such measures interconnect


with each other and with the even more complex measures of density and intensity in public space. What follows summarizes some more detailed work that is separately published with my colleague Elek Pafka (Dovey and Pafka 2014).

Building Density It is not possible to understand urban density without learning the jargon. In general terms on any area of urban land buildings occupy a certain ‘footprint’ with a particular height and percentage of ‘coverage’ across that site. The most common measure of building density is the total built floor area as a proportion of the site area – variously termed ‘Floor Area Ratio’ (FAR), ‘Plot Ratio’ or ‘Floor Space Index’ (FSI). This is the measure that is most commonly used as a planning tool to control the amount of floor area and hence the total bulk of buildings (if they are above ground level). Floor Area Ratio or FSI can generally be measured by multiplying the building height (in storeys) by the coverage (proportion of the site covered by the footprint of the building). It follows that tall buildings with low site coverage may have a similar built density to low-rise buildings with high coverage. Building height and coverage are mediators rather than measures of density but are linked to the ways in which density is perceived. The diagram in Figure 4.2 shows that a Floor Area Ratio of 1 can be achieved with a two-storey building at 50 per cent coverage, through many different configurations to twelve-storey buildings with 8.5 per cent coverage. It is in this sense that questions of density are fundamentally connected to the issue of building typology (Fig. 8.2). Floor Area Ratio is a popular planning control in part because it is strongly geared to the market in terms of the cost of construction and rental returns on investment. While it constrains profits and the total load on an urban system, it does not constrain the height or shape of buildings and is thus a very blunt measure for urban design purposes. The freedom it grants for innovative urban form can make it popular with architects. There are two key points here: first, that coverage, building height, total floor area and Floor Area Ratio are geared to each other on any given site; and second, that neither coverage nor height are direct measures of building density. The examples shown in Figure 4.2 are all net densities calculated for a particular development site or lot; yet it is clear that the urban effects of such built forms will be spread across a broader neighbourhood that incudes streets, pavements and open space. The distinction between net and gross densities – so often missing in density debates – is crucial for urban design thinking. Net densities are generally used in planning controls because they directly control development on a particular site. Yet this can be misleading because we are generally concerned with the ways in which density works to produce certain urban effects across a neighbourhood, district or metropolis where gross densities become primary. A high net density adjacent to a very wide street will produce a medium gross density. Gross densities are always lower than net densities because the ratio of buildable lots to total land area (or private to public land) rarely exceeds 70 per cent. Thus even if net coverage is 100 per cent, gross densities will never exceed 70 per cent of net densities and are often less than half.

32  Urban Design Thinking


Fig. 4.2  Different morphologies at identical plot ratio (Floor Area Ratio (FAR))

Another common way to measure building density is dwellings per hectare (or acre). This is often the most easily accessible data on how many people are likely to live in a given urban area and is easy to gear to planning controls since the state can control the construction of housing units more easily than the household size. However, there is a very tenuous connection between Floor Area Ratio and dwellings/hectare for two main reasons. First, because in a mixed-use district housing is only one component of the functional mix; dwellings are only one part of the density. Second, because average dwelling size can vary from about 15 to 150 square metres: building densities can vary up to a factor of 10 with the same number of dwelling units (Pafka 2013). Dwellings per hectare is thus not a measure of building density except as mediated by average dwelling size and functional mix.

Population Density The total number of people in a given urban location at a given time can be usefully construed as the sum of those who live there, work there or are visiting. The number of residents per hectare is a key measure, generally derived from census data but also linked to dwellings per hectare if the average household size is known. It is, however, only reliable in the middle of the night because most people are out working or visiting for much of the day. The number of workers per hectare can be linked to the number of jobs per hectare if this is available from census data. Of course these figures are only reliable during the day and even then a large number of jobs involve movement across the city. These figures for people and jobs per hectare, together with those for visitors (if available), can be used to predict total population densities together with daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms. By juxtaposing densities of jobs and residents across an urban transect we can start to understand the aggregate distances that populations must move in order to commute to work or shopping.

Density 33


So how are population densities linked to building densities? We might begin here with a global measure of internal density – the total consumption of floor space/ population (square metres/person) across a given urban area. This is what Berghauser Pont and Haupt (2010) call the ‘urban footprint’ (not to be confused with ‘building footprint’) and they point out just how much consumption of space has increased as internal densities have declined as cities become wealthier. The urban footprint is primarily of use as a measure of environmental impact. Internal density, however, is more usually a measure of residential space as square metres/resident or residents/ room. Internal density is strongly mediated by both average household size and dwelling size; it is a key indicator of both slums and luxury housing. Slums have been measured at an average of less than 4 square metres/resident, while large suburban houses and luxury high-rise apartments can average over 100 square metres/person.

Public Space Density Densities of buildings and people are incomplete without understanding the relations of buildings to open space and the ways external densities of street life are produced in public space. What is often referred to as the ‘open space ratio’ (Berghauser Pont and Haupt 2010) measures the ratio of total open space to total floor area. This is a global indicator of the way increased floor space adds pressure on unbuilt space for both circulation and recreation, but it does not distinguish between private and public open space. To understand the impact of both population and building densities on the external densities of street life requires that we first distinguish public from private open space and then distinguish pedestrian public space from vehicular traffic. Such measures are further complicated by the fact that the daily and weekly rhythms of street life are strongly mediated by the functional mix – work-related functions such as factories and offices produce peaks and troughs, as do some visitation sites such as theatres, stadiums and transit nodes. Residential and retail sites have more distributed rhythms. Finally, the ways in which building and population densities contribute to street life volume depend a great deal on the public–private interface, car-dependency and off-street parking. When the primary entry to and from private space is by car, this enables the population to live, work or visit without entering public space – issues that will be discussed in Chapter 7 on interfaces.

Assembling Densities All of the factors introduced thus far are either measures or mediators of density in different ways, yet they are all highly interdependent and some are close to impossible to quantify. The concept of density can’t be reduced to any single measure and is best conceived as embodied within an assemblage of interconnected variables. Figure 4.3 is a diagram of these assembled interconnections developed with Elek Pafka (Dovey and Pafka 2014). It may immediately seem too complex to be usefully understood, yet it connects and incorporates most of the key measures that

34  Urban Design Thinking


are currently being both used and confused. It enables us to see the interconnections and to make judgements about how density might be defined, measured and understood. It links the three key dimensions of the density question that have been discussed – buildings, people and urban open space. It shows how the measurable properties of urban density (Floor Area Ratio, coverage, dwellings/hectare) are linked to the less measureable (street life, public space/person, intensity). It also demonstrates that a number of the key factors here – represented as arrows rather than boxes – are mediators rather than measures of density. Any such understanding needs to be elaborated on by linking these measures to questions of scale and intensity. Measures of density are not meaningful until one defines the territory within which such measures take place and account for the differences between net and gross densities. While both are useful in different contexts, the crucial point here is to ensure that one does not confuse the two since the same measures of Floor Area Ratio and dwellings/hectare are widely applied at both net and gross scales. Just as the gross density will always be less than the net, so the gross densities will diminish with increasing scale. As the scale of analysis increases from neighbourhood to district and metropolis, so the proportion of open space will increase to incorporate recreation, parks, access networks and interstitial space. This is also why density measures at metropolitan scale can show Los Angeles to be denser than New York (Mees 2009). Jacobs suggested a minimum density of about 250 dwellings/hectare (100/acre) in order to produce the urban conditions she was proposing – this was a net figure

Fig. 4.3  The urban density assemblage (Source: Dovey and Pafka 2014)

Density 35


but since she was arguing for a gross urban outcome under conditions of mixed-use it is often misunderstood. Other confusions over density can be introduced when we use the language of a particular urban morphology – plots, lots, blocks, districts and so on – as units of analysis. If we are to compare densities across fundamentally different urban morphologies, then we need to use absolute scales for analysis. While there are no rules for such scales, the issue of density clearly requires a multiscalar analysis that enables understanding of the relations between scales from the building to the metropolis. This double issue of net versus gross measures and the scale at which either is measured becomes crucial for public debate on key issues of urban development because the scope for misunderstanding is significant. Measures of density can differ dramatically for different morphologies and building typologies. Patel (2011) has shown that the informal settlements of Mumbai have more than double the population density of Manhattan despite having a fraction of the Floor Area Ratio and building height. This is largely due to a huge difference in internal density since the dwellings per hectare are similar. There is no single density measure that is going to be the most useful in understanding how cities work.

Building Height Building height is a mediator rather than a measure of density but it plays a key role since a taller building enables more floor space and open space with a smaller building footprint. One of the key dreams of modernity was that high-rise buildings would enable light, air, views and open space at high densities. As building densities rise so does the capacity for population density. However, the greater density does not always translate into street life intensity. Tall buildings generally transform the public–private interface by imposing a separation between public and private space, particularly accentuated when combined with car-dependency. Building height also has a tendency to reduce the functional mix. There have been many attempts to mix functions in three dimensions, yet all of the urban successes have occurred within a couple of floors of ground level – the tall building is generally a monofunctional and private cul-de-sac. This is not an argument against tall buildings per se, although they do have anti-urban effects to which I will return in Chapter 20. Controls over building height have a range of complex urban effects, particularly over the connections of density to intensity.

Floor Area Ratio Floor Area Ratio is an attractive density control that can be used to contain overall development volumes without limiting urban design outcomes – it allows freedom for urban innovation, and is strongly geared to capital flows and profits. The key problem is that it is only loosely geared to urban design outcomes and it has no connection to functional mix, dwelling size, population, public/private interface, urban rhythms or open space – any reduction of density thinking to such a single

36  Urban Design Thinking


measure is dangerous. Site coverage as a planning control is generally used to protect private open space; it has little relation to population density, mix, rhythm or interface. Jacobs proposed high levels of coverage as a means to achieve density without height, however, coverage can only control density when combined with other controls such as height or Floor Area Ratio. Dwellings/hectare is also a very blunt density control unless we also know something of the dwelling size, household size and functional mix. Jacobs’ proposed minimum density of about 250 dwellings/ hectare (net) is twenty-five times that of the suburban quarter-acre block. It is difficult, however, to understand the rationale for this figure, since this minimum was simply derived from the density of Greenwich Village at that time (Jacobs 1961) – indeed her own house was of lower density. From an economic perspective Glaeser (2011: 146–8) has argued that Jacobs’ figure is too low, but again there is little rationale and like many economists he is blind to urban design considerations. My sense is that there are a large range of effective urban densities, that many are lower than Jacobs’ minimum and we should be suspicious of any single measures. The issue of density will resonate through the rest of this book, but I want to conclude here with some thoughts on how we might rethink the concept of density for urban design. First, no single density measure or mediator can be considered apart from the larger assemblage. While relations between factors may be measurable, the significant emergent outcomes are not so predictable. Urban design and planning controls such as height, Floor Area Ratio, dwelling density and setback can all be useful in different circumstances and can be applied as minimum, maximum or both. Second, density is a multi-scalar issue with different measures and effects operating at different scales and with net and gross measures. Vastly different measures occur at different scales of the room, street, neighbourhood, district and metropolis. There is no correct scale for understanding density; such thinking needs to become fundamentally multi-scalar. Finally, more attention needs to be paid to the somewhat mysterious relation of density to urban intensity. Depending on how urban design controls in particular are managed, we can produce density without intensity (Fig. 20.1) or intensity without high density (Dovey and Symons 2014). There are many kinds of urban intensity and while all depend on certain levels of density, intensity is not a phenomenon that simply increases with building or population densities. Urban intensity is a concentration of encounters and connections rather than buildings or people. It is where the city succeeds or fails in the production of urbanity. Yet understanding of urban intensity also requires that we understand the interconnections of density with mix and access. How do we get around? What are the attractions? How much can be concentrated in a given area? These are the three interlinked questions. While there are many other dimensions of urban design that I will explore, the urban DMA works as a morphological basis of the urban assemblage and its capacities.

Density 37


5

Action

Fig. 5.1  Marrakech

In earlier chapters I considered the urban framework within which everyday urban life takes place. Here I want to consider a range of issues about action in public space. I begin with some conceptual frameworks for thinking about how patterns of everyday life are produced and reproduced in public space, leading to consideration of questions of determinism, discipline and drama. ‘Proxemics’ is the study of the proximities or distances that people establish between each other in social life, originally articulated by Edward Hall. Animals and birds often share a tendency to space themselves out in public space. If a stranger chooses to sit next to you when there is a range of options this will be seen as a social act and your response may be to leave. Hall (1966) suggests four main distances. A ‘public’ distance is the distance established between public speakers or performers – generally over about three metres. A ‘social’ distance of two to three metres is more like the seminar or group discussion. A ‘personal’ distance of about a metre is a normal conversational distance between friends or colleagues. An ‘intimate’ distance of half a metre or less is the distance you maintain with a lover or family member, usually touching. Like any typology this is just a framework for thinking about urban life where we are often drawn into intimate contact with strangers. In crowded lifts and public transport we adapt by turning sideways and avoiding eye contact. At lower densities other social codes prevail – if you are the only person in the park and someone enters and sits


next to you, you may well take flight, whereas in a crowded park you would not even notice. Distance is also strongly socially and culturally mediated – personal distances in a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern context are much closer than in Britain. One framework for looking at this is to see any public space as embodying a ‘definition of the situation’ – a collective agreement we have about how to behave in different situations (Goffman 1963). We enter an urban setting that embodies an informal social code of behaviour – the distances between people, possible behaviours and conversations. We then size up the situation and gear our actions in accordance. While interior territories are often strictly coded in this regard, public space is relatively deterritorialized – the codes are often informal, unclear and contested. We learn this informal code from the city, the ways it is designed and used as well as the meanings it evokes. It is learned through everyday life and embodied unselfconsciously. It is a part of what Pierre Bourdieu (1977) calls the ‘habitus’ – a set of expectations and predispositions that involve a mix of habit and habitat. For Bourdieu, everyday life is like a game that is played on a field that is at once both spatial and social. Cutting across any separation of subject and object, the habitus is at once ingrained in our habitat and embodied as a set of habits. Habit is something we repeat unthinkingly, habitat is the place in which we do it. Habitus is a ‘feel for the game’ of social life, a ‘feel’ rather than a conscious understanding. The habitus resonates with the idea of a ‘sense of place’, not as an aesthetic experience but as a ‘sense of one’s place’. When we don’t understand the code we feel ‘out of place’. From this perspective public space is practised or performed; we have a feel for the game of action in the field of urban public space.

Appropriation The practice of everyday life in public space is infused with multiple appropri­ations – more or less temporary territorializations of public seating, parks, pavements and so on. When we appropriate an outdoor restaurant table we understand that even though it may be legally public space, it has in turn been appropriated by the restaurant and that our appropriation comes with the cost of drinks and food. Thus more formalized codes of control over public space intersect with informal codes of behaviour and a range of ‘rights’ in public space. These include the right to be present, to engage in a certain range of actions, to monopolize its use, and to modify the design (Lynch 1981: 205ff.). The first three of these are normal rights of citizens in public space – the last is more contested. Appropriation very often involves reversible forms of modification – territorial markers, boundaries, moving of furniture and personal possessions that indicate temporary use. Appropriation can be problematic because it involves exclusion and again this may be formal or informal. Formal codes may be developed to prevent contact between children and strangers; informal codes emerge in some contexts to separate women and men. It can be nothing more than the dominating presence of men or women that serves to effectively

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exclude the other gender. Territorial marking by street gangs involves the attempt to establish an area of ‘turf’ communicating the threat that it will be defended.

Fixed/Unfixed One model for thinking about the ways humans and environments interact derives originally from Hall (1966) and comprises a continuum from those parts of our world that are ‘fixed’ through the ‘semi-fixed’ to the ‘unfixed’. The fixed part of this assemblage is effectively the buildings and ground plane that can only be changed with great difficulty and over the long term. The unfixed end of this continuum essentially comprises people who move relatively continuously in everyday life. Between the two is what Hall calls the semi-fixed elements, which I prefer to call ‘loose parts’, the bits and pieces of our world that we can move about – cars, bicycles, tables, signage, plants and so on. The significance of loose parts is that they are a primary means of non-verbal communication; we can’t change the fixed parts but we use the loose parts to signify territory and situation. The image in Figure 5.2 can be read to signify capacities to reorganize and appropriate seats, lie on the grass and so on. There are also ambiguous situations – if an empty chair is at an occupied table, then it becomes appropriate to ask if it is available. This is a social code, part of the civility of the city, the politeness of the polis, the courtesy of the urban. Amos Rapoport (1982) has suggested that the designed environment works through non-verbal communication where we enter a situation, read the cues and then gear our behaviour to the implied rules. These are often informal codes – we read a situation and conclude: ‘if they can do that, then I can do that’; if they are transgressing a formal code, then perhaps I can do that too.

Determinism The concept of environmental determinism is the idea that environment can determine or cause certain kinds of behaviour; implying that if we change the built environment, then we will cause better behaviour. The idea that we could solve social problems with physical design is now a denigrated view and the word ‘determinist’ is

Fig. 5.2  Fixed/semi-fixed/unfixed – Bryant Park, New York

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Fig. 5.3  Overdetermined and underdetermined – Bilbao (left), Melbourne (right)

widely used to signify a false belief. Urban design can prevent certain forms of action from happening (both good and bad) but cannot really determine that anything will happen. One cannot walk through walls or dance on water but nor will a gateway or flat floor cause these activities to happen. One way through this is to see the humanenvironment assemblage in terms of overdetermination and underdetermination. An overdetermined design often locks in one right way of using a place: while it cannot determine that it will be used that way, it can determine that not much else will happen. Figure 5.3 shows two kinds of fixed seating, one of which constrains the relations between people while the other enables interpretation and adaptation. Seating patterns do not cause the desire to sit, nor the social groups who may wish to chat. It follows that a diversity of seating patterns will be conducive to a diverse population of citizens. An overdetermined city is a one-way city, while the underdetermined city is a multipli-city. A design that serves a multiplicity of possible functions (seat, stair, artwork) is more consistent with an underdetermined approach. The issue of determinism is linked to the larger question of the values that drive the shaping of public space; the imperative is to expand the possibilities for public space rather than seek to shape an idealized public life. In most urban places underdetermination makes sense. However, the idea that an open public space (perhaps labelled an ‘event space’) will enable a greater range of urban action is simply the barren ideological counterpoint to determinism.

Affordance The theory of ‘affordance’ originally propounded by James Gibson (1977) suggests an ecology of perception whereby built form is geared to human action through the ‘affordance’ of opportunities for engagement. Different people may be looking for a place to rest or to dance; the task for urban design is one of maximizing rather

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Fig. 5.4  Affordances – Wave, Melbourne (Artist: Inge King); Listening, Paris (Artist: Henri de Miller)

than determining affordances. Many affordances are unintended and collateral to the main intention – urban artworks that afford multiple opportunities for use and imagination are good examples (Fig. 5.4; also 6.2–4, 11.3–4). Anthony Giddens (1984) suggests we can frame such engagements as an interplay between ‘structure’ and ‘agency’. Structure is the relatively stable framework within which action or agency takes place; it can incorporate institutions and codes as well as fixed structures of built form. The structure enables certain kinds of action and it constrains others but it does not determine anything. A lecture theatre with a raked floor and fixed seats constrains us from holding a party but it doesn’t determine that lectures will happen unless there is an institutional framework that organizes them. Public space is a space of difference and needs to be designed to enable a multiplicity of actions. A stairway is a good example of a form designed to enable a single very specific form of action, yet if well designed it can also become seating, stage, audience and a multiplicity of other functions. Place Pompidou was opened in 1977 and has become one of the most vibrant public open spaces in Paris, hosting a good deal of public art and street performance (Fig. 5.5). This is essentially one giant outdoor room, enclosed on all sides with a single inclined hard surface leading down towards the entrance to the museum. The incline is just enough to afford an easy sitting posture and also to become a spontaneous amphitheatre for performances. Yet the plaza was originally designed as two opposing surfaces in a scissor form with one side of the square sloping down into a dead-end space where rubbish collected and nothing happened (Fig. 5.5, upper). Wherever potted trees are deployed to fill space like this they are often signs of an urban design mistake. Part of the problem here was the creation of a cul-de-sac in the middle of the plaza, disconnected from the flows of pedestrian life that are its lifeblood. It was also crucial here that the original design prevented any synergy between the plaza and its edge, a connection that is fundamental to how nearly all streets and plazas work.

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Fig. 5.5  Place Pompidou, Paris, 1991 (upper) and 2004 (lower)

Edges The ‘edge effect’ describes a tendency for action to gravitate towards the edges of open spaces. ‘Active edges’ has long been a catchphrase that suggests lining the edges with active functions; and ‘eyes on the street’ suggests the provision of overlooking functions for public safety (Jacobs 1961). Prospect/refuge theory (Appleton 1975) suggests that there is a psychological advantage to spatial situations where we can see across a prospect from some form of refuge; the position of power afforded to those who can see without being seen. This may be the phenomenon of watching from private space into public space, or from the edge of an open space

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with our back covered. The window seat of the restaurant is on the edge of the public space and pavement dining affords a similar effect. There is a synergy between open spaces and edges – if the edges are active, then so is the public space. An active edge is often defined in terms of both the frequency and transparency of entrances. First is the frequency of different entrances along the public–private interface, a multiplicity of entrances produces multiple entry/exit flows (which link in turn to grain size and mix). Second is a high level of transparency across the boundary such that one can see from public to private space and vice versa. One of the surest ways to kill the edges of public space is to insert long ramps (whether cars or pedestrian) that ensure there is no prospect of lining the street with active functions. The issues surrounding the public–private interface are crucially important to urban design and will be explored in greater detail in Chapter 7 (Interface).

Crime Under the seeming disorder of the old city … is a marvellous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. Jacobs (1961: 50)

The right to participate in the life of public space depends upon minimum levels of safety from assault and property theft. Crime is inevitable in all cities because it is a by-product of the mixing of differences: it cannot be completely eradicated without producing an overdetermined city and eradicating many of the practices that are essential to urbanity. The question for urban design thinking is how crime can be managed and controlled; and here there are two primary approaches that I call the ‘enclosure’ and ‘encounter’ models (Dovey 2000). The enclosure model involves the fortification of territorial boundaries to prevent encounter with strangers – walls, gates and fences. The encounter model, by contrast, suggests that it is contact with strangers that makes public space safe – public space is rendered safe because others are always watching (Fig. 5.6). In his book Defensible Space Oscar Newman (1972) argued that modernist urban design of the mid-twentieth century created certain kinds of urban space that were conducive to, or even caused, crime. These included modernist undercrofts and leftover spaces where boundaries between public and private space become unclear, a ‘no man’s land’ that is neither fully public nor fully private. The entry spaces created throughout the middle of the twentieth century in large-scale public housing projects are particularly clear examples of this. The argument was to eradicate such urban space to draw a much sharper boundary between private and public. Much of this work has percolated through to more recent movements such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and ‘designing out crime’ with the somewhat determinist view that designers can stop crime from occurring by designing clearer boundaries between private and public space and by enclosing the

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Fig. 5.6  Enclosure and Encounter – New York

leftover spaces that have proven so problematic. Yet there is an important distinction between the observation that crime tends to be more prevalent in certain kinds of urban places, and the claim that crime can be ‘prevented’ by eliminating such places. While we all defend our territories through enclosure, we should not delude ourselves that such local acts can change global crime rates. Cities with the highest crime rates also have the highest proportion of walls, gates and barbed wire. Urban design mediates and redistributes the danger of crime: it does not produce it or stop it (Dovey 2000). For the enclosure model the stranger is the danger; the encounter model turns this around and strangers become the ones who police public space – it is street life that makes streets safe. This model can be traced to Jacobs (1961), who coined the phrase ‘eyes on the street’ to describe the ways windows from private space overlooking public space create a form of ‘passive surveillance’. For Hillier and Hanson (1984) the concept of ‘continuous co-presence’ is a key to this model of public safety. Co-presence is a particular measure of street-life density linked to the presence of more than two people in the same visual field at one time. Most people (particularly women) are alert to the sense of danger in being alone with a single stranger in public space. Continuous co-presence is the sense of safety that comes with the expectation of at least two other people present in the same field of vision continuously. The sense of safety is linked to a triangulated gaze whereby any assault is likely to be seen by at least one other person. This is the principle of safety in numbers – if you walk with a friend then you carry co-presence with you. A key point is that co-presence does not need to be actual to produce safety – it is enough that a potential assailant believes that a crime may be noticed. In this sense safety is embodied in the urban design of transparent shopfronts, pavement cafes, street hawkers and windows on the street. This is a self-reinforcing principle in that the safer the street feels, particularly at night, the more people will use it and the safer it becomes. The sense of danger can also escalate in that hard boundaries reduce active interfaces and signify a lack of security, further reducing street life and increasing the sense of danger.

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Both enclosure and encounter are means of controlling crime that work together much of the time. We mix in the streets during the day and retreat behind locked doors in the evening. The enclosure model mainly causes difficulty when the enclosure eliminates eyes on the street. Crime is never produced by the built environment, but is a social product mostly emerging from social inequality. The various tactics for ‘designing out crime’ (such as ‘active edges’ and ‘eyes on the street’) can be useful for urban designers, but we need to think very carefully about where the ‘out’ might be. Are we simply moving crime from privileged neighbourhoods only to see it escalate on the poor side of town? If so, then we exacerbate the very inequalities that drive crime in the first place: designing out crime becomes a production of crime.

Discipline The concept of passive surveillance, where we know we may be being watched even if there is no one actually watching, also works as a form of active surveillance in theories of panopticism. Michel Foucault (1977) argues that practices of power have shifted since the eighteenth century from one where power was transparent to one where power is more hidden and is productive of a disciplined body and society. At the beginning of the book Discipline and Punish Foucault describes the earlier spectacle of public punishment where those who seriously upset the king were quartered – horses were tied to their limbs and driven in different directions. The spectacle was a form of state terrorism – demonstrating the king’s power and spreading fear through the population. With the Enlightenment and modernity comes a society where truth and justice are to prevail, where reason is to replace the naked exercise of power based in violence. Foucault then documents the shift from a society where discipline was enforced by spectacle and fear to one where it is enforced through surveillance. The panopticon is an architecture of surveillance, based on the ideas of Jeremy Bentham, where prisoners are placed under surveillance from a central watchtower. The visibility, however, is one-way; there may or may not be a guard present but the subject must therefore behave as if being watched at all times. This is a form of power that operates in a similar way to the notion of ‘eyes on the street’, with the important difference that the gaze is the singular hierarchical gaze of the state rather than the multiple self-organized gazes of a community. The similarity lies in the principle of asymmetrical visibility – if you know you might be being watched, then you will behave as if you were being watched. This is a general theory of how power operates through disciplinary technology and the gaze; it is not only about crime, but also about the production of normalized subjects. Disciplinary society irons out differences through the enforcement of authorized and standardized norms. When such forms of technology prevail in public space the threat is that they destroy the very differences that are productive of urban intensities. Many major cities are now relatively saturated with CCTV cameras that exhibit the same structure of one-way visibility (Fig. 5.7). There is little doubt that this works

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Fig. 5.7  The panoptic city – Sydney (Photo: Elek Pafka)

as a supplement to natural surveillance and plays a key role in the policing of public space. Its effectiveness relies upon people knowing they are being watched, cameras are often supplemented by signage drawing attention to them. There are legitimate reasons for concern about the prevalence of CCTV in public space, but also reasons to defend it. The key danger with CCTV is that the data can be used to stop political activities that the state does not condone, along with eccentric behaviour that might seem to pose a threat to public order. The line between crime and urban creativity can be fluid; for instance street art will not flourish under the gaze of CCTV (see Chapter 23). A significant part of the intensity of urban life comes from the sense of uncertainty and anonymity. This is not a right to privacy but a right to the city, a right to anonymity – to lose oneself in the crowd. Foucault’s critique of panoptic surveillance techniques is that they are deployed by the state to enforce a disciplinary regime: that they iron out differences between people. On the other hand there is little doubt that just like ‘eyes on the street’, CCTV makes public space safer and a safe city is one that is safe for creative differences to emerge. The dangers and benefits of CCTV depend to a significant degree on the political context of democratic control over access to the data. The over-exposed city is a condition of the twenty-first century where everyone carries a video camera in their phone and the imagery of key events often appears almost immediately on mass media. This is the encounter model of crime control at work, an extension of ‘eyes on the street’ as self-organized surveillance. Foucault’s critique of surveillance as the eradication of difference is a powerful one, but the prevalence of eyes and cameras on our streets does not necessarily flatten or normalize urban life. The city is a place of publicity; the right to the city is not a right to privacy.

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6

Drama

Fig. 6.1  Florence

Lefebvre’s much-heralded phrase ‘right to the city’ invokes the right of citizens to appropriate public space beyond the instrumental functions of getting from home to work and shopping (Lefebvre 1996). This involves the right to utilize the city for fun, play, drama and political events that have not been choreographed by authorities. In parallel with thinkers like Sennett and Jacobs, Lefebvre brings a critique of the effects of modernity on the city, particularly the functionalism and determinism that reduces the sense of possibility in public space. Lefebvre was associated with the Situationists, a group of political activists in Paris in the 1960s with the catchphrase ‘under the pavement, the beach’ (Sadler 1999). While this was partly an excuse for tearing up the cobblestones, the beach was a metaphor for a place of freedom and fluidity. The beach is a place where we take off our shoes and some of our clothes;


we discard the roles and cares of everyday urban life. It is a place of fun, relaxation and hedonism, where the instrumental values of the city don’t prevail. ‘Under the pavement, the beach’ expresses the desire for a city that incorporates more fun, art and drama along with all the production and commerce.

Performance Jacobs (1961) uses the phrase ‘place ballet’ to refer to the ways that everyday urban life becomes a drama that is at once patterned yet unpredictable. There is a blurring of actors and audiences where we are acting in the scene we are watching; our roles are embodied in the habitus, geared to the situation and its spatial setting. In his book The Ludic City Quentin Stevens (2007) argues that urban play encompasses the full range of non-instrumental uses of public space. Urban play is often spontaneous and improvisational; it involves forms of action and productions of meaning that are creative and generally unforeseen by urban designers. Stevens argues that there is a micro-geography of play that is drawn to the pathways, nodes and flows of pedestrian life – to the edges of public space (where it becomes part of the ‘edge effect’), and to major thresholds between spaces. Urban play adapts to the microscale design of public space where street furniture, public art, stairs, bridges, trees, slopes and walls can be used as props. Through its insertion into the choreography of everyday work-life, urban play also operates as social critique of everyday life and as a means of inventing new social practices. Urban play is experimental and innovative, testing the boundaries of existing rules and inventing new forms of action in public space. Urban play works against what Sennett (1994) has described as the withdrawal from public life: its neutralization. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Fig. 6.2) is a broad set of steps designed primarily to set this imposing building above the street and frame a grand entry to an institution of knowledge. It also affords generous seating for anyone to have a rest while waiting for friends or after visiting the museum. In doing so it also forms a natural audience/auditorium for street performers on the pavement below. The attractions of the museum, the flows of people and the affordance of the steps all produce this opportunity. The drama comes to where the audience is and

Fig. 6.2  The permanent audience – The Metropolitan Museum, New York

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they become audience, and sometimes performer, in response. Street performers are drawn to flows and can be disruptive of flows as a means to gather a crowd. Sometimes performances are linked to the small vacuums that are created in urban public space – the smoother spaces. The ‘living statue’ performing in Figure 6.3 has chosen the front of a bank which interrupts a strip of restaurants with outdoor eating. In this context the bank is a relative vacuum that creates this opportunity. One of the paradoxes of urban design is that a very bland interface can generate a vacuum that enables new forms of action. When smart urban design principles such as ‘active edges’ become law, they also have potential to reduce the very diversity they were initiated to enforce. The ‘activation’ of public space can produce a scarcity of space for spontaneous appropriation. I would note, however, that the value of the vacuum depends on its context; a strip of banks will always be bland and empty. This paradox can be linked to what Ignasi de Solà-Morales (1995) calls ‘terrain vague’. When public space becomes obsolete, underused or derelict over time, the meanings and functions become vague and the space becomes open to new uses and to the creative tactics of everyday life. Uselessness from one perspective becomes opportunity from another. In his book The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau (1984) suggests that disciplinary regimes are never as deterministic as Foucault suggests, that resistance is impossible to stop and indeed that the more totalitarian the state becomes often the more ways there are for resistance to it. The urban order is what he calls a ‘sieve’ order: it leaks. The desire of the state is always to order the city, linked to a demand for images of law and order. Order on

Fig. 6.3  Performing in a vacuum – Melbourne

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the streets works to legitimate the state, it signifies a strong state, while disorder on the streets tends to signify political disorder, signifying weakness. For Certeau different kinds of action in public space are always possible because the strategies of the state inevit­ably open up spaces for tactics of transgression. Everyday life is enlivened by spatial tactics that cut through disciplinary strategies. There is always a tension between the organized strategies of authorized action in public space and the self-organized tactics of everyday life. Iain Borden explores the ways that skateboarders exploit the hard surfaces and edges of the corporate city (Borden 2001). Financial districts that have developed without a functional mix will often have slick plazas and landscapes that are empty on evenings and weekends – which is when the skateboarders move in. Urban designers adapt these surfaces with small lugs to stop the skateboarders and this in turn becomes the new challenge. This can be construed as a dance of tactics and strategies between users and designers where each responds to the others’ moves. Skateboarders, like criminals, can be displaced to other parts of the city but are unlikely to go away. They exploit the very strategies of urban spatial production that are directed towards other functions and it is often the worst of urban designs that create the least everyday use and therefore the best opportunities. The underlying issue is again that of public interests: do the appropriations of skateboarders contribute to or disrupt public life? Is the segregation of the city into skate parks versus corporate plazas the best solution or does the urban dialectic between corporate and teenage life add something to the city?

Crowds The city produces not only spaces for play but also times such as carnival or festival when work is suspended. Carnival is a time when the definition of the situation is transformed, the normal rules of the habitus are suspended and the constraints on behaviour in public space are relaxed or overturned. Mikhail Bakhtin (1984) describes carnival as a form of safety valve, a time when people are permitted to let off a bit of steam before a workaday world is restored. Carnival is a time of hedonism when social roles are temporarily transgressed – identities are camouflaged under costumes and masks, there is a loss of self and of self-discipline as people lose themselves in the carnival crowd. The word ‘carnival’ shares an etymology with the ‘carnal’ and Bakhtin suggests carnival temporarily unleashes bodily desires; it involves consumption, a sense of abundance and desires becoming fulfilled. Everyday alienation evaporates in a sense of freedom, equality and social solidarity. If there is a sense of liberation here it is also temporary; we return to the former identities, behaviours and masks. In his book Crowds and Power Elias Canetti (1962) also explores this liberating capacity embodied in crowds in public space. The normal principles of proxemics largely dissolve in a big crowd. The fear of being touched by strangers can reverse so that we get a thrill (often joy mixed with fear) from being in this close proximity

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with large numbers of strangers. Canetti suggests that the differences that normally divide us in everyday life – distinctions of social class, ethnicity and age – dissolve in a crowd. He distinguishes between what he calls open and closed crowds. An open crowd is like fire with a contagious energy that wants to grow and spread in public space. Such crowds have an allure but they are also potentially destructive. Examples here would include political demonstrations where the desire of the crowd is to become larger, to bring political change, to gain power (see Chapter 15). Political crowds are often mobile: they gather in one place and move towards another, growing as they go, embodying the idea of change and progress. The kinds of celebrations that occur for New Year or after major sporting victories can be similar with an escalation of crowd size, density and energy with attendant risks of escalating out of control. Canetti contrasts this with the closed crowd – a stabilized version of the same thing, possibly enclosed in a stadium or contained in time as an event. This is an organized crowd with institutional control. When a crowd acts collectively it embodies power, and the image of the crowd also signifies power. The power of crowds and carnivals has both political and economic implications. An important part of the politics of public space involves attempts to harness the energy of the open crowd, perhaps to enclose it in a closed crowd or to use the imagery for political support. A good example here can be seen in Riefenstahl’s films of the Nazi rallies of the 1930s such as Triumph of the Will. The carnival, as a time of excess, is also a time of excessive spending, of splashing out. There is then an economic interest in creating an image of constant carnival in the city to stimulate consumption. The question of under what conditions a crowd might escalate out of control is a crucial one that is not easily answered. To be part of an open crowd is empowering and the prospect of some kind of threat to the urban order cannot be easily dismissed.

Smooth/Striated The task of designing public space is one of designing for indeterminacy, chance encounter, productive play, the thrill of the crowd and urban intensities of selforganized pedestrian life within a framework of social norms, formal constrains and disciplinary regimes. This brings me back to the conceptual framework of the twofold that was introduced earlier. Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) distinction between the rhizome and the tree is at once about forms of thinking, forms of action and forms of public space. The rhizome is a root-based plant that migrates horizontally, usually underground and unseen, to sprout in new locations depending on opportunity. The tree, by contrast, is an organized whole; it has a stem with a hierarchy of branches, leaves and flowers that are all dependent on the stem. Everyday life in public space is at once rhizomic and tree-like, smooth and striated. Smooth space is a slippery space like the sea, where although territories may be imposed or even marked, strict control is difficult. Striation by contrast links to the idea of stricture and stringency, where a territorial order has been imposed. Imagine a public beach at dawn after

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Fig. 6.4  Smooth and striated beaches

the tide has washed away all of the territorial markings of the previous day – the traces of use, the footprints, campsites and sand castles. Then over the day the beach becomes territorialized and appropriated. Such territorializations may be rhizomic and self-organized or the result of an instutionalized tree-like hierarchy and privatization (Fig. 6.4). The beach beneath the pavement can be difficult to find even on the beach. Part of what is at stake here is the ways institutional control can work to produce discipline or can open up the city as a self-organized assemblage. The Melbourne Public Library (Fig. 6.5) was built in 1856 on the main civic axis of the city, set back behind fences and gates in manner that defended the public institution as a reposi­tory of knowledge from the everyday life of the street both literally and symbolically – reflected in a strict choreography of access and segmentarity of public space. The recent image of the same building shows a public space rendered smoother and available to multiple appropriations – primarily through the removal of boundaries, while producing underdetermined affordance for seating. The deeper ideologies operating here are about what public space is for, and the question of the degree to which it is open to different kinds of people and practices, to new forms of appropriation. Such twofold concepts resonate with distinctions between encounter

Fig. 6.5  Discipline and learning – Melbourne Public Library, 1860s and 2010s (Source: Left photo by C. B. Walker (public domain). Published in Morrison, I. (ed) (2003) A New City, Melbourne: Miegunyah, 63)

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and enclosure, between drama and discipline, tactics and strategies, underdetermination and overdetermination, loose parts and fixed structures, and between open and closed crowds. While it is important to stress one over the other at times, this is because most cities have a tendency to produce conformity and neutrality, to suppress the differences that are the very wellspring of everyday urban life.

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7

Interface

Fig. 7.1  East Village, New York

Having discussed the crucial role of the edges of public space, I now want to focus on the design of this public–private interface – the between zone where private becomes public and architecture becomes urban design. I begin here with a seminal essay by Benjamin and Lacis – a set of observations and interpretations of street life in the slums of Naples in 1924 where they introduce the notion of socio-spatial porosity (Benjamin and Lacis 1978). Porosity has become a much used and abused term in urban design discourse – sometimes a synonym for network permeability, other times referring to buildings with lots of holes in them. In the original essay porosity involved the transgression of social, spatial and temporal boundaries with a focus on the ways that spaces of domesticity and production interpenetrate and become blurred to produce an intensity of street life as ‘theatre’. This was in some ways a precursor to Jacobs’ (1961) notion of the front stoop as ‘place ballet’. This quality of porosity is one where the public–private interface is highly porous


to flows of people and things; where the private gaze onto the street and from the street into private space is intense; where domestic life and productive life flow into the street and where public life penetrates into domestic space. In Benjamin and Lacis’ account of Naples, workshops, kitchens and living areas open directly onto the street, which is hung with washing and overlooked by balconies at many levels. Every doorway, gateway and balcony becomes both a stage and a box for an urban theatre. Linked to adaptation and a provisional quality of everyday urban life, ‘porosity results above all from the passion for improvisation’ (Benjamin and Lacis 1978: 168). These observations were linked to the Neapolitan morphology of cafes, workshops, balconies and entry courts under conditions of high density and poverty, but the morphology survives and many of the practices remain evident today (Fig. 7.2). Part of the promise in understanding interfaces is that we get closer to understanding the potential of thresholds as places of becoming and transformation. With this concept of porosity in mind I want to explore the ways in which we might think about the public–private interface in more general terms. If there is a general lesson about porosity, it is not that everyone should live with such close proximity to the street, but that we understand that the intensity of street life is strongly geared to interface design. Jan Gehl has long classified such interfaces along a continuum of ‘soft’ (social, permeable, active) versus ‘hard’ (antisocial, impermeable, dead) based on social attraction (Gehl 1987; Gehl and Gemzoe 1996). He incorporates such factors as transparency, activity, diversity, design quality and grain size to produce

Fig. 7.2  Porosity – Spanish quarter, Naples

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a five-part facade typology that ranges from ‘active’ edges with a high frequency of entrances and design detailing, to ‘passive’ facades with few entries and little design detail (Gehl, Johansen and Reigstad 2006). This analysis is normative and geared primarily to diagnose and eliminate blank, passive and antisocial facades in favour of active edges.

Types A more descriptive typology that incorporates such criteria yet is not a continuum I developed with my colleague Stephen Wood (Dovey and Wood 2015). We argue that the key criteria for the public–private interface are permeability, transparency, setback and car-dependency. Permeability establishes access or lack thereof: transparency mediates the public gaze into private space; setback creates a publicly accessible but legally private interstitial space. The final criterion is the question of whether the car or pedestrian dominates as a mode of entry. This results in a five-part typology as diagrammed in Figure 7.3. The black and white arrows represent access and visibility respectively with a plan on the left and a section on the right. Beginning from the top, the ‘impermeable/blank’ type is effectively the ‘hard/passive’ end of Gehl’s continuum. ‘Direct/opaque’ involves an entry directly on the street but without transparency. ‘Direct/transparent’ is the one we are most familiar with as a shopfront. The ‘pedestrian setback’ with a semi-private social space between the street and private space has many variations but is most familiar as the residential garden interface. The final type here is the ‘car setback’ where pedestrians effectively enter through a carpark. Examples of each type are shown in Figure 7.4.

Fig. 7.3  Five interface types (Source: Dovey and Wood 2015)

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Fig. 7.4  Interface examples

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While these are useful types for urban analysis, they are not archetypes or ideal types. The city produces a myriad different interface conditions with many ambiguities between them; the task is not to eliminate the multiplicity but to conceptualize such differences as a means of understanding how the city works. Impermeable facades can be construed as bland but they are not all blank or non-functional (Fig. 7.4A). While they exclude pedestrians, they include garage doors and black holes that may be primary car entries. They include boundaries like chain-link fences and glass walls of showrooms that are transparent but offer no access. Impermeable interfaces become the setting for billboards and street art. The direct/opaque entrance is one where the pedestrian knocking on the door or pressing the bell is effectively standing in public space (Fig. 7.4B). This is common for apartment buildings and many offices but also private housing, especially courtyard housing in the Middle-East where privacy is more strictly regulated. The form may be a fence, wall or a building but the public–private interface is effectively the same type. The direct/transparent interface that we mostly recognize as the shopfront is produced by practices of exchange (Fig. 7.4C). It proliferates adjacent to high pedestrian flows where the close gaze of passers-by enables the display of goods and a strong inside–outside relation. It is linked to the seeing of goods and the smelling of food. This very basic relation of pedestrian flows as a tangent to items of desire is a major driver of urban morphology – it is a machinic relation at the scale of the human senses that produces desires. It has to be direct and transparent for these sensory connections to work. In the streets of Pompeii one can see how little about this interface has changed over the millennia (Fig. 7.4C, left). Setback interfaces are those where the main entry to private space is via a semi-public setback. While the key distinction for direct interfaces is one of transparency, for setbacks the key issue becomes mode of access – do pedestrians or cars dominate the interstitial space between street and private space; is it primarily a social space such as a garden/ courtyard or is it primarily a car park? The pedestrian setback can occur across many scales but at least a metre is necessary to achive an interstitial space that is also a social space. The car setback interface is one where the interstitial space is primarily devoted to the car and pedestrian entry becomes secondary – the entrance transition is effectively through a car park (Fig. 7.4E). This is the type of interface produced for the car-dependent city, even housing and shopping strips, especially when urban controls enforce the provision of off-street parking. The five interface types outlined here are not a simple continuum from the blank wall to the active edge and there are many ambiguities – transparent/ opaque, setback/direct and permeable/impermeable are continua rather than binary categories. There are many variations that lie between the categories presented here: semi-transparency (the high but somewhat open picket fence), semi-setbacks (limiting potential social exchange), ambiguous ‘back’ entries and the mixing of cars and pedestrians (garden/carpark). The task is not one of reducing the city to types but of constructing a diagrammatic understanding of the primary forces that mediate interaction between private and public space. While the interface types

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Fig. 7.5  Secondary interfaces

become identified with particular functions, they each enable and constrain a range of practices across the mixed-use triangle of work, live and visit. There is also an issue of scale to be understood here because no matter what type of interface mediates the legal public–private boundary, this is often just the threshold to a further set of secondary public–private interfaces within a privately controlled urban development (Fig. 7.5; also 18.2). In other words the primary interface may give access to a multiplicity of secondary interfaces that are accessed from quasi-public space. This is the case with housing projects, shopping malls and arcades, office buildings, industrial estates, theme parks and so on. All of the types introduced above may then appear as secondary interfaces within privately owned developments. All secondary interface systems plug into the public network and they do so utilizing all of the types outlined above.

Mapping The public–private interface has long been a highly salient urban design issue: crucial for Jacobs, Alexander, Lynch, Newman and Gehl. The variables of access, setback, transparency and car-dependency are rooted in this earlier literature. It is notable, however, that compared to other dimensions of urban design analysis, interface types are rarely mapped. This is primarily because the interface is not a thing but a complex set of relations and forces; within assemblage thinking interface types can be construed as ‘diagrams’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 141) that are abstract and somewhat ‘machinic’ in that they involve a productive gearing of forms to functions.

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The interface types provide or prohibit access and the penetrations of the public gaze; they enable and constrain privacy and publicity. Interface assemblages are forms of social and economic production and reproduction. Plate 2 maps part of the inner-city of Melbourne, where patterns of direct transparent interface (blue) can be seen along the main streets with pedestrian setbacks (green), direct opaque (orange) and impermeable (grey) interfaces more common in the back streets. The car setbacks (purple) are most common in industrial areas. This is a highly mixed fabric; the same typology mapped onto a typical suburb may be entirely green or purple depending on the level of car-dependency. The degree to which interface types are geared to functions is clearly a crucial issue. Residential properties are primarily geared to pedestrian setback and direct opaque interfaces at different densities; small-grain retail is highly dependent on the transparent direct interface; small-grain industry and commerce are often geared to direct opaque and car setbacks. Manufacturing is linked to direct opaque, car setbacks and blank interfaces. These gearings, however, are also mediated by grain size because large-grain functions of any kind (factories, car parks, retail) tend to produce blank–impermeable interfaces. High levels of car-dependency will tend to produce blank facades or car setbacks for any function except small-grain retail. A concentration of car-dependent interfaces can generate a syndrome of density without intensity. Conversely, as we move towards a low-carbon city and car-dependency declines, car setbacks will become available for adaptive transformation.

Adaptations The design of the public–private interface is a crucial dimension of architectural practice, and while innovation should be promoted, it can also fail. The IJplein housing project in Amsterdam is designed by Rem Koolhaas with a slightly lowered setback space that opens off the living spaces of a row of apartments (Fig. 7.6). The setback space for every apartment is bridged by someone else’s entry stairs. This was an attempt to urbanize the interface and generate random social encounter between different households across this interface; however, the effect is to strip the interface and its setback of almost any sense of sociality. It demonstrates a form of urban design thinking that seeks to understand the typical in order to reconfigure it; however, here the desire to urbanize has produced an anti-urban outcome. A good example of innovation is the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York designed by Steven Holl, an exhibition space that opens directly with large swing panels to incorporate the pavement during events (Fig. 7.7). When the panels are open the broad pavement is partially blocked by the protruding panels and public space is appropriated; the blurring between public and private becomes a key to the success in a manner that parallels successful pavement dining. When the place is closed the interface is impermeable and becomes a surface for artworks and for advertising the exhibitions. Here we have a very hard boundary when the panels are closed and a blurred boundary when they are open; this is also a conversion

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Fig. 7.6  Scrambling the interface – lJplein, Amsterdam (Architect: Rem Koolhaas OMA)

from direct opaque to direct transparent. The adaptability of interfaces over daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms is a crucial dimension of interface design and a key reason for understanding them as types – the adaptations are generally from one type to another. There are many ambiguities between types that involve sociospatial rhythms: shops with roller doors overnight; windows with curtains; a door or garage that becomes an after-hours entry. Rather than eliminate such ambiguities the task is to reveal the latent dynamism of the public–private interface, the potential for change and adaptation from one type to another. The interface needs to be seen as a complex adaptive system with high levels of self-organization. The formal

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Fig. 7.7  Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York (Architect: Steven Holl)

types become adapted to different functions over time and the functions adapt to the morphology of the interface types – all dependent on pedestrian flows. This intersection of forms, functions and flows is a variation of the urban DMA principles outlined in earlier chapters. The forms that emerge from different densities and building types are in synergy with the mix of functions that either do or don’t need privacy, and both are dependent on the flows of pedestrian life. Changes to access occur when pedestrian access is created or blocked: new enterprises or houses may open through blank frontages as large-grain functions devolve into smaller ones. Existing entries may be closed when plots become consolidated or premises are closed down. Rear entries and garages may become main entries for new enterprises. Such changes are driven by changing economic and social circumstances; increased pedestrian flows may open up new markets, changing functions and enterprises may require new entry protocols and expressions of identity. Setback adaptations occur when the effective boundary between public and private is moved, such as when a high opaque front fence is constructed in front of a setback – the semi-public space is eliminated and the type is converted. This may be a response to traffic or a desire for privacy or security. Increased pedestrian flows on streets with setbacks can produce a market for shops with direct–transparent interfaces. The elimination of ‘no man’s land’ setbacks on housing estates as proposed by Newman (1972) and others often entails a conversion from setback to direct. Changes of transparency are the easiest to effect and to reverse, often on a daily rhythm. In general, transparency is necessary for exchange (social and commercial)

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Fig. 7.8  Interface adaptations – Bogota, Melbourne, Brisbane

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and consumption, but it can be a problem for production and domestic space. Adaptation between modes of access occurs when there is a shift between wheels and feet as the primary mode of entry across the legal public–private boundary: from drive-in/drive-out to pedestrian interface or vice versa. Increased traffic flows can lead to conversion of front entries and gardens to car parks, often driven by changes of function from residential to retail or commercial. Garage entries that are impermeable to pedestrians can be adapted into shopfronts either permanently or on an alternating car/pedestrian rhythm. Finally, there are forms of adaptation that convert primary interface types into secondary interface systems where multiple occupancies are accessed through the interface – moving the effective meet and greet functions of the entrance to a deeper level. While there are many possible adaptations from one type to another, it is notable that the impermeable interface – so often denigrated as inactive and bland – has the greatest adaptability. Figure 7.8 shows examples of adaptations of impermeable interfaces converted to direct or setback types: garage doors and factories can become shopfronts, cafes and offices. When we consider such forms of adaptation together with the daily rhythms of adaptation they become practically impossible to map, yet this is a key dimension through which the city works. Urban design codes have long incorporated an enforcement of active edges and the eradication of blank interfaces in some locations. Suburban codes regularly enforce setbacks and some urban codes require a direct interface on the property line. Retail synergies rely on a consistency of direct transparent interfaces – hence the eradication of blank, setback and car-based interfaces from the private shopping mall. Yet the enforcement of interface type (as in the suburbs) limits both the diversity of interface flows within that zone and the potential for adaptation. While there is no one-for-one relation between interface and function, codes that enforce uniformity of one also tend to enforce a uniformity of the other. This is a conundrum for urban design, indeed part of a much larger conundrum about what forms of urban regulation best enable the emergence of a multiplicity of functions. A key reason why secondary interface systems need to be treated separately from the primary ones outlined here is that they fall under private codes – the collective private governance of an institution, shopping mall or body corporate. In such cases the scope for interface adaptability will be different – the shop within the shopping mall and the house within the enclave are generally subject to strict functional mix formulae and private covenants respectively (see chapters on Privatization, Shopping Malls and Enclaves). At the same time there is scope for secondary interface systems to become more flexible than public controls. Porosity is a sponge-like quality of the public–private interface at the urban design scale with a multiplicity of flows across the interface. It is a quality whereby private space becomes an extension of the street and vice versa. The kind of porosity observed by Benjamin and Lacis was not only linked to poverty but also to a pre-modern integration between work and play, between private and public space. They argued that under conditions of poverty this porosity becomes a resource,

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a form of productive richness in the midst of poverty. It is an interpenetration of buildings and actions, an urban drama where every doorway, gateway and balcony becomes both a stage and a box for an urban theatre. The interface was later celebrated by Jacobs in terms of ‘eyes on the street’, the creative use of sidewalks and stoops and the aesthetic of the ‘place ballet’, yet this is also the dimension of her work that has been least developed. The mapping of functions, permeability/ walkability, grain size and density together with analysis of their interrelations are now stock in trade for urban design analysis; interfaces need to be added to this list.

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8

Type

Fig. 8.1  Dubrovnik

Typology is the classification of any field into typical subsets; in the case of urban design it is generally a quest to understand the basic building blocks of the city and the language of urban morphology. I want to begin with two warnings about typological thinking in urban design. The first is to make the distinction between what is typical and what is essential – between types and archetypes. Archetypal thinking involves a search for universal or essential types, a quest that embodies issues to which I will return after discussing the typical. The second warning is that as a descriptive framework for understanding the city there is good deal of confusion in our understanding of types. At the architectural scale there is confusion between functional types (such as a house) and formal types (such as a tower); there are distinctions between archetypes (with deeply rooted meanings) and ideal types (models to be copied); there are also distinctions of scale between types of buildings, streets and neighbourhoods. It is not easy to unravel this mix of form, function and meaning, but the core of the concept is the practice of repetition – typology analyses typical conditions: types are forms, functions and meanings that are repeated. One analogy here is typography; when we type the letter ‘T’ on a keyboard it repeats a similar form each time. We may change the typeface and the point size, choose bold or italic, but the type and its effect within the word and sentence remains relatively constant, albeit with different semantic effects in different contexts. There are limits to this analogy but it may help us understand the definition of type in the context of built form, where it performs a similar role, and is likewise defined by a mix of form, function and meaning. A type is a bundle of interconnected parts that has congealed


in a manner that enables repetition; it cannot be reduced to its parts because it is the whole that enables us to recognize the type.

Typology of Types A simple way of understanding urban types is through a typology of six formal types (Fig. 8.2). The first three derive from Lerup (1976) and are essentially housing types: the pavilion (a building surrounded by open space); courtyard (a building surrounding an open space); and row (a series of contiguous buildings in a line). The pavilion as a type is typical of suburbia, with detached houses surrounded by a garden. The type is linked to both density and ideology; the ideal of the suburb is geared to the expression of individual identity that is enabled by this type. Urban types link ideals and ideologies to identities – the ‘id’ words that suggest something unconscious is being played out – in this case the ideology of detachment that drives suburban development. The courtyard as a building type is the inverse of the pavilion with a void surrounded by building. Densities can be much higher because of efficient use of open space with high levels of privacy; there is little scope for expression of identity with a very different public–private interface. The courtyard embodies an ideology of concealment and separation between public and private space. The row type is a linear strip with buildings that generally face a street with a clear front and rear. It is

Fig. 8.2  Typology of types (Photos: Google Earth/Geo Eye (lower centre); Elek Pafka (lower left))

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linked into a regulatory framework of party walls on both sides, produced out of a desire to give each building a street frontage while maximizing density. While the row type is common for housing and shops, it is formal rather than functional. There are, of course, many variations that mix the formal characteristics of pavilion, courtyard and row, but before we consider some of them I want to extend this typology. If the pavilion, courtyard and row can be considered as basic building types at the smaller scale, it can be useful to see the tower, perimeter block and slab as urban types at the larger scale. The tower is a little like the pavilion extruded vertically, a form within a void. As we saw in the density chapter, the tower does not necessarily achieve density but it does establish identity. The perimeter block is basically a courtyard at the scale of a city block that may or may not be formed by a ring of row types. The perimeter block is the primary way that cities become high-density without becoming high-rise. It is what happens when street frontages develop from rows into a dense crust with a hollow centre. The final type here is the slab block – a type that was largely invented during early twentieth-century modernism. This is a largely horizontal urban form at the scale of the city block that is not a row and is often loosely related to the street and surrounding space. The slab has its suburban correlate in the small apartment block of a similar form. There is a strong connection of type to building density. The suburban pavilion tends to produce gross densities of about ten dwellings/hectare, row housing up to about 100, perimeter blocks up to about 300 and towers up to about 1000 dwellings/hectare depending on how closely they are clustered. These figures relate to types in the formal city; informal morphologies can produce up to 600 dwellings/hectare (see Chapter 26).

Reinventing Types Innovative urban and architectural design involves the adaptation of existing types and the invention of new ones. One key site of experimentation has been the post-war reconstruction of Berlin, particularly through the IBA (International Building Exhibition) projects of the 1980s where typological innovation was encouraged within a framework of reconstructing the largely perimeter block morphology that was seriously damaged during the war. Figure 8.3 (upper) shows the bombed Kreuzberg district in 1953 and the current image shows part of this district redeveloped, keeping what remained of the former city but adding a variety of typological moves by some of the key urbanists of the late twentieth century (Fig. 8.3, lower). In the top left is a small perimeter block (architect: Herman Hertzberger) with a larger one at top right (Kollhoff and Ovaska) partly enclosed by pre-war remnants. Below that is a mix of pavilions and row housing forming a highly permeable central space that is almost a perimeter block. In the lower left is the Holocaust Museum (Daniel Libeskind), where a new type – the zig-zag slab – is invented to produce a dramatically new morphology. Borneo-Sporenburg is a waterfront district in Amsterdam that was redeveloped in the 1990s (Fig. 8.4). Here a range of different architects worked within an urban design scheme by West 8, reinventing the traditional Dutch canal house within a

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Fig. 8.3  Remember and Experiment – Kreuzberg, Berlin, 1953 (upper) and 2014. (Sources: Google Earth, NASA (upper), Geo Eye (lower))

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Fig. 8.4  Borneo-Sporenburg, Amsterdam (Urban design: West 8)

row typology but with significant levels of architectural difference. Many of the types incorporated roof terraces, courtyards and a range of interface conditions. The move towards higher densities in the suburbs coupled with nostalgia for the single-family detached house can lead to developments such as Figure 8.5, where apartment buildings are designed to look like large detached houses yet are actually attached in the rear. Old Hanoi is traditionally characterized by shop-houses on very long and thin blocks where the row types on the street frontage lead to a string of courtyards at the rear (Fig. 8.6, left). More recent and unregulated development has led to a

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Fig. 8.5  Apartment buildings as ‘detached houses’ – Hayward, California

vertical extrusion on these narrow blocks, almost to become towers (Fig. 8.6, right). Howard Davis has explored the various ways in which the shophouse as a type has emerged globally, and become geared to various kinds of functional mix and urban culture (Davis 2012). The six-fold typology I have presented is merely a conceptual framework for studying the city; there are other typologies and other types. For instance, a city like Amsterdam cannot be understood without consideration of the houseboats that line many of the inner city canals. While we might consider the boat as a vehicle rather than a fixed feature of the city, here most of them are permanent housing with their design constrained by height limits to preserve the pedestrian gaze across

Fig. 8.6  Row becomes courtyards and tower – Hanoi

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the canals. The houseboats are generally assembled into linear rows lining both streets and canals, yet doubly detached from both neighbours and site, horizontally and vertically. Again the formal type can be considered separately from function – the Amsterdam boats are variously deployed as houses, gardens and restaurants. There are many forms of urban type that are not strictly buildings. The bridge or the gateway are urban types defined by the ways a path crosses a major boundary – the typical pedestrian overpass and the Golden Gate Bridge share the same mix of form/ function that constitutes the type, albeit at vastly different scales and with different meanings. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence or the Rialto in Venice are hybrids that combine the bridge with the shopping street. The bridge is defined by the flow of movement across the boundary and the form necessary to achieve that. Note that the specific functions may differ: a bridge may carry any combination of pedestrians, bikes, cars and trains while remaining the same type.

Typomorphology The history of typological approaches to urban design suggests two main schools of thought, generally known as the Italian and British schools of typomorphology. The Italian school is identified with the work of Saverio Muratori and Gianfranco Caniggia from the 1940s (Cataldi, Maffei and Vaccaro 2002; Moudon 1994). This approach seeks to understand the city as a collection of formal types at a range of scales from the single building to a group of buildings, neighbourhood, district and metropolis. Muratori and Caniggia suggested that modernism had produced a reversal of the priority of public space over architecture; that the focus on the formal object produced a forgetting of urban context. Such urban thinking was linked to the emergence of a contextualism where architecture was to be conditioned by the prevailing typology. From this view building types are contiguous with each other at one scale but nested within larger scale types. The type is defined in terms of visual perception, by the experience of it as a figure against the ground of its context – a house within a street, street within a neighbourhood, within a district and so on. Such a multi-scalar analysis is similar in many ways to the British school of typomorphology based in the work of Michael Conzen (Moudon 1994). Here the focus is on the interrelations between types at different scales from typical buildings to typical plots and typical urban blocks which are thereby formed. While the Italian school is more focused on architectural practice and contextual design, the British school is more analytic, beyond which the differences are not substantial. There are links here to assemblage thinking, particularly in the concept of multi-scalar analysis and the emergence of morphogenetic approaches to urban design. The typomorphological approach of Muratori and Caniggia can be seen as a precursor to morphogenetic approaches that seek to understand the processes of assemblage and transformation through which an urban fabric emerges over time (Trummer 2012). For example, much traditional vernacular urbanism can be understood in terms of the variegated repetition of building and spatial types. The informal morphology of the

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Fig. 8.7  Vernacular types – Skyros, Greece

Greek town of Skyros (Fig. 8.7) was traditionally produced by the repetition of a single room with a small open porch or patio on the street frontage. It is not a pavilion type, nor strictly a row type because connections between buildings are adapted to the steep topography, with many houses partially under and over those of neighbours. While the house and interface types are repeated, the settlement morphology is largely produced by these processes of adaptation and accretion known as morphogenesis. Questions of morphogenesis in urban design thinking can be traced to the work of Patrick Geddes (1915), who brought an evolutionary perspective to the study of urban morphology, but there has not been a great deal of progress (Batty and Marshall 2009). Some of the best thinking in this regard stems from the early work of Alexander, who sought to understand all design outcomes in terms of genetic process. In a paper entitled ‘From a set of forces to a form’ Alexander (1967) suggests that what we often call a thing or object is actually an outcome of a set of forces that produce it. If we want to produce a flower, then we don’t try putting the parts together with tweezers but rather we design the seeds from which it grows. For Alexander these seeds are socio-spatial patterns that connect into a pattern language (Alexander, Ishikawa and Silverstein 1977). Socio-spatial patterns are typical assemblages of forces and forms that repeat at different scales of the city. The pattern language has a vast range that extends from construction patterns at the micro-scale, through interface patterns, street patterns to neighbourhood and metropolitan patterns. Each pattern is comprised of a set of intersecting forces, desires and constraints together with a diagram that resolves them. From our perspective here these patterns can be conceived as types, they are typical patterns of experience and everyday life that become congealed into typical urban forms. Alexander coined the phrase ‘The City is not a Tree’, he has applied such thinking to urban design (Alexander et al. 1987) and his work has a good deal in common with assemblage thinking. There is also, however, a notable a strain of essentialism that suggests one right way of designing and a set of rules to achieve it. The key value of his work, however, is that it has opened up the question of morphogenesis in a manner that is likely to prove fertile for urban design (Salingaros 2000; Mehaffy 2008).

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Ideal Types Typological thinking is generally understood to be an attempt to understand the basic building blocks of the city – thus it would seem to be somewhat essentialist and reductionist. A key distinction lies in whether one sees the type as an ideal type, a normative model or an archetype to be copied, or whether one sees the typology as a descriptive tool used to analyse and understand the city. The approach to urban design that is loosely known as ‘rationalism’ is one where formal types are separated from function and linked to deeper truths of pure form and geometry that are independent of perception and experience (Broadbent 1990; Ellin 1996). Such an approach in urban design and architecture is often labelled ‘rationalist’ because of the way it opposes the ‘empiricism’ of those who seek to legitimate built form on the evidence of experience. Aldo Rossi (1982), Rob Krier (1980) and others have pursued the use of large-scale geometric forms in the city – circles, triangles, squares and their extrusions into cylinders, vaults, cubes and pyramids. Rossi was influenced by typomorphologists such as Muratori but he felt that modernism’s detachment of architecture from the urban context was irreversible and that the focus on pure form offered a kind of redemption for architecture from the ravages of capitalism and tyranny. Types for Rossi are detached from function yet are geared to the collective historical memory of the city; they are the figures within the urban fabric that persist through the changes of technologies, markets and political regimes to constitute the being of a city and its memory (Boyer 1996). In this sense ideal types are seen to embody intrinsic values and a promise of authenticity. Rossi was interested in the way in which a type could gain a certain meaning and use at one moment in history, but then become reappropriated as new functions and political regimes take hold. From such a view this is the way pyramids, domes, squares and obelisks take hold of the public imagination, stick in the mind and are ripe to be reappropriated after the circumstances of their construction have passed. Piazza Navona in Rome began as a chariot-race track and has become one of the world’s great public plazas; the elongated oval shape was produced by the desire to watch chariot races, yet the value of the plaza both remembers and outlives the reasons for which it was produced. ‘Rationalism’ in urban design theory is not to be confused with the use of reasoned argument – the intrinsic value of the ideal form paradoxically supersedes reason. It is sometimes contrasted with the ‘empirical’ approach of those such as Alexander and Lynch who are more interested in how the city is experienced in the here and now (Alexander et al. 1987; Lynch 1972). While Rossi’s work on collective memory is quite profound, his neo-Platonic claims for ideal formal types and their autonomy from economic and political forces are quite unfounded. A typological approach works better as a descriptive or analytic approach rather than a normative guide to good design; the value of any particular type is firmly geared to the circumstance and the context of its production, function and meaning.

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The emergence of different types in different neighbourhoods and cities is geared in complex ways to different functions, densities, cultures, climates and topographies. Typological thinking can be useful for urban design but types are inevitably simplifications of very complex assemblages. Compare the six-part typology introduced here with that in the interfaces chapter where I described five typical interface assemblages. In both cases the types are formal spatial configurations: the interface types are formal relationships (setback, transparency and permeability), while the building types are more like formal objects. But the urban object emerges and congeals into a type as a result of complex forces. The types outlined here are clusters of connections, alliances and relationships that have stabilized in the forms of pavilions and towers, courtyards and perimeter blocks, rows and slabs, bridges and boats, streets and blocks. Types are assemblages, patterns of typical connectivity that are at once wholes and parts of larger urban assemblages. Types are diagrammatic in the sense that they comprise a cluster of related forces that are productive of the larger assemblage. The detached suburban house emerges from the desires for privacy, front and back gardens, car entry, household identity, status and so on. The tower emerges from desires for density, profit, prominence, commanding views and so on (see Chapter 20). These types also serve to drive the larger assemblage of streets, neighbourhoods and districts. The critique of urban design as seen through the lens of typology has no clear limits. We can talk about street types (freeway, laneway, boulevard, arcade or cul-de-sac), transport types (foot, cycle, car, train, tram or boat). We can talk about project and precinct types: stadiums, corporate towers, gated enclaves, theme parks and shopping malls. In later chapters we will return to some of these. Typological thinking can easily become formularized as a thoughtless repetition of types, or it can become one of the analytic tools we use to interrogate the city and critique the practices of thoughtless repetition. In his book Difference and Repetition Deleuze (1968) makes a case for understanding repetition not as a repetition of identities but as productive of identity. Assemblage thinking involves an ontology where differences (relationships) precede identities (things, objects); difference in itself is productive of identity rather than being a difference between pre-existing identities. It is not things that are different from each other: it is differences that produce things. Repetition is practised through habit and is largely unselfconscious; typological thinking can help in drawing attention to mindless repetition and to opportunities for urban innovation. Repetition can be creative, like the refrain of a song where the same structure is repeated and renewed with each new verse.

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9

Image

Fig. 9.1  Paris

Legibility In the next few chapters I want to open up a complex set of issues about the ways in which we read the city, the ways it becomes more or less legible and the role of urban design in the production of narratives. How do images of the city form in the mind’s eye; how do we imagine urban public space? How does the city work as text? How do we read the city and how legible or transparent is it? I want to begin here with the early seminal work of Kevin Lynch (1960) in The Image of the City, where he asks how the city becomes legible to us, how we form an image of the city in our heads, how we ‘imagine’ it. In order to navigate and get our spatial bearings we produce a cognitive map that renders the city legible – a synthesis of everyday experience that is embellished as we become more familiar with a city. Lynch suggested that there are five ‘elements’ of the urban image – paths, nodes, landmarks, districts and edges – a set that has since become seminal to urban design theory. ‘Paths’ are the channels of movement through the city whether by foot, car or public transport.


Paths register in our minds through our movement through them, and also from the fact that streets are primary elements on any map. ‘Nodes’ are those sites where there is an intensity of intersecting pathways; places of intense encounter. Paths are punctuated with nodes. ‘Landmarks’ are those elements that stand out as figures against the ground of the urban context, a phenomenon that is linked to gestalt psychology which suggests we perceive our world by organizing it into figures that stand out from a surrounding ground – identities that emerge from differences. Landmarks may stand out through differences in bulk, height, colour, form or even a void within a dense urban context. Landmarks mark the land through their relative differences from their contexts – what we see is not a thing but a relationship of difference: it is this difference that catches the eye and registers as an image in the mind. ‘Districts’ are patches of the city that are perceived as different to their surroundings, identified by consistencies of texture or character within the urban fabric. A district is often a mixture of urban form (building type, height and density), function (retail, entertainment, financial, industrial) and everyday life (intensity, types of people). Districts are not necessarily bounded or clearly distinguished from each other. The clear boundaries between parts of the city are what Lynch calls ‘edges’ – barriers to movement that include rivers, coastlines, walls, freeways, railways and escarpments. Lynch’s rather simply defined ‘elements’ have become seminal to urban design thinking because they resonate with everyday thinking and experience. If someone asks you how to get somewhere across the city, you will probably use a combination of paths, landmarks, nodes and edges to help them get oriented. This, however, is not a simple typology because the elements are not mutually exclusive. The closer one looks, the more the differences between them dissolve. A node is an intersection of paths and is often also a district. A major path may become a district or an edge to a district. A path at metropolitan scale (freeway) becomes an edge at neighbourhood scale. There is no objective sense in which this is a complete set of elements. Lynch’s study is of largely car-based American cities and registers the urban plaza as a node (Lynch 1960: 78). If it were based on European or Asian cities a slightly different set may emerge. In my view this blurring and mixing of the elements is not a defect in the typology, rather it is a crucial aspect of how cities work. It is much more the case that the attempt to treat them as discrete elements that may be assembled to design a good city can be a defect of urban design thinking. Lynch’s focus on the perceptual image and legibility of the cityscape has an antecedent in Camillo Sitte’s nineteenth-century study of European cities and plazas (Collins and Collins 1965). Sitte conceived of urban space as a kind of theatre: a plaza should have public action at its centre and be visible from any point within it; this sense of drama was seen as enhanced through the enclosure by buildings and oblique pathways of entry. He opposed the regular legible grid in favour of more informal street networks. This line of perceptual thinking was also developed in the work of Gordon Cullen (1961) through the concept of ‘serial vision’. Cullen sought to understand the complex ways in which urban experience unfolds for the mobile

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pedestrian subject, arguing that a diversity of different forms and spaces experienced over time enriches the emotional and aesthetic impact of the city. This was particularly focused on differences of openness and enclosure as one moves through narrow pathways and small public spaces to larger streets and open spaces. A key problem with such approaches is that the attempt to create such streetscape effects through urban design easily falls into a production of picturesque scenography – where the city becomes reduced to a picture that tells an authorized story. All such theory becomes problematic when the line is crossed from urban design analysis into practice, when we move uncritically from the question of ‘what makes the city legible?’ to ‘how can we make the city legible?’ Legibility is the degree to which spatial orientation within the city is accessible to outsiders – it makes the city easy to learn but it is scarcely an unmitigated good. Cullen’s notion of serial vision celebrates the aesthetic of illegibility, or at least the joys of discovering the city one street and place at a time (Fig. 9.2; see also Figs 12.1 and 26.7). Lynch suggests ‘there is some value in mystification, labyrinth, or surprise … but only where there is no danger of long-term disorientation’ (1960: 5–6). There is no need to make a choice between a highly legible urban grid (like Manhattan) and a labyrinth (like Venice) since both frame highly valuable forms of urbanity. Yet the long-term danger of the quest for legibility, beyond the boredom of formularized urban design, is that we misrecognize these perceptual wholes as elements from which to build the city like a kit of parts, while forgetting that they are the emergent wholes. The usefulness of Lynch’s typology lies in the ways we read and analyse the city more than the ways we design it. His work was influenced by gestalt theories of perception, what his mentor Gyorgy Kepes saw as a universal ‘Language of Vision’ (Kepes 1944). The ‘gestalt’ is a whole that emerges as more than an aggregate of parts (Arnheim 1954). What unites this mix of landmarks, nodes, paths, edges and districts is that they are all perceptual wholes that interact to form the image of the city. They all draw upon gestalt perceptual tendencies to construct identities out of

Fig. 9.2  The lure of the labyrinth – Yazd, Iran

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differences. William James (1910) famously described the sensory world as ‘one great blooming, buzzing confusion’ out of which we learn to construct a world of objects or things. These things or elements stand out, like landmarks, as forms of ‘information’. Gregory Bateson (2000: 459) suggests that ‘information is a difference that makes a difference’. The landmark is a difference between figure and ground, and it makes a difference because we use it to navigate the city. What we recognize as nodes, paths, districts and boundaries are differences that we see as identities because they help us form a cognitive map of the city. It is the relationships that matter: to see these elements as ‘things-in-themselves’ is to misrecognize them. None of this is to suggest that one cannot use such a framework for thinking through the ways that cities succeed or fail, or for urban design approaches. Roger Trancik (1986) uses the phrase ‘linkage theory’ to talk about the ways in which a particular linear element of the city (often a path, river or coastline) can be used to organize and link a series of urban design approaches. The analogy is the musical staff – an abstract framework of lines along which different frequencies, rhythms, volumes and instruments can be organized within a given key. A major linear element of the city may link a series of nodes, districts and landmarks along a path that may also be an urban edge. The metaphor of the musical staff reminds us that there are as many kinds of music as there are cities or neighbourhoods. Thus legibility is a means of organizing the city and of orienting ourselves within it. We often call a city legible when it has been organized from above with a regular street grid and long straight vistas; the illegible city is often self-organized with the street network emerging from local adaptation.

Transparency In his later work Lynch (1981) introduces the concept of urban transparency – the capacity to read and learn from the city in everyday life. To what degree can we read the city in order to understand what’s going on – the social life, the ways things are produced, exchanged and consumed? Can we smell the foods, hear the conversations and see the construction sites? In this sense the city is like a large school that can be understood as we encounter it and move through it. When we walk through the streets of poorer cities or the disadvantaged neighbourhoods of richer cities, we often find a relatively transparent city where there are too few resources for much to be hidden (Fig. 9.3; also Figs 26.3 and 7.2). Domestic life and informal trading often occurs in public space and there is little scope for urban design images and regimes to be established and maintained. Much of what we call urban design involves the establishment of an authorized sense of order. Poorer cities often lack the resources to impose order, so you see more of what’s going on. The question of transparency can also be extended to the meanings of built form and open space.

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Fig. 9.3  Transparency – Mumbai

Iconography While Lynch’s work on the image of the city is seminal, it is very weak on questions of meaning. While this weakness was addressed in his later work to some degree, the issues surrounding the meaning of urban imagery have become far more important since the rise of globalization and neoliberal urbanism from the 1970s. While I will return to these issues in later chapters, for now I want to briefly discuss the idea of urban iconography. An icon refers to the ways we behave towards an image as if it was something else. The word ‘icon’ originally meant a graven image – mounted on a wall, altar or mountain – to be worshipped as if it were a god. Thus it was an image that represented something transcendent. The icon now has a wider meaning as the part that stands for the whole (also known in semiotic theory as synecdoche), as when one building or place is seen to represent a larger building or place. This is the way in which Big Ben stands for London and Britain, the Statue of Liberty for New York and the USA, Tiananmen Square for Beijing and China, the Eiffel Tower for Paris and France, Christ the Redeemer for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. Such meanings are not established by dictionaries or authorities but are constructed by the ways in which they are used – the part comes to stand for the whole. Yet the image is not innocent, it evokes a story or narrative. The Statue of Liberty also stands for ideals of ‘liberty’, the Eiffel Tower and Tiananmen for ‘modernity’, the Redeemer for ‘Christianity’ and so on. An iconoclast is one who seeks to destroy an idea through

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Fig. 9.4  Stari-Most Bridge, Mostar, post-reconstruction

the destruction of its icons. The famous Stari-Most Bridge in Mostar is a good example (Fig. 9.4). The bridge joined more than different sides of a river but also the differences of ethnicity that are so much a part of Bosnian history. The destruction of the bridge by Serbian nationalists in 1993 was an attempt to destroy this historical unity of differences along with the actual flows of contact between the primarily Serbian and Muslim districts on either side (Calame and Charlesworth 2009: chapter 6). The image of the city is inextricably fused with questions of meaning on the one hand and with spatial flows on the other; the legibility of the dominant landmarks, paths, nodes, edges and districts of the city is not innocent, as we shall see.

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10 Discourse

Fig. 10.1  Las Vegas

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. Italo Calvino (1979: 36)

The image of the city is not simply present, awaiting our understanding. Rather, it embodies forms of representation: it constructs our understanding. The city comes to us in forms of symbolic packaging that frame the ways we see it. The idea that we might simply encounter the city fresh without such symbolic packaging is akin to trying to think without language. Urban design critique from this perspective involves unpacking the ways in which the city and its meanings and narratives are packaged for us. What is being communicated through urban form and public space, and to what effect? Who decides how the city is read; how do meanings form and change? What’s the big story? The city may not be read in ways that were intended by the designers, and the ways they are read will change over time. When we live in a city, we take these narratives for granted as part of the natural context of everyday life. We experience the city in a state of distraction; its impact is oblique and subtle, often all the more profound because we don’t see ourselves experiencing it.


Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame is set in Paris in the fifteenth century when the printing press was invented. In a famous passage from this novel a character holding one of the newly printed books is gazing out of a window at the west façade of Notre Dame Cathedral. The character in the novel points to the book and says, ‘this will kill that, the book will kill the edifice’. The suggestion is that the mass production of ideas through the printing press would replace the role of architecture and urbanism in the construction of meaning. It is also one of those great literary phrases that also resonates with the idea that the broad-based literacy that mass-produced books will lead to a multiplicity of ideas to replace the theocracy of the church. Democratic debate will replace the one-right-way of seeing the world. Singular meanings that don’t change will be replaced by multiple and contested meanings. This proclamation – that the book will kill the edifice – has stood the test of time in being in many ways quite profound, yet it is also in some ways wrong. The role of built form in the construction of meaning has changed but has not diminished; one might say it has lost its monopoly.

Truth Effects The most powerful conceptual tools for thinking about issues of representation in urban design derive from what has become known as the discursive turn in social theory. The concept of discourse includes much more than spoken or written languages; it includes ways urban form, fashion and behaviour operate as communication systems. A naive way of looking at language suggests a one-to-one relationship with the world. Language divides the things in the world into categories like shoes, tables, houses and streets, with meanings that are reasonably clearly defined. Discourse theory seeks to problematize language; it is concerned with the ways in which words and meanings are linked to each other and infect each other in a web-like fashion. Words have fluid meanings and multiple meanings that can change over time. Far from being a transparent window onto a given world, language constructs the ways we see our world and it constructs us as subjects engaging with that world. Subjectivity or experience is shaped by the ways in which language works. Truth effects are produced: what we see as the obvious truth has already been produced or ‘cooked’ for us to some extent. This is what Roland Barthes (1988) calls the production of mythology and he invites us to enter the ‘kitchen of meaning’. The general theory of signs, or semiotics, suggests that the sign be defined as a relation between ‘signifier/signified’, loosely defined in turn as image/meaning or form/content (Saussure 1983). The signifier means, represents or connects to the signified. A stop sign on the road is a signifier and the signified is the imperative to stop. Here the meaning of the sign is clear; however, if someone gives you a red rose, then the meaning might require more interpretation. The ‘eternal flame’ on a monument may have multiple interpretations: life, freedom, revolution, courage, enlightenment, power and so on. It doesn’t denote anything in particular, rather it connotes many things. This is a crucial distinction: denotation is relatively

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clear and connotation is not. The production of meaning in public space is mostly connotative. The central pathway under Tiananmen Gate in Beijing was traditionally the path reserved for the Emperor, denoting the space of privilege and connoting the regal hierarchy (Fig. 10.2). After the revolution its use was inverted to become

Fig. 10.2  The People’s Path, Beijing

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the path of the people in everyday life, surmounted by the father of the new order and above that was where party leaders appear. One narrative was supplemented by another and that in turn inspired a further twist that will be discussed in Chapter 15 (Fig. 15.4). Discourse analysis is never simply about form alone: all signs are part of a regime of signs.

Mythology The interpretation of the production of truth effects is what Barthes (1973) terms mythology. He uses the word ‘myth’ because he wants to link this construction of meaning to the ways in which such constructed narratives are shared, understood and believed. For Barthes, what we see as the natural order of things is wrapped in mythology. Myth turns history into nature – the way things are presented as if it were the natural and eternal order and cannot be changed. Myth is ‘depoliticized speech’, a form of speaking that has political effects but appears to be apolitical. Barthes (1974) distinguishes between what he calls readerly and writerly texts. Readerly texts are easily understood, like popular novels, with few surprises and little effort for the reader, where the narrative unfolds with few challenges to our understanding. He contrasts this with writerly texts that challenge the reader to figure out what’s going on. The readerly text involves a comfortable pleasure of familiarity and conformity with prevailing ideology, while the writerly text is linked to juissance – the pleasure of resistance to the prevailing order of things (Barthes 1976). The writerly text is the more interesting but it can render the city illegible to most citizens. Barthes (1978) coined the phrase ‘the death of the author’ to refer to the idea that meanings are not determined by those who design them. The death of the author is not the end of authorship but rather the end of the author’s authority over what things mean. You cannot go to the architect or sculptor to find the real meaning of a building or monument. What an author, artist or designer does is to launch a text into a particular ‘meaning market’ and then the market sorts out what it means within a particular urban assemblage and how it changes over time. While the urban designer as author cannot control the proliferation of meaning, there are designs that produce singularity on the one hand or promote multiplicity on the other. If meanings have been ‘cooked’ for popular consumption, then the task of understanding how they have been produced is generally known as discourse analysis – the unpacking of meaning, analysing the ways in which discourse is constructed through imagery. For Barthes (1973: 143) ‘myth does not deny things … it purifies them, it makes them innocent it gives them a natural and eternal justification … it gives them the simplicity of essences … it organizes a world that is without contradictions … Things appear to mean something by themselves …’. This is what Barthes means when he says that the myth turns history into nature, it makes the arbitrary seem eternal through the connotation of a deep and abiding truth. In everyday life we experience the city in a state of distraction: we generally consume its mythologies without critical thought.

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Deconstruction The task of unpacking the ways that meanings have been constructed is generally known as deconstruction. At a philosophical level this is a focus on the webs of discourse through which meanings and forms of subjectivity and experience have been produced – the production of mythology. Deconstruction works both as a method of analysis and as a design approach. Discourse analysis is the unpackaging of meaning: a form of decoding that enables us to see the myth as myth. This is a part of the conceptual toolkit that every urban designer or theorist needs, yet it is extremely difficult to define and practice as a method (Fairclough 1995; Rose 2001). We are dealing largely with matters of interpretation rather than fact; verification relies on the ways an interpretation enables us to see the world differently. In my own work I have often analysed advertising discourse as a means of understanding the construction of urban mythology in relation to corporate towers, shopping malls, housing and waterfront projects (Dovey 2005, 2008). The practice of analysing the city as discourse requires that we constantly ask: What kinds of meanings are being produced and consumed, by whom, for whom and to what effect? What are the forms of discourse through which it is constructed and what narrative myths are produced? What’s the big story? When my hometown of Melbourne was in the grip of neoliberal globalization in the mid-1990s we saw a range of diagonal blade-like architecture emerging in various state-sponsored projects (Dovey 2005; Fig. 10.3). This was a well-crafted and prize-winning architecture but it was also a form of political legitimation that constructed a narrative about a dynamic state that was, as

Fig. 10.3  State on the Move – Melbourne (Architects: Denton Corker Marshall)

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the state slogan suggested ‘on the move’. Discourse analysis is a task of revealing the subtexts of urban design and urban imagery. This is not, however, simply a task of exposing a deeper truth. Deconstruction rather seeks to question the very idea of a singular truth or deeper meaning, to expose multiplicities of meaning. Deconstruction as an approach to urban design involves an attempt to produce urban imagery that unpacks its own effects. Although widely understood as an aesthetic movement in architecture of the 1980s and 1990s, deconstruction has a much longer history that continues and cannot be limited to its stylistic legacy in any particular field. In the early twentieth century Marcel Duchamp became famous for bringing a mass-produced urinal into a gallery, mounted as a sculpture signed with someone else’s name. This, he proclaimed, is art – the mass-produced or found object becomes unique when mounted in a gallery and signed. The potency of the work lies in the ways it raises the question of how a work becomes art and the role of the gallery in the framing of meaning. In the painting Nude Descending a Staircase Duchamp takes a traditional subject of art – the nude – and portrays it in a manner that prevents the voyeuristic gaze upon the female body. In doing so he deconstructs the way such art is consumed. In the painting entitled The Human Condition by Magritte a landscape is framed through a window, yet this landscape is obscured by a landscape painting that appears to depict the hidden landscape. This triple framing is a means of art asking questions about how we see the world, always framed, represented and mediated by text and symbolic packaging. Deconstructive design often has shock value – the benefit we get from having the rug pulled from everyday preconceptions. Most deconstructive approaches to urban design are parasitic on existing meanings – they use pre-existing stereotypes in order to undermine them. At its worst deconstructive design has the tendency to reduce the city to text and to produce discomforting one-liners that add little to urban life – images of fragmentation and disjunction. At its best deconstruction is productive of multiplicities of meaning, cutting across the essentialism of singular narratives. As a design approach, deconstruction can be both liberating in formal terms and conservative in political terms. Liberating because it unleashes new formal languages, it punctures the certainties of fixed meanings, forces us to rethink urban form. However, it can also be conservative in its focus on the difficult (writerly) text that removes urban design from everyday critique, consistent with a ‘cultural elite’ model of aesthetic production. Deconstruction has often been effective in the production of urban imagery that seems progressive, even radical, but does not change anything.

Dialectic Imagery The idea that urban design should carry multiple meanings instead of a single authorized narrative does not rely only on semiotics and theories of deconstruction. For Walter Benjamin the potency of urban experience often comes from the fact that we experience the city in a state of distraction as we pursue the paths and projects of

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Fig. 10.4  Dialectic imagery – Bangkok

everyday life (Benjamin 1978). Benjamin saw new forms of power operating through collective imagery: particularly the ways capitalism produces an urban dream world of mass consumption. He saw the surfaces of the city as representing a false history in petrified form with most monuments as myths. What passed for modernity was not enlightenment but refined barbarism – the ‘ever-the-same’ dressed up as the ever-new’ (Gilloch 1996). Yet Benjamin also saw hope in the ways that the city as a dream world embodies a dialectic of awakening, of seeing the dream as a dream. One of the more interesting aspects of urban life is the way it throws up dialectic images where two different narratives intersect to reveal tensions, ambiguities, contradictions, complexities and differences. Cities produce strange juxtapositions that reveal a truth, a certain transparency and legibility (Fig. 10.4; also Figs 15.4 and 24.1). Dialectic images often have a powerful aesthetic charge where the real cuts across the imaginary and reveals a rupture in the larger dream-like order of the city. Such urban juxtapositions are dialectic in the sense that one part of the image changes our reading of the other part and vice versa. The dialectic image is one of the ways that a deconstructive approach can be used in design – the use of urban design not to produce a particular meaning but rather to open up different interpretations: design that produces questions rather than answers. Genuine deconstruction excavates ideologies rather than producing singular ideas. In their book Collage City, Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter argue that the city does not produce singular narratives or meanings but multiple and clashing meanings (Rowe and Koetter 1979). There are no singular authors for a city and it is rare for a singular urban designer or planner to have a major effect. A city is more like

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a palimpsest – a text that has been produced, partially erased, overwritten, then partially erased again century after century. Aspects from every era survive and other parts do not. Urban form results from a collision or collage of interests, technologies, political ideologies and values through history, a series of tensions between utopia and tradition; totalitarian and participative; formal plans and informal adaptations. The juxtapositions between different approaches are key to the urbanity that emerges. Rather than a new layer covering the old, we see many layers in tension. This view opposes any singular meaning or timeless essence; the city embodies the aesthetic of the collage and the urban designer is a bricoleur exploiting the fragments at hand, recycling and transforming their meanings. Instead of bringing a purified notion of how the city should be, the urban bricoleur seeks to enable a multiplicitous city where there is no singular big story. The potency of the dialectic image is illustrated by the way such an image was edited from the Federation Square project in Melbourne in 2002. This project, incorporating a range of new buildings and civic spaces emerged from a quest to celebrate the centenary of Australian independence and the federation of states that formed the new nation. The design approach by LAB Architecture Studio was loosely deconstructive with a goal to represent a nation of multiple cultures and values, to create a new kind of public space distinct from the Eurocentric traditions of the former colony. The site is directly across the street from the city’s most prominent Christian cathedral. While this view had always been blocked to some degree, a new building – labelled a ‘shard’ – was designed such that it would be juxtaposed against the cathedral façade from most viewpoints (Fig. 10.5). A singular narrative of the former colony as one nation under God was replaced with an image that looked both backwards and forwards. A range of conservative interests became organized

Fig. 10.5  Federation Square proposal, Melbourne (LAB Architecture Studio)

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to prevent what they saw as the obscuring of a heritage view and were eventually successful in having the shard reduced to a small rump. The prospect of a dialectic image became a political dialectic that was played out over issues of artistic integrity and heritage conservation. Yet the subtext was a struggle between singular and multiple narratives, between a Christian and a multi-cultural Australia.

The Meaning Market Any analysis of the discourses of the city is fraught with difficulty because it is always a site of intersecting narratives. A part of the issue lies in how much is at stake. A further conceptual framework here is to understand the city as a meaning market – a field of symbolic capital. The phrase ‘symbolic capital’ largely derives from the work of Bourdieu, where it is one of a range of forms of capital – social capital (networks of trust), cultural capital (credentials, manners), economic capital (money) – that can be converted from one to another. Bourdieu’s conception of symbolic capital can be defined for our purposes as a form of symbolic distinction that marks the superior aesthetic taste of the owner or user (Bourdieu 1984). It is also that portion of the value of a building or site that is attributable to image, the aesthetic or mythological ‘aura’ linked to brand, taste and reputation. The value of a painting is almost entirely symbolic – the value of canvas, paint and frame becomes negligible relative to the value of the image. By contrast a factory may have no capital value beyond its productive capacities. The value of symbolic capital depends to a large degree on the way it affirms the ‘taste’ of the owner. Symbolic capital can be seen in terms of the difference between use value and exchange value; clothes are necessary to keep warm but we pay a premium for a certain brand with a high level of symbolic capital. Much of the urban environment has symbolic capital in a similar way. When we read the city as text we read it as a field of aesthetic distinctions that are also understood as social and cultural distinctions. The prestige neighbourhoods of a city have symbolic capital that converts into property values; by contrast factories, derelict buildings and slums have negative symbolic capital that lowers property values. There are signifiers of dynamism and of tradition: signifiers of poverty and of wealth. The image of the city is a visual field upon which these distinctions are written. For Bourdieu the concept of capital cannot be reduced to economics because the different forms of capital are interconvertible. The city is a field of power and public space is a field of contested meanings. The legibility of the city is clearly geared to issues of symbolic authority – the authorized way to see the city. Evidence of conflicting narratives and dialectic imagery can be forms of transparency. The idea of ‘authenticity’ can be an attempt to assert the author as the authority or adjudicator of meaning. This is a term that is generally avoided by deconstructionists because of its associations with essentialized meaning. John Berger (1992), however, links authenticity to ambiguities of meaning – if the meaning is fixed and essential, then it cannot be authentic. Authoritarian regimes are badly in need of authenticity, yet cannot tolerate ambiguity; a narrative of legitimacy and deep roots in the natural order of

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things is used to maintain social order. A more democratic state can tolerate or even draw legitimacy from a multiplicity of urban narratives. Attempts to fix the ways we read the city as text are generally forms of authority; authenticity by contrast is often found in the ambiguities of multiple interpretations. These are issues to which I shall return in the chapter on authority.

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11 Memory

Fig. 11.1  Poundbury (Architect: Leon Krier)

The city … does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps ... Calvino (1979: 13)

This chapter explores the ways in which the city embodies the collective memory of its past (Boyer 1996). How does the city reveal its history and to what degree is this a history as told by the winners? A key dimension of transparency is the degree to which different histories are produced, erased or revealed. To what extent does urban design engage in a cover-up, a production of false history, an imagined and idealized past? How does urban design tell the stories of history and to what degree does it reveal a multiplicity of stories? Is there a problem with neo-traditional urban design schemes such as Poundbury (Fig. 11.1) that generate an illusion of return to a past that may never have existed?

Histories Figure 11.2 is a public artwork in the Gràcia district of Barcelona featuring a sculpture of urban planner Antoni Rovira i Trias. In 1889 Rovira was the winner of a competition to design the extension to the city known as the Eixample; the alternate plan of Ildefonso Cerdá was imposed through political influence from Madrid (Babiano y Sánchez 2007). Here in Placa Rovira we can join the designer in contemplating his imagined future. This is a work that opens a window to both the memory of political


Fig. 11.2  Remembering losers – Placa Rovira, Barcelona

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struggles and the vision for what might have been – an alternate city is represented within the everyday life of the actual city. Tilla-Durieux Park is a landscape design that fills the gap that was once the Berlin death strip – the no man’s land adjacent to the former wall that ran through the city and became available for redevelopment after the wall came down in 1989. This is a space that is subject to competing desires to both preserve the memory and to forget: what is the balance between looking back and moving on? This was a wall that separated capitalism from communism. The design for this former death strip is treated in a playful manner with a series of giant public see-saws and hyperbolically twisted lawns that face one side and then the other (Fig. 11.3). This is a good example of an underdetermined urban design in terms of both use and meaning. The task of engaging with history without locking in any particular narrative, is one of the more important but difficult tasks of urban design. A short walk from the Tilla-Durieux Park is the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, also a fine design in the form of a dense grid of columns that extend across an entire city block with the ground plane excavated so that the columns become taller the deeper one walks into it (Fig. 11.4). The paths between columns are narrow so it is at times a congested network. However, there is no centre or any disorientation because sight lines are maintained to the surrounding streets. This is an urban space that invites the user to go deeper but there is no underlying meaning to be discovered. This open narrative, however, cuts across its purpose as a holocaust memorial – the variegated columns are spaced at a challenging distance for leaping from one to another and the memorial is regularly used as a playground (Stevens and Franck 2015). The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial designed by Maya Lin takes on the task to commemorate a war that the US lost, a war fought on remote territory and in which about 50,000 Americans (and many more Vietnamese) lost their lives. The site is the

Fig. 11.3  Getting the balance – Tilla-Durieux Park, Berlin (DS Landscape Architects)

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Fig. 11.4  Holocaust Memorial, Berlin (Eisenman Architects)

Fig. 11.5  Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Washington (Architect: Maya Lin)

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Washington mall, the central public space of the nation. The minimalist design is a large V-shaped cut into the earth where retaining walls enclose a semi-underground space with nothing other than the names etched into the polished black granite in the order in which they died (Fig. 11.5). The search for names parallels the search for meanings. The wall also works as a public mirror: we see ourselves and each other in it. The denotative factual narrative of who died and when is spelled out but the connotative meanings are not. Did they die for freedom or in the service of a brutal empire? The memorial is cut into the landscape of the mall, with the two walls aligned with the Lincoln and Washington memorials, connected to the founding ideals of the nation but also a deviation from them. In its refusal to rise above ground level or to affirm any reason for the war or the loss of life, the memorial can be read as anti-war. Yet the potency of the monument lies in the way that it manages to honour the memory of those who died without, suggesting what they died for. It creates a place of reflection for the families and friends of those who died, while leaving open the highly contentious question of why they died, surely one of the most potent pieces of urban landscape design of the twentieth century.

A Walk around Jakarta The National Monument in central Jakarta is a 132-metre high obelisk known as ‘Monas’, designed in the early 1960s by Indonesia’s first president Sukarno to represent the new nation (Dovey and Permanasari 2010). It stands on the vast expanse of the former colonial King’s Square, renamed Merdeka (Freedom) Square to become the symbolic centre of the nation. While centred on Java, Indonesia is defined by that part of a huge archipelago that had been colonized by the Dutch; its outer boundaries were (and remain) contested. The design of the monument is in the form of a broad cantilevered terrace at the base from which an obelisk rises with a golden flame on top (Fig. 11.6). Sukarno was wary of any specific Javanese or Islamic symbolism and the forms are generally linked to secular modernity. The obelisk is in part an echo of Western histories of nationalism and empire, from Egypt via Paris and Washington. The horizontal terrace and vertical obelisk also reference more local meanings – the largely Hindu symbolism of mortar/pestle (yoni and lingga) and female/male representing domestic productivity and fertility with the vertical lingga embodying virility and power (Anderson 1972). This was an attempt by Sukarno (who had studied architecture at university) to identify the nation through a visual language that might speak to the great diversity of cultures across an archipelago that had only ever been united by the violence of colonialism and by the solidarity of resistance to it. These are unifying symbols for a nation that Sukarno feared might fragment into its original differences once the bond of resistance was gone. The flame at the apex is intended to represent the eternal flame of freedom and enlightenment, but also the fire of revolution. Like the mortar and pestle, fire was a symbol that was shared across cultures, linking everyday life to the nation – the hearth, kitchen and campfire as sites of gathering. Sukarno felt that the fire of

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Fig. 11.6  Sukarno’s last erection – Monas, Jakarta

revolution and of freedom needed to be kept alive once the oppression of colonialism was lifted. The flame has also been interpreted as a beacon that radiates its presence through the city and nation in a way that reflects traditional Javanese conceptions of power as a form of concentrated heat or energy. Power is hierarchical and flows from centre to periphery (Anderson 1972). Sukarno was deposed by Suharto before the monument was completed and it soon gained another popular meaning as ‘Sukarno’s last erection’ – an allusion to both his presidential legacy and his womanizing – again, the author does not control the meaning. Just beyond the outskirts of Merdeka Square is the Free West Irian monument which commemorates the Indonesian invasion of West Irian (West Papua) in 1961 (Fig. 11.7). The monument evokes a singular narrative of Indonesia liberating the Papuans from colonialism, yet there has been continuous armed conflict with the Free Papua Movement (OPM) ever since, with accumulated deaths now in the hundreds of thousands. The monument, however, is a legitimating image that depicts a triumphant Papuan breaking the chains of oppression atop the modernist platform, which is at times used as a homeless shelter. The popular name of this monument is ‘The Hulk’. A contrasting set of meanings can be found in the nearby monument variously known as the Heroes’ Monument or Farmers’ Statue (Tugu Tani) (Fig. 11.8). This was

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Fig. 11.7  Free West Irian Monument, Jakarta

also produced under Sukarno to honour the way in which the rural population aided the revolutionary struggle against the Dutch. The bronze figures show a rural woman giving rice to a member of the resistance army, who is wearing a farmer’s hat and carrying a gun. This is a contentious monument because the rural population were strong supporters of the communist party and the statue was crafted by Russian

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Fig. 11.8  Farmers or communists? – Heroes Monument, Jakarta

sculptors (Matvey and Ossip Manizer). The monument depicts heroes who are also farmers who may also be communists. In contrast with the propaganda of the West Irian monument, the heroes’/farmers’ monument tells a complex truth. Communism is a very sensitive issue in Indonesia because when Suharto deposed Sukarno in 1965 he initiated the murder of about a half million communists and sympathizers – a collective trauma that still haunts the national psyche (Anderson and McVey 1978). This is a monument that memorializes an as yet unspeakable truth – the heroes depicted here were slaughtered by the state they fought for. When photographing this monument in 2008 I was interviewed by the police who wanted to know my intentions. The Suharto dictatorship lasted until 1998 and was haunted by the violence of its initiation. In 1987 he built a monument, also on the edge of Merdeka Square, known as the Arjuna Wijaya Monument (Fig. 11.9; Dovey and Permanasari 2010). This is a sculpture of a chariot with a team of horses in full flight heading towards Thamrin Boulevard – the long commercial strip of banks, hotels and shopping malls that has become the centre of modern Jakarta. The monument is a reference to the epic Hindu story of the Mahabharata wars where Arjuna and his brother Karna engaged in a great battle. In this narrative Arjuna was given a message from the god Krishna that it was necessary to kill his brother in order to carry on god’s work. Arjuna kills his brother Karna (whose chariot gets stuck in the mud) and the monument depicts

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Fig. 11.9  Suharto’s excuse – Arjuna Wijaya Monument, Jakarta (Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata Creative Commons; sculptor Nyoman Nuarta)

Arjuna and Krishna after the victory. Sukarno was widely referred to as Bung Karno or brother Karno and the subtext operates as a legitimating image for Suharto’s symbolic killing of Sukarno. This is but one of a number of Arjuna monuments that appeared at major intersections of Indonesian cities prior to Suharto’s demise. The meanings of these monuments in this particular urban context are not clearly legible: indeed, they rely on obliqueness for their potency. The directness of the Free West Irian monument is its weakness – the propaganda is too literal. The heroes’/ farmers’ monument embodies a mix of meanings that cannot easily be unravelled, understood or addressed. If this were a communist monument, then it would have been demolished long ago. Likewise the Arjuna statue cannot be removed as a Suharto legacy without offending the legend of the Mahabharata. In each case competing versions of history are at stake. While Indonesian cities are replete with monuments, the lingering trauma of the 1965 bloodbath – the founding violence of the Suharto state – cannot yet be engaged in urban design because too many of the perpetrators remain alive and in positions of power. Urban design, like history, is largely written by the winners.

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12 Place

Fig. 12.1  Marrakech and Tokyo

Home does not pre-exist: it was necessary to draw a circle around that uncertain and fragile center, to organise a limited space … The forces of chaos are kept outside as much as possible … Finally, one opens the circle a crack, opens it all the way, lets someone in, calls someone, or else goes out oneself, launches forth … One ventures from home on the thread of a tune. Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 311)

The concept of ‘place’ is at once disarmingly simple and easy to understand yet also highly complex and difficult once we interrogate it a little. Since about the 1990s we find an increased use of the term ‘place’ in the titles of books, papers and journals – a trend that extends across the disciplines of urban planning, geography, architecture, urban studies, landscape architecture and urban design. We have more recently seen the emergence of new disciplines of education and practice such as place marketing and place management. The concept of ‘place’ has a currency that enables it to span disciplines and scales – from interior design to urban planning: from the room to the nation state. It spans a broad range of research methods and encompasses popular, commercial and political discourses. New urban developments are often advertised through a discourse of ‘place’, and political resistance


to them often focuses on allegations of damage to the ‘sense of place’ and neighbourhood ‘character’. So how are we to deal with a concept like ‘place’ in urban design thinking? At one level the ideal of a ‘sense of place’ is held out as a goal of urban design under the rubric of ‘placemaking’ – place as a good thing. In this sense the task of placemaking is to provide a place of sensory richness, attachment and a deeper meaning based in heritage, character and a shared sense of identity. Yet in everyday use the term ‘place’ is not so valorized – some places are boring or dangerous. Like the term ‘architecture’ which may refer to all buildings or may be limited to valued buildings, so the idea of ‘place’ slips between all places and valued places. This is a concept that is inextricably linked into everything discussed thus far; indeed it emerges from the intersections of discourse and action, from the synergies of density, mix and access. Place is a form of identity, at once social and spatial, a combination of spatial structures, practices and forms, and social narratives intertwined with morphologies and types. I want to begin with a distinction between ‘place’ and ‘space’ (Dovey 2010: chapter 1). While there is much confusion in the literature about this, I suggest there is much less in our everyday use of the language. In the Wittgensteinian sense that one finds meaning in the use of language, ‘place’ is more than ‘space’ – more primary, more social, more intense. To ask, ‘what kind of place is Tokyo or Marrakech?’ (Fig. 12.1) may generate a variety of answers but this question has a sense that ‘what kind of space is Tokyo?’ does not. When we say ‘this is a great place’ we mean something more social and less formal than ‘this is a great space’, which suggests shape and form. We can say ‘do you have enough space?’ but not ‘do you have enough place?’ There is a philosophical sense in which space is ‘extensive’ while place is ‘intensive’; while a space may have physical dimensions it is intensity that gives place its potency. Extension involves geometric properties that can be replicated and divided; intensive properties are indivisible and largely unmeasurable. Place is an emergent phenomenon, irreducible to ‘characteristics’ or constituent parts. The ways that place makes sense in everyday life is the primary understanding of the sense of place. How we make academic sense of that sense of place is a different matter. In academic literature ‘space’ and ‘place’ are often indistinguishable or are distinguished in ways that best suit the theory, abstracted from everyday life. The sense of place is immanent to everyday life; it is unselfconscious and we take it for granted until attention is drawn. Place is pre-reflective, its affect on us comes prior to cognition and meaning.

Ontologies Ed Casey (1997) traces the original concept of place to Greek philosophy, where it was seen as part of ontology – the study of ‘being’ where all existence is embodied in place. This ontology of place as the ground of ‘being’ was largely forgotten until the twentieth century when it was revived by Martin Heidegger and others as part of

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existential phenomenology. Phenomenology, as a study of the world of experience, emerges in opposition to a scientific rationality that was seen to have reduced the world to measureable facts. A scientific world view tends to view facts as prior to values; the ‘real’ world is primary and our experience of it is secondary – facts are objective, while values are subjective. From such a view the experiences of place are less real than the measured facts of space and geometry. Phenomenology seeks to reverse this relationship between facts and values, to engage with a world that is always already full of value and desire. Values come first, facts are objective aspects of that world that we value; facts are the means to valued ends. Heidegger is perhaps the key philosopher behind what has become known as the spatial turn in social theory – the view that we cannot understand social life without understanding its intrinsic spatiality, the ways that sociality and spatiality are inextricably intertwined. For Heidegger (1962) there is no being without being-inthe-world – this hyphenated string that suggests that being does not transcend this world but is immersed in spatiality. Existence is intrinsically and inextricably spatial as well as temporal. A key concept for Heidegger (1971) is ‘dwelling’; where someone dwells, the sense of place and experience of home become part of the ontology of being through a process of appropriation. Dwelling is ‘rooted’ in place and authentic human being is rooted in an ‘autochthonous’ or indigenous process that springs from the earth. Heidegger’s work represented not only a spatial turn but also an essentialist turn where dwelling is identified with roots and with tree-like thinking and opposed to the migratory flows of rhizomic thought.

The Body A very different ontology of place can be found in Bourdieu’s conception of the habitus that was introduced earlier – a set of embodied dispositions that become the taken-for-granted framework of everyday life (Bourdieu 2000: 142–3). The habitus is described as ‘a sense of one’s place’ and as a ‘feel for the game’ of social practice (Bourdieu 1993: 5). The concept of habitus is derived in part from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of embodied spatiality (Carman 2008: 217–19). Merleau-Ponty (1962), however, shows that our spatial conceptions are not merely socially constructed. In everyday life being-in-the-world means engaging with the world through all of the senses: not just sight but also sound (traffic, birds, talk, music), smell (pollution) and touch (surfaces, humidity, wind). Like most animals, the human body has bilateral symmetry where left and right are symmetrical but up/down and front/rear are not. Beyond this structure the experience of place is very different for humans than it is for an ant, a dog or a bird. We have a different perceptual apparatus; we can’t climb a wall, smell or fly in the same ways. Humans are highly dependent on the visual sense and the walking gait; we have highly developed capacities to see differences between faces and things over significant distances (Ingold 1995; 2004). For Merleau-Ponty the spatial sense is the result of a ‘gearing’ of our body to the world through action – an active embodiment. When

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we have been living in the same bedroom for some time it becomes possible to get up in the pitch darkness, walk across the room and find the light switch because we have embodied the place. In the city, while we may initially need a map to find our way around, once we become an insider we embody the city along with its spatial structures and visual cues. The evolution of the human body to an upright stance along with the development of tools for transport (boots, pavements, stairs, bicycles, cars, planes) has led to what Tim Ingold (2004: 315) argues is a bias of ‘head over heels’ in our thinking: ‘a long-standing tendency, in western thought and science, to elevate the plane of social and cultural life over the ground of nature’. The conceptual separation of mind and body, thought and action, produces a certain ‘groundlessness of metropolitan life’ where walking is displaced as an inherently lesser form of movement. Much of what is termed ‘walkability’ in urban design theory and practice involves the challenge of reversing this displacement.

Senses of Place For Gehl (2010) the sensory apparatus of the human body is key to understanding both the experience of urban space and the ways it produces typical urban design patterns. Both movement and vision are primarily forwards, only marginally up, down or sideways, and rarely backwards. The sense of sight predominates at long distances and becomes a social field of vision at about 100 metres. This is the limit for good vision in spectator sport, which is why closed crowds in sports stadia are limited to about 100 metres from the back of the stands to the centre of the arena (and therefore about 100,000 spectators). A similar scale applies to the traditional European squares that Sitte suggested work as a kind of theatre and are rarely larger than about a hectare (Collins and Collins 1965) (Fig. 12.2; also Figs 1.2, 14.1 and 17.1). As distances close, recognition of identity and body language become more and more possible until human encounter intensifies when we get to about 20 metres. This is the distance for live theatre and these are distances that have mediated built forms for millennia. All the best seats in the Greek amphitheatre and Roman stadium were within 20 metres of the action, with cheaper seats up to about 50 metres away. This remains true in any theatre today, although the modern stadium is augmented with screens that produce a virtual shrinkage of distance. At a distance of about 7 metres a larger range of senses becomes engaged and two-way conversations become possible (Gehl 2010). This is the scale of the pavement, and when it becomes crowded the senses of smell and touch come into play. Here we learn to navigate the pedestrian landscape through a mix of weaving, changing speed, sidestepping and the performance of what Erving Goffman (1971) terms the ‘step-and-slide’ where we turn shoulders, step sideways and slide through small gaps between strangers. This adaptive interactive dance of pedestrian life, the ways we manage intimate distances with strangers in public space, is integral to the sense of place in urban life. The sensory apparatus of the human body also strongly mediates interactions between humans and buildings, particularly in the

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Fig. 12.2  The one-hectare plaza – Prague, Siena, Paris (Source: Google Earth, Geo Eye)

vertical direction. Tall buildings only become completely visible from a distance and the primary engagements with pedestrians involve the lowest five floors, especially the ground and second floors. Again this links to the distances of the theatre: below floor five the windows and balconies of a building operate as an audience to the public space below, while above this height is effectively a different field of vision.

Dialectics of Place Gaston Bachelard (1969) is another key thinker in the phenomenological tradition; while his work is primarily focused on the phenomenology of the house, it is also of urban interest for the ways he talks about two key dialectics of space – inside/ outside and vertical/horizontal. Inside/outside is a relation between the intimate and the immense, a place and its spatial context, and the ways that each can contain and express the other. This is a nested relationship of a house within a neighbourhood, within a city, landscape, nation and planet. This is also a dialectic between a particular place identity and its other, between home and journey. It is a dialectic because the experience of a place is progressively formed by movements inside and outside. We understand the inside because we have been outside. To say that a place is an inside does not imply that it has strong boundaries or is spatially enclosed. The meaning of place is produced out of the movement between one place and another – home has no meaning unless there is a journey. The house takes its meaning in part from its neighbourhood, which in turn gains meaning from the city and so on. The inside/outside dialectics of place resonate with those of the human body. The ways that we decorate the eyes, ears and mouth where communications flow in and out of the body have their urban correlates in the ways urban identities are constructed through entrances and gateways. Bachelard’s second dialectic is that between vertical and horizontal, linked to the primary condition of dwelling between earth and sky, reflected in an architectural opposition between cellar and garret, below and above the everyday world respectively. Within Jungian psychoanalysis, the cellar becomes associated with

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the subconscious, while the garret is associated with dreaming (Jung 1967). The human body stands vertically on a horizontal landscape and we then use this spatial structure as a social metaphor. The root sta- ‘stand’, shares its etymology with stasis, stable, state, statue and establish. We talk of the highness of kings, upper class and lower class: there is a headman and a footman. The idea that taller people or buildings are somehow superior has no rationale but vertical prominence easily slips into dominance in both urban and social fields. In this scheme the body stands vertically yet moves horizontally. We link the top to the front: stay on the front foot, moving forward, never back down. Emotions are verticalized; we say someone is ‘on a high’ or ‘feeling down’. The forms of the diagonal play upon the tension between vertical and horizontal by embodying dynamic instability – this is why the diagonal is characteristic of the architectural and urban imagery of revolution (constructivism, futurism, deconstruction). The pyramid is a potent form where the diagonal is stabilized in an aspirational figure. Both the inside/outside dialectic and the vertical/ horizontal are inextricably interconnected with issues of power and will be revisited in forthcoming chapters.

Place Identity Edward Relph’s seminal book Place and Placelessness, although somewhat essentialist, remains perhaps the best phenomenological introduction to conceptions of place (Relph 1976). Place is cast in opposition to bland, formularized and mass-produced places such as fast-food restaurants, car parks and corporate environments, which he terms ‘placeless’. The term ‘place’ is reserved for unique places with an authentic and individual sense of identity rather than a repetition of formularised design. For Relph there is a range of fundamentally different experiences of the same place, primarily due to the distinction between ‘insideness’ and ‘outsideness’. Existential insideness is the largely unselfconscious experience of ‘home’ – a term that resonates with place across many scales. Empathetic insideness is the experience of identification with a place even when it is not our own. Vicarious insideness is the experience of being telepresent rather than actually present – the experience of place induced by films, novels, advertising and so on. Objective outsideness is the experience of place reduced to selected facts and abstractions, often viewed from a technical or professional viewpoint. Existential outsideness incorporates the sense of alienation where we feel ‘out of place’, where we encounter the strange, the exclusive, or the fearful. For Relph place is a valued phenomenon, geared to practices of identification and insideness, whether existential, empathetic or vicarious. ‘Placelessness’ involves a lack of identity and a lack of depth of experience and identification. It is the existential dimension of place experience, particularly the sense of home and identity that make this issue so potent and problematic. Christian NorbergSchulz argues that the phenomenon of place has two primary functions: it orients us and identifies us. Place gives us what he calls an ‘existential foothold’, it stabilizes

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our sense of ‘being’ by showing where we are and who we are (Norberg-Schulz 1980). We become a Singaporean or a Londoner based on the cities we live in and identify with. By dwelling in a city we hitch our identity to a place we have embodied – place stabilizes identity. While there is truth to this proposition, it is also a highly problematic truth because of the way that it characterizes place in terms of stability and closure. The danger lies in the essentialism of the idea that the sense of place emerges from deep and eternal sources. To say that place stabilizes identities can easily slip into the idea that the meanings of place are stable, that if we understand the deeper meanings of place we will discover an essence or a core meaning – often identified with a genius loci or spirit of place that transcends the materiality of the site through a deeply rooted and timeless meaning. Such theories of place are in direct conflict with theories of deconstruction, which are deeply suspicious of essential and singular meanings. Much of the phenomenological discourse on place would fit Barthes’ (1973) definition of mythology – a form of discourse to be analysed as a practice of power.

Open Sense of Place While the discourses of place can be fruitfully deconstructed, the phenomenology of place is not entirely produced by language and cannot be reduced to forms of discourse or text. The most developed account of an alternate critique, albeit at a very abstract scale, is that of Doreen Massey, who writes about a ‘progressive’, ‘open’ and ‘global’ sense of place (Massey 1993, 2005; Cresswell 2004). For Massey all notions of place derived from Heidegger are problematic and regressive. Against such views she proposes an open conception of place where place identity is provisional and unfixed. Massey’s progressive sense of place is outward-looking, defined by multiple identities and histories, its character coming from connections and interactions rather than original sources and enclosing boundaries. Her example is a high street in London with mixed uses and ethnicities to which she ascribes character and identity without the Heideggerian primordiality. Such a sense of place is seen as primarily global rather than local, forged out of its connections with other places rather than local contingencies, privileging routes rather than roots. Place can be ‘progressive’ in the sense that it emerges from multiple desires for a better future rather than a return to roots or deeper meanings. Massey’s work is a powerful reconception of place but she rarely writes about the particularities and materialities of place at the urban design scale. There is little doubt that many Heideggerian approaches to place are regressive in the way Massey suggests, but there is an important distinction between Heidegger’s argument about the spatiality of being on the one hand, and a much more spurious argument about a primordial sense of place with a singular identity, authentic history and exclusion of difference (Dovey 2010: 4–6). There is little doubt that Heidegger can be read in both these ways but the one does not imply the other. The claim that existence is spatial does not require that place experience is primordial or fully

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given. If we sever place from ontology, then we are left with a weak theory about the relations of place to power, we have robbed place of its potency to construct ontological security and seemingly naturalized identity. The reason disputes over neighbourhood development can be so emotional is because places embody deep ontological investments in identity.

Placelessness If we view the concept of place as a positive sense of identification with valued places, then placelessness is the absence of such identification. An alternate view that the non-place can be highly valued derives originally from Melvin Webber (1964), who argued for a conception of the ‘non-place urban realm’ where everyone drives everywhere in a ‘community without propinquity’. In this conception the neighbourhood of face-to-face interaction becomes obsolete and what is valued are social networks and connections that can be achieved without living in the same place. Marc Augé (1995, 2000) defines the non-place in an even more positive manner as those parts of the urban and architectural environment without unique identity but where we nonetheless feel at home. Non-places are mostly identified with travel environments such as airports. In an era of shrinking space and an accelerating sense of time, levels of travel and the circulation of images, we see the emergence of locations where we spend a lot of time and are quite comfortable but where we don’t invest any personal sense of identity. Both Relph and Augé define the concept of place as sites identified with particular identities or groups; but while Relph’s placelessness is portrayed as bland and dull, Augé’s concept of the non-place has an openness that is less suffocating. While conceptions of placelessness and non-place have a good deal of resonance with our experiences in everyday life, the opposition between place/ placelessness or place/non-place is problematic. Only if we define place in terms of closure and rootedness does the idea of a non-place make any sense. If we see place as an ontological condition of dwelling, then there is nowhere without a sense of place and it is problematic to reserve the term ‘place’ for those places we wish to valorize. What is placeless to some people will not seem that way to others. The seemingly placeless parts of urban space are often the most ‘smooth’ and with the greatest capacity for appropriation. To define place in terms of constructed identities is to restrict it to the results of ‘striation’. Seemingly placeless sites such as car parks are used by weekend markets, by skateboarders and by teenage lovers; often it is their very placelessness that renders them smooth and available for other practices and meanings. For Certeau (1984) ‘places are constructed through a thousand uses’; there is no consensual view of what place might mean. The idea that only some of the city has a sense of place is loosely but problematically linked to problems of essentialism and authenticity – who is to decide the difference between place and placelessness, who authorizes authenticity?

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The concept of ‘place’ has come to occupy a key role in urban design discourses: developers advertise a ‘sense of place’; governments engage in ‘place marketing’; and ‘place management’ has become a career path. The concept of ‘place’ slips easily into the planning propaganda along with a collection of slogans with which it is impossible to disagree. The discourse of ‘place’ will not slip from the field because it is too deeply grounded in everyday life. There will remain an essential mystery about the most valued urban places that resists any reduction to formulae. It is easiest to say what a good urban place is not: not just a visual or sensory phenomenon, not closed but interlaced with other places, not stable. Good urban places are not purified essences: the essential ingredient of good places is diversity of people, practices and built forms. Places are not things but assemblages of things – people, trees, houses, trams, offices, trains, parks, cars, shops, streets. Good urban places emerge through a multiplicity of alliances, connections and synergies between their parts and between different places. A good urban place is not a product to be produced and marketed; places are modes of production – they produce goods, services, ideas, experiences and wealth. Good urban places increase land value, and in doing so they also attract their own demise through the ‘self-destruction of diversity’. In a twist on the Anna Karenina principle, one might say that bad urban places are all alike, while every good urban place is good in its own way.

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13 Character

Fig. 13.1  Lisbon

They They They They

sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; pursued it with forks and hope; threatened its life with a railway share; charmed it with smiles and soap. The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll (1876)

The concept of urban or neighbourhood ‘character’ is a close cousin of ‘place’ and one that often emerges in urban design debates. The concept is often evoked to defend part of a city that is deemed to be under threat of transformational change.


The defence of urban character is a form of local resistance to change that is performed in the older districts of most cities globally. Yet the concept of character is also a key term for developers who are focused on creating character in new urban developments. ‘Character’ is a form of place identity that overlaps with amenity and heritage but is not reducible to either. Amenity extends to the many functional qualities of a neighbourhood such as public transport, parking and access to facilities, while heritage is generally limited to inherited historical values. So what is urban character and how is it experienced in everyday life? How is it defined and constructed in urban discourses, created through urban design practices and protected through urban regulation? This chapter draws substantially from a research project (with colleagues Ian Woodcock and Stephen Wood) where we asked such questions and found a range of interesting but contradictory answers. Urban character is at once a social and spatial phenomenon – protection and creation of character can be complicit with the protection and production of social privilege. Understandings of ‘character’ are multiple and flexible; and the introduction of such concepts into urban planning legislation can be become a cover for place destruction. Yet desires that protect place identity can also paralyse urban development and ironically kill the very phenomenon that is to be protected. Here I will briefly look at what character means in four case studies in Melbourne – residents were interviewed in two older neighbourhoods where character is being defended and two new ones where character is deliberately created.

Protection The first of these cases is Camberwell (Fig. 13.2), a leafy and up-market suburb about 10 km from central Melbourne, developed initially in the 1880s during the expansion of the railways, with detached houses on large blocks (Dovey, Woodcock and Wood 2009a). In the early 2000s the character of the suburb was seen as under threat from multi-unit development, different housing styles and transitoriented development around the local railway station. Interviews revealed a suburb characterized by its most vociferous residents in terms of ‘comfort’, ‘consistency’, ‘modesty’ and ‘taste’. Descriptions of ‘character’ persistently slipped between the social and the physical: character is almost the … feeling it creates in you … you walk through an area and you feel comfortable with it … you get a reasonable continuity of single dwelling homes, leafy trees … well vegetated gardens … it’s just this feeling of … feeling internally satisfied or confident with the area … you’re comfortable with it … people are in a comfort zone relative to that.

Note the repetition of ‘feel’ and ‘feeling’. This ‘comfort zone’ was easily punctured by formal and social differences yet its identity was also constructed from what it is not: ‘Around the area [one can find] what might be described as “nice” houses, not new modern monstrosities, not totally derelict old places, not high-rise, low-cost

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Fig. 13.2  Protecting purity – Camberwell, Melbourne

type housing … .’ Character is defined here in contrast to what it is not; defended against differences of built form and style but also, more subtly, against differences of class and ethnicity: ‘… the trouble is we’re getting all these people in who all they’ve got is money, you see, no taste’. The consistency of character was often seen to be embodied in architectural styles; even when mapping showed a mix of styles, those which represented a legacy of the past were selected as representing the character, while others were seen as violations. One outcome, ironically, has been that the only new architecture to be approved is in neo-traditional styles and is seen by residents to lack taste. This is in some ways a familiar case of an older suburb defended against the differences of modernity, ethnicity and class; it is a good example of a relatively closed conception of place criticized by Massey (1993) and is revealing of the ways in which character can be deployed as part of the politics of place. Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest suburb, within walking distance of the city centre, developed from the 1850s with a mix of factories, warehouses and working-class row housing, now substantially gentrified (Dovey, Woodcock and Wood 2009b) (Fig. 13.3). In a stark contrast to Camberwell the urban character here was largely defined in terms of a social and formal mix. Character was found in the layers and juxtapos­ itions of buildings of different size, age and style, in the adjacencies of factories, shops, offices and housing. This conception of the mix involved an openness to difference in both formal and social terms – to new forms of architecture and different kinds of people: ‘you don’t get the sense that people really care what you look like or what you say or how you act because there’s so many different people doing so many different things … ‘. Here character was defined not only as a place with a difference from other neighbourhoods, but also as a place where embodied differences become character: ‘[Fitzroy] is different, it is … it has that ‘edge’ that people are interesting, that it has a good atmosphere. It has a sort of a seedy side, a sort of an underbelly that is in a way a little bit scary, but also has a community, it has character and it has depth.’ The preservation of character in Fitzroy was found in opposition to the bulk and height of new buildings rather than differences of building

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Fig. 13.3  Protecting difference – Fitzroy, Melbourne

style, social class or ethnicity. Existing buildings ranged from one to nine storeys – depending on where one draws the neighbourhood boundary – and there was a general opposition to increased density: ‘I think you can take some buildings that are three storeys, but eight – no. I think that does start to change the village quality that we historically had about Fitzroy.’ The gentrifying residents who led the defence of Fitzroy’s character tended to idealize the place as more socially diverse than it is; indeed part of what they opposed was the loss of diversity represented by more of their own kind. This case raises the question of how to regulate for irregularity and how to protect the values of openness to change? What is common to both Camberwell and Fitzroy is that the concept of character is defined as a ‘feel’ or an ‘atmosphere’. The key difference between them is that Fitzroy is an open sense of place very much akin to that described by Massey (1993), while Camberwell is not. Fitzroy is defined by its perceived differences, while Camberwell is defined by its perceived consistencies and defended against difference.

Creation I now want to contrast these defences of neighbourhood character with examples of market-driven creation of urban character. Beacon Cove is an inner-city waterfront suburb developed in the late 1990s on a former industrial site (Fig. 13.4). Here the desired ‘character’ was a key driver of the design process, an instant place identity constructed largely from scratch using models from both the local context as well as neo-traditional ‘new urbanist’ prototypes. A limited number of housing types were replicated with many small variations to enclose a series of common parks or ‘greens’. Minor differences of form were coupled with a strong consistency of building types, materials and landscape design, all fixed in perpetuity by detailed covenants. Residents purchase a collective identity, as the architect puts it: ‘There’s a family of colours … coded to type … it changes from precinct to precinct … If you purchase the house in the white precinct … It’s felt that once you paint that house brown you’re destroying the character.’ The sense of closure around the greens

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involved a spatial structure that excludes through-paths as a form of ‘soft gating’. In its development and marketing Beacon Cove was a self-conscious construction of character that depended on a bounded distinction from its surrounds. The repetition of types and the protected ‘greens’ led to it being labelled by outsiders as ‘Legoland’ and ‘Pleasantville’. Yet the place is not inhabited primarily by residents wishing to retreat from the context, but to engage with it – the more authentic character of the adjacent activity centre is a key attraction for residents. While the project turns its back on neighbouring public housing, a remnant street of formerly workingclass housing was incorporated into the project (after a long struggle to defend it) and some residents now proudly point to this much more socially and formally mixed street to show the real character of Beacon Cove. While the development is up-market, it is relatively ethnically diverse and has attracted residents without the class connections of traditional Melbourne: ‘people came here from [places] where they weren’t accepted into the character of that area unless they’d been there 30 or 40 years’. The market turned out to be more diverse than the anticipated uniformity of empty-nesters – more tolerant of diversity and density, with a taste for contemporary rather than neo-traditional styles. Beacon Cove is a market-led development that was led more by ideology than the market. Caroline Springs is an early 2000s’ suburb on the urban fringe of Melbourne’s traditionally disadvantaged western suburbs, developed into a series of ‘villages’ focused on waterways and parks with names like Brookside, Springlake and Chisholm Park (Fig. 13.5). These ‘villages’ are semi-separated and marketed to different sectors from first-home owners to new wealth. With the keynote slogan of ‘Creating Special Places’ the developers have marketed and created a vision of character and community in which residents invest their faith. The developers built only the public realm with detailed covenants enforcing a consistency of housing through setbacks, landscaping, height and materials. Housing styles, however, are mixed and regulations prevent the replication of identical houses in the same street. This project represents another form of ‘soft gating’ with elaborate gateways (that never close) framing the entrances to named places marketed to social class

Fig. 13.4  Creating consistency – Beacon Cove, Melbourne

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Fig. 13.5  Constructing difference – Caroline Springs, Melbourne

segments. Some villages are clearly more up-market than others, and climbing the ladder of opportunity involves moving from village to village: ‘I’m Chisolm Park. It’s how it’s marketed to you when you buy, you have your identity …’ Consistency of housing type and bulk is coupled with a diversity of housing styles from neo-traditional to contemporary. The marketing invites residents to ‘Choose your look, select your favourite façade.’ This mix of different characters within a common covenant reflects a market of social and ethnic differences: ‘Caroline Springs has a lot of character about it, but it’s all a lot of different characters put together.’ Ethnic differences are not evident in the architecture, where the range of styles camouflages rather than reveals ethnic difference: ‘you wouldn’t walk past this one and say oh this one belongs to an Indian, this one belongs to a Maltese’. Caroline Springs is a place for aspirations, social mobility and identity formation. Interviewees speak of the faith they had in the developer’s vision and its covenants – neighbourhood character and community are imagined in the brochure to become a dream for the future. Such developments are designed to meet a market for a commodified community – the utopian ideal of gemeinschaft with residents gathered in a circle around the ‘green’.

Feel/Affect/Atmosphere The most common definitions of urban or neighbourhood character in all these cases is the ‘feel’ or ‘atmosphere’ of a neighbourhood – character is: ‘the feel of a place, what it represents to you, the people the buildings the things that happen there are all part of the urban character’. This idea of character as a ‘feel’ has the sense of an emotion that has become objectified and stabilized in the materiality of the place. The persistent slippage between social and material aspects of urban character as defined by residents suggests that it is at once both social and spatial, requiring ways of thinking that bridge between objective/subjective and body/mind. Bourdieu’s conception of the habitus, with its resonance between habit and habitat, parallels that between social and spatial character, a ‘feel’ that is embodied in a

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form. In the case of the older neighbourhoods that are being defended, the habitus is the ‘feel’ that is threatened by the ‘form’; in the newer neighbourhoods the feel is produced by the form. One resident says, ‘You know you drive in some places and it makes you feel at home’, suggesting that character has a direct affect on emotion. The concept of ‘affect’, usually traced to the philosophy of Spinoza, describes a kind of emotional force where encounters with the world produce pleasure, pain and desire (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 261–2). The affect is an experiential force that is pre-reflective – it affects us before we have time to think. The concept of ‘atmosphere’ recurs in the descriptions of character as: ‘the general atmosphere or ambience of an area’; and also in protests against new urban development in older suburbs: ‘we want to keep the atmosphere we’ve got’. Gernot Böhme (1998) has theorized the concept of atmosphere in relation to the city and draws a link to Lynch’s concept of the urban image and to Cullen’s townscape but extended to an aesthetic that embraces all the senses – particularly sound and smell. For Böhme (1998: 67) atmosphere is taken for granted by insiders and is primarily noticed by outsiders: ‘… what is meant by atmosphere is that which is commonplace and self-evident for the inhabitants and which is constantly produced by the locals through their lives, but which is noticed first by the stranger as a characteristic’ (Fig. 13.1). Atmosphere and character have a strong alliance with the experience of home: it is often taken for granted until threatened by change. Like character, atmosphere is embodied in the materiality of the city and has a thing-like quality, yet is essentially defined as a feel, an ‘indeterminate spatially extended quality of feeling’ (Böhme 1993: 118). For Böhme atmosphere has an indeterminate ontology, we remain uncertain as to how real it is. As in a theatre, we engage with a certain suspension of disbelief. This suspension of critical attention means that issues surrounding the character of the city can be subject to what Christian Borch (2014) calls a ‘politics of atmospheres’ and Nigel Thrift (2004) calls the ‘politics of affect’ – the design of public spaces that are engineered to produce instrumental emotional affects. Such approaches link to the work of Peter Sloterdijk, for whom atmospheres can be seen as socio-spatial ‘spheres’ that ‘provide people with meaning, community, and a sense of immunity (or protection, security ...)’ (Borch 2014: 65). For Sloterdijk, the modern socio-spatial order is like foam, an agglomeration of spheres, small immune systems that coexist in a contradictory state of ‘connected isolation’. For Thrift, the politics of affect involves a commodification of the everyday lifeworld through a production of urban experiences (Thrift 2011). The production of character and place identity in new suburban neighbourhoods can be seen as a key example (see also Figs 11.1 and 19.1).

Regulation These slippages between social and spatial aspects of character mean that the creation and protection of urban character can be complicit with the production and protection of social privilege. While planning codes generally try to reduce character

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to a set of formal elements, the ways it is experienced in everyday life tend to resist attempts to separate the social from the physical. ‘Character’ becomes discursively constructed in the field of politics, where it comes to mean what different interests want it to mean. Resident groups can use urban design codes as camouflage for social codes; struggles to prevent the wrong kinds of development can slip into the exclusion of the wrong kinds of people: ‘I would hate to see lots and lots of flats, I think that does I think change the character of a place, it looks, would it be fair to say, more transient.’ On the other hand, lack of clear definition provides a legal loophole that can open the door to highly damaging developments. Attempts to control character through the regulation of built form have a tendency to reduce character to formal characteristics – a reduction of the ‘feel’ to ‘form’. At the extreme you can find prescribed colour codes, roof pitch and building style – character becomes caricature. Such coding, if effective can become a brake on the dynamism of urban life, paralysing the city by locking it into an idealized form of caricature. This is the danger of so many formalist approaches to place that lead to a construction and stabilization of identity. The question of urban character is an important one but is not easily answered. Fluidities of place identity can open opportunities for creative urban design but also the creative destruction of deregulated markets. Desires to legislate place identity can protect valuable places, but also paralyse urban development and ironically kill the very phenomenon that is to be protected. The concept of character is like Carroll’s (1876) concept of the ‘snark’ – a portmanteau word that incorporates both snake and shark. Just as The Hunting of the Snark slides between ‘thimbles’ and ‘care’, ‘forks and hope’, ‘smiles and soap’, so the pursuit of urban character slides between ethereal and corporeal categories (Deleuze 1990): between the ‘feel’ of smiles, care and hope to the ‘forms’ of thimbles, forks and soap. While urban character may be threatened by market-led developments, a more serious threat may lie in the desire to reduce it to a series of fixed features which turn character into caricature.

Place and Character Pressure for higher density, driven both by markets and sustainability imperatives, is widely seen as the most serious threat to urban character. The paradox is that urban character is almost always produced by an increase in density – from forest or farmland into suburbs, from suburbs into towns, from towns into cities. Perceptions of density are related to an unselfconscious phenomenology of the everyday that becomes self-conscious only when threatened. The social identity that is seen as threatened by higher densities is often linked to a loss of individual identity – a preference for ‘a low-scale area where I have a sense of my own being and not being dwarfed’. Concerns about density meld together the belittling effect of large buildings with the feeling of being juxtaposed against a social ‘other’. Most residents, however, presume a right to maintain their neighbourhood at existing densities – a systematic forgetting that this character was created by destroying an earlier character.

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In everyday language the term ‘character’ is primarily applied to people, where it has dual meanings as both depth and difference. When we speak of a ‘character building exercise’ we mean a certain depth, reliability and authenticity. In his book The Corrosion of Character, Sennett (1998: 10) describes character as a positive and sustainable sense of identity and self-worth. The ways in which character develops over time through investment in work and craft become corroded by the flexible regimes, mobilities and work practices of global capitalism. From this perspective both the protection and creation of urban character as outlined above can be seen in terms of a desire to replace what has been lost – a retreat into a closed sense of community. The term ‘character’, as applied to people, is also descriptive of particular differences or eccentricities of people whether they are valued or not. This is the sense used in literary critique, or if we say ‘she’s quite a character’, where we refer to a certain intensity and difference. These dual meanings, of valued depth and a sense of difference, are not easily separated and they are shared by the concept of place as both a depth of meaning and a certain uniqueness. There is a crucial distinction here between two kinds of difference – differences between places and places of difference. ‘Differences between places’ are what distinguishes one building, neighbourhood or city from another. Such distinctions are firmly embedded in practices of power and they may well be driven by the quest for purification and the exclusion of difference. ‘Places of difference’, on the other hand, are about the degree to which an internal mix is constitutive of a particular place identity. The desire to establish differences between places can lead to the boundaries and gateways between different spheres we see at Caroline Springs and Beacon Cove but also the closed sense of place pursued in Camberwell. Such purified places have a capacity to limit identity formation, while places of difference can open up new possibilities. This returns us to the open versus closed senses of place. The ideal of ‘place’ based on consistency and closure where neighbourhoods are differentiated by uniformities of character is the one being defended in Camberwell and constructed in Beacon Cove and Caroline Springs. By contrast Fitzroy appears as a paradigm case of what Massey (1993) conceives as an open sense of place – progressive, globally connected, creative, multiplicitous. One of the ironies is that even dynamic places of difference need to be defended against forms of change that will render them identical. From such a view we can understand neighbourhood place identity as being deep-seated without being deep-rooted in essentialist meanings. Place and character are immanent rather than transcendent: grounded in the myriad particularities and everyday practices of particular places. There are many links here with assemblage thinking wherein urban places and development projects can be seen in terms of the connectivity and flow between parts of a socio-spatial assemblage (DeLanda 2006). Flows of people, traffic, ideas, capital and goods are linked to flows of desire for profit, views, amenity, sunshine, privacy, open space and access. Such desires play out in the politics of urban planning through the interests of developers, residents, retailers, commuters and neighbours – interests that variously intersect, reinforce and contradict.

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Assemblage is both verb and noun, not a collection of things or a spatial container but a socio-spatial territory wherein material forms and discursive practices become aligned. Place as assemblage is thus a conceptual framework that potentially connects both the ‘feel + form’ and the ‘social + physical’ dimensions of place and character. The concept of place can then be seen not as a bounded location but as an emergent property of the urban assemblage. ‘Sense’, ‘feel’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘character’ can be seen as intensities in the sense that desire, love, flavour, light, colour, tone and experience have intensity (while height and bulk have extension). When place identity becomes legislated, feel is reduced to form, intensity is reduced to extension. Here is the deep dilemma of planning for place identity – how to create or protect urban place identity in a manner that does not kill the very dynamism that produces it in the first place. It may be useful in this regard to conceive of place as a conceptual ‘plateau’ – a place defined by its situation between levels. The term originates with Bateson (2000 [1972]), where it is defined in opposition to schizmogenesis: the way a positive feedback process (like an arms race) can escalate out of control. The way that one tall building in a neighbourhood can set a precedent that triggers the right of neighbours to go even higher is an example of schizmogenesis. There are links here to Jacobs’ (1961) theory of the ‘self-destruction of diversity’ and to David Harvey’s (1985) work on the circuits of capital that lead to cycles of creative destruction. For Deleuze and Guattari (1987) the plateau is also a ‘plane of consistency’ in an assemblage that is open to change but not to suicidal escalation. The concepts of place, plateau or plane (note the shared etymology of these pla- words) denote immanent fields of everyday practice that ground modes of thought and identity formation without transcendent ideals. The suggestion here is that place identity and character can be conceived as a socio-spatial plateau: an assemblage that is open to change but is resilient to unrestrained escalation. The transformation we need most is from places that are closed, purified and static towards those that are open, multiple and dynamic. The difference that makes a difference is that between places of difference and places of purity; between places of becoming, and places where identity formation is fixed and finished.

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14 Authority

Fig. 14.1  St Peter’s Square, Rome (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

No matter how democratically the members of the elite are chosen … they justify their existence and order their actions in terms of a collection of stories, ceremonies, insignia, formalities and appurtenances … that mark the centre as centre and give what goes on there its aura of being not merely important but in some odd fashion connected with the way the world is built. Clifford Geertz (1985: 15)

Practices of power infuse urban design at every level since cities are produced by those with power over land and resources; the task of urban design is one of changing the city under contested conditions and intersecting desires. The question of power is one of whose interests prevail and of how quests for justice, democracy and liberation play out in this context. Power is infused in the ownership of space, the resources to transform it, the process of shaping it, the meanings it embodies and the practices it supports or inhibits. The field of urban design is saturated with struggles over how public space is shaped and used. There is no way around these issues, only ways into them and most chapters of this book address this in one way or another. There is no space of autonomy from practices of power.


There is danger in using a term such as power because if it is everywhere, then it can become nowhere to be seen. Power is a multiplicity of practices and I want to start by unpacking it with a primary distinction between power to and power over (Lukes 1974). Power to is a capacity to act. When we say someone is empowered we mean their capacity to act is increased. Power over by contrast is a form of relationship, a capacity to harness the capacities of others to one’s own ends. This distinction matters because of a tendency to reduce the concept to power over, creating an illusory opposition between power and emancipation. Power is not negative: rather it can be seen as a two-sided coin of oppression/liberation. Power over others can be used for empowerment. To define power as negative sets up a zero-sum game where everyone’s empowerment is someone else’s oppression. It is the power to imagine and create a better city that is ultimately the focus of urban design. When we focus on practices of power over, we find that this too covers a range of different practices, such as ‘force’, ‘coercion’, ‘manipulation’, ‘seduction’ and ‘authority’ (Dovey 2008: chapter 2). Force is when one person or organization has the power to force the compliance of another – prison involves enforced incarceration: the subject is deprived of choice. Violence is the extreme use of force. Coercion is when the threat of force is used to secure compliance – if you don’t obey the speed limit, you will be forced to pay the fine. We are coerced to act in certain ways because of the consequences if we don’t. Urban spatial structure is coercive in the mundane sense that flows of traffic are channelled by paths, boundaries and entrances. Manipulation is the concealment of intent, coercion without transparency; spatial structures designed to stimulate consumption are a good example – the exit through the gift shop. Seduction is a form of power over others where there is a production of the other’s desire. To seduce is to entice, a production of desire that operates like a magnet – high-quality design is often seductive, as is advertising. Authority is a form of power over that has become integrated into the institutional structures of society such as the state, church, corporation, school and family – the authority of the politician, police, boss, teacher and parent. Authority is generally supported by a perception of legitimacy: it relies on unquestioned recognition and compliance. The concept of authority can be linked to those of authorship and authenticity – it draws legitimacy from the idea of deeper sources. Legitimacy is not a form of power so much as a foundation for a range of its practices; it is what transforms force into unquestioned authority, ‘might’ into ‘right’ (Wrong 1979). Legitimacy in turn relies upon what are often called the trappings of power. When we are stopped by the police for speeding we may argue about the speed but if the trappings of authority are present (car, badge, uniform), then we are likely to recognize the authority to enforce the law. Authority becomes stabilized and legitimated through the trappings of power, which are representational practices designed to construct regimes of legitimation. Perceptions of legitimacy are generally based in conceptions of democracy, justice and truth. Authority is the unquestioned recognition of power as legitimate. Legitimacy is what connects authority to public interests.

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Legitimating Imagery The quote from Geertz at the start of this chapter suggests that the trappings of state authority are inevitable at the centre of power and that these ‘stories, insignia, formalities and appurtenances’, are ‘connected with the way the world is built’ (Geertz 1985: 15). This is what Barthes (1973) meant when he wrote that myth ‘turns history into nature’; the arbitrary events and forces of history come to seem natural, mythology is ‘depoliticized speech’. When meanings become ‘connected with the way the world is built’ their power lies in the fact that we no longer question them. When such narratives are embodied in urban design the ways the world is built resonate with the ways the city is built to become part of the unquestioned framework of political life. If citizens take the state for granted, then state authority is affirmed. It is common to conceive of the nation state as somehow timeless when it is a relatively modern institution that is mostly established by violence before being legitimated as authority. Australia, where I live, and grew up, is one of the more democratic and just societies on the planet, yet it was founded by the violence of a British invasion, and the authority of the state thus established is based in part on forgetting that founding violence. Many nation states remain within boundaries established by colonial violence where the history of their formation does not work as a legitimating narrative. Thus new mythologies are born to legitimate the nation state and are often embodied in legitimating imagery. The nation state is not visible: it is what Anderson (1983) calls an ‘imagined community’. It must be made visible through an iconography of maps, stamps, money and cities where images of landscapes, heroes and monuments affirm the story of the nation – enabling citizens to imagine what they cannot see. The use of urban design to legitimate authority also requires the erasure of those parts of the narrative that do not work to legitimate a prevailing order. I now want to sketch a series of themes that are often embodied in urban design at centres of state power as legitimating imagery. These are described here as a series of keywords: stability, scale, dynamism, orientation, nature, style, history and ritual. The word ‘state’ shares the Greek root ‘sta-’ with words such as stand, stable, static, statue, statement, standard, station, stage, status and establish. To legitimate authority, urban design needs to signify a stable system of law and order. Ideal forms such as the pyramid and dome embody the expression of stability, hierarchy and symmetry, a centralized order where power is concentrated and flows downwards and outwards. The obelisk is essentially a vertically stretched pyramid (Figs 11.5 and 14.1). The dome has the added capacity to signify the heavens from within. Relative scale works to signify power through the ways that urban prominence is read as dominance – large-scale urban form establishes a figure–ground relationship as a landmark (Fig. 11.6). A centre of power is often established by verticality or horizontal expanse at a scale that overwhelms the human subject. There is an aesthetic thrill, a pleasure in being overwhelmed by urban scale – a sense of the sublime to which we surrender when intimidation is mixed with awe and inspiration. The state is also

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legitimated by images of dynamism – part of the potency of the pyramid is that it incorporates an upward movement with diagonal planes (Fig. 10.3). The diagonal is a form that is inherently dynamic and is widely deployed during revolutions – constructivist architecture of the Bolshevik revolution, and the Nazi swastika and salute are examples. The diagonal can also suggest impending collapse, which is why it is much less used after the revolution is stabilized. The key institutions, monuments and rituals of state authority are arranged through an organization of street vistas to produce a collective orientation towards the centre of power (Fig. 14.1). There is thus a political iconography of the city where the presence and position of symbols of justice, the military, the monarchy, religion and so on reveal something of the idealized structure of institutional authority. When major transformations of political power occur we often see transformations of urban form that produce a reorientation to new monuments, avenues and citadels of power. This is common with the emergence of new nations (Vale 2008). If the state can be identified with landscape and nature, then this becomes a literal naturalization of political power. The ground or earth upon which the city is based is the most stable of images; demolishing and rebuilding is easy but the site cannot be removed. The design and construction of the gardens at Versailles are perhaps the most dramatic example – the landscape as far as the eye can see was meticulously controlled as a symbol of monarchic power. Design styles with a strong degree of formal order, symmetry and hierarchy are the most easily deployed as representations of law and order. In Western architecture the strong sense of hierarchical order of the neoclassical resonates well with the hierarchic order of the state. Yet the neoclassical is linked equally with both democracy and tyranny – there are no architectural styles that cannot be used to legitimate authority. Gothic Revival was chosen for the British Houses of Parliament, where it resonates with the traditional connection of church and state. We often find the architecture of authority linked into local traditions in China, Japan and the Middle East (Coaldrake 1995). Vernacular architecture can be used to evoke the idea that authority is indigenous, legitimated in the more simple and natural buildings of everyday life. References to history can be used to construct a narrative that suggests that the current authority sits in a natural line of progress. In the West there is often an attempt to use urban design to represent a narrative progression from Egypt through Greece and Rome to the current regime. This is the case in Washington, DC, where the constellation of monuments evokes a narrative of empire from Egypt (Washington Obelisk), Greece (Lincoln Memorial) and Rome (Jefferson Monument) to the American nation (White House). Finally, urban design often works as a stage set for the urban choreography of political ritual. This may be political rallies or the symbolic display of military force and weaponry. This is the spectacle of disciplined troops and audiences geared to wide avenues, triumphal entrances, vast open spaces and monumental stage sets. The importance of political ritual in public space played a key role during the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s, augmented by theatrical parade grounds designed by Speer. A current parallel is enacted regularly on Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang.

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Morphologies of Legitimation If we examine the morphologies of centres of political power we find a great deal of formal congruence in regimes of large-scale urban order, replete with expressions of stability and dynamism, of ideal aspirational forms, straight lines or orderly curves, telling stories of history and nature, framing rituals expressing force, discipline, hierarchy and social order. Figure 14.2 shows at identical scale how these principles have been inscribed on centres of state power from ancient Beijing to the most recent expressions in Kazakhstan and Malaysia. If the same underlying forms, structures and types are repeated regardless of history, landscape and culture, does that mean that the meanings of some forms are universal? Can the ways that power is lodged in urban form be based in geometry? This is a dangerous question for reasons we have seen – the production of mythology is very often directed at making that which is historically contingent seem universal and inevitable; a power that has been established by force is made to seem natural. It seems obvious to me that there is a universal language of form, space and scale that is operating here: however, it operates as a socio-spatial assemblage rather than essentialized meanings. The trappings of power as urban design produce a formal order of the city that represents the social order of society. Axes and vistas order the city horizontally to sites where a vertical hierarchy is established. Straightness is linked to strictness; when we rule a straight street on a plan we become a ruler – this relationship of straightness to order is not arbitrary. Centres of power, capitals of the nation state, are iconic in that they are cities or parts of cities that must stand for the whole nation. The formal language of the state is the language of law and order. The scale and form of this spatial order is linked to the structure of the human body and the practices of dwelling in space. The valorization of head over feet and of vertical over horizontal that humans embody is linked to the placement of centres of power on the highest ground and in the tallest buildings. Urban designs that legitimate authority are often based in and draw their potency from the universal structures of human dwelling.

Paradox There is an important paradox about these uses of urban design in the legitimation of power: the trappings of state authority have an inverse relation to legitimacy. Governments with the least legitimacy need the trappings the most. When giant images of leaders appear on billboards there is always a deficit of legitimacy. Megalomanic displays of authority in public space tend to mark power on the rise or in decline, while a stable state will get on with governing rather than investing in legitimating imagery. A good example of this is New Delhi, which was constructed by the British on the outskirts of Old Delhi in the early twentieth century just as British authority over India went into decline. The scheme is centred on the axis of the Rajpath or King’s Way, an axis that extends for several kilometres from the triumphal

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Fig. 14.2  Authorizing the nation (Source: Google Earth, Geo Eye)

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Fig. 14.3  State authority or urban opportunity – Rajpath, New Delhi

arch of India Gate to the Viceroy’s house – the centre of British authority (Fig. 14.2, top). The monumental scheme failed dramatically to legitimate British imperialism, but was enthusiastically adopted for independence-day parades. Most of the time, however, the Rajpath is a vast, barren and anti-urban space where one can no longer see through the smog to either end from the middle (Fig. 14.3). It is also a great opportunity for renewed urbanization. A more recent example is Astana, a small desert town in central Asia that was converted to become the capital of the new resource-rich state of Kazakhstan when it became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since 1998 a range of new buildings, monuments and open spaces has been assembled along a four-kilometre axis in accordance with an urban design by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa (Fig. 14.2, centre). The key building is the Presidential Palace set in semi-circular gardens with the Yesil River redirected around it. Across the river, also on axis, is the Palace of Truth and Reconciliation in the form of a pyramid designed by Norman Foster. The Presidential Palace is framed by two conical golden towers (popularly known as

Fig. 14.4  Golden Egg, Astana (Architect: Norman Foster) (Photo: Creative Commons)

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the ‘beer cans’), while the parliament building is placed off-axis nearby. At a cross axis is the Bayterek monument, also designed by Foster, representing a golden egg laid in a poplar tree by the bird of happiness (Fig. 14.4). The ‘egg’ is also a lookout where visitors can place their hand in an imprint made by the President, gaze along the axis through the golden towers towards the Presidential Palace and the pyramid of truth – and make a wish. Kazakhs may wish for a more democratic state – this is an urban design scheme designed to legitimate the rule of an authoritarian regime with a President who has remained in power since 1991. So what is the role of designers in such schemes? The best answer lies in that definition of architecture as the oldest profession – to bring pleasure to a client for a fee. Architects often define architecture as autonomous from politics, a view that is mired in a long history of service to tyranny. Foster is a fine architect who produces good work for good clients, as was the case for the reconstruction of the Reichstag in Berlin (Fig. 14.5). This was a site loaded with a difficult history – the dome was (arguably) burnt down by Hitler as a means of provoking a crisis during his rise to power: indeed the Reichstag was too small for his grandiose schemes for Berlin (Dovey 2008: chapter 5). In Foster’s scheme the dome of the Reichstag is reconstructed in glass rather than stone, representing democracy through ideas of transparency and public access. A spiral ramp carries the public to the apex of this centre of power giving the neo-classical form and style a new use and meaning. Like the ‘egg’ in Astana, it is also a lookout, but it legitimates a fundamentally different regime.

Fig. 14.5  Reichstag dome reconstruction, Berlin (Architect: Norman Foster)

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POLITICS OF AFFECT While it is possible to deconstruct the ways in which these grandiose schemes work as forms of representation – the narratives about law and order, nature, hierarchy and so on – such deconstruction cannot undo their affects. This is because these urban designs do not work primarily through representation but through the ‘politics of affect’ (Thrift 2004) – the pre-reflective encounter with the urban order that does not rely on interpretation. The affect produced incorporates the sublime mix of exhilar­ ation, awe and intimidation of becoming belittled but also empowered through the pride of belonging to the nation. This is, of course, a dangerous pride that comes into being as part of a relatively closed crowd, through discipline and submission to the social whole. Patriotism may well be the last refuge of the scoundrel but it is also a form of place experience that connects us to the character of the nation and its landscape. It is possible, but difficult, to distinguish nationalism from the identification with place at this scale because the two are generally conflated in the public imagination. So long as the sovereignty of the nation state prevails, ceremonial centres of state authority are inevitable. So what are the prospects for urban design? There is no easy answer to this, but they should be integrated as much as possible with everyday urban life. The practices of government should be open to the practices of difference and encounter that characterize the city. This involves a turn back from the Roman imperative to ‘look and obey’, and towards the engagements and contestations of the Agora (Chapter 1) so that the centre becomes more transparent. The tragedy of the strict centre of power is that it is anti-urban – the regime strips out the smooth intensities of everyday life and encounter in favour of disciplinary affect and an image of law and order. The citadel culture that separates power from everyday life may be justified on the basis of security but this is often spurious. While these are often potent sites with a powerful affect, they lack urban intensity because they are not sites of difference, encounter and debate. The vast empty spaces so often designed at the heart of existing centres of power are opportunities for urban revital­ ization. Cities need to purge themselves of the worst excesses of nationalism – the city predates the nation state and will certainly outlive it. The state is an institution that we have invented for the purpose of stabilizing territories, consolidating regimes of control within them and preventing flows across the borders. Globalization means that these boundaries are becoming permeable and the power of nation states is slowly eroding. The current condition of global financial, ecological and social crises has created an imperative for global governance that will require a further loss of state sovereignty. Urban design strategies need to be long term and geared to a post-national era when cities rather than nations will be recognized as the key local territories of a global democracy.

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15 Resistance

Fig. 15.1  Central, Hong Kong, November 2014 (Photo: Ceeseven, Creative Commons)

Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act, but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. Hannah Arendt (1958)

Real revolutions have the atmosphere of fétes. Deleuze (1968: 268).

The Pearl Monument in Bahrain was constructed in 1982 – a giant pearl supported 100 metres high on curved pillars to represent the unity and legitimacy of the cluster of Arab kingdoms known as the Gulf States. It was located on a major roundabout near the financial district of the capital city of Manama and the image was also propagated on coins. During the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising of February 2011 this roundabout was occupied and a key entrance to the city was largely closed down. The monument was transformed overnight from a legitimating image of monarchy into a symbol of collective resistance. When the occupation was finally quashed in March, the monument was also swiftly demolished and the roundabout was


Fig. 15.2  Pearl Square, Manama, Bahrain – before (left) and after the Arab Spring, 2011 (Photos: Creative Commons)

converted into an intersection (Fig. 15.2). Coins bearing the image of the monument were also removed from circulation but it has taken on a virtual presence as the logo for the resistance movement, and is frequently portrayed in graffiti (Bahrain Observer 2013). How is it that the meaning of a monument can change so swiftly as to require demolition? Where and how do such spaces of resistance emerge, and how are they closed? The role of public space as a stage set for political dissent has a long and rich history, one that is also changing fast in response to new media, new strategies of legitimation and new tactics of resistance. Many of the concepts introduced thus far can be useful in understanding how the shape and meaning of urban space mediates such practices of resistance. Resistance is fundamentally rhizomic and networked in opposition to the tree-like strictures of the state. It embodies tactics that are often a response to the strategies of the state (Certeau 1984). Resistance flourishes in the open crowd, where it seeks to grow and to move, creating energy and dynamism (Canetti 1962). The occupation of public space involves an assertion of the right to the city, the right to appropriate the streets and stop the traffic (Lefebvre 1996). It often involves an appropriation of certain districts of the city (financial districts, places of national, military and ceremonial identity), its landmarks and paths. It may seek to appropriate key nodes of the city, to strangle the flows of people and capital, to capture the image of the city (Lynch 1960). Protesters often construct a counter narrative by opposing or even inverting the meanings of monuments and public spaces, constructing a new mythology (Barthes 1973). Political dissent in public space is strongly geared to representation in the mass media – capturing the public gaze. Political resistance seeks to construct an alternative legitimacy and undermining of authority; it is an new production of power. The quote from Hannah Arendt that opens this chapter suggests that power is produced when people forge agreement and act in concert. This notion has its roots in the tradition of the Greek agora, the place where ideas are exposed and debated, where agreements are forged or disputed. The practice of getting together and sharing ideas in public is not just an argument about power but a production of it. Power is not a zero-sum game but is produced by agreement and collective action in public space (Arendt 1958).

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From this view public space is a space not just of difference but of contestation – it is agonistic. The democratic state generally authorizes public protest within a framework that ensures that the protest does not undermine the legitimacy of the state. Dissent is authorized if it is organized, a permit is granted and behaviour is orderly. Figure 15.3 shows a demonstration against the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2004 with about 150,000 people walking through mid-town Manhattan on a Sunday. The event was choreographed by the state and lined with riot police to ensure it didn’t get out of hand – any small groups that broke with the strict formation of the march were immediately arrested. This was a closed crowd; the state strategy was to enable organized protest but to eradicate self-organization. In such cases dissent works only as a demonstration of numbers. The Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 with far fewer numbers was much more effective. In this case the choice of location, Zuccotti Park, was based on being within the Wall Street financial district, but there was no permission and little obstruction of traffic. Zuccotti Park is a privately owned corporate plaza, originally developed in 1968 as a trade-off for increased height limits under the condition that it remain open to the public at all times. This condition ironically made it difficult for the state to legally evict occupants. Such forms of civil disobedience are arguably the most effective form of urban resistance because they draw upon the legitimacy embodied in the right to the city – to claim public space for non-violent purposes in defiance of the state. Under authoritarian regimes it is often the case that all forms of political dissent in public space are banned; this is in part because the state lacks legitimacy and relies heavily on a public image of law and order. In such a context even a very small demonstration can have a large impact if propagated through mass media. Authoritarianism has the effect of driving dissent underground and into private space, where it is deprived of much of the power of collective action it gains in public space. Under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile in the 1980s a nightly protest of banging pots and pans from apartment windows was initiated (known as cacerolazo). This shift

Fig. 15.3  Disciplined demonstrating – New York City, August 2004

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in medium from visual to aural spectacle produces a protest that is at once invisible (therefore relatively safe) and cannot be closed down. The noise of the kitchens of the nation echoing through the streets and across the cityscape produces a politics of affect that is impossible to ignore. I now want to explore some of these issues through two brief accounts of events in Beijing and Bangkok that demonstrate the changing roles of public space in a contest of democratization. More detailed versions of these cases appear as chapters in the book Framing Places (Dovey 2008).

Tiananmen Tiananmen Square is an entry point to the Forbidden City – the former centre of imperial power. The Emperor was rarely seen in public and there was no Chinese tradition of open public space. The Chinese court was a hidden and forbidden space of multiple courtyards, a spatial structure that protected the Emperor at great spatial depth (Zhu 1994). When the Emperor did appear the approved practice was to kow-tow – an act of not looking at the Emperor. After the revolution of 1948 Mao appeared on Tiananmen Gate to usher in a new era of transparency and openness. An entire urban district in front of the gate was demolished to create the new Tiananmen Square, eventually framed by the Hall of the People and National Museum. The square is a very modern and non-Chinese space without walls or corners, designed to house vast crowds. This was to be the opposite of the Forbidden City – a flat space without hierarchy or levels, representing the equality of the people. As part of this modern design, the central north–south axis along which the Emperor once travelled was blocked by the Monument to the People’s Heroes. This is a granite obelisk designed to honour a range of martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom from imperial rule, including the students who first chose this site as a place of protest in 1919. The path under the centre of the gate, once reserved for the Emperor, became a path for the people (Fig. 10.2). This is a good example of a semantic inversion where a meaning is converted into its opposite. The Emperor’s Path becomes the People’s Path; but it can only become the People’s Path because it was the Emperor’s Path. From the 1960s onwards the square was used primarily as a site for state choreography, national day parades and state spectacle. It is the events of May and June 1989 that now most haunt this square, despite the state’s attempts to erase this history from the public imagination. These events began with an outpouring of grief after the death of Hu Yaobang, a party leader who had sympathies for the democracy movement. The focus was on the Monument to the People’s Heroes, which became a flower-covered shrine with a demonstration of grief that soon morphed into a political protest. The grief was the cover for the politics, the means by which the monument and then the square was appropriated for purposes of resistance. There were soon thousands of students camped around the monument and many others joined them during the day. The meanings of the monument as

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Fig. 15.4  Tiananmen Gate, June 1989 (Photo: Robert Croma)

a symbol of resistance were turned against the state. The intended narrative – that resistance to imperial authority is a service to the people – was utilized for a new round of resistance to a new authority. On some days there were over a million people in the square and a global television audience in the billions. It was peaceful and reasonably well organized – the central section around the monument was barricaded by the students to ensure that they were not infiltrated by government agents. On one occasion a number of students lined up and kow-towed to the Great Hall of the People – treating the Party as an Imperial power. The kow-tow was turned into a tactic against the state, its meaning inverted. One thing that emerged from Tiananmen was a new kind of relationship between public protest and mass media. With Chinese media controlled by the state, students realized that the primary audience was global and produced placards in English. Large political demonstrations of this kind produce a spectacle that market-based mass media cannot resist. Any sniff of revolutionary change produces a huge global audience and hence profits. The state’s attempts to stop the export of images and information did not work, yet the students did not control these images either. When they installed a statue of the ‘Goddess of Democracy’ in the square, the image was recognized as the figure of liberty derived originally from the French Revolution and the later Statue of Liberty. While the statue was installed in the middle of the square, the Western media portrayed it as confronting Mao’s photo on Tiananmen Gate some 200 metres away (Fig. 15.4). This foreign image intruding onto the square was portrayed in the Chinese media as a step too far: ‘The Square is sacred,’ proclaimed the People’s Daily with accusations of Western imperialism.

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It all came to a brutal end on the night of 3 June 1989 when the state resorted to violence. This has generally been portrayed as the Tiananmen massacre as if the students were killed in the square. The evidence is that about 2,700 people were killed that night but most were supporters of the protest rather than students and were not killed in the square (Brook 1992: 151–69). The square became a place of relative safety in the midst of the bloodbath and the several thousand students camped around the monument were permitted to escape before the tanks rolled through. The sanctity of the square and particularly the monument at its centre is due to its importance as a legitimating image for the state. The square has been very tightly choreographed ever since; in the long list of forbidden activities the most forbidden of all is the placing of flowers on the monument. While this monument has not been demolished its meanings have been irrevocably changed. Monuments and urban spaces express legitimating ideals of liberty and equality that may or may not be practiced. When such ideals are inscribed in urban form they can become potent sites of resistance, a potential linked to both what they signify and the gap between rhetoric and reality. The Monument to the People’s Heroes was designed to legitimate one form of resistance and thereby became appropriated by another. One of the lessons here was in the rapidly changing relations between public protest and information technology. The Chinese authorities could not control the flow of mass media imagery to the global audience. Yet when it was all over, these images also became the evidence to identify those who had taken part. The Tiananmen protests saw the emergence of complex new relationships between public protest and urban space.

Bangkok The democracy movement in Thailand developed from the 1960s with mass demonstrations in 1973, 1976, 1992 and 2010. Over this time a particular route through Bangkok became known as the ‘path of democracy’. This path was designed to construct a narrative and to build the legitimacy of the movement for change. Demonstrations began at a sacred Bodhi tree (which gave the movement Buddhist legitimacy) through a University campus (intellectual legitimacy) to the vast open space of Sanam Luang (the Royal Ground connecting with monarchy and landscape). It then proceeded along the modernist boulevard of Ratachadamnoen Avenue (the King’s Road) to the Democracy Monument. Thus a spatial narrative was constructed connecting the spiritual, intellectual, political and landscape heritage of the nation with a march to modernity and democracy (Dovey 2008: chapter 7). The Democracy Monument was originally built by a fascist dictatorship in the 1930s when the state was badly in need of legitimacy. The monument has a rich and contradictory layering of meanings, including Buddhism, nationalism, militarism and democracy in a mix of styles from social realism to art deco and Italian futurism (Fig. 15.5). It is also notable that the monument omits any reference to the monarchy, which was briefly deposed during the 1930s. Because of its fascist origins, the

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Fig. 15.5  Democracy Monument, Bangkok

monument was widely disparaged for decades as a form of propaganda. However, because of the name and location, it became re-appropriated in the 1970s and the focus for crowds of up to several hundred thousand. Uprisings in 1973, 1976 and 1992 were focused on this public space: all raised hopes and were eventually quashed by violence. From the early 1990s the use of mobile phones transformed the self-organizational capacities of demonstrators. As mobile phones also became cameras from the 2000s, they ensured a level of hyper-visibility in public space. The panopticism of the state is turned around such that the state is also under surveillance – any violence against demonstrators is likely to be digitally recorded and made available to the mass media. In 2010 political demonstrations by the ‘red shirt’ movement largely migrated from the civic spaces around the Democracy Monument into the commercial centre of the city (King and Dovey 2013). The Ratchaprasong intersection is Bangkok’s major commercial node point and is lined with upmarket shopping malls and five-star hotels with an elevated railway forming a spaghetti junction of flyovers and pedestrian conduits. This infrastructure places the public space of the intersection (normally choked with traffic) into the full glare of the global gaze. In April and May 2010 this intersection became a sea of red-shirt rallies that occupied and held the intersection and surrounding streets for about five weeks. The move to Ratchaprasong reflected a strategy that focused on flows more than symbols. The intersection is the primary entrance to the commercial district whether by car or public transport: to control it was to control those flows and indeed to capture the attention of global tourism and mass media. A provisional stage was constructed and surmounted with a banner in English saying ‘Welcome to

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Fig. 15.6  Catching the global gaze – Bangkok, March 2010 (Photo: Roslan Rahman/Getty Images)

Thailand – We just want Democracy’ (Fig. 15.6). The first part of this slogan echoed a tourist marketing slogan repeated on billboards all over Thailand. The exposure to global media became (for a time) a form of safety zone, a buffer against the state’s attempts to remove or harm them. Just as eyes on the street produce public safety at the local scale, here global visibility produced a similar effect because the loss of legitimacy to the state is profound if citizens are murdered on global television. While the demonstrations opened a window to the mass media, it substantially closed the flows of capital in Bangkok. The uprising of 2010 was again quashed by violence but led eventually to democratic elections. The next round of protest in 2013–14 was an anti-democratic middle-class movement that utilized similar tactics of closing down key intersections to paralyse the city and produce a spectacle of a state out of control – they were ultimately successful in triggering a military coup and a return to authoritar­ ianism. Just as the meanings of monuments can be converted to new ends, so the tactics of occupation and resistance can be equally effective for different resistance movements. Political resistance movements in public space cannot be understood by any reduction to singular events or effects. Rather, they need to be seen as assemblages of people, buildings, streets, plazas, performances, monuments, the state, the military, networks, phones, cameras, the Internet and mass media that produce certain emergent effects – at times oppressive, emancipatory, transformative and

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tragic. Protesters choose places that are at once open in terms of access, exposed in terms of global media and vulnerable as node points in flows of people and capital that can be closed down to paralyse the economy. The concentration on stopping urban flows in highly visible urban nodes has become a key urban tactic in recent years; it was evident across the Arab Spring uprisings in Tahrir Square in Cairo and Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain. The 2014 protesters in Hong Kong similarly chose a series of nodes in different parts of the city, stopping flows of vehicles and capital as well as producing flows of imagery through the panoptic gaze of global media (Fig. 15.1). While we have seen attention shift from symbolic monuments to nodes – from what the city means to how it works – the impact is both practical and representational, to paralyse the city and to produce images of the state’s impotence. The focus on stopping flows is but one part of what we might call the dance of legitimacy. To be successful the occupation of public space and closing the city down needs to be seen as legitimate – it needs the story to get out but it loses legitimacy if resistance becomes violent. On the other hand a state that uses violence against its own citizens thereby demonstrates a lack of legitimacy. Demonstrations that were once swiftly quelled by state violence are increasingly becoming protracted series of events that move around the city without either escalating or being quashed. This is a dance because there is reciprocity between authority and resistance, between the strategies and tactics of each. There are no rules for how this will play out, and the dance never ends. The spirit of democracy began in the public space of the Agora and it is the agonistic condition of the city as a site of difference that keeps it alive. Power, as Arendt suggests, is not a zero-sum game, rather it is produced by the ability to act in concert. Good urban design always embodies this democratic impulse as a site of encounter with difference, but it will never be within the scope of urban design to guarantee democracy and we should be sceptical whenever it seeks to do this.

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16 Globalization

Fig. 16.1  Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai


Globalization, in the most general sense, is the long slow movement towards an understanding of our planet as a whole system with an integrated ecology and economy. While there is legitimate resistance to existing forms of global capitalism and many good reasons to celebrate the local, globalization is ultimately the necessary condition for a sustainable planet. My focus here is on the range of global­ ization practices that have accelerated since the mid- to late-twentieth century, and the ways they have transformed urban design practices. First, there is an increased flexibility and mobility of capital as large capital investments can be instantly switched from one part of the globe to another. Technologies of telepresence and transport have progressively reduced the impact of distance for those who have access; global events are experienced simultaneously; globalization shrinks the planet. We find increased flows of people and things across greater distances – tourists, businesses, migrants, guest workers and refugees. Labour increasingly moves to where the jobs are and the jobs are primarily in cities – London imports nurses from Ghana, Singapore imports maids from the Philippines, Dubai imports construction workers from Pakistan and India. There has been a substantial shift from an economy of material flows towards an information economy based on flows of ideas, images and knowledge. The information economy is one where brand identity, image and design take on a much more significant economic role. The brand or logo is the iconic signifier of taste, the construction of the myth, the symbolic capital. The information economy brings a focus on experiential outcomes, lifestyles and spectacles. A new international division of labour emerges where design and branding are undertaken in rich cities, while manufacturing moves to poorer cities with cheap labour. What has emerged is a new form of global capitalism generally termed neoliberalism – a global consensus about deregulated markets that has arisen since the 1970s to ease flows of capital in a global economy. In the absence of global governance, nations who want the benefits of global capital flows are forced to accept neoliberalism as the dominant form of global governance. Fundamental to neoliberal thinking is the idea that markets can replace public interests – it is this ideology that anti-globalization movements legitimately contest.

Neoliberalism and Intercity Competition Out of all of these shifts towards neoliberal globalization we see a series of related effects on urban design. One of the key changes has been the intensification of intercity competition. A hierarchy of global cities has emerged where some cities have become the command and control centres for the global economy – primarily London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong but variously including Frankfurt, Shanghai, Paris and others (Sassen 1994). In a context of flexible capital switching between different markets, competition between cities for capital investment becomes intense. Flexible investment means that the planet becomes a single market for large urban projects; investors in large-scale urban design developments will weigh up

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potential profits in different cities at a global scale and make decisions accordingly. Such intercity competition places renewed importance on the city as a brand and as a form of symbolic capital. Globalization brings new attention to the image and iconography of the city, the ways that certain landmarks, nodes and districts of the city can be marketed – iconic urban images become brand logos. This leads to the commissioning of large urban projects for the purpose of re-branding cities. This is what has been termed the ‘Bilbao effect’ since the industrial city of Bilbao commissioned star designers, including Gehry, Foster and Calatrava, to design the museum, metro and bridge to produce a new urban image for a post-industrial city (Fig. 16.2). While the benefits for Bilbao have been considerable, such strategies often become formulaic as cities from well down the global hierarchy become desperate to get their brand onto the global stage – to be seen as ‘world class’ and to attract global events. It is cities, not nations, that compete to become host for the Olympic Games and Grand Prix races that deliver a global audience and focus the global gaze upon that city for a particular period of time. There are important synergies between the symbolic, economic and political capital of such projects. Major projects with innovative imagery become signifiers of progressive leadership – these are forms of political capital that build legitimacy for authority and can be cashed during elections. One effect here is to force major urban transformations into very short time frames to meet election cycles of three to four years. The politicization of urban development can lead to problems when

Fig. 16.2  Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (Architect: Frank Gehry)

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new leadership inherits a project that is identified with the predecessor: major urban projects can then be abandoned or transformed. There is thus a synergy between the commissioning of urban design projects, the branding of the city and political marketing. The principles of supply and demand, however, still apply at the global scale. The global market can only absorb so many Gehry designed museums before the brand becomes common and loses its potency. The pursuit of symbolic capital is a zero-sum game; there is a limited amount of symbolic capital available. Urban branding is not easily franchised and when urban iconography is replicated it loses value. The urban icon seeks a form of monopoly that requires a visit to the actual place. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, is part of an experiential economy where Paris has the monopoly. Another key plank of neoliberal practice is that the state retreats from public investment in favour of creating conditions favourable for private investment. The cutting of taxes and public debt leads to a paucity of public funds and large urban projects are increasingly initiated through Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the state in partnership with private consortia. The idea is that the private partners primarily provide the investment and take the profits or losses (and therefore the risk), while the state provides land and oversight to ensure that public interests are served. While the risk is notionally transferred to private interests, this is often not the case in practice because of the politicization of the project. The state cannot afford the loss of political capital if the project was to fail and the risk thus remains public. As Harvey puts it: ‘The private-public partnership means that the public takes the risks and the private takes the profits. The citizenry wait for benefits that never materialize.’ (Harvey 2000: 141). There is also a loss of transparency in PPPs. Private operators seek to keep both cost–benefit analyses and urban design strategies private through commercial-inconfidence agreements. As a result there is no way to conduct transparent public debate on major decisions about urban futures. Various forms of manipulation, coercion, seduction and legitimation become embodied and coded into the forms and networks of urban life (Dovey 2005). PPPs also shift the debt for major citybuilding projects from the state to private corporations. Public debt has always been the most effective and efficient way to build cities because it amortizes the cost of large-scale projects across a longer time span and at lower interest rates. It also insures the process against the effects of short political cycles wherein the political capital generated by large projects is cashed before the negative consequences become apparent. Thus one of the effects of intercity competition under global neoliberalism is an erosion of local democratic planning. Models of comprehensive rational urban planning whereby master plans based on comprehensive research are legislated and enforced become obsolete. The vacuum is filled with planning documents that resemble marketing brochures with a profusion of seductive imagery coupled to a language of guidelines and value statements. Urban designers and planners become the legitimators of a practice that has become both privatized and secret.

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Intercity competition can then become a ‘race to the bottom’ as cities compete with each other to lower tax rates and dismantle local democracy in order to attract global investment. Public land is made available, and special tax regimes and planning zones are created, often on disused waterfronts and industrial sites. The argument for deregulated development is that democratic planning is a brake on innovative new development, that you can’t have developers hamstrung by local community meetings or locked into producing mediocre projects that do not contribute to urban branding. The suggestion is that public interests are served at the strategic level of attracting growth, jobs and investment: that participatory democracy will paralyse economic development. In other words markets have replaced democratic process as a measure of public interests. While economic growth increases average wealth, neoliberal development also increases inequality. Cities become polarized between global projects in Special Development Zones and an urban context where there is relative neglect and dereliction. These pockets of luxury within a sea of poverty become the most visible evidence of new inequalities of wealth produced under neoliberal capitalism (Piketty 2014).

States of Exception Giorgio Agamben (2004) has described what he terms ‘states of exception’ in social and political theory to frame a spatio-temporal realm wherein individuals are deprived of normal citizenship – a suspension of normal law. The parallel in urban space involves states of exception to the provisions of normal public space, particularly Special Development Zones that operate outside the normal jurisdictions of the state even when located within it. This is what Keller Easterling (2014) terms ‘extrastatespace’ – urban space that is beyond normal state jurisdiction. Within what are often termed ‘free zones’ a form of ‘incentivised urbanism’ emerges to attract global capital with incentives such as tax holidays, cheap land and labour, and deregulated governance conditions. Free trade zones have a very long history but what we have seen since about the 1970s is both an expansion of such territories and a rapid mutation of new and different types. What began as Free Trade Zones, Export Processing Zones, Special Economic Zones or Science Industrial Parks, have morphed into a set of models for the new metropolis. These are at times models for a new city that emerges adjacent to the old with synergies between them – as in the relation of Pudong to Shanghai. At other times it morphs into a city state like Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai. Easterling (2005) writes of the rise of ‘outlaw spatial products’ and ‘real estate cocktails’ that exist between, within or outside the state and other normal jurisdictions: ambiguous legal zones such as resorts and ports. Cities become splintered into disintegrated networks geared to different class interests (Graham and Marvin 2001); economic inequalities are consolidated into the very infrastructure of the city. Many such possibilities come together in the city-state of Dubai, a 50-kilometre strip of coastline, largely owned and run by the Emir, who inherited the kingdom from

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Fig. 16.3  Burj Khalifa, Dubai

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his father in 1990. Dubai has risen since then to become the financial capital of the Middle East. With a long history as a haven for pirates and smugglers it is now also a money laundry and conduit for flows of arms and money (Davis 2007). Much of the trade is administered through spatial enclaves where different laws are tailored to different markets within what Davis calls ‘legal bubble domes’ – conditional states of exception from tax, censorship or Islamic law as the market demands. Dubai is also an oasis from labour regulations – unions and strikes are prohibited and contract labourers, housed in temporary camps near construction sites, work under threat of instant deportation. Only 15 per cent of the population are Emirate citizens. The only absolute prohibition (in theory) is on recreational drugs – which may be just as well because the urban landscape is hypertropic enough. The most important manufactured product in Dubai is coastline. ‘Atlantis’ is a giant peninsula in the form of a palm tree with a stem formed by a freeway lined with twelve-storey apartments and fronds as gated enclaves. Sheikh Zayed Road is a canyon of skyscrapers lining a freeway where architects compete to generate brand identity and distinction. The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, surmounts an assemblage of shopping mall, lake and mock historic apartment complexes (Fig. 16.3). The world’s largest shopping mall is designed as a string of theme parks (Fig. 16.1). The city metastacizes into sub-cities such as ‘Dubai Humanitarian City’ and ‘Dubai Media City’. Dubai combines the world’s largest environmental footprint per capita with a plethora of billboards suggesting that the continuous production of new coastline is all green and that everything will be recycled. Dubai is very photogenic and would appear to be a prime case of the city as text or spectacle, yet under these conditions Easterling calls for a focus away from the form of the urban object towards the ways the city works as infrastructure and underlying potentiality: ‘not the shape of the game piece but the way the game piece plays … Not the object form but the active form … detecting and developing the active forms that shape disposition is an essential skill of the urbanist in infrastructure space’ (Easterling 2014: 21). This is a form of assemblage thinking that seeks to understand the city in terms of flows and interconnections, where the urban infrastructure becomes a powerful operating system that frames and structures the flows of ideas, people and capital in accordance with private interests. Cities such as Dubai are not necessarily the harbingers of the future city: rather they represent one vision of where deregulated globalization can lead. Globalization has developed a bad name because of the extent of creative destruction and socio-economic inequality that has been caused. In the longer view, however, becoming global is the inevitable process of learning to understand the earth as an integrated planet – one ecology and one economy. The tragedy lies in the fact that we have globalized the economy without the capacity to manage the global ecology. In this sense we need more, rather than less, globalization. The incapacity of organizations based on the nation state to address global issues of poverty, climate change and financial regulation is tragically obvious. We are seeing

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the emergence of so-called ‘creative coalitions’ of cities (such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group) directed at producing global action focused on urban development (Oxford Martin Commission 2013). A key task for urban design is to form an alliance of cities which can agree to say no to the most damaging forms of privatization, shopping malls, towers and gated communities – these are the subject of subsequent chapters.

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17 Privatization

Fig. 17.1  Granary Square, London

Granary Square, opened in 2012, is part of the King’s Cross redevelopment in London – a large publicly accessible plaza framed by heritage buildings and a canal (Fig. 17.1). While the design is generally high quality, ownership and control is private. ‘Public’ space under private ownership and control has become a primary means of procuring new urban open space in many cities, but it is hardly a new practice. The development of Edinburgh’s New Town from the late eighteenth century has long been regarded as a masterwork of urban design and is now a World Heritage Site. Yet the gardens that form centrepieces to the larger urban spaces were developed (and mostly remain) as private parks with exclusive access by the owners of the Georgian terraces that frame them (Fig. 17.2). The private parks were a means of funding the redevelopment, attracting the middle classes with the prospect of escape from the poverty and crowding of the adjacent old town to share an elite park with fellow residents. But is this ‘urban’ design when the central open spaces of the city are elite enclaves or privately controlled? The global proliferation of corporate plazas, gated communities and shopping malls has brought new levels and complex types of public access, ownership, control and use of the public realm. While there has been sustained debate over a long period of time over whether and why privatization matters, there remains a good deal of confusion about how the ‘publicness’ of public space might be defined and where the line might be drawn on privatization – if at all. This issue is about the right to the city in everyday terms – what rights of access and urban engagement are enabled and constrained? My goal here is to provide a framework for how we might think about these issues before I explore some of them more in later chapters on shopping, towers and enclaves.


Fig. 17.2  Private parks – New Town, Edinburgh (Base photo: Google, Digital Globe)

Public/Private Space I want first to distinguish between the intersecting and overlapping questions of privacy and privatization. Privacy is an experiential issue of degrees of protection from the public gaze; it has long been seen as a continuum from the fully public to the fully private with various kinds of semi-private or semi-public space between (Madanipour 2003; Newman 1972; Alexander et al. 1977). Privatization, on the other hand, engages with questions of the right to the city – the ownership, access, control and ‘publicness’ of public space. It does not conform to any simple continuum; rather we need an analysis of different kinds of rights in public space. One useful typology here derives from Lynch (1981), who lists rights of presence (who gets access), action (what we can do there), appropriation (the right to exclude others), modification (the right to change the design or move the loose parts) and dispos­ ition (sale, demolition). The right of presence or access is the pre-condition for the following three: action, appropriation and modification. Rights to action and appropriation are social and political freedoms of expression associated with the vitality and intensity of public space – while access does not ensure them, they can mean nothing without access. Rights of action, appropriation and modification will differ from one place type to another and with different regimes of control. Lynch’s final right of disposition is of a different order again, linked to legal ownership; it identifies the principal connection to regimes of control. Figure 17.3 shows a way of thinking about these issues and for understanding key examples of public place types. It locates differing conditions of privatization and publicness according to two key criteria of access and control, with ownership largely identified with control over action, appropriation and modification. This conceptual space is neither a continuum nor a discrete set of types but a range of overlapping

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and layered categories. A first distinction along the vertical axis is between spaces of open versus restricted public access – here labelled as ‘open’ versus ‘enclaves’. Restriction may be exercised by price, invitation or membership, and it can apply to both publicly and privately owned/controlled spaces, internal or external. A second distinction along the horizontal axis is between private and public control/ownership. These two axes generate four broad categories that I have termed ‘open-public space’, ‘open-private space’, ‘private enclaves’ and ‘public enclaves’. ‘Open-public’ space (top right) is the traditional public space of the street and plaza. ‘Open-private’ space (top left) is the very broad category of privately owned and controlled space that is open for public access without cost. Key examples include shopping malls, arcades and corporate plazas/parks but also churches, shops, hotels, vacant sites and open entry courts – either internal or external. I use the phrase ‘open-private’ here simply to reflect the conditions of control (private) and access (open) while ignoring form and function. The category I have called ‘private enclaves’ (lower left) comprises privately owned and controlled space with restricted public access – usually by cost or invitation. Examples include gated communities and restricted private parks but also theatres and sports fields where one pays for access to ‘public’ events under private control. In the lower right is the category of ‘public enclaves’ – all publicly owned and controlled spaces where access is restricted to those who pay or qualify. Such spaces include pavement (sidewalk) cafes, privatized beach zones, ticketed public transport zones, elite compounds, security zones, ports and state facilities. Many restricted urban types such as toll roads, theatres and sports fields may be privately or publicly owned or a mix of the two.

Fig. 17.3  Defining Publicness

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One thing that becomes apparent using this lens is the mix of somewhat strange bedfellows; shopping malls and churches share the conditions of open-private space, while gated communities and restaurants are both private enclaves. This is because I have excluded issues of form and function to focus on access and control. These strange bedfellows are one reason why it is problematic to engage a normative critique of privatization. The categories shown are obviously simplified and could be expanded to twenty categories at the price of incomprehension; however, this is not a ‘tree’ where each category breaks down into subcategories. This simple model enables a distinction between forms of privatization that restrict access and those that do not (the vertical axis); as well as a distinction between private and public control (horizontal axis). The model incorporates a large range of privately owned but publicly accessible attractions that are crucial to the urban life of any city – shops, theatres, libraries, museums, sporting arenas and restaurants. While access may or may not be restricted, such place types are generally in synergy with the open-public space network and there is no threat of privatization. There can be no simple critique that suggests all forms of privatization are problematic. The city is a relatively fluid assemblage of such types. On any given day we may exit private space via a foyer or front yard, walk to the train, enter and exit a restricted transit zone, walk through an arcade, stop for a coffee on the pavement and then go on to work via the corporate plaza. Many types of public and private space are interwoven in most urban districts (Fig. 17.4; also Figs 6.4 and 19.2). These types are tools for thinking about distinctions between public and private space rather than essential types; there are many overlaps and slippages between them. Sidewalk cafes are restricted on a daily and seasonal rhythm; access to shopping malls and arcades is closed at night; gated communities are subject to some forms of public control; ownership and control can be shared through public– private partnerships. The ‘Business Improvement District’ is an example where local property owners are granted limited private control over public space for purposes of revitalization. This may or may not be in the public interest. The blurring of private and public control enables private interests to draw upon the energy and image of public life and channel it into profit. The key purpose for such a diagram is to better understand the ways that public interests are impacted by different forms of privatization. In order to move to a

Fig. 17.4  Interweaving open-public space, quasi-public and public enclaves – Santiago

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normative critique we need a further layer of analysis that focuses on form, use and meaning. Here I want to suggest a further category of ‘quasi-public’ space defined as privately controlled spaces that operate ‘as if’ they were public. As the diagram in Figure 17.3 shows, this category cuts vertically across both private enclaves and open-private space. The terminology here is designed to capture the quality of being almost public (from the Latin quasi: as if, almost) – apparently, but not really, public. The term ‘pseudo-public’ is a more loaded term that carries overtones of pretence that may or may not be the case. The ‘quasi-public’ category seeks to draw a line between the mall or corporate park on the one hand and the church, shop and hotel on the other – one is designed, operated and used ‘as if’ it were public space and the other not. The same distinction applies between the gated community and restaurant. This distinction introduces criteria of form, function and use – the mall or gated community operates as if it were a public street network. Quasi-public space involves a replication of open-public space. Shops, hotels, churches and restaurants do not replicate public spaces as shopping malls, gated communities and corporate plazas do. This is the category where the critique of privatization is most focused.

Quasi-Public Space So what, if anything, is problematic about quasi-public space? Nemeth and Schmidt (2011) argue that while ownership and control define the potential for publicness, the level and kind of use reveals the ‘actual publicness’. From this view a place that is intensively used by a broad range of people for a broad range of activities has a higher degree of ‘publicness’. It is indeed a common critique to suggest that vital public space has extensive rights of action, appropriation and (in some cases) modification. In a survey of new urban spaces in London, Matthew Carmona (2015) found that 45 per cent were quasi-public (his term is ‘private-public’) and that the level and range of public use of these spaces compared favourably with those that are publicly owned/controlled. He concludes that ownership is relatively insignificant and that the critique of privatization has been overstated. But can ‘publicness’ be measured by use? To equate ‘publicness’ with popularity and diversity of use is to imply that if quasi-public space were to attract more life then it would be even more public. The urban life that is attracted into quasi-public space flows from open-public space. The success of quasi-public space legitimates it as public and therefore encourages more of the same. Such a privatization of public space can escalate with no easy stopping rule. Margaret Kohn (2004) suggests a further criterion for the critique of ‘publicness’ which focuses on the particular forms of social and political encounter that are enabled and enacted. Drawing on the work of Guy Debord (1994), she distinguishes between sites geared to the consumption of spectacle and those that facilitate dialogue and interaction. ‘Movie theaters and sports stadiums do not feel like public places because they do not facilitate interaction between people. They aggregate individuals but they do so in a way that positions them as spectators rather than

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participants’ (Kohn 2004: 10). This is a useful distinction: but what then is the distinction, if any, between the interactive spaces of open-public space and those of the quasi-public? In the case of London, Carmona suggests there is no significant difference: ‘no evidence was found during the research of an unwritten agenda to subvert the experience of public space for any set of users, or to make it any less public’ (2015: 393). Yet one of his cases is Paternoster Square, where Occupy protesters were evicted in 2011 (Köksal 2012). Such agendas are of course hidden and generally market-driven as quasi-public space is produced by commercial imperatives. Rights to presence, action and appropriation may be guaranteed but only under private control. The collective impact on public life is often one of ironing out differences. The disciplinary regimes that Foucault identifies with spaces of state control begin to suffocate the quasipublic spaces of the city, not so much to enforce discipline as to create a hyper-safe comfort zone, stripped of genuine difference. Such regimes are often integrated with urban design approaches that integrate control over access and action with the production of place identity and atmosphere – channelling the energy of the open crowd into profit. The design imagery of quasi-public space becomes a part of corporate branding. Quasi-public space becomes a spectacle where there is economic pressure to erase the wrong kinds of imagery and people. We saw earlier how some forms of urban character are defined as a comfort zone limited to ‘people like us’, and quasi-public space often achieves the same thing. The branding, music and security work together to attract certain people and exclude others with varying levels of transparency – in gated communities this becomes explicit. Ultimately we need to move beyond the question of the level and range of use to focus on the question of rights and possibilities. Open-public space is legitimated not only on actual use but also on possible use; it is open in more senses than open-private space because it is open to politics and contestation. In privately controlled space rights to freedom of speech and assembly don’t usually apply. A notable exception to this occurred in 2011 when the Occupy movement appropriated Zuccotti Park, a quasi-public square in New York City; they could not initially be evicted because the legal provisions for public access to this privately owned space were strong. The lessons here are that ownership and control are not always congruent and that it is control that matters. Any normative critique of quasi-public space is problematic because so many such spaces add amenity and vitality to the city. Quasi-public space provides an alternate and somewhat sanitized version of public space: a replication and replacement of open-public space. Privatization is a subtle and incremental process through which the private market appropriates everyday urban life.

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18 Shopping Malls

Fig. 18.1  Myer Emporium, Melbourne

Cities are fundamentally places of exchange and shopping is their oldest function. Shops both generate and are attracted to pedestrian flows. In spatial terms shopping is based in the connection between a gaze and a product, between a pedestrian flow and a shopfront. This is why shops are initially on corners and main streets with direct transparent interfaces. Shops may be as small as a street vendor or as large as a big-box retailer but this connection between the gaze and the product prevails as a spatial principle. Internet shopping moves this relation from urban to virtual space where the products flow and the consumer remains static. Shops live off not just passing trade but also the synergies of clustering – the added value that comes from a density of shops producing an intensity of exchange. Shops cluster in two main ways. First are the single-product clusters that enable the shopper to compare products and prices in the one place; food markets, hardware districts, white goods,


furniture, galleries, electronics and cars all tend to cluster in this way. Second are the multi-product clusters that enable shoppers to undertake a range of shopping for different products in the one place; the main street, supermarket, department store and shopping mall are of this kind. This chapter is largely a discussion of the spatial transformations of shopping at the urban design scale, with a critical focus on the privatization of retail space. This story begins with the emergence of urban arcades and department stores from the nineteenth century on. These types are then combined to form the suburban mall, which artificially generates a privatized pedestrian life in the car-dependent suburbs. The mall eventually returns to the city and also metastacizes to be grafted onto airports, railway stations, tourist attractions, waterfronts and so on. Big-box retailing is a development of the department store that has grown to a size that can stand alone as an attraction within the car-based city.

Arcade/Mall The private shopping mall is the most popular and successful new building type of the late twentieth century. While this economic and social success cannot be discounted, it must also be understood as an anti-urban development. In entering the mall one experiences an inversion of the urban spatial experience. The tensions and differences of public space are eased as one enters a dream world of consumption and spectacle, protected from weather, crime and social division. The mall has its antecedents in the arcade and department store. The arcade is a private shortcut through the public city, adding permeability and gaining economic life through the capacity to redirect existing pedestrian flows off the public streets. An arcade that leads from one street to another adds economic value by increasing the retail frontage and generating new pedestrian traffic. In The Arcades Project Benjamin (2004) analysed the Parisian arcades of the 1930s as an interior dream world of luxury commerce made possible by modern technologies of glass, steel and gas lighting. Benjamin saw modernity not as enlightenment or demystification but as a new mythology – a new integration of urban space with capitalist consumption in a collective dream world of the commodity fetish. The arcades, he suggested, caught the collective imagination, and at the same time erased the social solidarity of public space to produce a new form of ‘public life’ that privileged the individual over the group (Buck-Morss 1991: 261). The arcades privatized the public imagination. The arcade was at once a shortcut in the urban structure, a refuge from the noise, dust and weather, a zone of urban voyeurism and a dream world of mass consumption. The arcade was also a retreat from the street. The arcade was a retreat for the upper-middle classes from the dirt and the weather, a protected place for women in the city, both as consumers and as subjects of the male gaze (Rendell 1998). Parallel with the development of the arcades was the department store which removed the shop window and counter as a boundary between people and products to create a world of desirable goods where customers circulate freely and where impulse purchasing can be stimulated.

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Fig. 18.2  Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

The arcade soon developed into a grand interior street – the premier early example (1867) is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade in Milan (Fig. 18.2). The most noticeable thing in visiting this Galleria today is how integrated it is with the traditional street network, a cruciform plan opening directly from the central piazza fronting the cathedral and forming a shortcut to a smaller piazza fronting the famous La Scala Opera House about 200 metres away. It forms an extension to the street on all sides, maintaining the roughly 100-metre block size and the perimeter block typology. The Galleria is designed as a street with a glass roof, without the noise and traffic but with private control. It is named after the King (1820–78) and the mosaics and frescoes embody a representational regime extolling the virtues of Italian nationalism.

The Gruen Transfer The suburban shopping mall emerges in mid-twentieth-century North America with the discovery that pedestrian densities can be created artificially in car-based suburbs through a coupling of the arcade with the department store as a ‘magnet’ or ‘anchor’. The Southdale Mall in Minneapolis, designed by Viennese architect/urbanist Victor Gruen in 1956, is generally considered the first. Gruen wanted to counter the dominance of the car and bring a higher intensity of urban life to the suburbs – the early designs included public and cultural facilities as well as shopping. The key innovation, however, was the structural marriage of the department store and the arcade – the so-called ‘dumbbell’ plan. A large ‘anchor’ store at either end was joined by an arcade (the ‘handle’) lined with a string of smaller shops (Fig. 18.3B). In the suburban mall the department stores are given cheaper rent because they attract the life and the smaller shops then live off the passing traffic connecting to and from the carpark. The mall is a machine designed to produce impulse purchasing: we intend to buy one thing and we buy another along the way. A desire is produced from what we experience out of the corner of our eye. This transfer of attention is often called the ‘Gruen transfer’, though the principle is core to how advertising operates everywhere – the public gaze can be distracted to produce desires (Fig. 18.3A). The issue for urban design is that the mall enables pedestrian paths to be manipulated to

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Fig. 18.3  Diagramming the mall

maximize the pedestrian gaze onto product displays. The arcade that was a shortcut in the public city becomes a long cut in the private city.

Dream Worlds If the spatial structure of the mall was the key innovation in one sense, this cannot be understood separately from the transformation in urban design experience and representation (Crawford 1992; Kowinski 1985; Dovey 2008: chapter 9). The mall constructs a clean and safe world in a context of perceived danger and often public squalor, a standardized climate for shopping that is insulated from the vagaries of weather and climate. It is a controlled environment in terms of both behaviour and image. There is no free market in the mall; the functional mix is tightly controlled with a certain number and quality of each type of shop – just enough to create a sense of competition and of everything being available. Mall management controls the signage and displays as well as opening and closing times. The mall generates an illusion of the public street but comes under private control, rendering it available for a range of new representational regimes. Malls are designed to produce disorientation from the public city and a reorientation to the new internal dream world (Fig. 18.1). Direct visual connections from inside to outside tend to be blocked. Entrances are one-way portals – easy to find your way in but difficult to find your way out. There are no public clocks because mall time is one of endless shopping. The reorientation is towards a number of internal

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landmarks, nodes and districts that replicate the kinds of place types one finds in the public city – town square, plaza and so on. In this quasi-public space customers are invited to behave ‘as if’ it were a public place, yet any practices that cut across the mood of endless consumption are prohibited. Teenagers are a problem for the shopping mall and there are often particular rules restricting access unless accompanied by adults. Political activity is generally banned, although ironically it is often a favoured site for politicians to conduct a ‘meet the people’ photo opportunity because there is little danger from hecklers. The dumbbell diagram that is the immanent spatial structure of the shopping mall has long developed into a three-dimensional assemblage with multiple anchors, including cinemas, supermarkets and theme parks (Fig. 18.3C). The arcades that connect them have morphed into a permeable spatial structure that reflects the density/mix/access principles of urban life, now privatized at the heart of the mall. The urban DMA is deployed to produce an artificial urban intensity. This is one sense in which the mall is an inverted city – urban public life has been ‘recreated’ within private space. The open encounter of the permeable street network has been enclosed under conditions of controlled encounter. Ironically, the urban impermeability generated by large lump developments like the mall is inverted once inside it.

Adaptations The mall has also metastacized through the emergence of a multiplicity of mall types, mostly with the single attraction structured more like a ‘mallet’ than a dumbbell (Fig. 18.3D). The principle here is that a mall can be grafted onto any kind of attraction by channelling access – tourist sites, waterfronts, airports, railway stations, museums, hotels and so on. The most prominent example of the ‘mallet’ is the airport – essentially a transit node where ramped up security provisions now require passengers to arrive about two hours ahead of time and wait around with nothing to do but shop. Airport malls are particularly lucrative because there are so many high-income people with time to fill. So lucrative is airport shopping that we begin to see the mall becoming the design framework to which the airport is attached. The 500-metre distance that is often considered the limit for walkability can be artificially produced with a zig-zag design (Fig. 18.3D). Malls have a tendency to grow in competition with each other, producing the mega-mall where the mall itself becomes the attraction, often centred on a theme park as at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. While the dumbbell model is still evident in such malls, they also face the problem that when the mall exceeds walkable scale, the diagram ceases to function in the same way. With entrances further apart and free parking everywhere, people begin to drive from one end to the other. The Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai (Fig. 16.1) is marketed as the world’s largest. At over a kilometre in length but primarily single storey, it is the longest rather than the largest. It is designed as a string of six buildings each representing nations such as China, India, Egypt and Persia. Another transformation here is that the mall has

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a strong external presence with mock-historic facades onto the car parks – most customers drive from one ‘nation’ to another. A key question for any urban design critique here is the degree to which privatized shopping replaces rather than augments the public city. In downtown Minneapolis a private network of internal quasi-public plazas with street overpasses has long been established, interconnected with parking garages such that one can visit downtown without setting foot into public space (Fig. 18.4). A key effect has been to suck commercial life off the street, which becomes relatively derelict; the public/private distinction becomes a social class distinction. A linked question here is the extent to which the mall can blur distinctions between private and public space such that we no longer know where the boundary lies or care about the loss of public control, the erasure of political action and civic freedom. This is the sense in which the dream world of consumption replaces the political world of the street and its social solidarities and potentials. The naming of the mall as a ‘Town Square’ or ‘City Centre’ again raises the question of urban authenticity. The danger is that in drawing life off the public streets, the mall contributes to an escalating cycle where public space becomes more derelict; public dereliction in turn stimulates the relative value of the mall and its success in attracting life then sucks more life from the streets. The issue of blurring between public and private control is a key issue for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) where public space comes under semi-private control of property owners as part of a revitalization process. A coalition of business owners negotiates with the state to raise property taxes to pay for upgraded design and management. BIDs emerge in response to both the dereliction of public space and competition with the mall for customers. This is a case of the public city competing with and learning some lessons from the shopping mall with regard to standards of design, safety, cleanliness and so on. BIDs have a proven success record in this regard but they are also a form of privatization since public space is controlled by a coalition of property owners. While the discourse is laced with words like ‘community’ and ‘partnership’, this often turns out to exclude those who do not contribute to profitability.

Fig. 18.4  City Center versus city centre – Minneapolis (Source: Dovey 2008)

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BIDs are a way for public space to compete with the mall at the price of a loss of democratic control and street-life diversity – the street becomes cleaner and safer but loses intensity. Private security guards are often designed to look like police. Just as the mall becomes more like the street, so the street becomes more like the mall.

Redemption? By the late twentieth century it was clear that malls were in competition with the public city and that one disadvantage was a perceived lack of authenticity. While the mall gains meaning from its opposition to the public city – clean, dry, safe and orderly – it also needs the legitimation of being a ‘public’ space. Driven by consumer resistance, developers seek to address problems of alienation, manipulation, ‘mall sickness’ and disorientation (Kowinski 1985). Mall design adapts to this contradiction by reinventing its relations with the public city – redesigning the edges to present a public architecture, blurring the boundaries between public and private space, and by opening the roof to the sky. A range of strategies is in place to redeem, redesign and reintegrate the mall with the public city. Some of these are

Fig. 18.5  Mall as church – Manila

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little more than subterfuge but others are more interesting. We find the incorporation of facilities such as libraries and community rooms into the heart of the mall, just as Gruen originally intended. In Manila we find the shopping mall used for church services – a strange marriage where the mall gains legitimacy and the church trades legitimacy for customers (Fig. 18.5). Opening in 2008, Cabot Circus is a shopping mall that is grafted almost seamlessly onto the public streets of the city centre of Bristol (Fig. 18.6). This was an extension of the urban grid requiring a major realignment of the street network. The three new streets created are private and covered but not fully enclosed, giving protection from the weather without the severe insulation of the enclosed mall. While it presents a blank facade to the major bounding streets, the integration with the city is impressive and it is not a dead end. It is serviced by a major new car park across the street from where the car-based consumer can visit the private city while avoiding the public city. Santa Monica Place is a shopping mall in Los Angeles originally designed by Gehry in 1980 when he worked for Gruen Associates. Major renovations in 2008 removed the roof, opened connections to surrounding streets and incorporated community rooms and a fresh food market (Fig. 18.7). Parking garages ensure that most of the external facades remain blank. These are both significant steps forward in reintegrating the shopping mall with the city in an urban context. Yet the greatest challenge is to integrate the suburban mall where the common condition is one of an inward facing mall within a large car park within a low-density suburban context. The problems here are many since the suburban mall is a privately controlled cul-de-sac that is highly car-dependent and mono-functional. One of the opportunities in such a context is to leave the mall and its profit flows in place and to build a genuinely mixed and public city on the surrounding car park. Public transport connectivity can be used to leverage public control over the redevelopment of the ring of parking space that separates the mall from its hinterland. This can then be redesigned to connect the mall into a walkable but intensified neighbourhood (Fig. 29.5). The task, in other

Fig. 18.6  Grafting the mall onto Bristol – Cabot Circus, 1999 (left) and 2009 (right) (Photos: Google, Digital Globe)

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Fig. 18.7  Santa Monica Place, Los Angeles: 2005 (left) and 2010 (right) (Photos: Google, Digital Globe)

words, is to convert the suburban shopping mall into a small city with reduced car-dependency, intensified development, mixed use, new public space, housing and community amenity. The challenge and the potential here is to turn a private and essentially anti-urban type inside out through a process of urban intensification (Dovey and Woodcock 2014). The shopping mall may be a highly problematic project type but it is also a good way of understanding how urban assemblages work in general terms. An assemblage is a system of interconnected parts that is at once spatial and social, both material and representational. An assemblage is defined not by its parts but by their connections and flows, by the ways it produces desire. The mall is also an unusually clear window into understanding the role of the diagram (or abstract machine) – the set of productive forces that are immanent to the assemblage. The diagram in Figure 18.3A is crucial to understanding how all shopping works – the synergies produced by flows of desire towards an attraction. The shopping mall works through the private control of these flows. I made the case in the privatization chapter that the shop is fundamentally a quasi-public space with public access under private control; the issue is not one of private shops but of private shopping. Shopping occurs in a marketplace and for markets to operate effectively requires that flows of access are not captured or distorted by private interests. This is exactly what happens within the shopping mall – the exchange functions of the city are captured and privatized; the city as a crossroads is converted to a cul-de-sac.

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19 Enclaves

Fig. 19.1  Trilogy at Vistancia, Phoenix

Trilogy at Vistancia is a typical gated community on the outskirts of Phoenix, about two square kilometres of winding suburban streets designed around a golf course and country club, restricted to residents over fifty-five years of age. All buildings are designed by the developers and any additions must be consistent with this original character; no additions to the original building height are permitted. The design guidelines cover materials, colours, landscape design, antennas (hidden), basketball hoops, clotheslines (prohibited), flags (American only), holiday decorations (two-week limit), ‘yard art/ornaments’ (up to two pieces in muted colours) and solar panels. The neighbourhood is designed for walking and pathways are pleasant with the landscape meticulously groomed. Neighbours greet each other on the meandering paths but they are not designed for access and most people drive to the country club. There are no shops within the gates and it is nearly impossible to walk in or out. Security is relatively slack and is scarcely mentioned in the advertising narratives, which focus on freedom rather than fear: ‘When people escape the ordinary, personal growth can happen at an amazing rate … you will have every opportunity to enhance your wellness, your motivation, even your excitement about life itself … This is your new beginning.’ Residents are referred to as ‘members’ who belong to the community as a club; the website lists twenty-seven different clubs including wine, cigars, coffee, chess, poker, books and singles clubs. The gated enclave is a very ancient spatial strategy; the castle, fortress and medieval walled city were all gated enclaves and colonial urban design has often


produced gated enclaves to protect the colonizers from the natives. Enclosure happens at a wide range of scales from the room to the nation and the principle at every scale is to inscribe a territory and defend it against the other. For the most part we take for granted this right to enclose space at the small scale of the building and the large scale of the nation, yet enclosure at the urban design scale of the neighbourhood is more problematic – particularly the expansion of the ‘gated community’. The proliferation of gated communities since the mid-to-late twentieth century is astonishing. While it is not always clear at what point a housing condominium can be termed a gated community, such developments have expanded enormously in China (Pow 2009), the UK (Atkinson and Blandy 2006), Latin America (Caldeira 2000), North America (Grant and Mittelsteadt 2004) and Southeast Asia (Leisch 2002). In their landmark study of gated communities in the USA, Blakely and Snyder (1997) suggested three main motives: security (with a focus on protection of safety and property), prestige and lifestyle (common amenities). Gating is driven by a mix of retreat from the public city and an attraction to the ‘community’ or enclosed club-like space of restricted access. Gated communities emerge in both rich and poor cities but proliferate mostly under conditions of social inequity, crime and an impoverished public environment. There are relatively few in European, Japanese, Australian and Canadian cities with higher indices of social equality. The enclosed neighbourhood reflects and responds to global conditions and discourses about a world full of ‘terror’. Just as the boundaries of the nation state are reinforced to stop global flows of refugees and economic migrants, so the gated enclave arrests the internal mixing of classes and ages within a city. The retreat from the public city is not only a retreat from crime but also from poverty and from the encounter with difference. Most gated communities involve forms of social purification – the rich retreating from the poor, the aged retreating from the young and ethnic groups retreating from conflict. Gating is clearly not limited to any particular social class and since security technologies no longer require a guard, middle- and lower-middle-class enclaves can be common. There is the phenomenon known as retro-gating – the barricading of public streets to create a gated cul-de-sac – generally self-organized by residents who negotiate a deal with the state to build some gates and take over control and maintenance of the street (Fig. 19.2). Retro-gating is common in poorer communities and can include informal settlements. Gating as a retreat from public life goes hand-in-hand with the retreat of the state from the funding of public infrastructure. From the viewpoint of the state it looks like a good deal if the infrastructure is built, maintained and security taken care of without state funding. The attractions of the gated community as prestige and lifestyle embrace a sense of community, place identity and a club-like atmosphere. The advertising narratives over recent decades have changed from discourses of safety to those of freedom, from escape to opportunity. The enclave is a place for personal growth and new beginnings: as one advertisement puts it, ‘A community where dreams take flight … Boundaries not included.’ Freedom is found in an enclosure; the enclave becomes

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Fig. 19.2  Retro-gating – Belleville, Santiago

conceptually open. The attractions are marketed in terms of a sense of place that offers a privileged and protected lifestyle amongst like-minded people. This is the place to find the authentic inner self, surrounded by a nurturing community and environment without the stresses of the public city. The enclosure is portrayed as a place of freedom, growth and becoming. The community is conceived as a form of club with high levels of social capital. There are many types of gated community, often conceived along a continuum of degrees of gating from ‘ornamental gating’ and ‘walled subdivisions’ that do not restrict access through to the fully gated and guarded community (Grant and Mittelsteadt 2004). Forms of enclosure range from walls to natural features such as water and escarpments. The less gated end of this continuum where the spatial structure prevents through paths is sometimes called ‘soft gating’. The addition of a gate is all that is required for a fully gated compound and it may be indistinguishable from the cul-de-sac suburb. In practice most gated communities are easy to penetrate; internal amenities such as restaurants and golf courses often need public access in order to be viable and houses for sale are open to the public.

Character by Covenant A large part of the attraction of enclaves, whether soft or hard-gated, is that the project is developed and sold with a set of covenants that control the image and lifestyle of the community. These codes often go well beyond a normal planning and design code to control colours, materials, roof pitches, fences, letterboxes and planting. There are generally behavioural codes that control the hanging of washing, basketball nets, growing of vegetables, political signage and the parking of boats

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and caravans. Some communities have rules against gatherings in the street and kissing in the driveway (McKenzie 1994). Such behavioural covenants render the city less transparent in the sense that the individual desires and interests of the residents cannot be expressed. These codes differ from normal urban design codes in that they are part of the constitution of the project linked to the land title and there is no provision for change without an overwhelming majority. These are often called Common Interest Developments (CIDs) because residents sign up to a set of private but common interests that replace the idea of public interests.

Club Realm Gated communities are often defended on the basis that they are nothing more than the apartment building writ large, with collective amenities added. I suggest they represent a secession from the city that undermines the public city, exacerbates social division, undermines democratic urban planning and strangles urban access networks. A key argument used in support of gated communities is that they can be conceived of legally and socially like any other club. If you join a tennis club you pay for preferred access to the tennis courts, in a gated community you pay for preferred access to a whole neighbourhood. What’s the difference? As Chris Webster (2002: 397) puts it: ‘Cities naturally fragment into many small publics, each of which may be thought of as a collective consumption club. The club realm may, therefore, be a more useful – and theoretically more powerful – idea than the public realm.’ In this view the gated enclave as club realm takes priority over the public realm. The social fragmentation that is a key market condition for gated developments is treated as ‘natural’ and the retreat from public space is framed in terms of propriety and consumption rather than citizenship. This valorization of the market as the ground of social formation is a familiar theme that reflects the neoliberal conflation of free markets with political freedoms. Gated communities drain the capital, the commitment and the skills of the affluent from the public city (McKenzie 1994). There are often tax rebates for enclave residents who do not wish to fund public amenities they do not use. Responsibility for the city is abandoned in what Robert Reich (1992: 270) has termed the ‘secession of the successful’. Gated communities are a variation of a larger privatization of public services; the retreat from public space is not fundamentally different to a retreat from public health and education. The neoliberal expansion of the private sector into areas formerly provided by the state extends into parks, streets, security and urban planning. The state contracts as the private economy expands. When the gated community as a club realm expands we produce a community with a common interest in the club but little interest in the broader community. This privatization of the city robs the public city of the interests, skills and tax base of the wealthy. The city becomes increasingly polarized between public and private realms; it enters an escalation where gated enclaves respond to a culture of fear and public dereliction, and then become complicit in the production of more of the same. The

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difference in quality of life and safety between public and private realms stimulates demand for more gating, which then exacerbates the difference. There is no easy stopping rule before this escalates into a fully private city. The retreat from the public city also represents a retreat from democratic planning. Despite equal voting rights among residents (excluding renters), the ‘constitution’ embedded in the covenants replaces the public urban design and planning code – management displaces politics (McKenzie 1994). Gated communities and common-interest developments are insulated from forces for change and from public planning because the common interests have been set by developers and there is little scope for change to the covenants. The ‘covenant’ is an interesting term because it originally meant an agreement one makes with a god. In this case the developer (or urban designer!) is god and sets the rules according to what is most likely to sell at the time of development. When the development is complete the developer moves on and often ceases to exist. While private urban governance may be more or less democratic, covenants cannot be changed without a massive majority because this is the embodied security and certainty that residents have paid for. The urban design code is effectively locked in; the values that were set by the market at one moment in history are stabilized in perpetuity. An instant place identity is constructed and the processes of urban adaptation are frozen as capacities and possibilities for change are denied. Most gated communities are low-density suburbs where there is a clear long-term imperative to increase density and connectivity, to provide public transport, introduce functional mix and reduce car dependency. The state loses control over the urban future.

Impermeability The horizontal scale of the gated compound is a key issue since the impermeability of gated compounds makes them anti-urban in their spatial structure. The apartment building or complex may enclose common space yet still remain integrated with the urban life that flows around it. As they spread horizontally, gated communities obstruct the flow and accessibility of public space. Such compounds are often attracted to adjacent public amenities such as beaches, which they then ‘capture’ for exclusive use since access is not possible through the enclave. Like the mall and the very tall building, the walled compound is a cul-de-sac in the urban fabric; but the scale is more damaging because it inhibits the development of richly interconnected urban networks. Integrated open space and transit networks cannot be implemented. While the number of households in a gated suburb may not be any more than in an apartment building, the key difference is one of scale – gated communities create large impermeable zones in the city. When you get large gated enclaves of several hundred hectares or where gated communities develop in a contiguous relationship with each other, they cause serious disruption to urban transport networks. When such enclaves line parks or waterfronts, they control the public access to those amenities. So at what scale does this strangling effect on urban flows become a

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Fig. 19.3  Public (white) and private networks – Orange County, California (Base photo: Google, Digital Globe)

serious problem? There can be no exact limit here but I suggest it is similar to the scale of the city block where blocks of more than about a hectare or 100 metres length tend to have negative effects. There may be a case for compounds of larger than a hectare involving industrial production, ports or military operations. However, rarely do these functions need to take place within the most intensive networks. Nearly all of the commercial, residential, governmental and production activities of the city can be effectively conducted within the limits of a one-hectare compound. An easy way to understand the scale of interruption to the public space network is to use Google Street View, where the inaccessible gated communities emerge as gaps in the Street View network. Fig. 19.3 shows a portion of Orange County, near Los Angeles where the effective block perimeter at the larger scale ranges from five to ten kilometres and even the publicly accessible networks (shown in white) are mostly ‘soft-gated’ neighbourhoods.

Producing Ignorance Finally, the gated enclave reinforces and reproduces social fragmentation, ideological control and social engineering. This is a particular issue for children who have

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not chosen such a lifeworld and have a right to grow up in a public community. Through the eradication of difference the enclave breeds ignorance, intolerance and homo­geneity among its citizens. Such social fragmentation tends to escalate when the members of gated enclaves are in their turn excluded by those outside the gates, in a process Castells (2004: 9) calls ‘the exclusion of the excluders by the excluded’. Ultimately it renders social division invisible, producing and reproducing a generation stunted in the ability to deal with a diverse and problematic world. The gated enclave is a product of social division that has the effect of making social division seem to disappear. Enclave developments are but an extreme of the more pervasive retreat from urban difference. The gated community is a perversion of community and a reversion to archaic practices of power in space. While it constructs a seductive world of freedom, it is ultimately based on the use of force to exclude difference. If the good city is transparent in the sense that it operates a like a giant school, then gated communities can work in the opposite way in the sense that they produce ignorance. The rich become ignorant of how the poor live: children are raised without awareness of their own society. Gated communities are often designed as mock-historic replications of an idealized past, protected from the present by walls. Structurally and semiotically the enclave has similarities to the mall. Both are walled compounds that establish their meaning in the opposition between inside and outside. Both benefit from the deterioration of the public environment and establish a simulation of an ideal community within. Both enforce totalizing codes of behaviour in order to construct an ideal and to protect it as economic and symbolic capital. A key criterion for the critique of gated communities is the extent and mix of common facilities and spaces that are included. To what degree does the gated community substitute for the public community; to what degree has it become a self-contained ‘private city’? Residential enclaves are symptoms of a certain homesickness; they reflect a legitimate desire for the ontological security of a safe and predictable home neighbourhood – perhaps a simpler pre-urban world of harmony and trust. However, the meanings of home and community are not ultimately serviced by this retreat from the urban; starved of its other, the home becomes a fetish, a fantasy, even a prison. In my view, gated communities beyond the smaller scale of the urban block are inherently damaging to cities – planners should not approve them and urban designers should not work on them. The larger task is to keep alive the various dialectics of private/public, inside/outside, familiar/strange, security/danger and identity/difference. We need to design new ways of developing secure urban living in places that resist the totalizing retreat in space or time and the paralysing view that freedom is found in enclosure.

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20 Towers

Fig. 20.1  Houston


The corporate tower dominates the skyline of most cities. Such buildings emerge in part as a response to market pressure for more rentable space on a given site area, however they have also long captured the romance of reaching for the sky. The early twentieth-century skyscrapers were urbane buildings which sat easily within the city and its vital street life; they were not tall by today’s standards, the foyer was less grand and there was no car park. As towers grow taller, their functional efficiency diminishes as they suck the life further and further from the street and as banks of elevators progressively consume their volume. Yet the tower proliferates primarily because of its role in the symbolic discourse of corporate culture, a market that is increasingly based in symbolic capital – the capital value attributable to the symbolic or aesthetic aura (Bourdieu 1984; Dovey 2008: chapter 8). While there are many local variations, this is clearly a global discourse. It is geared to a global economy with highly flexible flows of capital investment and where cities compete with each other to secure this investment and their relative positions in the hierarchy of world cities. Thus the tower competes within each particular city for prominence and identity on the skyline; at the same time each city competes to attract towers with enough distinction to build brand identity in the global market. The corporate logo at a local scale can become an iconic logo for the corporate state. The iconic tower becomes part of the urban iconography of late capitalism and the neoliberal state.

Fig. 20.2  High-rise (Photo: Peter Bobby; Source: Bobby 2014)

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The successful corporate tower offers a distinctive image that stands out within the urban skyline – a figure against a background, a difference that constructs an identity. This is often particularly apparent in the peak or crown of the building, especially when lit theatrically at night (Fig. 20.2). The distinctive form juxtaposed against the sky invites critique as sculpture. When the form is well designed it constructs an aesthetic aura wherein the ‘authenticity’ of the work of art resonates with the ‘author’ (the individual genius, the signature architect) and the ‘authority’ of those who inhabit it. The height of the building is a key to the production of an urban image where prominence translates into dominance. The urban skyline becomes a ‘meaning market’ where every building seeks to claim distinction, authenticity and prominence: a dynamic market where today’s landmarks become belittled by the next crop of taller buildings. At the same time, the aura of the ideal tower embodies a sense of timelessness, an architecture that escapes fashion by achieving standards of eternal quality. Thus, an investment in the symbolic capital that the building embodies will not become devalued. The experience of the tower begins with the foyer – generally a large volume space with the aim to ‘entrance’. This is a welcome celebrated with artworks and spatial form but it is rarely a warm welcome. The foyer often embodies an edge of intimidation – an often severe sense of order and wasted space with some uncanny echoes of the marble halls and slippery surfaces of the historic centres of tyranny. In the foyer we witness the symbolic choreography of corporate discipline, a mix of seduction and intimidation that marks the approach to power. The reception area is warmer and smaller as one is welcomed to an intimate inner sanctum before the commanding view is revealed.

Commanding Views The views available from the corporate tower are a primary selling point and the valued views are always the long views – whether natural or urban. The view is rarely onto a streetscape with people and city life. It is the city in the abstract, from above and at a distance – the surface, not the life. One is always looking out from the tallest building in the neighbourhood and never into other tall buildings. Thus there is a premium on edge positions with views that cannot be built out. The phenomenology of the commanding view is linked to the prospect/refuge effect – we can see without being seen, like the guard in the panoptic tower. We have visual command over the city while remaining safe from it. To have a view is to be seen to have a vision: to impress others with your ‘point of view’ as part of the discourse of corporate negotiation (Fig. 20.3). The most highly valued place on any floor is the corner, for the wrap-around views, the light from two sides and the symbolic prestige that flows from these. The distance ensures that the view can be enjoyed in the abstract with little thought about what one is looking at. The ascent to the tall building is an escape from the city’s grasp (Certeau 1984). The greatest proliferation of towers during this

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Fig. 20.3  The commanding view (Photo: Peter Bobby; Source: Bobby 2014)

century is occurring in developing cities of the global south, where about a billion people now live in informal settlements that have emerged in the interstices and on the margins of the formal city. The view from the tower is often over the slums and in high-density locations towers are the primary technology for establishing a safe distance between social classes. From the slum the towers represent access to employment – cleaning, security, maintenance – and surely a relentless production of envy. Here the phenomenon of seeing without being seen reverses – only one half sees how the other half lives.

Contradictions The ideal tower achieves symbolic capital through its distinctiveness as a landmark that dominates its surroundings. Yet it also gains symbolically from being seen to be in harmony with this context. This contradiction of ‘dominant contextualism’ generally results in a contextual podium on the street frontage with the tower set back behind. The symbolic spectacle of the foyer often claims the entire street frontage and the first few floors of the building – it separates the inhabitants from the street and inhibits any contribution to street life. At other times the podium becomes a thinly disguised parking garage. The rhetoric of contextualism is a cover for a radical separation between life within the building and the life of the street. The quest for locational advantage and the ‘powerful address’ leads to a clustering of towers in financial districts. However, as this clustering occurs, the dominant landmark status and the commanding views are lost in the cluster. The

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quest for dominance and view leads to both an increase in height and dispersal. The capital value of the building is enhanced by the view, yet every new building blocks everyone else’s view and lowers capital value. The towers grow ever upwards and spread outwards. The quest for height, left unchecked, has no limit, since every new tower devalues both the view and the dominance of adjacent towers and fuels the quest for both height and dispersal. Symbolic capital is not so much created as it is shifted around from one temporary landmark to another. The contradiction of ‘dominant contextualism’ is more than a gesture to the forces of urban conservation. It is linked to another contradictory image of the dynamic corporation with stable roots in the conservative past. Symbolic capital is maximized through images that evoke a ‘stable dynamism’. A final contradiction is that of ‘timeless fashion’ – the tower is forever chasing an image of timelessness that is paradoxically subject to accelerating cycles of fashion. The appetite for distinction leads to increased turnover of imagery where signifiers of timelessness go in and out of fashion.

Escalations The quest for the world’s tallest building, dominated by Chicago and New York in the early twentieth century, has long moved to the developing world, where the desire for images of modernity, progress and national identity are paramount. The height of the world’s tallest inhabited building rose rapidly through the early twentieth century; the mantle was held successively by the Woolworth (241 metres), Chrysler (319 metres), Empire State (381 metres) and World Trade Centre (417 metres) until it was claimed in 1972 by the Sears Tower (443 metres). This record stood for twenty-six years because the building type had reached a natural limit where the cost of going higher far exceeded any benefit and the damage to the city at ground level was becoming apparent. While density and profit rises with height, these gains have limits since every tall building is a vertical cul-de-sac in the urban fabric which becomes progressively less efficient with height. As the height of the building increases, the space required to get people and services in and out rises exponentially in relation to the useful floor area. Banks of elevators consume more and more of the building volume and longer trips mean more elevators per floor are required. The question is not whether, but at what height, this becomes economically and ecologically unsustainable. The taller the building, the deeper the cul-de-sac, the more it becomes an enclave. The circulation structure is fundamentally tree-like rather than networked. As the tower grows taller it loses ready access to the dense urban networks that give the city its economic and social life. The spatial structure of the tower generates maximum access to the street with minimum connection between compartments. The tower is a tree-like structure that lacks the resilience of a richly interconnected urban network – it is dependent on the elevator shaft and structural core. The vulnerability of this was radically demonstrated on 11 September 2001 when the stems of the World Trade Centre melted and so many were trapped in two giant enclaves.

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Since the construction of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 we have seen a resurgence in the quest for the world’s tallest buildings that has included Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, Hong Kong, Dubai (Fig. 16.3) and even back to Western cities such as New York and Melbourne (Dovey 2005: chapter 9). This is producing a fundamentally different building type where the occupation of the building is clearly secondary to its symbolic capital. The landmark status of tall buildings generates considerable symbolic capital that offsets the inefficiencies that increase with height. A major tactic for offsetting the reduced efficiencies is to reduce the floor area along with demand for elevators, parking and so on. The paradox is that the less habitable space, the higher you can go; and the taller the building, the less dense it becomes. So what kind of city are these forces of capital creating? The positive side to the character of the high-rise city is well expressed by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s description of New York in the 1930s:
 This is what made it so fantastic – these buildings, the skyscrapers of New York. Obelisks, menhirs, megaliths – every shape, historic and prehistoric … There was no detail. Night came and even the sharp edged contours melted. A million lights perforated the huge masses – switching, flickering – a light modulation dissolving the solid form … I got drunk from seeing … . (Quoted in Ewen 1988: 166)

This is the evanescent vision that is strongly linked to the experience of the sublime – the encounter with immensity. It is the urban equivalent of being overwhelmed by nature and it is reminiscent of Benjamin’s celebration of the emancipatory capacity of urban poetics. This intoxicating effect of the high-rise city is one kind of vital urban experience but it is not automatically produced by an unregulated market. The sublime experience of the high-rise city requires the clustering of towers; it is paradoxically created and accentuated by planning controls that prevent dispersal. There is a deep paradox in that the most urban of buildings has become a profoundly anti-urban building type. The contradictions embodied in the corporate tower can be seen as manifestations of the economic theory of creative destruction originally derived from Joseph Schumpeter and particularly influential in Marxist geography – capital produces cycles of creative innovation that destroys existing structures and territories (cities, industries, neighbourhoods) in order to create new ones (Harvey 1985). The New York of the 1930s has been transformed and fifty years later even the most pro-urban of critics could see that enough was enough: As bulk and density increase, avenues darken and close in; shadows lengthen and downdrafts multiply; winter sun becomes a fleeting penetration of cold canyons at midday, leaving neither warmth nor cheer … Art becomes worthless in a city brutalized by over development. (Huxtable 1984: 105)

The anti-urban character of the larger towers is also linked to increased parking requirements. Large towers require huge sites where much of the street frontage is dominated by several storeys of parking garage with gaping holes for entry and

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exit. These black holes and blank walls are highly damaging to urban street life and attempts to ameliorate their effects are generally superficial. Life inside the building becomes severed from the city since there are no windows on the street and many occupants drive in and out without ever setting foot in public space. Mega-towers are not the next phase of a vital city; they are anti-urban monoliths that kill urban life. While this discussion does not broach the intentions of the architects, this is not to suggest that they are always or only the mute agents of developers, creating mythology for a fee. It is rather because their stories are told regularly in magazines and coffee-table books and scarcely deserve repeating. Architecture magazines and monographs tend to treat the economy as somehow neutral to architecture as a field of autonomous creativity. Yet these publications are crucially important conduits that establish the cultural capital of architects and therefore the symbolic capital of their buildings. Small wonder that lavish coffee-table monographs are often funded by both the ‘signature’ architects and their clients. They often incorporate laudatory text by complicit academics to provide intellectual capital. Thus we find an assemblage of different kinds of capital – symbolic, economic, political, cultural and intellectual – that are continuously converted into each other. It is the cultural and not the technical capacities of architects that make them indispensable to this market – using cultural capital to produce symbolic capital. This produces an uneasy relationship between developers and architects. While developers deploy the mythology of timelessness and authenticity to sell the building, they have their attention firmly on the bottom line and are often disdainful of the cultural elitism and presumed autonomy of architects. Architects on the other hand are disdainful of the economic determinism of corporate culture, seeing themselves as reconciling public and private interest in autonomous works of art. Each sees the other as self-interested – whether for profit or reputation. But this is a marriage of convenience which works for each, hence the joint funding of coffee table monographs. The market for new images requires imagination and architects are the imagineers of urban development. Control over the production of taste is a form of control over symbolic capital. To the extent that symbolic capital is socially produced, the ‘taste’ for tall buildings is manipulable. On the other hand so long as the quest for market domination is played on a field of urban imagery, so long as profits ‘rise’ and ‘fall’, it is difficult to imagine a corporate architecture that does not engage vertical metaphors in some manner. Architecture will always have its roots in the quest for identity and immortality – it has the paradoxical ability to simultaneously signify progress and construct illusions of immortality, of holding back time. And the urge to produce a timeless vertical erection cannot be divorced from the phallic, the power of reproduction. Much of the best architecture engages a certain aesthetic of sexuality which I would not want to eradicate. But the tall tower syndrome can also be construed as a variation on the schoolyard game of ‘mine’s bigger than yours’. I noted in the chapter on Authority that lavish displays of authority in urban space are paradoxically linked to a lack of

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legitimacy – the quest for the world’s tallest building shows a parallel principle for corporations and nations whose identity is insecure. It is perhaps notable that it is primarily aspirational cities that have led the race for taller buildings, and that the US rejoined the quest after 9/11. The corporate tower, and towers of many new types, will proliferate and evolve as key building types of the twenty-first century because they emerge from the conditions and contradictions of our era – particularly inequalities of wealth, deregulated markets and the focus on the production of symbolic capital. While it is easy to see such a proliferation as the product of a particular economy of late capitalism, it is important not to be seduced into the illusion that this is the economy of cities. Cities are the engines of the knowledge economy, but this productivity is based in intensive horizontal networks rather than vertical enclaves. While tall buildings can make important contributions to urban intensity, they can also threaten urbanity itself. Towers often have a predatory character – preying upon vital and attractive urban neighbourhoods: transforming them and moving on, spreading weed-like across the landscape. They are not natural, necessary or inevitable and much of their height can be attributed to the rational pursuit of symbolic capital. They are the vernacular buildings of a predatory corporate culture.

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21 Tourism

Fig. 21.1  Florence

Travelling is easily the most effective way to learn about cities – both new and ancient. Travelling pulls the rug on the habitus of everyday life; to encounter the city of the other is to see our own with new eyes, indeed to know it for the first time. Tourism, on the other hand, is the greatest obstacle to learning from travel. Like any ‘ism’ tourism is a set of ideas that have congealed into ideology – into a single right way of seeing something. We travel in order to gain experiences that we cannot get at home, yet when we travel we immediately enter a city that has been packaged for our consumption. There can be no clear line between the traveller and the tourist. Both tourism and travelling involve a quest for place experience, the great difference between them is that tourism is also a place-making process. Yet there are always many parts of the most attractive cities that are hidden from the gaze of the tourist and they are often the most interesting parts.


Consuming Places In his seminal text on tourism Dean MacCannell (1976) argues that tourism constructs places as products for consumption by a global leisure class. While there is generally an initial attraction, it is transformed from the first instance into a product for consumption, redesigned to meet the expectations of the tourist gaze (Urry 1995). Place identities are constructed and packaged initially through the discourses of tourism: the brochures, websites and guidebooks through which we approach the city. Certain viewpoints and routes are selected to ensure that the tour delivers what the brochure promises. Ultimately tourism also transforms the places themselves to edit or conceal those aspects that detract from the experience and to augment them with additional features that will add value. Thus tourism creates a double barrier for the traveller. First, because it becomes impossible to encounter a tourist site without the preconceptions produced by the tourism discourse, our experiences are always already second hand. Second, because the original attraction has been curated, cleaned up and transformed. This produces an escalating quest for authenticity to experience the real city beneath the layers of discourse, or the remnants that have not been purified. At the extreme is the package tour where the entire experience is predetermined and tourists are insulated from any experiences that might cut across it. So how does the traveller get to see the ‘real’ thing, the authentic place beneath the hype and myth? Walker Percy (1975) suggests three tactics for uncovering what he terms the ‘sovereignty of experience’. The first method, and the most common, is to avoid the rush – visit in the early morning or late at night, out of season; explore on your own. Machu Picchu, the extraordinarily beautiful ruins of an Inca city on an Andean mountain ridge is a well-known tourist icon and the most common piece of advice is to arrive at dawn to see the first shafts of sunlight on the empty ruins. This is truly an extraordinary place – built primarily as a pleasure palace and still largely operating that way. However, demand far outstrips the capacity of its pathway network and by 10 a.m. the congested paths become converted into one-way queues and it is no longer possible to simply wander the city (Fig. 21.2). Percy’s second method of discovering the real place is to invite disaster – when you get lost or arrested, sick or injured, you will encounter the real place. Any seasoned traveller will know that this method works but is not recommended. The third method is to rethink the quest for authenticity and to accept that the real city is now largely constructed and transformed by tourism. This is a method of looking through the eyes of the tourist, knowing that the myth has been constructed and can be deconstructed. Many years ago when I first visited Hollywood I joined a bus tour of film stars’ houses where I saw a large collection of high front fences designed to hide the famous from the gaze of tourist buses. I recall a much-photographed piece of grass on the side of a street where a well-known actor once stood – this is pretty banal, but it’s Hollywood. Tourism is an industry that draws a clear distinction between insiders and outsider, where tourist maps often have a loose relationship to the urban morphology. Fez is

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Fig. 21.2  Queuing at Machu Pichu

a deeply labyrinthine city where there are no accurate maps in the guidebooks and where the morphology generates a market for guidance. The official guides are adept at leading tourists to a series of shopping opportunities, leaving little time to explore. The unofficial ‘guides’ – generally teenage boys – offer a service that leads deep into the labyrinth, at which point there is a further price to be led out again. When I pointed out that the guidebook included warnings about this, they were very critical of the guidebook. This is their city and tourism is the major industry; the street is where they learn the languages of global tourism and the tactics of staying one step ahead. It is tempting to think that all one needs to explore the authentic city is a detailed map, but we might learn more without it. Tourism produces interesting and problematic urban assemblages; the trap is to assume that we might enter them without becoming part of that assemblage.

Transformations It is easy to see cities as becoming damaged by tourism, but it is often tourists who are appraising the damage they are causing. These cities are often becoming more open, mixed and globally connected – indeed more urban – at the same time as they are transformed by tourism. Yet tourism also has effects that are anti-urban, especially where tourist development occurs under conditions of deregulation and corruption. Kuta beach in Bali is a strip of sand and surf that has now developed into about five kilometres of continuous tourist development. Access to the beach has traditionally been via a network of beautiful and socially interesting lanes or ‘gangs’

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that provide access between the walled compounds of Balinese houses (Fig. 21.3). As amalgamation and redevelopment has taken place along the beachfront: many of the ‘gangs’ providing access to the beach have been blocked off or swallowed up by the new development. This has led over time to highly impermeable compounds that block access to the beach for distances of up to about 700 metres. The distinction in permeability between the beachfront and hinterland is clear in Figure 21.3. This loss of permeability constrains access to the beach from properties that do not adjoin it, thus granting the beachfront properties a form of spatial monopoly. This grants priority to large hotels over smaller hotels and homestays, ensuring that profits are syphoned off to global hotel chains rather than remaining in Bali. There is also a loss of authenticity as the ‘homestay’ accommodation in traditional Balinese compounds is replaced with large Balinese styled hotel compounds – an

Fig. 21.3  Balinese ‘Gangs’ and the impermeable beachfront – Legian, Bali

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idealized Bali replaces the real. The ideal is also a form of protection from the crass commercialization and constant hassling from hawkers that is the everyday reality. Thus tourists are engaged in a never-ending struggle to escape the conditions their presence has produced. In many cases the same beachfront sites are now occupied by the second or third generation of a ‘Balinized’ architecture. With all its distortions, the tourist market ironically plays a key role in keeping traditional Balinese arts and crafts alive. Until the 1980s, Candidasa was a narrow strip of fishing village on the southeast coast of Bali squeezed between a steep volcano and a sandy beach that was well protected by coral reefs several kilometres out to sea. When large hotels were constructed along the beachfront, the demand for concrete led to a tragic decision to mine the coral reef for lime. The gap that was thereby created in the reef admitted the ocean swells and by the 1990s all but a few corners of beach had disappeared to be replaced by new seawalls. Candidasa is now a sad place with an air of desperation as the tourist market has moved on. A local tourism official was reported suggesting a new form of attraction: ‘People here are more honest than in other places because of their strong belief in karma …’ (Price 2001). Ubud is a large inland village that has long been a major Balinese attraction owing to long-standing artistic traditions and a beautiful terraced rice field setting laced with dramatic river gullies. For many years the rice fields have become increasingly leased and replaced with tourist villas often with an extra terrace for a swimming pool. Many local jobs are now based in the construction and maintenance of these villas, whose owners are often foreign. The symbolic value of the rice field begins to approach its agricultural value, yet the symbolic capital accrues to the owner of the villa rather than the rice field. With no clear planning strategy in place and no stopping rule, some parts of this landscape are now approaching suburban densities – the rice fields that are the attraction gradually disappear until the tourists are looking at each other, and again they will move on.

Slum Tourism When Benjamin and Lacis toured the slums of Naples in 1924 they portrayed it as a place teeming with intensity, vitality and the attractions of hyper-urbanity, but also a place where ‘the travelling citizen … loses his nerve’ (Benjamin and Lacis 1978: 164). There is a long history of middle classes touring the slums and in some cities of the global south this is becoming a part of the tourist industry. Boat tours of the klongs of Bangkok are often portrayed as revealing a traditional Thai way of life in water-based communities; yet the dilapidation and crowding of the slum is barely held at a distance (Fig. 21.4). In Rio de Janeiro, Capetown and Mumbai there are packaged tours. The favela tour in Rio incudes pick up from the hotel and rooftop terraces overlooking the slums are rented as viewing points. The tour includes a visit to a local charity where one can donate, and even an exit through the gift shop.

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Fig. 21.4  Klong tours – Bangkok

Slum tourism can be understood in terms of a complex mix of desires. On the one hand is a quest for authenticity and the pleasures of the picturesque cityscape; on the other is the shock of the sublime, of labyrinthine intensity and dialectic imagery (Dovey and King 2012). The slum may be reminiscent of a traditional village with its vernacular architecture, spatial structure and social life. The experience of nostalgia is linked to the quest for authenticity, the desire for the real or the original, the desire to experience other lives, beliefs, customs. The picturesque attraction of the slums is linked to the vernacular aesthetic, a repetition of simple building types and materials where every house and lane is variegated by an incremental adaptive process. The landscape can be seen as ‘organic’ in the sense of parts fitting together into a whole, an inventive architecture of one-off solutions. Where slums cling to steep escarpments they often produce a spectacular urban profile that follows the topographic contours (Fig. 21.5). What renders such an urban landscape picturesque is visibility at a distance – it relies on a particular conjunction of topology and morphology. The aesthetic of the sublime, as originally conceived by Edmund Burke in the eighteenth century, involves the encounter with overwhelming scale or force. The aesthetic passion stems from fear, horror or terror that becomes an awe-filled pleasure as we realize our own safety from it. The sublime is the combination of anxiety and pleasure we experience when we encounter a potentially overwhelming

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Fig. 21.5  The picturesque slum – Medellin

threat under conditions of safety. The slum is often labyrinthine and largely impenetrable; whatever one sees from the formal public space is but an entrance that suggests the first of many layers that disappear into the depths. The labyrinth is impenetrable, unreadable and disorienting – at once threatening yet enticing, echoing the anxious pleasure of the sublime. The intensity of the slum is linked to the quality that Benjamin and Lacis (1978) identified as ‘porosity’ – the degree to which the spatial and social segmentarity of the city dissolves under conditions of high density and poverty. There is a dissol­ ution of boundaries between private and public as domestic life spills into public space and the public gaze penetrates into the private realm. While there is little privacy within the slums and they may be shockingly exposed to passing traffic, many slums are invisible and largely impenetrable from the formal public spaces of the city. Even when visible from a distance, informal settlements are often enclaves, as impenetrable to outsiders from a different social class as gated communities – they may indeed be informally gated and guarded; their streets and lanes do not appear on street maps. Slum tourism becomes the only way to see how the other half lives. Slums occupy the interstices of cities that compete in a global market wherein urban imagery is crucial for attracting investment. Slums generally have negative symbolic capital since the image of slums cuts across urban branding strategies. Slum tourism provides an interesting twist in that in some cities such as Rio de Janeiro it turns the slum into part of the brand. In such cases the paradox is that the

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developing state needs the flows of tourists yet seeks to control the urban image for purposes of branding and to signify law and order. Slum tourism gains potency from shock value; yet it relies on a certain safety and distance for contemplation. A key question is whether and how it opens windows onto new ways of seeing and thinking.

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22 Codes

Fig. 22.1  Central Park, New York

It makes no sense to divide cities into (happy and unhappy) … but rather into another two: those that through the years and changes continue to give their form to desires, and those in which desires either erase the city or are erased by it. Calvino (1979: 30)

Urban design codes are the institutionalized principles governing the formation of public space, including both morphology and forms of expression. Codes control the multiplicity of intersecting desires that are the productive forces of the city – desires for height, views, access, privacy, sunlight and so on. Unregulated desires erase the city through the creative destruction of the market. Desires are also erased in the over-regulated city, where a blanket of conformity falls over the city. The role of the urban design code is to mediate intersecting desires in a framework of public rights and interests. In the chapter on urbanity I discussed the shared meaning of the keywords ‘urban’, ‘city’ and ‘polis’ as a conjunction of courtesy, civility and politeness. Urban design codes involve the institutionalization of these values. Public space is the space of difference, an intrinsically contested or agonistic space where different interests intersect. Urban design codes are generally legitimated in terms of public interests where disparate desires have congealed into shared


interests; however they often also reflect the interests of those whose desires have prevailed at key moments in urban history. Many urban regulations are remnants of obsolete technologies of sanitation or social attitudes that are counterproductive in a democratic and pluralistic city. Unlike the permanent covenants of the private enclave, urban design codes remain open to change. The deeper struggle that is always going on is between the one-way city and the city of difference. Cities where desires are erased and those where desires erase the city are both one-way cities. How to regulate for cities of difference is one of the big questions of urban design. What kinds of urban framework make sense when there is never one agreed public interest? Urban design thinking is always grounded in a mix of public and private interests. When we decide that something is in the public interest, these interests in turn tend to congeal into ‘rights’. Do I have a right to build a building in a design and at a height of my choice? If I have access to sunshine or a view, then do I have a right to prevent neighbours from blocking it? To what degree should such rights and interests become stabilized by law; and can informal codes work better? The desire for profit often leads to taller buildings, to traders encroaching on pavements, to a proliferation of advertising. When and how do we draw a line that establishes and stabilizes a public interest, a right to build, encroach or advertise? Public interests are an agglomeration of desires that congeal into urban codes in a manner that may be more or less democratic. The paradox is that rules are necessary for a diverse city; a good urban design code is one that regulates for multiplicity. There is a very complex set of relations between urban regulations and the urban design outcomes that they enable and constrain. An increase in the height of buildings will increase the street-life density but also diminish sunshine at ground level. Building setback restrictions will increase privacy but will restrict both density and retail opportunity. An increase in grain size will enable greater density but will restrict diversity. One person’s right can be another’s travesty. Codes are forms of striation that stabilize territories, bringing order and identity to the city. They are social in origin, subject to agreement and negotiation, the outcome of contestation and negotiation.

Rigidity/Flexibility One of the key distinctions often made about urban design regulations is that between prescription and performance. This is generally a distinction between a specific urban form that is prescribed (such as building height) and a desired outcome (such as preventing overlooking and overshadowing). A prescriptive code may have little justification beyond the fact that it has always been done that way, so a focus on performance is a crucial part of any urban design critique. If we are trying to protect access to sunlight, then it is more effective to regulate for overshadowing than for building height. In practice, however, prescription and performance are difficult to separate.

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Fig. 22.2  The Paris section

Preventing encroachment of buildings into public space and limitations on the height of construction are some of the oldest of urban codes. The idea that building height should relate to the width of streets to allow for adequate daylight in streets and buildings is at least as old as Vitruvius (first century bc) and the Roman code under the emperor Nero was that the height limit was twice the street width (Ben-Joseph 2005: 14). This is a simple prescriptive code. A height regulation for a given street might be designed to preserve sunlight on the opposite pavement but it also prescribes how this is to be done; such a regulation prescribes the performance. The typical mansard roof section of the Parisian streetscape that peels back after first four or five storeys was produced by such codes (Fig. 22.2). The desire for urban codes to focus on ‘performance’ is often confused with the desire for a more informal or ‘flexible’ code or ‘guidelines’ where variations can be negotiated. The push for flexibility can be a cover for deregulation. Urban codes often evolve informally and later become formal regulations. In the traditional Arab marketplace or souk it is understood that private activity can spill onto public space within informal limits that ensure that flows along the public passageway are not constrained (Ben-Joseph 2005: 16–19). Another example here is Gaudi’s design for Casa Mila (La Pedrera) in Barcelona – an apartment building that was constrained by

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Cerdá’s strict urban grid and 20- metre height limit. The building under construction violated these limits in several ways: the height limits were breached by about 4 metres; the sculptural roofscape with chimneys and ventilation shafts penetrated even further and there was a proposal for the building to be crowned with a giant statue of the Virgin Mary. The dispute was eventually settled by deleting the statue but allowing the increased height and sculptural roofscape on the basis of artistic merit – the building was declared a ‘monument’ (Van Hensberger 2002: 214–16). The result is a far better urban outcome than would have occurred if Gaudi had been forced to remove the roof sculptures or permitted to dominate the corner with a religious icon (Fig. 22.3). This is the case for flexibility. But who is to judge which variations are to be permitted? The practice of allowing an additional floor of rentable space on the basis of architectural quality is a highly contentious one. Do we regulate the city with beauty contests? If Casa Mila is not damaging the city, then why should all buildings not be permitted the extra floor? A paradox here is that the good city is one of diversity and irregularity. We don’t want everything to be the same, whether it be buildings, streets, setbacks or street life. Urban designs that take one step further or do something a little different without major harm often add spice to the urban mix – flexibility is good for the city. On a small hotel in Melbourne the architects were permitted to violate a street wall regulation to cantilever part of a glass swimming pool over the street (Fig. 22.4). This adds to the urban experience of both the swimmers and passing pedestrians without seriously diminishing sunlight in the street. To simply enforce rigid regulations can eliminate the ways in which creative

Fig. 22.3  Casa Mila, Barcelona

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Fig. 22.4  Flexible envelopes – Melbourne (Architects: Denton Corker Marshall)

design adds spice to urban life. Yet such code variations are often opposed because if everyone did this, it could produce transformational change rather than diversity. Transformational change may or may not be desirable, but it should not be smuggled in under the cover of flexibility. The swimming pool was a good decision in part because it passes the test of asking ‘what if everyone did that?’ To vary urban regulations on the basis of aesthetic quality shifts the legal debate from one of compliance to one of how to legislate for good art. Architects often welcome this kind of flexibility because it tempts developers to spend more on the architectural quality of the building as a means to higher profits. Yet to base urban regulations on aesthetic judgements turns statutory planning into a beauty contest. While it may appear to unleash the art of architecture from bureaucratic constraint, the real effect in the urban property market is to draw architects into a Faustian pact with developers and an unregulated game of escalating height. It is dangerous to legislate for aesthetic quality because it reduces the art of architecture to an economic function and because such aesthetic judgements will often ultimately be based on legal principles in a planning tribunal. The issue of height limits often becomes crucial in relation to properties that border key urban attractions such as a plaza, park or waterfront. There is often a public interest in maximizing the density near the attraction because that increases both the level of access and urban intensity; yet it is countered by the imperative to control the scale of development to ensure it does not diminish the value of the attraction. Central Park in Manhattan is a well-known case where the high density of the surrounding fabric plays a key role in the way the park works (Fig. 22.1) – it is

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the juxtaposition of high density with open space that makes Central Park so intense. While it is hard to draw a line at which the heights of surrounding buildings cause more harm than good, there is such a limit and it is not arbitrary. The principle is one of maximizing density while minimizing damage. The damage will be mediated by many factors – the aspect of the frontage, the value of direct sunlight in different climates and seasons, and so on. One of the ways in which flexibility is introduced into height and density controls is to set an ‘as of right’ envelope for development and then negotiate a bonus of extra floors or additional floor space in return for some public benefit that the developer will then provide. Higher environmental performance, new public open space or affordable housing are common examples of such benefits. This is made to look like a win–win situation wherein the developer makes more profit and the public gets the benefit. However, if the original ‘as of right’ limits were based on urban design and planning principles such as heritage protection, shadow controls, traffic volumes and so on, then the granting of a bonus represents a violation of those principles. The state is effectively trading urban damage for urban benefits. Such a process can easily escalate – as height and volume of development increases it becomes the new norm, the new ‘as of right’, and the bonus of an even higher density will be necessary in order to extract a benefit.

Solar Access As we move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, the issue of access to solar energy will become a more central one for urban design codes. What rights do the owners of private property have to the solar energy that falls on that property? When investments are made in gardens, passive solar architecture and solar panels, what rights do owners have to ensure that they are not overshadowed by new development? These rights cannot be absolute because any building or tree on any boundary will cause overshadowing of neighbouring property at some times of day. If strict height limits and setbacks are applied, then this is a recipe for a further reproduction of low-density suburbs. On the other hand existing suburbs could become net producers of energy if their solar access is protected. If adjacent properties are to have equal access to solar harvesting, then adjacent building envelopes will need to be similar in height. Where grain size is small, this will result in a relatively flat urban fabric. A more variegated morphology may emerge where larger grains enable towers to be set back from neighbours. Solar harvesting does not need to take place at or near the ground level; the principle of protecting solar access is one of controlling overshading at the property boundaries – relative rather than absolute heights of buildings. Yet there is potential for codes based on solar access to prevent intensification of the city. Those who have invested in gardens, solar energy and passive heating are likely to oppose any increases in height that reduce access to sunlight. This can paradoxically prevent the intensification necessary to make the city more walkable and less car-dependent. Again

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urban design thinking means engaging with intersecting desires and interests; there will be no singular public interest and no easy answers.

Parking Another issue that is likely to see increased attention in the future relates to the control of car parking. The capacity of cars to dominate and destroy urban life has long been documented and, as Emily Talen argues, urban regulations are the key factor in the production of car-dominated cities (Talen 2012). The effects of unlimited parking can be seen in downtown Houston, where a formerly vital city has morphed over fifty years of market-led development into a barren cluster of monofunctional towers and car parks that service them. In many car-dependent cities codes have long required generous amounts of off-street parking to ensure that new developments don’t overload on-street parking. With the challenge of moving to a low-carbon city this situation is beginning to reverse – limiting off-street parking in order to counter car-dependency. On-street parking is highly efficient because there is a self-organized market of ‘first come, first served’ and it is possible to calibrate quantities, times and costs of parking to produce high levels of usage. On-street parking also adds to street life and therefore to safety. Off-street parking by contrast is highly inefficient – it requires large amounts of driveway space that increase in multi-level parking structures. Most off-street parking spaces are empty either all day (for housing) or all night (for offices). Every driveway required for off-street parking removes at least one on-street parking space. Multi-storey car parks generally produce blank walls and black holes to the pavement without the vitality and safety of the active edge. Codes that require off-street parking encourage car-dependency, lower the effective density of the city and deprive it of street life. Cars consume vast amounts of space in the city and the cost of each car parking space, especially when it is unused, can be counted in the collective loss of density and intensity. One of the great challenges for urban design codes is to turn around the presumption of a right to park, and to develop codes that incorporate the real cost of parking. Every car uses about twenty times the land/floor area of that used by a pedestrian. This includes parking space at each end of every trip, the ancillary space of the parking lot (driveways, ramps and useless landscapes to screen or beautify them), and all trafficked roads and their ancillary spaces (traffic islands, verges, median strips, safety zones, emergency lanes). The paradox is that we use cars to get to places that are too far to walk; yet if it weren’t for the cars everything would be a whole lot closer. Cars have monopolized very large portions of public space in most cities over the past century; incrementally clawing this space back is a key task and urban design codes are a key means of doing so (Talen 2012). Urban design codes mediate tensions between order and diversity in the city, between conservation and imagination. By definition regulations produce regularity and uniformity – they constrain design expression and creativity. Codes are also

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institutionalized forms of the right to the city, to access and use of the city for collective goals. Urban design coding is a negotiation of competing desires of different actors in the urban assemblage: residents, developers, designers, drivers and pedestrians. The code mediates desires for access, views, profit, privacy, parking, vitality, sunlight, safety, beauty, heritage and so on. This is a tension between control and liberation – how to stop one person’s rights and freedoms infringing another’s. It is a tension between order and chaos – how to enable urban diversity while maintaining public order. And it is a tension between conservation and creativity – how to conserve valued urban places while enabling even better buildings, streets and public places to be created. A code is a form of plateau, a level between levels that stabilizes potentially escalating actions that may otherwise escalate out of control. Codes negotiate tension between an over-regulated and an under-regulated city. All urban regulation tends to privilege the cause of regularity; the trick is to regulate just enough and no more. To allow development just up to the agreed plateau; and maybe one step further? The paradox is that good urban regulations are necessary for diverse urban assemblages. A good urban design code is one that engages with this paradox, one that regulates for multiplicity. In his book Local Code Michael Sorkin invents an urban design code for an imaginary city at a particular latitude with a new language of urbanism to frame it (Sorkin 1993). Habitable spaces are called ‘Habs’ and are not classified by function: 85 per cent of such space has guaranteed access to sunlight, while the rest are ‘cave habs’. No Hab is more than 150 metres from a Green. ‘Nabes’ are clusters of 1,000 to 1,500 Habs and modes of access are ‘Nets’. One per cent of every Nabe is ‘Free Terrain’ – a deregulated laboratory for experimental temporary urbanism where all structures are demolished after twelve months. This is the kind of thinking that we need a lot more of – the use of codes as a form of urban design.

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23 Graffiti

Fig. 23.1  Getsemani, Cartagena

May he who vandalizes this picture incur the wrath of Pompeian Venus. Anonymous graffito, Pompeii (ad 79)

Graffiti is the oldest of arts, with its roots in cave paintings; it is also one of the most temporary and is very rarely preserved. The well-preserved ruins of Pompeii reveal a Roman city with a multitude of inscriptions (ad 79). Then, as now, graffiti is a practice that slips between crime and art, and into politics and advertising. Does the right to the city extend to self-expression and on which walls and surfaces? When and where does street art become vandalism and how might it be regulated? Answers to these questions are far from clear, but they will depend crucially on the urban context. An image that may be acceptable in a back lane may be seen as vandalism on a street frontage. Graffiti may be interpreted as a mix of vandalism, art, politics or advertising depending on whether it appears on a wall, pavement, billboard or shopfront. These contradictions and transformations, the contested and blurred definitions of what comprises graffiti, art, vandalism and politics run to the heart of this issue as a field of


urban design thinking. A great deal has been written about the content of graffiti, and about who produces graffiti and why; here, based on work with colleagues Simon Wollan and Ian Woodcock, I want to discuss the urban design context, the place of graffiti (Dovey, Wollan and Woodcock 2012). Why is graffiti where it is and what is its role in the experience of urbanity? How can and should graffiti be regulated, if at all, by urban codes?

Where Is Graffiti? Graffiti quite literally ‘takes place’ in the sense that it appropriates the street and claims a ‘right’ to the blank walls of the city. Unlike the artwork of the gallery or salon, graffiti has a captive audience – a condition it shares with architecture and advertising. The varieties of graffiti writing range from the quick tagging of a signature (in felt pen or spray paint) through various forms of ‘paste-ups’, slogans, ‘throw-ups’ and stencils to larger pieces or extended walls. The distinction between art and vandalism is always contested but is not simply one of scale. Street art at its best engages with the street and draws its potency from the urban situation in which it is located. Urban graffiti is mediated by urban morphology and depends upon the production of blank and relatively smooth public walls that are not strongly identified with the occupants. Graffiti emerges within the interstices and cracks of the formal identities of a streetscape, on side or rear walls, laneways, derelict buildings, retaining walls, bridges and railway cuttings. Figure 23.2 maps the zones of public space from which graffiti is visible in one neighbourhood in Melbourne. While laneways are relatively saturated, some main streets are entirely unaffected; where graffiti transgresses an existing identity, then it is much less likely to be produced and much more likely to be erased. As an unauthorized practice, graffiti needs to be seen as distinct from wall murals and community art. The production of graffiti involves a risk of prosecution and is safer to undertake in laneways and hidden locations. The contradictory desire is for the performance to be hidden from the public gaze but for the results to be exposed. The spray-on stencil is popular in part because it enables the artwork to be produced in private and then reproduced swiftly in public. Graffiti seeks publicity, so highly visible blank walls are desirable sites where there is competition not only between writers and artists but also with advertising billboards since publicity has capital value. Graffiti writing depends upon the affordance produced by any particular part of the city and this requires attention to the micro-scale materials and potentials of particular wall surfaces. The meaning of the work may depend on the way it is positioned in relation to nearby pedestrian flows or built forms. The famed work of Banksy (2007) gains much of its potency through astute choice of location and engagement with the micro-scale context of everyday urban life – the walls of the city are given imaginative depth with windows, rat holes and automatic tellers. His work populates the street with rats, police and other figures engaging with urban life; it sometimes masquerades as advertising or official signage and transgresses

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Fig. 23.2  Graffiti and morphology – Fitzroy, Melbourne

the authorized visual regime of the streetscape. Public space is redesignated as an arena for politics, art and freedom of expression. Since it is unauthorized, graffiti generally transgresses the authorized urban order. Graffiti is often linked to the territoriality of urban youth gangs, where it functions as communication between gangs and gang members. Many of the most globally prevalent forms stem from hip-hop movements of the 1980s linked to youthful rebellion and subcultural identity. Other forms are linked to political movements and can take a key role as the only form of free public expression under authoritarian regimes.

Symbolic Capital The judgement of whether graffiti is seen as vandalism or street art is not only an aesthetic judgement but crucially depends on place identity and urban character. In locations where dynamism, change and creativity are seen as integral to the emergence of place identity, graffiti is often an important contributor to the production of an edgy and transgressive urban character (Dovey, Woodcock and Wood 2009b). Yet even then attitudes to graffiti show a distinct ambivalence depending on where it is and the perceived quality of the work. Mary Douglas (1966: 35) famously defined dirt as ‘matter out of place’; graffiti becomes vandalism when it is ‘out of place’ – a contamination of place identity. Where street art has become an integral part of the

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Fig. 23.3  Graffiti as place identity – Valparaiso

broader culture one finds it accepted as a construction rather than transgression of place identity (Fig. 23.3). Graffiti can be seen as a form of symbolic capital that either adds or diminishes the capital value of a neighbourhood depending on whether it is seen as art or vandalism. While tagging is linked to dereliction, street art can attract gentrification. Artistic subcultures are long recognized as harbingers of gentrification and graffiti can be seen in this framework as a set of practices that appropriates the underused wall surfaces of post-industrial urban landscapes before they are re-appropriated in turn by both housing and arts related industries. From this perspective the integration of graffiti with place identity involves the degree to which the place becomes identified with artistic production; in such places the dispositions to write, consume and tolerate graffiti have become embodied into the urban habitus. Graffiti has characteristics in common with the avant-garde – it is not-for-profit, transgressive and can be difficult to understand. Within the field of avant-garde art, the blank canvas or found object (ready-made) becomes art through the act of framing in a gallery (Bourdieu 1984). Graffiti reverses this practise by turning the blank street wall into a canvas; the street wall is found as a ready-made gallery. While the gallery works by establishing a contemplative distance between the artwork and everyday life: graffiti erodes this distance, injecting art into everyday urban life while resisting incorporation into the field of art. There are no curators to authorize whose work gets on the wall and no way to stop good work being over-painted except peer group respect.

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Fig. 23.4  Street art as advertising – Santiago

Because good street art has symbolic capital there is an inevitable slippage into place branding and advertising. It is common for well-known graffiti artists to be commissioned by building owners or residents to produce high-quality work that will both add value and deter tagging. Thus we find hybrid forms of expression that are authorized yet play off the language and credibility of illegal street art. Highly visible walls have a capital value that both excludes and co-opts graffiti. Any tagging in these locations damages the brand of the shop, yet street art can be incorporated into the advertising regime for its products – the art/advertising slippage lends a certain street-cred to the products within the store (Fig. 23.4).

Tolerance and Erasure A key question for urban design and planning is to what degree, if at all, should graffiti be regulated? Is there some way to eliminate the relatively mindless tagging while keeping the street art? The law, however, is not designed for ambiguity and the most common response is simply erasure. The ‘broken windows’ theory of crime is the basis of most zero-tolerance policies; it suggests that a single broken window, if not repaired, becomes a signifier of decline and neglect that then stimulates more neglect throughout that neighbourhood (Wilson and Kelling 2013). As applied to graffiti it suggests that if any graffiti is not immediately erased, then the writing will escalate, and that instant erasure is the cure. This is indeed a tactic that drives graffiti writers out of some neighbourhoods and into others where their work is tolerated. But is tolerance really desirable? ‘Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal ...’ writes Banksy (2007: 97), ‘Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring … .’ Yet such a city would strip his work of much of its transgressive potency, and the evidence of zones of

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Fig. 23.5  Authorized street art – Venice Beach, Los Angeles

tolerance is that they are often boring. There have been many attempts to authorize graffiti in particular zones of public space and even to issue permits (Fig. 23.5) but this seems to misrecognize the issue – it generally creates a zone that becomes saturated with low-quality work that then spills beyond any boundaries that can be inscribed. Some authorities combine a policy of zero tolerance for tagging while leaving the better work, yet it is impossible to establish aesthetic criteria for the implementation of such a code. What this means in practice is that we need authorities with both a ‘good eye’ and a ‘blind eye’. Erasure, however, is not only organized by the state but also self-organized by residents and graffiti writers. It plays a key role in the practice of graffiti writing which is often layered like a palimpsest with new work responding to the work beneath through partial erasure. Property owners often initiate their own instant erasure policy and implement their own aesthetic criteria. Alison Young (2010) has suggested a policy whereby street art can become exempt from erasure with the ‘negotiated consent’ of property owners. In some locations, such as car parks, graffiti is commissioned as a kind of wallpaper to decorate the blankness of the walls and help prevent tagging. While there is respect for high-quality work among graffiti artists, erasure is also necessary to provide the surface for new work. ‘They keep painting, we keep painting’ says the graffito in Sydney (Fig. 23.6), yet it is not clear just who ‘they’ are – residents, authorities and artists all engage in the production of blank walls that are necessary for the ongoing production of graffiti.

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Fig. 23.6  Painting/erasing – Surry Hills, Sydney

A neighbourhood is a dynamic assemblage of interconnecting flows of desire, of which the desires to write or erase graffiti are part. The desires of graffiti writers to find new walls and to find an audience escalates until it reaches certain limits where it is checked by the desires of residents or the state to erase it or those of capital to exploit it. Graffiti finds a place in those parts of our cities where identities and practices are open and unfinished. It is caught in the paradox of authority and authenticity: if graffiti is authentic then it cannot be authorized and once authorized it cannot be authentic. Desires to write and to erase graffiti are productive urban forces, while desires to promote or protect it are both problematic. Graffiti can be seen to operate in the between zone of a series of twofold constructs: public/ private space, visible/invisible walls, legal/illegal practices, vandalism/art and art/ advertising. Graffiti is variously regarded as both street art and vandalism: it seeks both the privacy of crime and the publicity of exhibition. Graffiti takes on both positive and negative symbolic capital; it both sells and pollutes. The dance with the devil between graffiti and advertising is echoed in the relations of graffiti to the legitimate art of the gallery. Artists often become torn between fields, earning an income from one to subsidize the other. Conditions that encourage graffiti include blank walls, visibility and vacancy; those that discourage it include entries, invisibility, formality, rough surfaces and vegetation. In the language of assemblage thinking graffiti emerges on the relatively ‘smooth’ surfaces of the city that are not locked into ‘striated’ regimes of identity and territory. The question of whether graffiti is art or vandalism is a poor question; as Andrea Brighenti argues: ‘... the two conventional, opposing views that interpret writing alternatively as art or as deviance fail to identify the real stake in the practice of writing … the definition of the nature and the limits of public space’ (Brighenti 2010: 328). Blank walls at street level contribute nothing to urban life; graffiti writing often

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Fig. 23.7  Fitzroy, Melbourne

brings them to life, it asserts the right of expression over the property owner’s right to blankness (Fig. 23.7). Graffiti writing is a form of place-making that resurrects the forgotten spaces and blank walls of the city and helps to redefine the nature and limits of urbanity (Halsey and Pederick 2010: 96). Nothing will kill graffiti more effectively than promotion and preservation. Graffiti cannot be fully defined or preserved without becoming purified, a quality it shares with urban place identity in general.

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24 Advertising

Fig. 24.1  Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Urban advertising is the use of public space to generate publicity. It is an integral part of urbanism because cities are fundamentally markets in ideas and products. Advertising is a production of desire for a particular product that stimulates exchange and consumption. The morphology of the city is crucial to the ways advertising is distributed; it is particularly geared to flows of traffic as mediated by access networks. The greater the volume of flows, and the slower they move, the greater the opportunity. The form of the built environment and its regulatory environment then generates or denies advertising opportunities. Here I will explore the ways in which advertising becomes ingrained into urban morphology, followed by some principles under which it might or might not become regulated.


A Typology of Urban Advertising In urban design terms there are three kinds of advertising that we might call embodied, contiguous and detached (Fig. 24.2). In the traditional marketplace of the Eastern bazaar and farmers’ markets, signs are largely unnecessary because the advertising is embodied in the product. The object of desire is on display and can often be handled, smelt and tasted without the need for language or signage. This is a form of transparency of urban life that also applies to services such as taxis and prostitution. Contiguous advertising is where the signage is attached to the site of exchange, providing information and producing a desire for an adjacent product or service. The use of both products and packaging as advertising is anchored to particular locations where it catches the attention of pedestrians or cars with a call to stop and consume. All shopfront signage is of this kind. The third category of this simple typology is where the advertising becomes detached from the product as in a billboard, whether a large stand-alone structure or a bill posted on a wall. In this case the product is to be found elsewhere and consumed at another time. While embodied and contiguous advertising seek to divert the flows of the city directly, billboards are designed for a delayed response. Embodied and contiguous advertising are largely limited to shopping districts, while detached billboards are free to exploit the opportunities of the larger city with its freeways and transit networks. Urban advertising depends fundamentally on urban morphologies and networks, geared to where particular kinds of people are, what they are doing, how they are moving and which ways they are facing. The density and function of built forms, the mix of people and the intensity of flows frame the city as a theatre of advertising opportunity. Advertising is attracted to the intensity and vitality of urban life, inserted where it will capture the public gaze. The greater the flow, the greater the attraction, but the faster the speed of flow, the harder it is to catch and the larger the billboards. Traffic congestion is highly productive for advertising because people stuck in traffic are a captive audience that generates a market – the driver’s problem is the advertiser’s opportunity. Advertising lines, and often blocks, the path between where we are and where we want or need to go. This is the same diagrammatic principle as the shopping mall, where the advertising is designed to distract our attention from whatever we are doing and transfer it onto the chosen product (Fig. 18.3A). A similar principle operates on television and in magazines, where advertising interrupts the flow of desire for the programme or story and links it to the production of a new desire. Advertising opens a window onto a possible future, utopian images of a world beyond the everyday where desires are fulfilled (Fig. 24.1). The juxtaposition with everyday life in the urban context often produces dialectic images with a tension between contrasting narratives (Fig. 24.3). While it is easy to see advertising as seductive and manipulative, it also adds intensity and transparency to urban life. A multiplicity of messages coming from different sources and selling different products is consistent with the ideals of urbanity as encounter with difference. Advertising

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Fig. 24.2  Three kinds of urban advertising

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changes much faster than architecture and it reveals the dynamism of the market: it displays what a society values for better or worse. This transparency can also refer back in time; when advertising remains long after it has lost its function, it becomes ‘ghost’ advertising, a reminder of changing values, signifying a city that has lost vitality, and perhaps a form of heritage.

Escalation In a deregulated environment advertising can escalate in highly visible locations as advertisers compete with each other for attention until the visual field becomes saturated. At saturation point the architecture of the city largely disappears and we find the emergence of a place identity based on the advertising. This is largely the case in places such as Shibuya and Shinjuku (Tokyo), Kowloon (Hong Kong), Las Vegas (Nevada), Piccadilly (London) and Times Square (New York). Times Square is a theatre district where the sense of theatre has consumed the street. Marshall

Fig. 24.3  Times Square, New York

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Berman (1999) uses it as an example to link such sites of excess to the most ancient of urban traditions – the city as a place where one loses oneself in the surrender to desire. For Berman the city is a ‘marriage of heaven and hell’ and it is because rather than in spite of this that it becomes a place where authenticity is enabled to flourish; good cites are dialectic spaces of becoming, where good and evil, rich and poor become contradictions that art and poetry thrive upon. Times Square is interesting for the ways in which what may appear to be a free advertising market is now strictly regulated to require minimum levels of advertising on all buildings to conform to the character of the district (Bosselmann 1998). Saturation advertising is not in the interest of advertisers who want their message to stand out as a figure against the ground of the streetscape. Advertising effect­ iveness depends on capturing attention and those parts of the city that become saturated with a diversity of advertisements tend to reduce each brand image to an ingredient of the urban mix. The potency of saturation advertising depends on the loss of potency of individual ingredients. In highly visible locations we can find a single corporation buying all the available space in order to monopolize the message. A paradox is that saturation advertising can produce forms of transparency that overwhelm the mendacity of the advertisers’ intentions (Fig. 24.3).

Urban Design as Advertising A seminal attempt to rethink the city saturated with signage is the book Learning from Las Vegas, where Venturi, Scott-Brown and Isenour (1979) examine the strip as a streetscape that has been largely reduced to text, large-scale saturation signage read from within the car. Learning from Las Vegas is a quest to understand the car-based strip as a new form of urbanism with an intensity of its own where the piazza is dead and the ‘decorated shed’ becomes the modern vernacular. Rather than oppose this saturation signage, they suggest, the task for urban design is to understand and maintain control over clashing elements. Like a Pollock painting or a collage, the commercial car-driven strip is almost out of control but also ‘almost alright’. When this study was undertaken in the 1970s the casinos as giant gambling dens were mostly set behind asphalt car parks, but these have long been replaced by themed spectacles of water features and exotic landscape, reproductions of European architecture and urban design with pedestrian focused ‘piazzas’ (Fig. 24.4; also Fig. 10.1). In one sense urban design and architecture has returned to replace the advertising signage, and the strip has a high level of pedestrian intensity compared to most American cities. In the city as theme park the spectacle becomes the advertisement and signage is carefully contained so that it does not diminish the effect. Those parts of the public realm that we can identify as closed crowds (Canetti 1962) are particular advertising opportunities because they produce a captive audience. This differs dramatically for different kinds of event or performance. Religious and political events are typically seen as contaminated by advertising; they

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Fig. 24.4  Urbanity as advertising – Venice, Las Vegas

have their own product to sell and they seek a monopoly on the image presented. The arts are often highly dependent on advertising but also contaminated by it because their attraction depends on the perception of autonomy from the market. Sporting events, by contrast, are often the site of saturation advertising – the size of the audience and the captive crowd enables a highly sophisticated advertising regime to take hold that mixes live and television audiences. As a practice of power advertising operates through seduction rather than manipulation, coercion or authority – it seeks to produce a desire for the product. However, advertising achieves greater potency if it can be camouflaged as some version of mere information. Resistance to advertising is reduced when it is blurred with public interest announcements, ‘advertorials’ or informational street signage. Urban designs produced under public–private partnerships often incorporate advertising into the design and naming of public space. If a private interest is camouflaged as a public interest, then it is much more likely to penetrate consumer resistance. The power of advertising is increased to the degree that it can camouflage itself as everyday urban life and the built forms that frame it. Advertising competes with graffiti for appropriation of the most visible public walls in town. Banksy coined the word ‘brandalism’ to suggest the illegitimacy of advertising as a parallel to the ‘vandalism’ of graffiti: ‘the people who truly deface our

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neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff’ (Banksy 2007: 8). Here we find a tension between the formal and informal city, between organized and self-organized forms of advertising. There are many forms of informal advertising in front yards, on public walls or in shop windows, where we can learn about local politics and development issues as well as lost pets and community networks. While there are locations in any city where advertising might be permitted to escalate with good effect, there are many others where the dangers to the image, character and vitality of the city are real. To what degree should urban advertising be regulated? Is it okay for advertising to project into the public space of the street to a degree where we can no longer see the architecture? Should billboards be permitted to block views of streetscapes and landscapes? When the windows of buildings are covered there is a loss of daylight to the interior and with less eyes on the street it becomes less social and less safe. When bus, tram and train windows are covered with billboards, they become visually separated from the street. Sandwich boards placed on pavements are often placed specifically to interrupt the flow of traffic. Vehicles operating as mobile billboards often appropriate key parking spaces where they are protected by the cover of normal parking regulations. Bicycle billboards are used in the same way to monopolize cycle racks. This intrusion of commercial activity into the streetscape both adds intensity and privatizes public space. There is no easy line to draw within which such commercial activity adds transparency and diversity to the city and beyond which it is damaged. The strictest controls over advertising are often found in the quasi-public realm of shopping malls, gated communities and corporate landscapes where the effect is a very contrived atmosphere. A city saturated with advertising can be boring or sublime in different circumstances; it can prevent us from seeing the architecture and urban landscape or it can produce a form of transparency into the multiplicity of the city. Advertising can weaken or contribute to place identity in crucial ways, and it can escalate to become place identity in the best and worst of ways. Advertising can be camouflaged as art, architecture, authority and politics. As in any city or market, a key danger lies in the monopoly of any singular product or point of view. Where advertising has been eradicated or strictly controlled, this may be another form of monopoly at work.

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25 Informal Trading

Fig. 25.1  Ban Panthom, Bangkok

Formality/Informality The distinction between formal and informal processes in the city is laced throughout this book. This is a distinction between hierarchical organization and self-organ­ ization, between strategies of the state and tactics of citizens, between regulated and unregulated urban design. The concept of the informal sector comes originally from economics, where it describes that part of the economy that is not captured by economic measures – informal markets and domestic production. The informal sector is not necessarily illegal but is best defined as those practices that occur outside the control of the state. The more contentious kinds of informal trading and settlements that I will discuss here emerge primarily under conditions of poverty and a weak state. Informality is a means of generating the jobs and housing that the state cannot or will not provide; the urban poor lack the capital resources to enter the formal market. At the same time, neoliberal capitalism embodies a demand for deregulated markets and cheap labour; informal production is forced out of the formal market in order to generate cheap labour (Pratt 2006). Informality thrives, however, under both communist and deregulated capitalist regimes. While it operates outside the control of the state, it operates within the urban marketplace.


The informal and formal sectors are not separate: both are always present with reciprocal relations in all economies. While cities may be more or less formal in character, this is not simply a continuum on which we might locate whole cities, or even parts of cities. While it is the poorer cities of the global south that have high levels of informality and a higher incidence of informal settlements and trading, informality plays a key role in all cities. This distinction is not a binary opposition but a twofold conception of formal/informal processes where the one folds into the other and vice versa. While we might use phrases like ‘informal trading’ and ‘informal settlement’ as labels, we are generally looking at a complex mix of formal and informal processes and practices. One way of understanding this issue in terms of cities is through the codes governing urban traffic. In general terms cars are formally regulated into lanes, speeds and parking bays, while pedestrian flows are relatively informal. Both are self-organized in the sense that each driver or pedestrian navigates and adapts, but the pedestrian flows are much more adaptive. Cars are organized into lanes to prevent collision, while pedestrians self-organize to achieve the same end. Cyclists often occupy a between condition, negotiating formal codes when on the road and informal codes when mixed with pedestrians. My point here is that the question of urban informality requires that we first understand that this is always already a double or twofold condition of informality/formality. Nezar AlSayyad suggests that urban informality be seen as an organizing logic that has become so pervasive as to comprise a new ‘way of life’ in many cities (AlSayyad 2004). Informality is a means of managing urban poverty, the self-organ­ization of jobs and housing in the vacuum left by a weak state. While urban informality is not defined in terms of illegality, it begs questions about the right to the city – the right to transgress the formal codes of the city. Urban informality can be seen as a form of civil disobedience, not so much a challenge to state authority as a claim of the right to jobs and housing (Cabane 2007). Under conditions of poverty citizens have a right to the appropriation of underutilized urban space as a means of sustaining a livelihood. It follows that the legitimacy of urban informality depends on context and if and when such basic needs are alleviated, then the legitimacy of informality declines. Under conditions of poverty, informality enables the poor to survive; it is tolerated because it prevents insurrection as a form of safety valve (Neuwirth 2012). Informality services the formal city, keeping wages at subsistence and lowering costs for the middle classes. It is dependent on and rooted in the cracks and vacuums within the formal system. Urban informality often embodies the contradiction of being at once legitimate yet illegal. The relations between formality and informality can be seen in the historical sense as one in which informality precedes formality. The traditional village and the medieval city generally have an urban morphology produced informally by micro-adaptation over time. Yet there is also the contrary process where the formally designed city comes first and is then infiltrated by informal practices and constructions. This is what Asef Bayat calls the ‘quiet encroachment of the ordinary’ (Bayat 1997).

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Yet it does not follow that informality can be construed simply as the other to the formal city, nor is it synonymous with underdevelopment, illegality or poverty. Many of the most developed cities are infused with high levels of informality in some sectors of the city – they include highly productive and creative practices of creative industry clusters and temporary urbanism. To portray informality as underdevelopment is also to misconstrue it as somehow marginal to the development process. Informality is a crucial component of economic development in all cities. I will first investigate issues of informal trading before proceeding to informal settlements in the next chapter.

Informal Trading I was once exploring Hanoi when the strap on my sandal became unstitched and I went looking for a shoemaker to re-stitch it; I never found one because one found me – someone on the street saw the sandal needed sewing and it was done in five minutes for the regular fee. Street trading works as a highly complex and adaptive marketplace in goods and services, geared closely to flows of pedestrians and their many desires. Fig. 25.2 shows a street scene in Bangkok offering a similar service with a pedal-powered machine that is semi-mobile and durable. We can also read into this image that a corporation formally owns or rents the modern building and that this use of the sidewalk is informal – although some fees or bribes may be changing hands. This may seem to be simply an image of poverty or underdevelopment, an archaic remnant of a pre-modern city, yet informal trading proliferates in the interstices of cities of the global south, where it is much more a case of entrepreneurial flexibility, adaptation and creativity (Neuwirth 2012: 17–18). Informal street trading is the way that the retail sector of the urban assemblage operates when unregulated. It is a particular issue in developing cities, where it comprises a very significant sector of the economy and is often larger than the formal economy. Robert Neuwirth (2012) estimates that 80 per cent of the working population in Lagos work in the informal sector and produce 70 per cent of the GDP. The products of street trading are a complex mix of goods and services, although particular street markets tend to be relatively specialized. Goods may be produced by traders or bought from local or global supply networks. Multinational firms increasingly tailor their products to street hawker stands with high-frequency consumption in small quantities. While informal traders may or may not be selfemployed, this is a means of getting the product to market without the cost of formal employment conditions (Neuwirth 2012). While there is always formal street trading, it is often overwhelmed by the informal. One study in Jakarta showed 83 per cent of all street trading to be in illegal locations, mostly streets and pavements, but also in parks (Yatmo 2006). In most developing cities, informal street trading is an issue of great concern to authorities who seek both to erase it and to incorporate it into the formal city. Informal trading generally involves a privatization of public space and can cause congestion; informal traders compete with formal businesses without paying tax and are a source

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Fig. 25.2  Applied Physics, Bangkok

of contraband goods and unregulated foods (Bromley 2000). Yet informal trading is crucial to the economic livelihood of the urban poor, for whom it creates employment and entrepreneurial opportunity. Informal trading distributes goods and services at reduced prices and has the flexibility to fill the smallest of vacuums in the market and adapt instantly to changing demand. When it rains, umbrellas and ponchos are suddenly available wherever pedestrians need them. While often seen by the state as a blight on the image of the city, informal trading often adds vitality and aesthetic interest to the most boring of streetscapes. As with informal settlements, there is

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no easy resolution to the cluster of issues; the task for urban design thinking is to understand how informal trading works and how it is integrated with the forms and spatiality of the city.

Morphologies Locations for street trading are chosen by a mix of criteria, but most crucially, trading is attracted to traffic. The diagram introduced in the chapter on Shopping Malls is again central here – the desire is to be at a tangent to flows that are in turn structured by urban attractions. Trading clusters around entrances to the major attractors of the city, particularly transit stops and along the most integrated of pedestrian network linkages. Street trading is an integral part of the urban DMA because it is attracted to those parts of the access network with high densities and flows; it often provides a functional mix where there is none in residential, commercial, industrial and public use zones. Unconstrained by zoning laws, informal trading seeks out opportunities afforded by the urban morphology. Traders seek locations of high flow that are not monopolized by the formal economy. They are thus attracted to blank interfaces where they often compete with parking and other service functions. Informal trading is attracted to pre-existing flows, but as it agglomerates, the concentration of vendors generates its own flows (Bromley 2000: 15). This is the most serious problem with street trading – it is attracted to the already congested nodes of the public space network, where it consumes space and attracts more congestion. Pedestrian traffic can well be reduced to gridlock by informal trading, however traders cannot afford to block pedestrian flows because they are the lifeblood of the trade. The more common problem is that pedestrians are forced onto the street, where they block vehicular traffic – the informal city disrupts the formal city. In such cases if the pedestrian flows are high, then there may be a case to claim some public space back from the car. Informal trading is rarely free for traders, who negotiate with nearby property owners for access to water, toilet and electricity. Permission to trade is also negotiated with police, informal organizations or local gangs (Pratt 2006). While informal traders do not pay formal taxes, there is considerable risk of prosecution and costs in bribing local officials to turn a blind eye. Locations are also chosen based on the micro-scale design of the streetscape – the availability of a flat surface for a table or mat: the capacity to wheel a trolley or hang some goods on a wall. Shelter from the rain and sun will depend on climate, seasons and types of goods. Issues such as drainage, flooding, danger and general dereliction can be crucial. These conditions may seem banal, yet when authorities wish to prevent informal trading, micro-scale urban design is often the chosen method. Built form does not determine urban life but it can be used to prevent it.

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Typologies From an urban design perspective key questions about street trading focus on the ways traders engage with public space, the use of environmental props, furniture and vehicles for the display of goods, the degree of mobility, temporality and shelter. One way of thinking about such a typology is along the fixed–mobile continuum introduced earlier from the work of Hall (1966). A simple typology might involve a range from an informally constructed kiosk where goods are secured overnight, to the use of a fixed wall for display through the use of mats, tables and temporary stands, to the hawker with a pushcart or vehicle, to those who carry goods on their person (Bromley 2000; Yatmo 2006) (Fig. 25.3). This is a very simplified typology because a much larger range of props can be found and any of these may have shelter from rain and sun. It can be useful in that it shows the degrees of adaptability to the urban terrain and fixity/mobility across it. Each of these types except the kiosk can be moved easily – even continuously when the goods are carried. The capacity to move at a moment’s notice is a key survival tactic when informal traders are subject to prosecution and confiscation of goods. Each of these types is geared to the urban morphology in subtly different ways. In general terms the more fixed types are more likely to be tolerated in relatively informal parts of the city, while the more mobile vendors are able to infiltrate the more formal city. The fixed kiosk requires a high level of protection, while mobile traders can more easily escape from a ‘street cleaning’ operation. At the mobile end of this continuum informal trading can be camouflaged, especially for products such as gambling, drugs and prostitution. Most vendors require off-street storage for goods, tables and vehicles and in many cities there is a premium on parking space for hawker vehicles. The fixed kiosk is essentially a form of informal settlement. Informal trading is often integrated with parts of the city characterized by high levels of informality in general, where a temporary stall can become a permanent building over time as wheels become dysfunctional and a roof is added. In such districts the same piece of pavement can be used by several different sets of traders during each daily cycle, often in collaboration with, or as clients of, the adjacent shopkeeper. There are daily and weekly cycles of informal trading, which often expands during the evening as tolerance for it increases and enforcement decreases. In some locations there are several different enterprises using the same space at different times of the day – a

Fig. 25.3  A spatial typology of street trading

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breakfast restaurant on the pavement before the formal shop opens and evening stalls after it closes (Dovey and Polakit 2006).

Street Cleansing Informal trading has a powerful but ambiguous impact on the image of the city. On the positive side it provides atmosphere and vitality that can attract tourists and contribute to place branding. On the other hand it also cuts across authorized narratives, violating the law and order image of the modern city with embarrassing signifiers of a city out of control (Donovan 2008). Opposition to informal trading stems mainly from the state and elites who see it as an invasion of public space; there is often a high level of media coverage and debate on whether and how to remove it (Bromley 2000). Traders are seen as ‘out of place’ in the modernist city (Yatmo 2006) and are regularly evicted in ‘street cleansing’ operations that are justified by the state as a recovery of public space for citizens, a democratization of public space (Hunt 2009: 345). The project of ‘street cleansing’ is wrapped up with the project of nation building, symbolization of state power (Brown 2006). Traders are particularly vulnerable to neoliberal policies that incorporate rebranding the city and ironically opening up deregulated zones for large-scale global projects to generate profits. The desires of the state to control informal trading have several drivers: to tax the profits, to free up traffic flows, to control quality and legality of goods and services, to prevent the privatization of public space, to stop unfair competition with formal shops and to cleanse the image of the city. These may each be laudable goals in many circumstances but attempts to achieve them generally reduce employment and access to cheap goods and services for the poor. The most common policy to control street vending is to create a formal off-street market, where it will be legalized, stabilized, contained and prevented from causing congestion or contaminating elite areas (Bromley 2000; Cross 2000). Likewise there have been attempts at formal­ ization through the design of special facilities such as shelters and bays. ‘Street cleansing’ operations are rarely successful in the longer term. One study in Bogota shows that when vendors were removed from the street to new locations, many of the new stalls were unoccupied (Donovan 2008). The most common conflict zones are areas of high congestion or where the image and place identity is sensitive for heritage or political reasons. Informal trading is much more visible than informal settlements because vendors need visibility to generate sales, yet this in turn draws attention and cleansing operations. Cleansing operations fail when they seek to move retail activity out of sight because visibility is crucial for any form of shopping. The newly regulated off-street markets embody the logic of the shopping mall but without the anchor stores. Street cleansing also fails because it involves a cat-andmouse game between regulators and traders – police and officials are paid by the state to evict traders and then paid by traders to look the other way. The result is that traders are chased but not eradicated in order to keep profits flowing as part of a dynamic but resilient system.

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The capacity for urban designers to respond to the issues of informal trading in public space depends on an understanding of the ways such trade integrates with the urban livelihoods of the poor and the collective benefits of poverty reduction (Brown 2006). One clear lesson is that whatever the shape of public space, informal trading will adapt to cluster around the key nodes and integrated flows. While there will be specific marketplaces, informal trading is mobile and rhizomic: it will follow the flows in preference to designated zones. While it is possible to inhibit the capacity for trading through micro-scale design, such practices are anti-urban and damage larger public interests. A better response is the provision of generous public space in the vicinity of transit stations and urban nodes to enable informal trading to flourish without disrupting flows and to become formalized over time. Urban public space is generally a ‘public good’ in the sense that, like air, one’s use of it does not exclude anyone else’s use. Yet public space is also subject to multiple private appropriations that are exclusionary yet widely legitimated – the use of streets for transport, parking and street trading are among them. Such rights cannot be unlimited because they restrict the rights of others. If the state wishes to formalize street trading, the key question is: under what conditions will traders gain an economic benefit by becoming formalized? From the point of view of the traders, informality is not so much a problem as a solution. Any controls over street trading need to be geared to public interests and a balancing of the costs and benefits of informal trading – including the public benefit of enabling a livelihood for the urban poor. The legitimacy of informal markets is proportional to the levels of poverty and socio-economic inequality in the city. Where such levels are high, the right to claim public space as a means of subsistence is also high. Conversely, in cities where poverty has been largely eradicated, such rights cannot be assumed. Those who wish to erase informal trading from the street need to look deeply into the ways the city works, the ways in which it adds vitality and efficiency to the city, and the ways in which it creates jobs and livelihoods. What is most needed from the state is tolerance and a recognition that informal traders have a right to the city.

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26 Informal Settlements

Fig. 26.1  East Bandra, Mumbai

About a billion people now live in ‘informal’ settlements or ‘slums’, most of which comprise parts of poorer cities of the global south. Informal urban design and planning is the means by which cities have absorbed most of the rural-to-urban migration over the past half century. We define such settlements as ‘informal’ because they emerge outside the formal codes of the state in terms of land tenure, urban planning, design and construction. The label ‘informal’ is also used to avoid terms like ‘slum’ and ‘squatter’, with which it is partially synonymous. Alongside climate change, the problem of informal settlements is the most significant urban challenge facing the planet; there is a sense in which we are becoming a ‘planet of slums’ (Davis 2006). The wholesale demolition of informal settlements and dispossession of the urban poor without replacement housing is now widely seen as a state crime and it has largely ceased in many nations. While replacement strategies can be effective, they can also reproduce pockets of poverty and displace residents from access to employment, transport and social networks. The challenge is to develop strategies for incremental upgrading in situ where possible; these arguments will be explored, followed by discussion on the urban design dimensions of slum upgrading (Dovey 2013).

The Case for Incrementalism Informal settlements occupy land that is interstitial and of marginal use – the terrain vague of the city. Primary sites include urban waterfronts and escarpments, but also the interstitial easements lining transport infrastructure of freeways and railways.


Fig. 26.2  Informal settlement location types (Source: Dovey and King 2011)

They can infiltrate ex-industrial and ex-institutional enclosures and flourish in the backstage spaces behind formal street walls (Dovey and King 2011) (Fig. 26.2). Large slums such as Dharavi in Mumbai, Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, and Kibera in Nairobi are important exceptions to this interstitiality where informality saturates a larger district. While urban informality is often invisible from the formal city and may seem marginal, it is enmeshed in a politics of urban place identity and global place branding – hence the desire for erasure. Such settlements, however, are not marginal to these cities in economic terms; they are located where they are because they have access to jobs and public transport. Slum-dwellers service the formal city, where they often comprise a third of the workforce. Any strategy that suggests they be

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moved to cheap land on the urban fringes will fail because it exacerbates poverty and strips the city of its workforce. With few exceptions, informal settlements need to be upgraded in situ. Informal settlements embody informal practices of sociality and economic production that are not easily retained in a transformation to formal housing. There is a particular dependence on the street and laneway network, particularly the capacity for domestic production to spill into public space with high levels of intensity and efficiency (Fig. 26.3, left). Formalization often standardizes private space in tiny apartments that are separated from street networks, producing access spaces that are less flexible and productive (Fig. 26.3, right). Replacement housing can play an important role in the case of slums that cannot be rehabilitated to a liveable standard, or where the location cannot be rendered safe and sustainable, but any model where the poor simply become welfare clients is not viable. While land tenure in informal settlements is generally ambiguous, the houses are mostly built and owned by residents who may also become landlords. In the case of Dharavi, many residents own houses of up to four rooms, some of which are rented for either housing or industry. Plans for wholesale formalization meet stiff resistance because it often entails a loss of jobs, converts homeowners into tenants, and leaves the former tenants homeless (Dovey and Tomlinson 2012). High levels of informality enable micro-flows of information, goods, materials and practices that produce income and make life sustainable under conditions of poverty. These practices are integrated with the micro-spatial adaptations that flourish under conditions of informal urbanism – particularly incremental construction processes. Informality is not to be confused with poverty; it is indeed a resource for managing poverty. Informal settlements are relatively high density, walkable, transit-oriented and car free. They are often constructed from recycled materials with low embodied energy

Fig. 26.3  Productive laneways and barren enclaves – Dharavi, Mumbai

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and passive heating/cooling. The ways that high densities have developed adjacent to transit nodes and with walkable access to employment gives these cities a level of structural sustainability that urbanists in the formal city can only dream of. While any effective upgrading will increase consumption, to upgrade a billion slum-dwellers to our levels of consumption, or move them away from transport and employment, would be catastrophic. One lesson of urban informality lies in how to integrate an incremental upgrading process with designs for the low-carbon city. There are also aesthetic reasons to retain the basic morphology of informal urbanism – a difficult issue to deal with briefly while avoiding the charge of an aestheticization of poverty (Roy 2004). Favelas were the subject of aesthetic interest (for Le Corbusier and others) from the early twentieth century, and much of the interest in ‘architecture without architects’ from the 1960s was based on potent images of a vernacular aesthetic. Stripped of any evidence of poverty, such images demonstrated how an informal order emerges from a repetition of types and materials variegated by an incremental adaptive process. As the emergence of slum tourism shows, urban informality can be picturesque with elements of nostalgia and a quest for authenticity (Figs 21.4 and 21.5). It also brings elements of the sublime, the shock of the real, a spectacle of hyper-intensive urbanity and an uneasy voyeurism (Dovey and King 2012; Frenzel, Koens and Steinbrink 2012). Informal settlements often embody the mysterious intensity of the labyrinth – a place that is impenetrable and disorienting to outsiders, but permeable for residents. These are multi-functional spaces where every scrap of sunlight, material and space has a use. They have the urban quality of ‘porosity’, where the spatial and social segmentarity of the city dissolves with multiple interpenetrations of public and private space (Benjamin and Lacis 1978). The labyrinthine street networks of informal settlements can be considered as part of the heritage of the city, embodying a history of each neighbourhood that should be upgraded rather than erased. Indeed, some heritage zones of formal cities, including tourist attractions, have street morphologies that are remnants of informality and squatting. Having made this case for in situ incrementalism, there is no shortage of good thinkers who attribute the global growth of slums to the excesses of neoliberal capitalism under conditions of a weak state, and suggest that slum eradication is impossible without macro-political and transnational transformation. There are important arguments against incrementalism in this regard. As summarized by Davis (2006: chapter 4), they are: that self-help schemes so often fail or exacerbate the problem; that funds leak to corrupt operators; that owner-built housing is shoddy and incremental construction inefficient; that NGOs can co-opt the interests of slum-dwellers to their own; and that self-help programmes divert slum-dwellers from political struggle. All of these arguments have a degree of truth, but they do not add up to a convincing case against incremental in situ upgrading. Informal construction is less efficient in some ways, but has flexibilities that balance diseconomies of scale. One estimate in India is that formal housing costs about three times the price of informal upgrading per square metre. Corruption is of less consequence in informal

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construction because flows of cash are a small proportion of those in a formal construction process. Construction standards are often initially shoddy, but in many settlements the majority of buildings can be effectively upgraded in situ rather than replaced. Informal settlement is always a form of social and political insurgency; incremental upgrading occurs in alliance with macro-political change. To harness the productivity of informality to the upgrading process is not to suggest that slums are to be preserved; rather it is to make a distinction between slums and informality. A slum is a symptom of poverty; informality is a practice through which residents manage the conditions of poverty. There are limits to the role of architecture and urban design in this context. Upgraded housing alone cannot stop overcrowding any more than architecture can stop poverty. Many slum families rent out space for purposes they deem to have priority over the relief from crowding – their children’s education is often primary. There are important exceptions to the case for incremental change. Some settlements are constructed to such low standards and at such densities that they cannot be upgraded without wholesale demolition. Some are dangerous or unhealthy beyond redemption (Fig. 26.4; also Fig. 4.1). Many are on land that needs key infrastructure to be rendered safe, accessible or liveable. Some have emerged in locations where it makes no sense to upgrade in situ because threats from flood or unstable land cannot be mitigated. Others are located so close to railway lines that either the railway or the housing must be relocated. Such decisions, however, are highly political as well as technical, and there is a key role for architects and urban designers as creators of, and advocates for, innovative solutions that do not involve surrender to the narrow logic of displacement to the urban fringes. What is needed

Fig. 26.4  Estera de la Reina, Manila

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are forms of spatial thinking that link an understanding of incremental change and existing morphologies to a larger-scale strategy of transformational change.

Upgrading Models The call for designers to engage with issues of incremental upgrading of informal settlements is not to suggest that design alone can solve social problems. Yet the range of issues here calls for precisely the kinds of innovative spatial strategies that urban designers are best at. The challenge is to enter into the complexities of incremental urbanism. The shaping of built form is central to design practice and the production of symbolic capital is a primary concern. Engagement with informal settlement upgrading does not mean the erasure of formal concerns, but it does entail a move onwards from both the fixity of form and the fixation on form that dominates the design professions. It involves understanding the dynamics of formal change in a context where formal outcomes are uncertain and where makeshift forms play important roles. Our understanding of the urban morphology of informality is relatively undeveloped and often misunderstood. To understand how informal settlements can be transformed, incrementally or wholesale, we need to understand how they work – the morphogenesis of how they emerge and grow as well as how they are inhabited and used. Since this will differ from place to place, engagement calls for forms of practice where research takes a much more integral role in the design process, incorporating morphological and diagnostic mapping and modelling. Informal settlements are generally quite literally off the map of the formal city; community-based mapping has become a key task in building the knowledge base for incremental change (Patel, Baptist and D’Cruz 2012). There is a range of models for slum upgrading that I will briefly introduce here. The work of Turner (1976) and others was influential in the design of ‘site + services’ schemes as a basis for self-help incremental housing. This involves an acceptance of informal construction as the primary mode of housing production but seeks to locate such a process with a formal framework of serviced sites where public open space, access networks and facilities are formally designed and enforced. A variation known as ‘core plus’ involves the formal construction of a core dwelling that is designed for informal additions. A good example here is Aranya on the outskirts of Indore (Fig. 26.5). Both such approaches require cheap land and have been largely limited to urban fringe locations. The ‘open building’ or ‘supports’ system is a potentially higher-density version originally developed by Habraken (1972), involving threedimensional serviced frameworks that require resident infill. The case of Torre David in Caracas where a hotel and office tower was appropriated by squatters shows the potential in this regard (Brillembourg and Klumpner 2013). Each of these approaches involves a production of new housing on a cleared site where the urban design is essentially formal. Incremental upgrading by contrast largely retains the existing street and laneways network and seeks to insert new public facilities, open spaces and public transport into that morphology. The best

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Fig. 26.5  Core Plus Project – Aranya, Indore (Architect: Balkrishna Doshi)

example of this has emerged in Medellin, where libraries, gymnasia, open space, covered public escalators and cable metro systems have been inserted into the informal networks (Fig. 26.6). Since informal morphologies are often both dense and crowded, it is a formidable challenge to undertake without displacing the existing population. Where internal space is crowded there is a need for greater building density, but this is rarely possible without demolition and replacement. There is a need for the innovation of a range of spatial types at different densities that enable high levels of internal adaptation, subletting and spatial trading whereby houses and enterprises can expand and contract with changing circumstances. Most informal settlements have a relatively consistent typology of room-by-room increments, based on limitations of access for long-span materials. There is also an urban design typology of laneway networks that are relatively permeable at the local level, but impermeable from the outside. This is a typology and morphology that works in many ways: which is why it proliferates and is sustained over time. However, it is often dysfunctional in other ways – a lack of light, ventilation, sanitation; internal overcrowding and lack of privacy; a lack of community facilities and public space; poor interconnections with the larger city. There are emerging models for

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Fig. 26.6  Comuna 13 (upper) and Santo Domingo – Medellin

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dealing with such conditions through community-based practices of selective replacement, particularly through emerging global networks such as Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) (Smith 2011).

Formal/Informal One important conceptual shift is to move beyond binary thinking and to understand that ‘informal’ settlements are only relatively informal. What one really encounters is the twofold condition that is both formal and informal at the same time. This is not a hybrid, but a doubled or split condition; the prospect is to move from object-oriented formalist thinking towards new understandings of complex ‘between’ conditions of formal/informal and order/disorder. Informal settlements are not chaotic, but embody an emergent informal order or code of the kind that all cities need in order to work (Marshall 2009). Under conditions of poverty, however, such informal codes are often insufficient and we see the result of a nasty version of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ where incremental encroachment starves the public realm of space, light and air (Fig. 26.7; also Fig. 4.1). The challenge is to develop such existing codes into a more formal code where the escalation of encroachment on the public realm is contained or reversed. Any newly formalized codes that emerge need to sustain the productivity, amenity and sociality that is already embodied in the place, and acknowledge the dilemma that formalization inevitably eradicates some of the scope for informal adaptation. Effective engagement with urban informality requires a renunciation of any fixation on formal outcomes. However, this also needs to be tempered by a critical engagement with the role of built form and place identity in practices of power. Informal settlements have negative symbolic capital, they are seen from the perspective of the formal city as a form of blight to be erased if possible. A key task of the upgrading process is to incrementally erode distinctions of status that announce informal settlements as slums within the conceptual field of the metropolis. Such an image of place identity is often based in ignorance – informal settlements are generally enclaves that are hidden or seen only through the car windows or

Fig. 26.7  Dharavi

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looking down from high-rise buildings. The insularity of informal settlements and the fact that they are outside state control often makes them a safe place for criminal organizations to take root – hidden from the gaze of the state and camouflaged by the informality. One of the challenges lies in designing interconnections between the formal and informal city, ensuring better access to the city for residents but also greater integration of informal settlements into the city. The lack of social mix within such settlements locks in a form of insular place identity that perpetuates poverty. Urban design can directly connect the informal to the formal city through public transport connections (Fig. 26.6). This is a profound challenge because the insularity of such communities is often also a form of resilience. The adage that upgrading must be community-based, done with rather than to the residents, is surely correct but not easy. Jacobs (1961: chapter 15) uses the term ‘unslumming’ to suggest a community-based process that draws upon the creativity and initiative of its residents, creating a desirable neighbourhood where the most successful residents do not leave. The challenge of incremental upgrading requires a critical engagement with issues of power – both practices of empowerment at the community scale and regimes of class-based disempowerment at larger scales. An effectively upgraded informal settlement can become an attractive place to live and work, not through a formal camouflage, but by celebrating and developing the diversity and dynamism for which the seeds are already present in the existing morphology. These are the same attractions that characterize the best of mixed-use, socially and formally diverse inner-city neighbourhoods of rich cities – many of them former ‘slums’ that are now identified as creative clusters. Approaches to upgrading that address the problem of image can be superficial. Projects involving street art and house painting can work well when done in collaboration with residents but can also be seen as a superficial form of ‘makeup’ or place branding. Unslumming/upgrading is happening all the time in informal settlements but there is little scope for idealizing; informality is a means of managing poverty but any solution also involves high-quality urban design thinking and the development of formal urban design codes. If and when the global political and economic framework becomes more conducive to addressing these problems, the question remains of whether the design professions will be ready. The crucial issue in practice is one of integrating social, spatial, economic and aesthetic issues within an expanded design and research framework, and there are many good examples of this emerging (Pieterse 2011).

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27 Temporary/Tactical

Fig. 27.1  Berkeley 1983

How can planning open itself up to the unplanned? ... can the unplanned be planned, the informal formalized? (Oswalt, Overmeyer and Misselwitz 2013: 8)

Urban design – the shaping of public space – is the most permanent of built environment practices, much more than buildings and plans that are demolished or abandoned with economic and political cycles. It is also the case, however, that many aspects of urban form change on a temporary basis and a great deal of the potential for urban intensity involves the exploitation of both the temporal and spatial interstices of the city. Such interim and interstitial practices are generally also incremental and tactical in the sense that they squeeze between and within larger-scale strategies. When I was a student at Berkeley in the 1980s the Vegetable Car (Fig. 27.1) was often parked on my street as a memorial to the first person to die in a car accident. Designed by an eco-activist group known as Urban Ecology, it was towed


every few weeks to a new location in order to evade local by-laws about abandoned cars (Downton 2009: 95). This was an early version of what has become known as ‘guerrilla gardening’ and a precursor to the ‘parklets’ that emerged in San Francisco in the early 2000s, which have since morphed into a formally authorized ‘Pavements to Parks’ programme. There is now a pervasive global trend towards the temporary and the tactical that has become one of the key urban design strategies of the twenty-first century. Such projects range from guerrilla gardens, crosswalks, parklets and bike lanes through to more formalized temporary beaches and swimming pools, parklets, parkmobiles, instant plazas, pop-up buildings, food trucks, outdoor theatres and container towns (Temel and Haydn 2006). This emerging field of practices is difficult to define but can be described as an intersection of the temporary and the tactical, or the interim and the interstitial. It is variously termed ‘temporary urbanism’ (Bishop and Williams 2012), ‘insurgent urbanism’ (Hou 2010), ‘urban catalyst’ (Oswalt, Overmeyer and Misselwitz 2013), ‘tactical urbanism’ (Lydon and Garcia 2015), ‘austerity urbanism’ (Tonkiss 2013), ‘sandpit urbanism’ (Stevens 2015), ‘DIY urban design’ (Fabian and Samson 2015), ‘pop-up urbanism’ and ‘guerrilla urbanism’. This is a broad field of incremental urban transformations that fill interim periods of time and underutilized urban space – the vacuums, terrain vague and smooth urban spaces of the city. They are often cyclic, taking advantage of urban rhythms – the daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms that produce times of underuse, or the economic downturns that yield cheap or vacant space. The idea of tactical urbanism links to the work of Certeau where a tactic is an action that takes place within a context that may be antithetical: ‘The space of the tactic is the space of the other’ (Certeau 1984: 37). Tactical urbanism is a poaching operation, a form of encroachment; tactics infiltrate strategic systems. But tactics are also productive in that they seek to discover and create potentials and possibilities out of latent capacities. Tactics are linked to what Colin McFarlane (2011a: 54–7) calls tactical learning – the use of everyday practical knowledge as part of an engagement with the city as a learning assemblage. Temporary/tactical urbanism often involves the design of semi-fixed elements of public space that have long been recognized as central in human-environment studies (Hall 1966; Rapoport 1982), extending the adaptability to temporary buildings and landscapes as well as furniture and vehicles. While the focus here is on public space, such practices are often initiated in quasi-public space, especially vacant lots and buildings. The temporariness often applies to urban codes and regulations such that different practices are permitted for a limited period of time. However, tactical urbanism also encompasses informal practices of guerrilla urbanism that operate outside state control. While temporary transformations terminate by definition, they don’t always revert to the pre-existing form but may morph into something new. Many forms of transformation are cyclic in that the forms are temporary but there is a repetition or a refrain to which the city returns – informal trading is a good example. In many cases a temporary transformation becomes permanent over time. Temporary/tactical

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urbanism works within the existing urban infrastructure, adapting and transforming existing types such as car parks, containers, vehicles and trees; it works within, around and against existing practices and regulations. There is much to admire in many of these temporary projects – pioneering enterprise, social commitment, a spirit of adaptation, exploitation of new materials and technologies, and urban greening strategies (Bishop and Williams 2012). This is a call to understand the city as a place under constant revision with room to move and space for the unexpected: where temporary opportunities are taken with high levels of creative community engagement and design collaboration. There is little that is new about temporary or tactical urbanism. Many of the issues and concepts I have dealt with in this book – the self-organized, smooth, informal and rhizomic are all interim, incremental and interstitial; urban drama, political resistance, graffiti, advertising, street trading and informal settlement are relatively tactical and temporary practices. Traditional cyclic events such as the circus, farmers’ markets, street fairs and community gardens are all temporary. What is new is the degree to which the focus on the tactical and temporary is becoming organized into the deliberate design of a four-dimensional city. There is a range of economic, technological and social forces that has led to an expansion of temporary urbanism: spatial vacuums are produced by the downturn of investment cycles; new social media create marketing opportunities for pop-up events; flexible work patterns and community activism produce a more adaptive and opportunistic urban life (Bishop and Williams 2012). This is a movement that celebrates the city as a dynamic space of possibility and becoming rather than a static sense of being. The irony is that such approaches to urban design often succeed to the degree that the tactical becomes strategic and the temporary becomes permanent; incremental change accumulates into urban transformation.

Scope The range of project types that might be included here depends on the definition of the field, I suggest it is useful to restrict it to those that involve a redesign of public space. Within this definition temporary and tactical projects range from those that temporarily transform the image of the city through a range of smaller projects that also appropriate public or quasi-public space in various ways (Fig. 27.2). Such smaller projects can then become bundled into larger-scale projects on vacant lots and post-industrial sites with varying levels of strategy and permanence (Oswalt et al. 2013; Bishop and Williams 2012). At the smallest scale, many forms of temporary urbanism involve a change of image without changing the use of public space. Graffiti and advertising are the more traditional forms as are spontaneous memorials and urban artworks. Yarn bombing is a guerrilla activity that is deployed to transform meanings, to decorate and soften the city in a temporary manner. Guerrilla signage and nocturnal projections onto buildings are similar examples that change the form and meaning of the

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Fig. 27.2  Temporary/tactical projects (Photos: centre left – Rebar (Creative Commons); lower left – Jimena Veloz (Creative Commons); lower right – Granny3 (Creative Commons))

city, producing new narratives and layers of transparency. Street art metastacizes into a hundred forms. Guerrilla gardening involves a range of tactics, including the planting of trees and gardens in public space and the grafting of fruit branches onto street trees to render them productive. Guerrilla bike lanes and pedestrian crossings involve spontaneous inscriptions on roadways, undermining and augmenting the formal urban code. Chair bombing involves the design and placement of new public seating, often combined with paving and other furniture to create public living rooms.

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Many forms of temporary urbanism are mobile in the sense that they are easily and quickly moved from place to place. The concept of the ‘pop-up’ is now a rather overused and misused term but effectively defines a temporary building or occupation that soon pops down again. The use of shipping containers involves a transfer of technology from transport industries to temporary urban design. Parklets are small parks that originated in San Francisco with the temporary appropriation of parking bays with minimal designs of seats and artificial turf while feeding the metre. This was a tactic by the urban design firm Rebar, to reclaim the city for cars, undermine the car-parking strategies of local governance and play on the double meaning of ‘park’. This tactic has grown and developed in two main ways. First it became a global movement known as Park(ing) Day when people across the globe were encouraged to spontaneously appropriate a parking space for the day. Second, in some cities and particularly San Francisco, it has developed into a formally authorized programme known as ‘Pavements to Parks’ where local residents or businesses can apply to develop and host a parklet on one or two parking bays which then becomes semi-permanent. These parklets are sponsored, funded and maintained by local businesses or residents; they often add value as outdoor seating or a change of image, but they remain legally public spaces – the required signage says ‘all seating is open to the public’ (Fig. 27.3). A variation of the parklet is the ‘parkmobile’ – an assemblage of plants and seats that can be transported from place to place as an instant park, often sized to fit a parking bay. The urban beach is a form of temporary urbanism that seeks to bring the atmosphere of the beach into the city during the summer months. Paris Plages is a

Fig. 27.3  Parklet, San Francisco

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Fig. 27.4  Paris Plages (Photo: Peter Haas, Creative Commons)

waterfront freeway in Paris that is closed during summer (when traffic is quiet) and paved with sand (Stevens and Ambler 2010) (Fig. 27.4). The urban beach can be augmented with temporary swimming pools, either floated into place or containers filled with water. Larger-scale projects are often located on large post-industrial sites, vacant lots and buildings. These are often bundles of smaller projects and functions that include neighbourhood parks, community gardens/orchards, cafes/shops, artist studios, temporary cinemas, cultural facilities and exhibition spaces (Oswalt et al. 2013). As a means of understanding this field of temporary/tactical urbanism, Fig. 27.5 diagrams this range of urban design practices according to two primary axes. The horizontal axis is represents the degree to which such practices are temporary and/or tactical (left) and the degree to which they can become permanent and strategic (right). The vertical axis distinguishes between practices that transform the two-dimensional image of public space (such as wall projections, signage and graffiti) and those that also appropriate three-dimensional usage of public space (beaches, parks, containers and gardens). While all tactical/temporary urbanism begins on the left, many such practices are in a process of becoming more permanent and strategic, represented by the arrows. The diagram thus distinguishes between those practices that may become cyclic or seasonal but not permanent (such as graffiti, food trucks, beaches and projections) and those that often embody the desire to become permanent (such as parklets, gardens, pop-ups and bike lanes). Such practices enable different forms of social and artistic expression that are otherwise repressed in the overdetermined city. By enabling greater use of

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Fig. 27.5  Diagramming the temporary/tactical

underutilized space, they make urban space more productive and get more value out of the same infrastructure. They add intensity to the city through a greater diversity and adaptation of use and meaning plus a greater density of interaction. Temporary/tactical urbanism enables a much higher level of creativity and innovation in urban design, because it turns the city into a testing ground where new forms of thinking can be implemented without the danger of permanent failure. The temporary framework is a key to bypassing the formal planning processes that are necessary to secure approval for permanent change: because the change is temporary, a higher level of innovation is seen as legitimate. Temporary/tactical urbanism grants designers the freedom to fail. Urban design is not a science and the city does not have the controlled conditions of a laboratory; yet our cities are littered with the permanent remains of failed urban design experiments based on flawed thinking. A temporary framework enables us to increase the range of experimentation and speed up the learning process. The city is simply too complex and unpredictable to enable the approval of every smart idea that comes along. Temporary/tactical urbanism is a means of breaking down urban design to an incremental scale that enables us to bypass the status quo; but again the irony is that it embodies a strategy to become the status quo. Temporary urbanism can stimulate markets, change the place identity of rundown neighbourhoods and reactivate vacant sites. There is spin-off value for developers as interim uses add

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value, prevent squatting and pave the way for permanent projects (Bishop and Williams 2012). Temporary/tactical urbanism also plays a key role in incrementally reclaiming the city back from the car. The freeway lining the River Seine that enables the Paris Plages beach during summer would never be built today and the beach demonstrates what might have been possible if it had not been built. The success of the temporary beach calls the permanence of the freeway into question – why does the car hold a monopoly on this riverside space? Tactical urbanism then involves a testing of the legitimacy of the ways the city has been designed and what it might become. The power of temporary and tactical urbanism is that it shifts the ontology of the city from being towards becoming; it opens a space of possibility.

Mutability/Mobility One framework for understanding temporary/tactical urbanism stems from the work of Bruno Latour (2005) and is generally known as actor-network theory. This is an approach that treats the world as a human-environment assemblage where both human and non-human elements have agency. For Latour anything that modifies a state of affairs is an actor, or to use the jargon, an ‘actant’: just as people act, so trees shelter, gates open and close, timetables and traffic signals regulate flows. ‘Every time you want to know what a non-human does, simply imagine what other humans or other non-humans would have to do were this character not present’ (Latour 1992: 229). Actor-network theory removes intention from agency in order to look at the human-environment assemblage as an interactive network of both human and non-human actants (Bender 2010). A key form of non-human actant is the ‘immutable mobile’ – technologies that can’t be changed but that can be moved easily from place to place and plugged into different contexts, where they recombine with other technologies and practices – automatic doors, traffic signals, mobile phones and food trucks are examples (Latour 1987). From this perspective Guggenheim (2010: 175) suggests that the city is in many ways the opposite of the immutable mobile – we can change it but we can’t move it: ‘The very idea of a city consists in an assemblage of mutable immobiles.’ Mutability is the adaptability of the city, its capacity to reform and recombine into new forms of co-functioning. Temporary and tactical urbanism exploits this mutability of the city, the micropractices of everyday urban life, the city as a human-environment assemblage of affordances and semi-fixed elements, the network of actants.

Governance Peter Bishop and Leslie Williams (2012) argue that while policy and governance cannot directly create many forms of temporary urbanism, it can play a key enabling role: conservation codes that protect post-industrial shells, publishing databases of vacant properties, leasing state-owned properties for temporary use, and seed

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funding for events and organizations. They also call for more flexible forms of urban planning that incorporate temporary projects – alternatives to the traditional masterplan in favour of phased development without a fixed end-state, with small grain adaptability and short time cycles. Such planning promotes general visions rather than idealized end states; it aims to be implementable through flexible phasing, an open time frame that can respond to changing conditions (Bishop and Williams 2012). Temporary/tactical urbanism is at once a violation of rules and a production of new rules; it involves a double movement of both informalizing the formal city and formalizing the informal city (Christiaanse 2013; Sassen 2013). There are interesting interconnections with the formalization of informal settlements; both are forms of relatively informal urbanism that fill the interstices of uneven urban development with adaptive small-scale projects. While one adds vitality to the poorer quarters of overdetermined rich cities of the global north, the other has become a permanent part of poorer cities of the global south.

Temporary/Permanent Another key question that emerges here is the degree to which temporary urbanism is a temporary function of economic downturn or the harbinger of a more permanently dynamic urbanism. Is this just a matter of artists and activists collaborating with out-of-work architects and urbanists to fill the gaps created by capital markets as an interim between permanent projects? I suggest it is both – filling gaps and driven by new markets. On the one hand it is clear that temporary urbanism is geared to the failures of market capitalism: particularly high rates of vacancy and dereliction. It is a response to the polarizing effects of neoliberal urbanisation that turns the city into islands of luxury in a sea of leftover space. As Sassen (2013: 116) puts it: ‘informal activity is not the failure of regulation or a return to older modes … it is part of advanced capitalism’. Opportunities are also created by major geopolitical ructions. Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall a temporary open-air cafe was set up near Potsdamer Platz with scattered wall segments as the key attraction (Fig. 27.6). A hammer and chisel could be hired from the pop-up van to souvenir a piece of the wall and contribute to its demolition. A more permanent example nearby involves the struggle for re-use of the former East German parliament building (Oswalt et al. 2013: 288–303). The demand side of temporary urbanism is linked to the ways it creates a wordof-mouth ‘buzz’ based on the demand for the new and unique. A pop-up event gains symbolic capital because one needs to catch it before it pops down – lack of enduring supply creates demand. Urban events are increasingly used to generate brand identity for both places and products; it can become difficult to distinguish creative temporary urbanism from a camouflaged marketing campaign. The term ‘pop-up’ is used as marketing discourse to create buzz around the idea of the temporary – such pop-ups often don’t pop-down.

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Fig. 27.6  Temporary cafe – Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, 1991

The Berlin-based collaborative known as Urban Catalyst have documented a range of processes through which temporary uses are implemented, co-exist with other uses and may or may not become permanent in different ways (Oswalt et al. 2013). A temporary project may simply occupy an underutilized site during an interim period of vacancy with little long-term impact. The same bundle of forms and functions may then flow from site to site, filling the gaps of the property market – the temporary becomes permanent but mobile. The temporary can fire the urban imagination and become an impulse for other uses that utilize similar sites or tactics. If the temporary use is successful, it may be permitted to co-exist with its replacement and operate in synergy with the long-term use. In some cases the temporary use displaces the existing use and becomes permanent. This is a rhizomic global urbanism that spreads primarily through websites; a temporary use in one site or city may become permanent in another. The temporary and the tactical are forms of urbanism that augment the permanent and the strategic, and also have a tendency to become more permanent and strategic. They are particularly useful in filling temporal and spatial vacuums, taking advantage of opportunities produced by politics and markets. They represent a key cutting edge of the democratizing movement broadly known as the right to the city. The temporary and tactical often emerge as self-organized guerrilla tactics and can produce a very makeshift aesthetic image (Fig. 27.6). While it is impossible to defend the design quality in many cases – tactical urbanism is self-organized and irregular by definition. Design quality emerges from a culture of creativity that will determine that poor designs will be very temporary. The larger questions remain: how to plan for the unplanned, how to regulate for difference, how to design for the unpredictable, and how to organize for self-organization.

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28 Creative Clusters

Fig. 28.1  Fitzroy, Melbourne

There are few large cities where one cannot find neighbourhoods within the inner city that can be characterized as creative clusters – creative quarters, districts or milieus that are home to cutting-edge activities of various kinds from studios, galleries, theatres and music venues, through fashion, architecture and design to film, media, technology and science. They are often in the old downtown or within walking distance, maybe a former industrial area on the fringe. They may have a long history as theatre districts or artisan quarters, or be adjacent to major universities. Some have developed rapidly within a post-industrial landscape, others become gentrified and such industries and activities are displaced to a new part of the city. Jacobs’ most famous insights into how cities work were largely based on her neighbourhood of Greenwich Village, which was at that time one of the world’s most productive creative clusters. The sidewalks and morphologies she studied were home to some of the most creative figures of twentieth-century art and culture from Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan. Greenwich Village remains interesting but much of its creative activity has migrated to cheaper parts of New York and elsewhere, a result of the very forces Jacobs identified as the ‘self-destruction of diversity’ (Zukin and Braslow 2011). In her later work The Economy of Cities Jacobs (1969) provides a larger context for understanding the role of cities in a global economy. Here she seeks to overturn a long-standing belief that cities emerge and grow primarily to support an agricultural


hinterland. For Jacobs, towns become great cities not by servicing a hinterland or by exploiting natural resources or geographic location, but by inventing new forms of production and trading these products with other cities. Cities are primarily nodes within trading networks rather than the centre of a hinterland, they become sustainable by creating products that replace imports and become exports. The urban economy grows through diversification, building resilience against a decline in any single industry that the city may become dependent upon. While geographic location as a port or major crossroads can be crucial to the economy of cities, import replacement through creative innovation is the engine of urban growth. In her 1985 book Cities and the Wealth of Nations Jacobs takes this further to argue that the wealth of nations derives from the vitality of its cities. Most existing cities are much older than the nation states that house them and they will certainly outlive them.

Clustering The most popular theorist who has picked up and developed this strain of Jacobs’ thinking is Richard Florida (2002, 2005), who argues that as wealthier cities have moved to a knowledge-based information economy – from the manufacture of things to the production of information, branding and symbolic capital – creative producers come to occupy key economic roles in both technical and artistic fields. Creative industry sectors include music, theatre, fashion, design, advertising, architecture, graphics, painting, film, digital media, gaming, software, information technology, photography and science. They are linked to universities and scientific innovation in a range of industry sectors. These sectors are then seen to be attracted to some cities more than others and then to cluster around specific quarters within those cities. For Florida this attraction is at once economic and social. With a penchant for slogans, he talks about ‘plug and play’ communities where high technology and lifestyle opportunities come together: creative classes are attracted to places that mesh the ‘3Ts’ of technology, talent and tolerance. Tolerance of difference ensures that talent is recognized regardless of social class, race, age, gender or sexuality. The economics of clustering is based in flows of tacit rather than explicit knowledge and in the economics of agglomeration. The knowledge-based economy is not simply sustained by access to information but also by access to tacit knowledge that can be gained only through intensive informal immersion in face-toface communities. Tacit knowledge flows best in an intensive urbanity that is infused with differences; one never knows which difference will make a difference. While formal knowledge is quantified and coded, transmitted in training and educational programmes, informal or tacit knowledge is picked up on the streets and in coffee breaks. The city becomes a school where knowledge spreads by osmosis. The clustering of particular trades, services and industries in certain urban neighbourhoods is as old as cities. While Marshall (1890) had argued for the economic advantages of industry clustering including a ready supply of labour, shorter distances and enhanced competition, Jacobs (1969) suggested that innovation

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relies on spillovers between different industries and fields. There are two different agglomerative effects at work here – density and network effects. Density shortens distances, increasing the ease of face-to-face meetings and the frequency of ad hoc encounters. The network effect describes the way each new node of creative activity adds value to all of the other nodes of that network (Katz and Shapiro 1985). Some clusters are described as ‘sticky’ in the sense that creative firms become economically attached and cannot leave without losing the advantages of clustering (Markussen 1996).

Buzz Creative neighbourhoods are often claimed to be distinguished by their ‘atmosphere’, ‘character’ and ‘authenticity’ (Hutton 2006). Creative clusters have a creative ‘buzz’ which attracts talent and encourages innovative potential (Storper and Venables 2004) – an intensity of talk, heightened attention and expectation where ideas flow and germinate faster. Like the best universities, creative clusters are where cuttingedge ideas are part of the informal ambience of the place. While often described as having the feel of a ‘village’ with high levels of safety and trust, creative clusters have an open sense of place where outsiders can easily be accepted (Massey 1993; Florida 2002: 227); the closed sense of place by contrast has a tendency to be intolerant of newcomers, new ideas and new practices. There are many kinds of creative cluster from those primarily involved in production and those that mix production and consumption; from vertically integrated specialty clusters (such as fashion, film or science districts) to horizontally integrated districts spanning a multiplicity of industries (Evans 2009); from bohemian subcultural clusters to elite institutional clusters (Indergaard 2009). Clusters often mix production, exchange, consumption and recreation without clear divisions, and the live/work, production/consumption and subculture/high-culture connections are often crucial. There are now many critiques of Florida’s approach: that his arguments are superficial or reductionist and focused on league tables between cities; that ‘Creative City’ policies stimulate gentrification and displace the very creative practices they seek to encourage; that such an approach leads to place branding and superficial streetscaping (Bell and Jayne 2003; Evans 2003, Catungal, Leslie and Hi 2009). I generally agree with most of this critique, and I also suggest that the focus on cities rather than clusters within them has meant a lack of attention to the urban morphologies within which creative clustering emerges. Words like ‘sticky’, ‘buzz’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘place’ all describe emergent effects of creative clustering. While there is no suggestion here that urban morphology causes creativity, my work on Australian clusters (with Stephen Wood) suggests an important urban design dimension that is also evident globally. The streetscapes in Figure 28.2 exhibit a range of differences but also consistencies of density, height, mix, dereliction, post-industrial building types, heritage, interface conditions and grain size. Creative clustering primarily occurs within a particular range of morphologies and contexts

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Fig. 28.2  Morphologies of creative clustering

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(Wood and Dovey 2015). With a nod to Florida and his 3Ts I want to present the morphology of creative clustering as the 4As – Alliance, Adaptation, Access and Ambivalence.

Alliance In his seminal book The Act of Creation Arthur Koestler (1964: 35–6) argues that creativity in the sciences, the arts and comedy is essentially a bi-sociation of two previously unrelated frames of reference, an alliance of different matrices. In other words difference is the source of creativity and creative works are never produced from thin air; one might say they are produced from an atmosphere that is thick with the intersection of differences. The morphology of creative clustering involves a multiplicity of alliances, synergies and bi-sociations between different activities, people and built forms. In creative clustering the mix of functional, socio-economic and morphological mixes introduced in Chapter 3 (Figure 3.2) are often raised to a hyper level. The mix of primary functions joins production, exchange, consumption, residential and recreation; these are neighbourhoods to work, shop, live and play. A social mix requires a level of affordability which often includes forms of subsidized and/or low-quality housing. The morphological mix is layered over time with a mix of old and new buildings, some under heritage protection. There is a mix of grain or lot sizes that provides the cadastral framework for a mix of building types, floor plates, functions and densities. Finally, a mix of building types and functions is linked to a mix of public–private interface types – the multiplicity of ways buildings interface with the street network from blank walls to shops and setbacks. Creative clusters exhibit not just one mix – whether a mix of functions, grain sizes, building ages or interfaces – but a mix of mixes, multiple interpenetrations that are at once spatial, temporal and social. What matters is not only the mix of ingredients, but also synergies between different kinds of mix and lateral connections between particular ingredients. Creative clustering relies on connections and spillovers between morphological, functional and socio-economic diversities. The socio-economic mix often overlaps students, bohemians, professionals, gentrifiers and welfare recipients, together with the different range of businesses and institutions that service them. These groups mix, overlap, interpenetrate, hybridize, intersect and cross-infect socially and spatially, producing both tensions and synergies. Creative clusters are often former slums and retain elements of relative poverty. When low-income housing is protected by heritage or rent controls, or produced through public housing, then it functions as a brake on gentrification and protects subcultural elements of creative industries. There is a synergy between professionals and bohemians because they form the major/minor, established/start-up, dominant/subculture and employer/employee linkages of the creative cluster.

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Adaptation Adaptation is a characteristic of high levels of change, a form of flexibility embodied in the urban morphology. Creative clusters have relatively high levels of informal urbanism operating at the smaller scales. These range from illegal practices like street art/graffiti, squatting and informal subletting to semi-formal pop-ups, adaptive reuse of space, temporary urbanism and street events. At the more formal end of this scale there are high levels of adaptive reuse of older buildings involving changes of function and transformation of the street interface. Adaptation may be cyclic and reversible forms of change that oscillate between a range of different conditions as a shop may be adapted to an office or a residence and then back to a shop. The practice of subletting is widespread in buildings with large floorplates, where it provides opportunities for start-up enterprises to defray costs, pool resources, and to expand and contract easily. Informal subletting enables production space for small enterprises to expand and contract flexibly at short notice. The conditions for high levels of adaptation include a significant supply of post-industrial building stock as part of the morphological mix, primarily warehouses and small factories that have lost their primary functions and offer relatively flexible shells at low cost. High levels of adaptation are also linked to some degree of vacancy and dereliction – to smoothness. Creative clusters have a relatively high level of interface diversity and adaptation between interface types – from blank to transparent, impermeable to permeable, setback to direct (Figs 7.3 and 7.8, and Plate 2). Such interface adaptations enable new connections and conversions between production, exchange and consumption. Interface adaptation is enabled by a mix of interfaces where there can be no blanket regulation over the interface type; where a house or a warehouse can become a gallery, studio, shop or office with minimal cost. The principle of adaptation requires that forms of urban governance become flexible, turning a blind eye towards activities that push the boundaries of urban regulation in productive and creative ways. An adaptive neighbourhood may have a highly valued character or atmosphere but is never ‘finished’ – the built environment remains open to creative adaptation. The forms of adaptation associated with creative clustering are generally small-scale and do not escalate into transformations that threaten the cluster. Dramatic increases in building height, traffic flows and privatization are generally well contained.

Access Creative clusters are intensively integrated with socio-spatial networks at a range of scales. At the global scale they are connected with creative networks through telecommunications and global discourses as well as the flows of people, products, images and ideas. At the metropolitan scale clusters are generally located in the inner city, often walking distance from business, financial and cultural centres. They are well connected into public transport routes with major freeways or arterials

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running through or past and with good connections to an international airport. At the neighbourhood scale clusters have sufficient density and functional mix to ensure a broad range of attractions within walking distance; they embody a permeable and walkable street network with all parts of the neighbourhood within an easy walk of frequent public transport. While the car is an important part of this network, it is not heavily car-dependent and parking is often scarce. It is common for spatial networks at neighbourhood scale to be protected from through traffic with an ease of pedestrian flow that sustains collaborative social and business networks. In cities with flat topographies cycling forms a key access mode.

Ambivalence The last of the 4As is ambivalence – this is a twofold condition of being driven in contradictory directions at once where opposing forces coexist in tension. The examples are multiple and include gentrified/derelict, dense/low-rise, connected/ protected, flexible/strict and transparent/hidden. Creative clusters are always under pressure of gentrification, but those that endure also maintain a gritty edge of dereliction – the displacement of creative activity proceeds without becoming total. Creative clusters require a minimum density of built form but can be damaged by high-rise development. While creative production occurs on upper floors, connections to the street remain important. Taller buildings contribute density, producing more streetlife volume and intensity; yet they also produce more blank street frontages, traffic, shadows and black holes for car park entrances. Tall buildings tend to reduce the mix and distance the inhabitants from the rich face-to-face network of the street. Clusters are edgy places identified as other to the central city – highly accessible but not slick enough for the suits. While remaining reliant on global markets, corporate culture is held at arm’s length. Clusters enable adaptive change but resist transformational change. There are often heritage codes that both enable yet constrain new development – preventing demolition yet enabling higher density infill. Clusters are both connected with larger car and public transport networks, but also embody protected walkable networks at the local scale. Regimes of urban governance are both strict and flexible; the rule of law is enforced but a blind eye may be turned to matters of creative production. Clusters are at once transparent and hidden – much of the production, exchange and consumption is on conspicuous display, yet much is also hidden or camouflaged in spaces that need no signage or have ambivalent legal status. In these ways and many others these neighbourhoods become incubators of creative activities that transgress boundaries and embody twofold conditions: informal/formal, rich/poor, local/global, identity/ difference, smooth/striated.

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Multiplicity The mapping of creative clusters is a highly problematic enterprise – they are primarily networks rather than bounded places; the multiplicity of industry sectors, functions and forms are complex to categorize and constant change is a key characteristic. Plate 3 maps creative clusters in Melbourne and Sydney and shows key creative industry sites for performance (theatre, music), visual arts (galleries, studios), media (film, gaming) and design (architecture, graphic, etc.). The walkable intensity maps (below) show the intensity of walkable interconnections between these sites and are designed to represent degrees of clustering (Wood and Dovey 2015). This is but one part of the story, which also includes the crucial role of hospitality functions such as cafes, restaurants and bars that serve as the socio-economic glue in these sticky places. In terms of assemblage thinking a creative cluster can be construed as a selforganized ‘multiplicity’. It is clearly not a singularity or totality that can be mobilized and reproduced as Creative City policy. Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 33) suggest two fundamental kinds of multiplicity – extensive and intensive. An ‘extensive multiplicity’ is where the constituent parts are defined by their spatial extension and are unaffected by new additions. No matter how many ingredients are added it remains a collection of different things. An ‘intensive multiplicity’ by contrast is more like a soup with an overall flavour which is changed by each new ingredient as it enters into multiple relationships. The creative cluster is an intensive multiplicity. When different people, practices and built forms are added, the ‘sense’ of the place changes. From such a view what is labelled in the literature as ‘buzz’, ‘flavour’, ‘feel’, ‘atmosphere’, ‘character’ and so on are intensities produced by the multiplicity. These are places where creativity becomes contagious, a rhizomic spread of ideas. However, these are primarily relations of co-functioning rather than causation; creative practices do not derive from these urban morphologies any more than the morphology derives from the creativity. To focus on the ‘buzz’, ‘atmosphere’ or ‘character’ is to describe the emergent effect or ‘sense’ of the place, but it does not show how it works. The creative cluster works through the intensive co-functioning interconnections between different people, practices, identities, spaces and built forms; through the assemblage of alliances, adaptations, access networks and ambivalent conditions described above. It is a socio-spatial assemblage that gears capitalism to creative production.

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29 Transit Urbanism

Fig. 29.1  Ueno, Tokyo

‘Sustainability’ is one of the great empty signifiers of our era; it is difficult to debate because no one is suggesting an unsustainable city. Yet in so many cases over the past century we have designed and built a car-dependent city that is profoundly unsustainable. This is the city of low-density suburbs, freeways and shopping malls with almost universal car ownership and free parking. At the neighbourhood


scale this is a city of drive-in/drive-out amenity, where parking lots become the entry portals for urban attractions that are otherwise inaccessible. It is a city where densities are too low to sustain high-frequency public transport and where distances exceed capacities for walking and cycling. What is most at stake here is the contribution of car-dependent cities to global warming. While it is difficult to measure the contribution of urban transport to CO2 emissions, the UN estimates that 75 per cent of all emissions are produced by cities and transport is a significant portion of this. New World nations such as USA, Canada and Australia, where car-dependent cities predominate, produce over twice the carbon emissions per capita of comparable developed nations of Europe and Japan. Any equitable global pact on climate change will require transformational change in car-dependent cities in order to reduce emissions to a small fraction of current levels. Such opportunities will focus mostly on enriched public transport networks and the urban design capacities that are opened up around new or existing transit nodes – what is normally called transit-oriented development (TOD). Such thinking generally embodies a polycentric model for both intensifying transit nodes within the existing city and generating them along new transit lines. An increase in density is generally geared to an increase in functional mix and walkability within pedestrian catchments – the urban DMA again (Fig. 1.3). The language of TOD includes a range of catch phrases. At the larger scale it may be termed the ‘compact city’ (Jenks, Burton and Williams 1996), ‘transit metropolis’ (Cervero 2001), ‘network city’ (Curtis 2006) or ‘transit town’ (Dittmar and Ohland 2004). At neighbourhood scale it becomes ‘pedestrian pockets’ (Calthorpe 1993; Kelbaugh 1989), ‘New Urbanism’ (Duany and Plater-Zyberk 1991; Calthorpe 1993), ‘transect planning’ (Duany and Talen 2002) and ‘smart growth’ (Duany, Speck and Lydon 2010). The proliferation of literature, however, is not matched in practice, where many of the examples remain based on low densities and low-volume transit. Shrinking the suburban block size or doubling suburban densities will not address the underlying need for transformational change. TOD faces a range of significant challenges that inhibit successful realization in practice. The work of Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy (1999) has been seminal in demonstrating the links between transport-related carbon emissions and urban densities – in general terms the carbon emissions of different cities correlate strongly with relative densities (Newman and Kenworthy 1999). However, density alone is insufficient without considering the mix between urban attractions – the ways transport emissions are generated between home, work and other urban attractions – the work/live/visit triangle (Plate 1). A high-volume, frequent-service public transit network is necessary to ensure transport flows across the city without a car. Yet this is also insufficient unless the precincts surrounding transit nodes are designed with walking and cycling networks that provide good access to transit. The intersections between density, mix and access are where the capacities and synergies of transitoriented urbanism are to be found. This chapter draws upon research projects in Melbourne with my colleague Ian Woodcock (Dovey and Woodcock 2014).

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Multi-Scale Thinking The challenge here is one of developing multi-scalar thinking in order to link the shaping of built form and public space at street and neighbourhood scale to larger scales of metropolitan structure and urban flows. We need to understand how transit-related problems and opportunities at different scales interconnect to form synergies and alliances between different places and scales. Cities and the vital neighbourhoods, activity centres, zones and corridors within them emerge as a result of top-down and bottom-up processes; they are both organized from above and are self-organizing. The capacity of any given urban site to become intensified depends on both existing and possible connections at several scales of space and time. Such a hierarchy of scales is not a hierarchy of importance. Urban design is often seen as infill within a planning framework: planning comes first, urban design fills in the smaller-scale and three-dimensional framework, and architecture fills in the details. Yet this sequence from larger to smaller scale embodied in such thinking is neither accurate nor useful. Transit-oriented urbanism requires an interdisciplinary

Fig. 29.2  Multi-scale thinking – transit modes, morphologies and issues

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capacity to think across scales and to understand relations between them – to think like a strategic planner and tactical urbanist at the same time. Figure 29.2 shows how different travel modes and urban design issues map onto multiple urban scales from 100 kilometres to 10 metres. At the metropolitan scale we need to analyse the network of high-speed, high-volume public transport, which generally means heavy rail. If this is a radial system based on the traditional central city, then it needs to become a network connecting key attractors. The 10 × 10 km scale (100 square km) occupies a crucial middle ground between metropolis and neighbourhood, between strategic planning and urban design. This is the scale at which sub-centres of the polycentric city emerge: where interconnections between employment, housing, services, recreation and transport become crucial. It is the scale at which the ideal of the ‘20-minute city’ emerges – where most daily urban transit can be contained to 20 minutes of travel time. This means that when synergies between public transport, cycling and walking are well designed, about a hundred square kilometres of jobs and amenities can become accessible within 20 minutes without a car. The 10 × 10 km scale is not a bounded territory or a local government jurisdiction. It is an assemblage, a constellation, a cluster of places with potential for the emergence of low-carbon urbanism through an intensification of active transport flows, built forms and multi-scale alliances. At the one kilometre scale of the neighbourhood or precinct, issues of built form and the shaping of public space come to the fore; our understanding of the city moves from abstract cognition to everyday life and the issue of walkability comes to the fore (Forsyth and Southworth 2008). ‘Walkability’ can mean many things and threatens to become another empty signifier. Permeability, pavement quality, safety, climate and topography all mediate the capacity to walk, as do the health and age of the population. On the other hand walkability requires a certain density and mix of attractions in order to produce the desire to walk. The one kilometre scale is also where questions of urban and neighbourhood character, and place identity come to the fore. Resident groups may organize to defend against ‘over-development’; developers may seek to create a new place identity or leverage existing character for market appeal. This is the scale at which specific sites and capacities for intensified development can be identified: where opportunities emerge to reshape the city in a manner that privileges active transport and reduces car-dependency. At the one hundred metre scale of the streetscape we encounter issues such as lot-size or grain, building typology, bulk and height. Here the phenomenology of streetscape vitality, social encounter and architectural expression come to the fore. Only at this scale can we understand what kind of development makes sense because here the impact on the city becomes sensory and experiential. We can understand how desires for bulk and height can conflict with desires for privacy and solar harvesting. Here we catch (or fail to catch) the public imagination for a better urban future. It is at the smaller scales that the city delivers the intensive social encounters that most define the urban experience. This is the scale at which

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we encounter others face to face in public space – the scale at which we shop, meet, loiter and perform. It is also the primary scale at which density translates into intensity, largely mediated by the public–private interface and the detailed design of urban space. While the various measures of density are mapped at larger scales, this is where the interactions between differences take place in public space, where intensity becomes the emergent effect of the larger assemblage.

Transit Isochrones Transit-oriented urbanism aims to create a city where people will choose active modes of walking, cycling and public transport. Cars will inevitably remain part of this mix as they become smarter, smaller and more efficient. One way of mapping this competition between transport modes involves isochrones that measure the zones of access (or catchment) from any particular location within a given time limit using different transport modes. With data drawn from Google maps and public transport timetables, Plate 4 shows 20-minute access zones for key transport modes for a series of locations in Melbourne. The walking access zones (green) are what Jacobs (1961) originally called ‘pools of use’ and now are more commonly called pedestrian catchments or pedsheds. The pedestrian isochrone for a flat open space will be an exact circle but an urban grid will reduce this to about 64 per cent of possible access area – often called the ‘catchment ratio’. An impermeable fabric may reduce this to less than 50 per cent. The cycling zones (yellow) have about three times the range and nine times the accessible area for the same time limit. Both walking and cycling demonstrate capacity more than reality because such modes are also mediated by weather, time of day and safety issues. Public transport and car connections need to be mapped as multi-modal since they generally require pedestrian connections at each end of the trip; waiting times for public transit and parking times for cars need to be incorporated. Public transport isochrones (blue) are strongly configured to the local network and its directional flows – they tend to extend along transit corridors and become diminishing pedsheds around transit stops. It is notable that cycling catchments are far larger in area than those for public transport but with less range. Car isochrones (red) dominate this map because we are mapping a car-dependent city. The gap between cars and public transport can be read as a loose measure of car-dependency; a key goal of TOD strategy is to enlarge the transit isochrones to the point that it becomes irrational to drive. Traffic congestion and constraints on parking will play a key role in such competition. Public transport and car access zones will differ for different times of day and week, but also with traffic delays, missed connections, weather, direction of travel and so on. Public transport access is greater during peak hours (lighter blue) and decreases during the evening (darker) owing to lower frequencies. In the study of Melbourne suburbs, cars have access to a spatial zone that is about ten times that of public transport (Plate 4). This gap is accentuated during the evening period (darker red) when road congestion eases and public transport becomes less frequent. A large part of the challenge is to design a

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city where this map would see the blue zones of public transit access eclipsing the red of cars.

Spaces of Possibility Manuel DeLanda suggests that a key strength of assemblage thinking is that it focuses attention not only on the world as it is, but as it might become – the actual world embodies what he calls the ‘space of possibility’ (DeLanda 2011). The more concrete task here is to interrogate the existing city to reveal its capacities for change. Sites with the greatest capacity for transformational change in our study included railway stations, light-rail corridors, shopping malls, university campuses and post-industrial zones. Where such opportunities are not connected into the high-volume transit network, this network needs to be extended. Figure 29.3 maps the range of such possibilities across Melbourne, where about 70 per cent of the 204 railway stations are in low-density suburban locations, often with a small neighbourhood shopping strip and a large car park. While the intensification capacity of individual projects is often limited, the aggregate effect across the city can be substantial. Shopping malls and university campuses within the suburbs comprise some of the strongest attractors and are generally surrounded by parking lots and only loosely connected to public transport.

Fig. 29.3  Capacity mapping – Melbourne (Source: Dovey and Woodcock 2014)

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Capacity, however, does not exist pre-formed, rather it is shaped by design imagination. Capacity for change is partly established through urban design vision that can capture the public imagination for more sustainable urban futures. Design vision is a prerequisite to understanding the benefits of infrastructure investment and the potential capital flows that might fund it. High-quality urban design is a wealthcreating activity that increases the attractiveness and productive capacity of the city; it provides uplift in land values that can provide funding streams for infrastructure. Design vision, in this sense, encompasses all scales of the city from 100 metres to 100 kilometres. The task is to enlarge the public imagination with regard to how major infrastructural investments at the larger scale can create opportunities at every scale. Until we explore and demonstrate the urban design possibilities at the smaller scales we will not understand the potential yield and therefore the flow of capital from particular redevelopment sites. Design research is a speculative mode of enquiry that explores the ‘space of possibility’ embodied in a particular urban assemblage – the range of possible spatial transformations that might be effected under different design strategies. Design research then generates forms of spatial knowledge about urban futures that becomes a basis for infrastructural investment. Through a range of visual and spatial techniques, such as drawing, diagramming and 3D modelling, design research generates, articulates and tests a range of possible urban scenarios at different scales, exposing new ways of thinking and new definitions of the problem (Dovey and Woodcock 2014; Fig. 29.4). The challenge for transit-oriented urbanism is to interrogate the existing places and morphologies of the city for opportunities and capacities for transformational change. What sites within the existing city have the best network access and where will new public transport investment deliver maximum value? Which sites have potential to add value to the whole network through greater network connectivity? What is the capacity for new development within walkable proximity to existing or potential transit? If ownership is in private hands, then the capacity to use future capital gains to pay for infrastructure development is limited (although land tax levies are possible). Railway corridors often have significant parcels of adjacent public land as easements, public car parks or marshalling yards. What is the likely level of resident opposition to increased density and new transport infrastructure? TOD involves the integration of multiple modes of transport including at least walking, cycling, public transport and cars. Public transport is inherently multi-modal because it requires connections to and from transit stops. This multiplicity of modes also involves interconnections between the high-volume and high-speed flows of heavy rail and the lower volumes and speeds of light rail and bus. It is the multiplicity of connections between walk, cycle, bus, tram and train that are most crucial for TOD. While it is possible to integrate cars, trams, buses, pedestrians and cyclists on a single two-dimensional plane, this does not include trains. Heavy rail at ground level is an obstruction to all other transport modes since the greater the frequency of trains, the more they paralyse the other networks. Grade separations can be effected

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Fig. 29.4  Spaces of possibility – Melbourne (Source: Dovey and Woodcock 2014)

through elevated rail, underground rail or some mix of the two. Burying an existing railway releases all of the land above for redevelopment including capital gains that can be used for funding; however, it is expensive and involves major disruption of train services during construction. While elevated rail delivers less development capacity, it can be designed and integrated in a highly effective manner at about a third of the cost. In many cities there is an entrenched resistance to elevated rail, yet modern train technologies and noise abatement measures mean that it is quite possible for the full range of urban functions to flourish under and around elevated railways (Fig. 29.1). One of the great ironies of TOD is that the huge consumption of urban space given over to car parking also represents the greatest capacity for transformational change. Car parks surround the points of attraction in the car-dependent city – transit nodes, shopping malls, big box retailers and university campuses. These are precisely the locations that most need to be geared to transit networks and the space devoted to car parking is a key resource in designing this transformation. University car parks

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often produce a separation from the city that is an opportunity for both mixed-use and a mix of town and gown. The shopping mall is often defended from its suburban context with a ring of parking that could be redeveloped into a real town (Fig. 29.4). If the campus or mall can become an integrated node of a high-volume public transit network, then the demand for parking will reduce and the car park land becomes available for redevelopment. Both mall and campus have the advantage of an already walkable core network that can be extended into a transit development. The mall or university remains the major attraction but becomes integrated with mixed functions, including office, production, residential, public open space and public facilities. TOD needs to be predicated on a serious reduction of car usage. As improved public transport reduces the demand for cars, it is crucial that parking spaces be removed from the assemblage. It follows that ‘park and ride’ systems that consume much of the space around transit nodes for parking will increase demand for cars.

Bus Rapid Transit There has been considerable celebration of new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in cities such as Curitiba, Lima and Bogota (Moyer 2009). While there have been genuine achievements, they tend to have greatest impact in cities where public transport begins from a very low base and where broad arterial roads are available. To achieve high volumes BRT requires dedicated bus lanes in each direction and it is therefore limited to large traffic arteries (Fig. 29.5). In order to provide continuous access by cars to adjacent property, the bus lanes and stations need to be in the centre of the arterial where the environment is polluted, pedestrian access is difficult and intensified development is impossible. While BRT systems can provide highvolume transit, they can also be seen as a stopgap that adapts to the vast traffic arteries of the car-dependent city in a manner that locks in a level of inefficiency in terms of density, mix and access. Depending on the size of the artery, pedestrian access is generally via underpass or overpass with long ramps, or a long wait for a pedestrian crossing. This effectively separates the bus connection from the city by several minutes’ walk and prevents intensive development precisely where it is needed. The pedshed or catchment for most BRT systems is markedly smaller than other mass transit modes and it does not create the same opportunities for density and mix. BRT has been most successful in dense developing cities with minimal public transit, where it enables greater access to jobs. In Bogota, one of the most extensive BRT systems ever built is now at capacity and debate rages over whether to expand it or invest in the higher-capacity metro system. While climate change is one of the greatest urban design challenges, it is also a key opportunity for innovative forms of urbanism that can reinvent the city for this century. Transit infrastructure brings a new assemblage of flows, gives people access to jobs and enables a more intensive functional mix (Fig. 26.6). It opens opportunities not only to reinvent the urban DMA but also to create conditions for

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Fig. 29.5  Transit without development – Bus Rapid Transit system, Bogota

the emergent qualities of urban intensity, buzz and character. The barriers to change include resident resistance, lack of design vision, short political cycles and pressures for privatization. Democratic planning without a smart process and imaginative design scenarios can become paralysed by suburban ideologies wherein anything over about two storeys is seen to threaten the character and liveability of the city. Short political cycles often mean that politicians cannot win votes for long-term projects. The capacity to manipulate and capture the intensive flows of transit nodes is highly attractive to private interests and there is often great pressure to privatize the development process. Transit nodes need to be public, not quasi-public; while transport might be provided privately, the urban space of the node needs to remain under full public control. The greatest opportunity for public funding lies in harnessing the increased flows and capital gains that are generated by TOD. Good urban design is very expensive, but as the private sector is too well aware, it is a wealth-creating activity.

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30 Complex Adaptive Assemblage There can be no end to urban design thinking because cities are endlessly complex and forever unfinished. This book covers a lot of ground and the task I set myself of distilling each issue into a short chapter has meant this coverage is more broad than deep. However, good urban design thinking is never shallow. The goal, as the subtitle suggests, is to provide a kit of tools for thinking about urban design and not recipes for practice. My sense is that while copying best practice and critiquing worst practice can be useful, the best of urban designs emerge from new ways of thinking about the city, new conceptual tools. The book is inspired in part by the journey that started with Jacobs and her enduring insights about how cities work. Towards the end of her most famous book in a chapter entitled ‘The kind of problem a city is’ she draws from the emerging information sciences to describe the problem of the city as one of understanding organized complexity – dealing with a multiplicity of interconnected variables that are constantly adapting to each other. Her example is a city park where success depends on the park design as well as surrounding functions, populations and densities, which in turn depend on the age and design of buildings, grain-size and so on. Change in any variable means the bets are off on what will happen to the rest. Resisting formula-driven practices, she argues: ‘This is a far cry from the simple problem of ratios of open space to ratios of population’ (Jacobs 1961: 447). The challenge of rethinking cities is multidisciplinary and multi-scalar: we cannot address it through particular disciplines of sociology, economics, urban planning, geography or architecture; or through singular theoretical frameworks.

Assemblage Assemblage thinking, based on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) and developed by DeLanda (2006) is laced throughout this book. The term ‘assemblage’ is a translation of the French agencement which is akin to a ‘layout’, ‘arrangement’ or ‘alignment’ – it suggests at once a dynamic process and a diagrammatic spatiality. I have suggested elsewhere (Dovey 2010) that assemblage is a useful way of rethinking theories of ‘place’ and McFarlane (2011b) suggests something similar for cities. An assemblage is a whole that is formed from the interconnectivity and flows between constituent parts – a socio-spatial cluster of interconnections between parts wherein the identities and functions of both parts and wholes emerge from the flows, alliances and synergies between them. An assemblage is not a set of parts


that are organized to work in a particular way, yet it claims a territory and expresses identity. The assemblage is at once both material and representational yet defies any reduction to materiality or text. A street is not a thing or a collection of things. The buildings, houses, shops, residents, signs, shoppers, cars, hawkers, rules, pavements and goods form the street, but it is the assembled connections between them that are crucial – the relations of buildings to pavement to roadway; the flows of traffic, people, goods and ideas; the interconnections of public to private space, and of the street to the city. An assemblage is dynamic – it is the flows of life, traffic, goods and money that give the street its intensity and its emergent sense of place (Dovey 2010: chapter 2). From this view all cities and parts of cities are assemblages. A key dimension of assemblage thinking is an axis of territorialization/deterritori­ alization that describes the ways social and spatial boundaries are inscribed and erased, the ways identities are formed, expressed and transformed. Territorialization is a synthetic process wherein wholes form from parts, identities from differences. Territory is a stabilized assemblage, a zone of order, a sense of home that keeps chaos and difference at bay (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 310–12). Territories are often identified by the root sta: stand – the state, statute, statue, establishment or institution. Territories are ‘striated’ spaces in contrast to the instabilities of ‘smooth’ space. Deterritorialization is the movement by which territories are eroded (settlements are demolished, nations are invaded); deterritorialized elements are then recombined into new assemblages through a process of reterritorialization. Urban design is largely a territorializing process. A range of twofold concepts are deployed in A Thousand Plateaus as a means to understand assemblages – rhizome/tree, smooth/striated and network/hierarchy among others (Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Dovey 2010: 22–4). Rhizomic practices contrast with the tree-like strictures of urban regulation and planning; they involve minor adaptations and tactics in contrast to the major strategies of master planning; they involve informal network connectivity in contrast to hierarchical control. These twofold concepts form a large part of the assemblage toolkit; while they are binary concepts (defined in terms of each other) the focus is on the dynamism between them. They cannot be seen as separate or as dialectic relations but rather as overlapping and resonating together. Assemblage is a theory of sociospatial change, a theory of societies that is also a theory of cities (DeLanda 2006). Assemblage theory is essentially a form of philosophy: it involves a huge amount of jargon and requires a good knowledge of philosophy and social theory to understand. To apply such a conceptual framework to urban design thinking has been the major challenge of this book.

Critical Urbanism One of the strengths of such an approach is that it embodies a capacity to incorporate different theories without reducing them to any larger ideology. Assemblage thinking needs to be seen within the framework of critical urban theory, with its

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focus on questions of social justice and power (Dovey 2011). While it departs from a political economy framework and embodies different ontologies of power and place, this is not a shift away from critical thought. Assemblage connects disparate threads of urban theory, and opens modes of multi-scalar and multidisciplinary thinking that are better geared to urban design and planning practices than any reduction to politics and economics can allow. The Deleuzian conception of power relies in large part on Foucault’s conception of power as micropractices that are immanent to the field of operation rather than simply held by agents. This is the primary way in which space becomes implicated in questions of social justice – power is embodied in the city. In assemblage thinking, power is immanent to the city, it operates and mutates through the interconnections and between people and public space, between sociality and spatiality. These interconnections are ‘machinic’ or productive; it is often within the spatiality of the city that practices of power are hidden within practices of production and reproduction (Hardt and Negri 2000: 24). Assemblage thinking opens up the imaginary dimension of critical urban theory linking the actual world with the possible world. This involves a broader conception of the role of design in urban thinking. While design is often seen as superficial, in the deeper sense it is a process of assembling possibilities out of actualities. Design produces vision, imagination, hope and desire. Thrift (2011) has called for new ways of conducting urban research as a form of experimentation on the city, an approach that would seem to join an enlightened phenomenology to practices of public art and architecture in order to engage the threats and opportunities of what he terms ‘Lifeworld Inc’ – new regimes of corporate control over everyday urban life. Designers are natural allies in this task since they have been conducting experiments on cities for centuries, getting so much so tragically wrong, but, with a long tradition in imaginative non-linear thinking, the challenge is to get better at it.

Resilience Thinking The kind of complexity thinking that Jacobs was suggesting as necessary has grown rapidly over the past fifty years in diverse fields of cybernetics, ecology, information theory, complexity theory and systems theory and emerges in a cluster of theories known as complex adaptive systems theory and resilience thinking (Holling and Gunderson 2002; Walker and Salt 2006). A complex adaptive system is defined as one where the parts are both independent and interdependent – variables adapt to each other in unpredictable ways. All cities are complex adaptive systems in this sense; they are at once organized and self-organized. Over time a regime with certain characteristics emerges, settles down and becomes more or less resilient. Resilience is defined as the capacity of the system to adapt to change without crossing a threshold into a new ‘regime’ or ‘identity’ (Walker and Salt 2006: 32). Resilience in this sense is not the capacity to maintain or return to a single stable state but rather a dynamic capacity to move between a range of adaptive states without crossing a threshold of no return. The common metaphor used is to see the

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system as a ball that rolls around within a basin wherein there is no single stable state but rather a limited range of possible states that are sustained over time through limited cycles of change. Yet if the ground of the basin becomes shallow, then beyond a certain threshold the system/ball can roll away until it settles into a new regime. There are many parallels here with the ways that urban places change: the most obvious is with Jacobs’ theory of the self-destruction of diversity and related theories of gentrification. Resilience theory involves the study of thresholds of change in ‘key slow variables’ where incremental change can push the system across a threshold of no return. For urban design such variables may include land value, gentrification, traffic, density, parking, resident activism, social mix, street life, sunshine, crime and public transport. As any of these variables changes incrementally, other variables adapt. Taller buildings lead to greater density and intensity of street life, greater viability for public transport, less sunshine and more resident resistance. The system may escalate in either direction or it may plateau. The primary characteristics of a system that increase resilience are its capacities for adaptation through diversity and redundancy – the degree to which the system embodies difference and the degree to which its functions can be performed in multiple ways. The system can adapt to change by moving functions and flows around: different parts can perform in a multiplicity of ways. Resilience runs counter to specialization and determinism; the quest for optimum efficiency can reduce resilience because there is no optimal state (Walker and Salt 2006: 7). Complex adaptive systems are constantly enmeshed in cycles of change, thinking that draws from the economic theory of creative destruction whereby cycles of creative innovation destroy existing structures in their wake (Schumpeter 1934; Harvey 1985). Holling and Gunderson (2002) suggest a four-phase cycle of growth, conservation, release and re-organization, leading back to growth (Fig. 30.1). I will illustrate these in terms of urban development. Rapid growth involves a major phase of development, perhaps when an urban street grid is laid out and high demand leads to rapid increases in construction, population and land value. Conservation comes when there is a desire to stop further transformation and codes are imposed. The system becomes rigid, formularized solutions become common and novelty is suppressed. The system becomes less adaptable and loses resilience. The release phase is that brief period when a threshold is crossed, forces for change overwhelm the place and it slips towards a new regime. Re-organization is the creative period when a new order emerges and begins to grow again. While all complex adaptive systems are subject to the principles of this cycle, the sequence is not inevitable as systems adapt to the forces for change by skipping phases or stopping change (Walker and Salt 2006). A boom–bust cycle is one that slips directly from growth to release; heritage zones are often locked into the conservation phase. It is common to describe this cycle in terms of a longer and more stable foreloop of growth and conservation on the one hand and the shorter and more dramatic backloop of release and re-organization on the other. The backloop brings renewal, revitalization and resilience; this is the phase of becoming, of change and reform.

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Fig. 30.1  Panarchy diagram (based on Walker and Salt 2006; Holling and Gunderson 2002)

Such cycles of accumulation and renewal are linked into hierarchies of adaptive cycles that Holling and Gunderson (2002) call panarchies. These are not hierarchies of power but of scale, where every cycle is interconnected to cycles at higher and lower scales – smaller and faster cycles of change are geared to larger and slower ones. In urban terms this may be a room, building, street, neighbourhood and city. The term ‘panarchy’ combines the meanings of the Greek god of fields and fertility with that of all-encompassing connectivity. The resilience of the system cannot be understood at any one level but only through looking simultaneously at both higher and lower levels of the multi-scale system. Systems can adapt to change by initiating release and reorganization in systems at lower and higher levels of the panarchy. Two key interactions between levels become crucial for initiating and mediating change known as ‘revolt’ and/or ‘remember’. Revolt is when small fast events and practices at one scale can overwhelm large slow ones at the next level up (Fig. 30.1). The second linkage involves the ways that reorganization becomes reliant on the next level up for regeneration; the lower level draws upon the memory and accumulated

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wisdom of the larger system. In a resilient system each level is protected by the level above and invigorated from the level below. The differences in levels of the panarchy involve both spatial and temporal scales. Higher levels are identified with large slow changes while lower levels involve small fast changes (Portugali 2000). A good deal of resilience thinking is about understanding a system in relation to thresholds of change and transformation, understanding and managing the key slow variables that may be driving the system towards regime change (Walker and Salt 2006: 113). Resilience thinking and complex adaptive systems theory embody a scientific framework that has a lot to offer urban design thinking. However, it has a bias towards the physical sciences that brings limits in understanding cities. There are two particular problems I want to mention. First is that when natural systems are under constant threat from human action, it is common to see resilience as a good thing – the capacity to adapt to change without lurching into a new regime, to withstand major forces for change. Yet in cities transformational change is often exactly what is required and the resilience of the urban system is a problem. The resilience of urban poverty and suburban sprawl as argued in the chapters on informal settlements (Chapter 26) and transit urbanism (Chapter 29) are examples. Resilience theory can help us understand such issues but we should not jump to the conclusion that a high level of resilience is necessarily a good thing. We may wish to build resilience to change or we may wish to drive the system into a new and better regime. Crime and poverty traps are highly resilient to change, as are gated communities, shopping malls and other anti-urban projects. Resident resistance to intensification can be highly resilient, even when such resistance is irrational, parochial and backward-looking. A second limitation of complex adaptive systems theory is that the term ‘system’ carries connotations of predictability and systematic control as in the work of Habermas (1984), where the ‘system’ is identified with the institutionalized controls of the state and the market, conceived in opposition to the lifeworld. The system is identified with formality – with top-down organization that excludes self-organization – yet complex adaptive systems are not systematic. The discourse of complex adaptive systems shows a bias towards the physical sciences from which it has emerged, towards the measureable and spatial side of the socio-spatial ‘system’. I suggest that the ‘complex adaptive assemblage’ is a more useful label for the kind of problem that a city is. This is a means of joining lines of thought from both sciences and humanities, not as a new ideology but as an integrated way of thinking about power, complexity, desire, place, adaptation, assemblage, emergence, resilience and territory. The movement from territorialization to deterritorialization and re­territorialization resonates with the adaptive cycle of resilience thinking with its foreloop of growth and conservation contrasted with the back loop of collapse and re-organization (Fig. 30.2). While not described by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) as a ‘loop’, it is clearly a folding movement of one becoming the other. Territorialization is a form of exploitation and conservation; the collapse and release phase of the cycle is deterritorialization. The series of twofold concepts from assemblage thinking is also

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Fig. 30.2  Complex adaptive assemblage

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reflected in the foreloop/backloop of the adaptive cycle: formal/informal, striated/ smooth, identity/difference, being/becoming, tree/rhizome. This axis with its cluster of twofolds is, however, only one of two axes of the assemblage – the other is the distinction between the material and the expressive. In this regard resilience thinking is largely limited to the material pole of this axis, with little to say about discourse, image, symbolism or art. This is the traditional division between the sciences on the one hand and the arts and humanities on the other; any understanding of urban design must bring them together. The assemblage is at once both material and representational: it resists reduction to either textual analysis or material structure. Assemblage thinking shares with complex adaptive systems theory the desire to understand multi-scalar relations without reducing the micro-scale to epiphenomena of larger scale processes and structures. Both frameworks oppose any privileging of change from above and focus on understanding the relations and dynamics between scales, particularly the ways that many small-scale adaptations can produce synergistic emergent effects at higher levels. While the higher levels of assemblage may be identified with the state and institutions of governance, they cannot be seen as separate assemblages. While a neighbourhood can be identified and territorialized as a discrete assemblage (as a noun), it is assembled (as a verb) through its multi-scalar connections with the political economy of city, nation and globe. Such multi-scalar thinking is inherently multidisciplinary and requires that we think across the fields of geography, urban planning, urban design, landscape and architecture – overturning any hegemony between fields. This is the final diagram in this book and a chance to reiterate how important diagrams are to assemblage thinking. While they are easily over-simplified and misunderstood, they are articulations of the embodied forces, relations and flows within a given situation. They are not the end point of assemblage thinking but the beginning, part of the toolkit for understanding cities. There is nothing so practical as a good theoretical toolkit. This book is but one toolkit – there are many other tools and kits for thinking about the city. This field of knowledge is in the reorganization phase of rapid learning about how cities work, developing on a number of fronts, including the information sciences, big data, morphological mapping, generative and parametric design, discourse analysis, phenomenology, critical urban studies and resilience thinking. Assemblage thinking can be useful for bringing many of these together and establishing connections between them, particularly the sciences and humanities. The city is a multiplicity and the greatest danger lies in a reduction of urban thinking to singular channels of any kind. This is the reason for thirty chapters and the frequent changing of lenses. The twenty-first century will be the age of urbanization and it will be the century in which we determine the future of this planet, where poverty and climate change remain the two greatest challenges. Much of the debate in urban design, however, will be consumed in contesting the anti-urban impulses and excesses of the state and the market – new practices of discipline, authority, division and oppression

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embodied in urban design; re-inventions of the privatized anti-urban cul-de-sac, both vertical and horizontal. There will be new forms of ‘security’ designed to paralyse network flows and random urban encounter: the production of new forms of ‘authenticity’ and entertainment. This is what Thrift (2011) calls the ‘securityentertainment’ complex wherein security practices become the generic excuse for closing down random encounter along with any argument about it. While urbanity cannot thrive without safety, it also cannot thrive without risk. It is inevitable that the best research about the city will be used to bring it under control and to capture its flows. To note an extreme example, assemblage theory has been used by the Israeli military in attacks on Palestinian cities (Weizman 2006). Lest this sounds pessimistic, I would also suggest that we are getting better at exercising and establishing the right to the city and our capacities to manage selforganization. Such rights may or may not need to be written into law and authorized but they must be practised. To draw a sharp line between legal/illegal and formal/ informal can undermine much of what makes the city work. A strictly striated city will paralyse adaptive cycles and limit the testing of creative ideas. The adaptive cycles of the city, especially at the smaller scales, rely upon the informal, the deterritorialized. The right to the city is unlike most other rights that we attach to citizenship – the word ‘citizen’ means ‘denizen of the city’, not the nation. Nation states are poor managers of cities; their focus is on national rather than urban economies, on controlling arbitrary borders and stimulating nationalist place identity. The right to the city is not endowed by the state but is embodied in the city: it is immanent to urban dwelling and ‘takes place’ through everyday life in public space. Such rights are not uninhibited: they are specifically limited by the responsibility of a shared sociality of public space and a respect for difference. To return to where we began, this encounter with difference is the essence of urbanity.

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Index abstract machine see diagram access 2, 15–24, 193, 200, 226–7, 250–1, 256, 269 see also DMA; permeability access zones 257–8 public access 153–8, 162–74, 187–8 solar access 198–9 see also sunshine/ shade active edges 59, 67, 198 actor-network theory 242 adaptation 5, 57, 63–8, 71, 76, 82, 108, 163–4, 190, 217–22, 227, 236–9, 242, 250, 265–8 adaptive cycle 267–71 advertising 89, 105, 126, 137, 194, 209–15, 237 and street art 202, 205 aesthetics 14, 90–3, 179, 190, 196–8, 203–6 of poverty 228 affect 106, 121 politics of 133, 138, affordance 42–3, 50–1, 54, 242 Agamben, G. 149 agonism 137, 143, 193 agora 10–11, 14, 133, 136, 143 airport 163 Alexander, C. 4, 62, 76, 77 AlSayyad, N. 218 Anderson, B. 99, 127 and McVey, R. 102 Appleton, J. 44 appropriation 14, 40–1, 54, 107, 112, 154 arcade 18, 21, 160 archetype 70, 76 Arendt, H. 135–6, 143 Arnheim, R. 81 assemblage thinking 1–5, 75–7, 123–4, 142–3, 151, 167, 200, 207–8, 252, 256, 263–71

atmosphere 8, 117–18, 120, 158, 215, 223, 247, 250 Augé, M. 112 authenticity 77, 123, 148, 164–5, 171, 213, 228, 247, 271 and authority 93–4, 126–8, 179, 183, 207 and place 107, 110–12, 119, 123 and tourism 186–90, 228 author 88, 126 death of the author 88 authority 88, 125–35, 137, 183, 203, 206, 214, 270 and authenticity 93–4, 126–8, 179, 183, 207 axiality 12, 22, 129–32 Bachelard, G. 109 Bakhtin, M. 52 Banksy 202, 205, 214–15 Barthes, R. 86–8, 111, 127, 136 Bateson, G. 82, 124, Batty, M. and Marshall, S. 76 Bayat, A. 218 beach 49–50, 53–4, 155, 173, 187–9, 236, 239–42 becoming/being 107, 124, 237, 266, 270 ontology 78, 106–7, 111–12, 121, 175, 242, 265 Ben-Joseph, E. 195 Bender, T. 242 Benjamin, W. 14, 90, 160, 182 and Lacis, A. 57–8, 67, 189, 228 Bentham, J. 47 Berger, J. 93 Berghauser Pont, M. and Haupt, P. 34 Berman, M. 212–13 Bishop, P. and Williams, L. 236–7, 242–3 Blakeley, E. and Snyder, M. 170 Bobby, P. 178, 180


body 10–13, 47, 52, 107–10, 127 Böhme, G. 121 Borch, C. 121 Borden, I. 52 Bosselman, P. 213 Bourdieu, P. 40, 93, 107, 120–1, 178, 204 Boyer, C. 77, 95 Boyko, C and Cooper, R. 31 brand 93, 146–51, 226, 234, 243 see also symbolic capital city 191–2, 223, 226, 247 corporate 158, 178, 205, 214–15 Brighenti, A. 207 Brillembourg, E. and Klumpner, H. 230 Broadbent, G. 77 Bromley, R. 221–3 Brown, A. 223–4 Buck-Morss, S. 14, 160 Burke, E. 190 Bus Rapid Transit 261–2 Business Improvement District 155–6, 164–5 buzz 4, 8, 243, 247–9, 252, 262 see also intensity Calame, J. and Charlesworth, E. 84 Caldiera, T. 170 Calthorpe, P. 254 Calvino, I. 85, 95, 193 camouflage 52, 120, 122, 214–15, 222, 234, 243, 251 Canetti, E. 52–3, 136, 213 Caniggia, G. 75 capital 123–4, 142 political capital 147–8, 183 symbolic capital 6, 93–4, 146–8, 175, 180–4, 189, 191, 203–5, 207, 230, 233, 243 capitalism 12–13, 29, 77, 91, 97, 123, 160, 243, 252 and neoliberalism 146, 149, 178, 217, 228 car-dependency 13, 34, 36, 59–63, 167, 173, 198–200, 227, 235, 242, 253–7, pl.4 Carman, M. 107 Carmona, M. 157–8 carnival 52–3 Carroll, L. 115, 122

284 Index

Casey, E. 106 Castells, M. 175 CCTV 47–8 see also panopticism; surveillance Cerdá, I. 95, 196 Certeau, M. de 1–2, 112, 136, 179, 236 Cervero, R. 254 character 8, 105, 123, 133, 158, 203, 215, 217, 250 intensity 252, 262 neighbourhood 80, 105, 110–11, 115–24, 169, 171–3, 247, 256 children 12, 28, 40, 174 choreography 12, 49–50, 128, 137–8, 141, 179 co-functioning see functional mix co-presence 45 Coaldrake, W. 128 codes 8, 10, 40–1, 121–2, 171–3, 193–200, 202, 205–8, 238, 266 collage 91–2 colonialism 127, 169–70 community 10, 21, 26–7, 47, 112, 117–23, 127, 164, 169–73 complex adaptive systems 5, 64, 265–8 constructivism 110, 128 contextualism 75, 180–1 Conzen, M. 75 Corbusier 228 covenants 118–20, 171–3, 193 Crawford, M. 162 creative clusters 218, 234, 245–52 creative destruction 122, 124, 151, 182, 193, 266 creativity 241, 244, 249 Cresswell, T. 111 crime 45–7, 52, 160, 170, 234, 266 broken windows theory 205 and graffiti 201–8 critical urbanism 264–5 Cross, J. 223 crowding 9, 31, 108, 221, 229, 231 crowds 52–3, 55, 133, 136–7, 158, 213 cul-de-sac 21, 36, 43, 170–4, 181, 271 Cullen, G. 80–1, 121 Curtis, C. 254 cycling 238, 251, 254–7, pl.4 dance 108, 143 Davis, H. 74


Davis, M. 225, 228 Debord, G. 157 deconstruction 89–90, 110–11, 186 DeLanda, M. 123, 263–4 Deleuze, G. 45, 135 and Guattari, F. 1, 4, 6, 53, 62, 105, 121–2, 124, 252, 263–5, 268 democracy 126, 128, 132–3, 138, 140–3, 148–52, 165, 172–5 density 2–4, 9, 15–16, 27–8, 31–8, 65, 70–1, 118–19, 122, 247, 251, 254 see also DMA buildings 78, 181–2, 194–9 vs intensity 34, 36–7, 63, 197–8 and poverty 34, 58, 191, 229, 231 streetlife 46, 53 Denton Corker Marshall 89, 196–7 desire 85, 190, 193 flows of desire 25, 123, 207 production of desire 61, 126, 161, 167, 209 determinism 45, 49, 221 over/under determinism 41–2, 55, 96, 240–3, 266 diagonal 89, 110, 128 see also vertical/ horizontal diagram 5, 61–2, 76, 78, 154–6, 162, 167, 210, 240–1, 269–70 dialectic image 14, 90–3, 190, 210 difference 9, 82, 117–24, 133, 143, 170, 194, 246, 249, 271 see also mix, multiplicity and discipline 47–8, 158 vs identity 1, 13–14, 78, 80, 175, 179, 270 and repetition 69–70, 78 discipline 12, 47–8, 51, 128–9, 133, 137, 158, 270 disciplines see professions discourse analysis 85–93, 269–70 DMA (Density/Mix/Access) 2–4, 15, 23, 30, 37, 65, 106, 163, 221, 254, 255, 262 Douglas, M. 203 drama 49–55, 57–8, 68, 80 dreams 91, 160–3 Duany, A. and Talen, E. 254 and Plater-Zyberk, E. 254 Duchamp, M. 90 dwelling 107–12, 129

Easterling, K. 149–50 edge 79–83 active edge 59, 67 edge effect 44–5, 50, 51 education 13, 82, 174–5, 246 Ellin, N. 77 emergence 81, 106, 124, 263, 265, 268 enclaves 12, 21, 45–7, 151, 153–8, 169–75, 181, 191 enclosure 12, 21, 169–70 and encounter 45–7, 55 entrances 19, 45, 50, 57–68, 109, 119, 128, 179, 221 escalation 53, 124, 186, 200, 250, 266 see also plateau advertising 212, 215 crime 46–7 crowds 53, 143 graffiti 205–7 height 181–4, 197–8 privatization 157, 164, 172–5 essentialism 69, 70, 76–7, 88, 90–3, 107, 110–12, 123, 129 ethnicity 13, 28, 52, 84, 111, 117, 120, 170 Evans, G. 247 exchange 9, 27, 159–67 eyes on the street 44, 46–8, 68, 183, 215 fascism 140 feel 116–18, 120 Floor Area Ratio 36–7 Florida, R. 246–7 folding 268 twofold 4, 217, 233, 251 Forsyth, A. and Southworth, M. 256 Foster, N. 131–2, 147 Foucault, M. 5, 12, 47–8, 51, 158, 265 freedom 12, 52, 83, 86, 90, 99–102, 126, 139, 158, 169–71, 175, 203 functional mix 25–30, 36, 65, 67, 162, 221, 247, 249, 261 live/work/visit triangle 27, 62–3, 173, 254, pl.1 gated community 12, 21, 119, 153–8, 169–75, 191, 215 Gaudi, A. 195–6 gaze 14, 90, 159–61 global 141–3

Index 285


public 46, 59, 61, 63, 136, 191, 202, 210 state 47–8, 234 tourist 185–6 Geddes, P. 76 Geertz, C. 125, 127 Gehl, J. 58–9, 63, 108 Gehry, F. 147, 166 gender 12, 28, 40, 46, 99 generative design see morphogenesis genius loci 111 gentrification 29–30, 204, 245, 249, 251, 265 gestalt 80–1 Gibson, J. 42 Giddens, A. 43 Gilloch, G. 91 Glaeser, N. 37 globalization 83, 89, 111, 123, 133, 141–3, 145–52, 185–92 Goffman E. 40, 108 Google 174, 257 graffiti 48, 201–8, 237, 240–1, 250 grain-size 28–9, 45, 58, 63,65, 194, 198, 249, 256, 263 Gruen, V. 161–6 guerrilla urbanism 236–44 Guggenheim, M. 242 habitus 40, 52, 107, 120–1, 185, 204 Habraken, J. 230 Hall, E. 39, 41, 222, 236 Hardt, M. and Negri, A. 265 Harvey, D. 124, 148, 182, 266 Heidegger, M. 106–7, 111, height (of buildings) 32–3, 36, 169, 177–84, 177–84, 193–8, 247, 251, 257 see also towers heritage 28, 93, 116, 198, 200, 212, 228, 247, 249, 251, 266 Hertzberger, H. 71–2 hierarchy 127–8, 133, 138 see also ‘network’ Hillier, B. 22–23 and Hanson, J. 46 Hoek, J. van den 27 Holl, S. 63–5 Holling, C. and Gunderson, L. 265–7 home 105, 107, 109–10, 112, 121, 175, 185, 264

286 Index

Hou, J. 236 Hugo, V. 86 iconography 83, 127–8, 146–8, 178, 196 identity 5, 52, 105–6, 109–12, 118, 122, 183–4, 264–5, 269 vs difference 1, 13–14, 78, 80, 175, 179, 270 image see legitimating image, dialectic image imagination 43, 77, 183, 262, 265 immanence vs transcendence 83, 106, 111, 123–4, 265, 271 incrementalism 225–30, 235–44 Indergaard, M. 247 informality 10, 13, 18, 250 vs formality 4, 40, 237, 243, 251, 270, 271 informal codes 40–1, 194–5, 233 informal settlements 36, 170, 180, 225–34, 237, 243, 268 informal trading 217–24, 236 Ingold, T. 107–8 intensity 4, 13–16, 123–4, 189–91, 210, 227, 235, 241, 246, 251, 257, 262, 264 see also buzz and density 1, 34–7, 159 vs extensive 106, 123–4, 252 intensive multiplicity 252 network intensity 18, 80, 184 streetlife 36, 53, 57–8, 108, 154, 197, 213 inter-city competition 146–9, 178 interface (public/private) 19–21, 34, 36–7, 45–6, 57–68, 73, 76, 159, 221, 247, 257, pl.2 see also porosity adaptation 51, 64, 250 and functional mix 63, 249–50 interface catchment 19–20, 22 secondary interfaces 62, 66 isochrones 257–8 Jacobs, J. 1, 3, 6, 15, 17–19, 25, 26, 28, 35, 37, 44, 46, 49–50, 62, 68, 124, 234, 245–7, 257, 263 James, W. 82 Jung, C. 109–10 Kelbaugh, D. 254 Kepes, G. 81


key slow variables 266 King, R. 141, 228 Koestler, A. 5, 249 Koetter, F. and Rowe, C. 91–2 Kohn, M. 157–8 Kollhoff and Ovaska 71–2 Koolhaas, R. 63–4 Krier, L. 95 Krier, R. 77 Kurokawa, K. 131 LAB Architecture Studio 92 labyrinth 12, 81, 187, 190–1, 228 Lampugnani, V. 31 landmarks 77, 79–84, 127, 136, 163, 179–82 laneways 21, 202, 227, 230–1 Latour, B. 242 Lefebvre, H. 14, 136 legibility 79–82, 84, 88, 103 legitimating image 100, 103, 126–9, 132, 135, 137, 140 legitimation 6, 13, 89, 93–4, 100, 183–4, 218, 224, 242 Lerup, L. 70 Lewin, C. 1 Ley, D. 29 Libeskind, D. 71–2 Lin, M. 97–8 loose parts 41, 55, 154 lot-size see grain-size Lukes, S. 126 Lynch, K. 40, 62, 77, 79–83, 121, 136, 154 Maas, W. 31 MacCannell, D. 186 McFarlane, C. 236, 263 McKenzie, E. 172–3 Magritte, R. 90 mapping 5, 7, 26–7, 108, 186, 230, 257, 270 Markussen, A. 247 Marshall, A. 8, 246 Marshall, S. 76, 233 Massey, D. 111, 117–18, 123, 247 Massumi, B. 6 meaning market 93–4, 179 media 48, 136–43, 151, 237 Mehaffy, M. 76 memorials 237

memory 14, 76, 95–104, 267–9 Merleau-Ponty, M. 107 mix 4, 15–16, 25–30, 117, 119, 123, 249, 269 see also DMA; functional mix modernity 12, 25–7, 36, 45, 47, 49, 83, 91, 116–17, 138–40, 160, 219, 223 architecture 71, 75–7, 99, 181 zoning 25–7, 67 Moholy-Nagy, L. 182 monopoly 21, 40, 86, 148–88, 213–5, 242 monuments 95–104, 127–32, 135–42, 196 morphogenesis 5, 75–6, 230, 270 Moudon, A. 75 multiplicity 7, 25, 31, 42, 43, 67, 88–90, 92, 95, 111, 123, 194, 200, 252, 270 extensive vs intensive multiplicities 252 multi-scale 36–7, 75, 109, 255–7, 263–71 Muratori, S. 75–6 mythology 86–8, 111, 129, 136, 146, 160, 183 nation 10, 47–8, 51–2, 84, 89–94, 99–103, 125–43, 146–51, 161, 170, 173, 178, 184, 207, 217–18, 223, 246, 271 see also authority states of exception 149–52 nature 88, 94, 112, 127–9, 133, 172, 183 Nazism 53, 128 neo-liberalism 83, 89, 146–52, 172, 178, 217, 223, 228, 243 neo-traditional 95, 117–20 networks 184, 209, 221, 250–1, 259, pl.3 integration 22 network effect 247 vs tree: 22, 256 Neuwirth, R. 218 new urbanism 118 Newman, O. 45, 63, 65 Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. 254 nodes 79–82, 135–6, 141–3, 163, 224, 254 Nolli, G. 17–18 Norberg–Schulz, C. 110–11 obelisks 99, 127–8, 138, 182 Occupy movement 137, 158 ontology see becoming/being organized/self-organized 4, 47–8, 53–4, 64, 137–41, 215, 217–18, 237–44, 255, 265, 267–8, 271

Index 287


orientation 110, 128, 165, 228 Oswalt, P. 235–40, 243–4 Pafka, E. 18, 32, 33–5 panarchy 267 panopticism 47–8, 141, 143, 179–80 parking 34, 59–61, 66, 180–2, 198–200, 213, 215, 239, 251, 257, 260–1, 266 parklets 236–41 pattern language 76 pedestrian catchments 17–19, 257 Percy, W. 186 Permanasari, E. 99, 102 permeability 17–22, 59, 162, 173–4, 188, 251, 256 phenomenology 107–22, 179, 256, 265, 270 picturesque 80–1, 190–1, 228 Pieterse, E. 234 Piketty, T. 149 place 14, 29, 40–3, 105–24, 158, 185, 203–4, 208, 212, 226, 233–4, 241, 247, 252, 256, 263, 271 as assemblage 113, 124 dialectics 109, 175 vs non-place 112 open vs closed 111, 123, 170–3 place ballet 50, 57, 68 vs placeless 110–2 vs space 106 plateau 124, 200, 266 see also escalation Polakit, K. 223 political economy 265, 270 pools of use 18–21, 257 pop-ups 236–9, 241, 243, 250 porosity 18, 57–8, 67–8, 191, 228 see also interface Portugali, J. 268 power 4, 11, 14, 47, 52–3, 86, 93, 110–1, 123, 234, 264–5 see also authority; legitimation; resistance, seduction privacy 9, 10, 12, 48, 59–65, 67, 70, 123, 125–43, 193, 200, 257 see also gaze; interface privatization 137, 148, 153–8, 160–7, 172, 215, 219, 223, 262, 271 professions 105, 255, 263 multi-disciplinarity 7, 105, 265, 270 prospect/refuge 44, 179

288 Index

proxemics 39, 52, 108, 126 public interests 8, 14, 22, 52, 146–9, 156, 193–200, 214, 224 public transport 13, 155, 166, 173, 231–2, 234, 250–1, 253–62, 266, pl.4 public/private interface see interface public/private partnerships 148, 156, 214 publicity 9, 48, 63, 202, 207, 209 publicness 153–7 see also privatization pyramids 110, 127–8, 131–2 quasi-public space 155–8, 163, 236 Rapoport, A. 31, 236 rationalism 77 Ratti, C. 23 readerly-writerly 88, 90 Rebar 238–9 regulation 118, 121–4, 193–200, 213, 217 see also codes deregulation 146–52, 195 flexibility 194–8, 250–1 Reich, R. 172 religion 83, 85–6, 92–3, 102–3, 128, 140, 165–6, 196 Relph, E. 110, 112 resilience 5, 28, 181, 223, 234, 246, 265–71 resistance 51, 88, 204, 214, 251, 268 political resistance 101, 135–43 resident 29, 116, 227, 260, 262, 266, 268 revolution 99, 110, 127, 135–43 rhizome 4, 53–4, 107, 136, 224, 237, 244, 252 vs tree 264, 269–70 rhythm 26, 33–5, 64–6, 82, 156, 236 Riefenstal, L. 53 right to the city 14, 40, 48, 49, 136–7, 153–8, 175, 194, 200, 202, 218, 224, 244, 271 roots 107, 111–2, 123 Rossi, A. 77 Rovira i Trias, A. 95–6 Sadler, S. 49 safety 26, 44–6, 65, 162, 165, 170, 175, 190, 200, 271 Salingaros, N. 76


Sassen, S. 243 Saussure, F. 86 schizmogenesis see escalation Schumpeter, J. 182, 266 science 107, 268, 270 Shack/Slum Dwellers International 233 secession of the successful 172 security see safety security-entertainment complex 271 seduction 126, 148, 175, 179, 210, 214 segregation 12, 14, 22, 54 self-destruction of diversity 265 semantic inversion 138 semiotics 83, 86 Sennett, R. 10–14, 49–50, 123, sense 107–8, 121, 257 sense of place 252, 264 serial vision 80 sexuality 183 shade see sunshine shopping 61, 187, 217–22 shopping mall 22, 27, 67, 141, 145, 151, 153, 156, 159–67, 175, 215, 253, 258–61 Sitte, C. 80 Situationists 49 Sloterdijk, P. 121 slums 29, 34, 180, 189–92, 225–34, 249 slum tourism 189–92, 228 slum upgrading 230–3 unslumming 6, 234 Smith, N. 29 smooth/striated 51, 53–5, 112, 133, 194, 207, 236–7, 250–1, 264, 269–71 social class 10, 12, 14, 22, 28–9, 53, 110, 117–20, 160, 164, 170–5, 180 social mix 28–9, 234, 249, 266 Socrates 8, 10 Solá-Morales, I. 51 Sorkin, M. 200 space 106–7 vs place 106 space of possibility 237, 242, 258–60 space syntax 22–3 spectacle 12, 47, 53, 128, 138–9, 142, 146, 151, 157–8, 160, 213 speculation 21 Speer, A. 128 Spinoza, B. 121 splintered urbanism 149

state see nation Stevens, Q. 50, 236 and Ambler, M. 240 and Franck, K. 97 sticky places 247, 252 Storper, M. and Venables, A. 247 street art see graffiti street cleansing 222–4 striated/smooth see smooth sublime 14, 127, 133, 183, 190–2, 228 suburb 12, 21, 27, 71, 78, 115–24, 169–75 sunshine/shade 123, 182, 193–200, 257, 266 surveillance 46–8 see CCTV; gaze; panopticism symbolic capital see capital tacit knowledge 13, 246 tactical urbanism 51–2, 55, 235–44, 235–44, 256 tactics vs strategies 136, 143, 217, 222, 264 Talen, E. 198 taste 93, 116–17, 146, 183 temporary urbanism 235–44, 250 terrain vague 51, 225, 236 territory 40–1, 45–6, 54, 124, 133, 194, 264, 269–70 territorialization/deterritorialization 268–70 theatre 80, 108, 121, 128, 210 themepark 62, 78, 151, 163, 213 Thrift, N. 121, 265, 271 timelessness 92, 111, 127, 179–83 Tonkiss, F. 236 tourism 141–2 185–92, 146, 162 slum tourism 189–92, 228 towers 71, 74, 78, 89, 109, 124, 132, 150–1, 177–84 see also height traffic 17, 210, 217, 221, 266 tragedy of the commons 233 Trancik, R. 82 transcendence/immanence 83, 106, 111, 123–4, 265, 271 transparency 12, 45–6, 58–65, 82–4, 91, 93, 95, 148, 158, 172, 175, 210, 213, 215, 251 see also visibility tree-like 21, 53, 76, 156 vs network 15, 22, 181

Index 289


vs rhizome 4, 53–4, 107, 136 Trummer, P. 75 Turner, J. 230 twenty minute city 256–8 types/typology 32, 59–62, 65, 70–8, 118–19, 210, 222–3, 225–6, 269 adaptation 63–8 typomorphology 75–6 tyranny 128, 132, 179 Vale, L. 128 Venturi, R., Scott-Brown, D. and Isenour, S. 213 vernacular 75–6, 128, 184, 190, 213, 228 vertical/horizontal 109–10, 127, 129, 184 see also diagonal views 179–80, 193, 200 virtual space 108, 159 visibility 12, 22, 108–9, 223, 233 vista 82, 128–9 Vitruvius 195

290 Index

walkability 14, 18–21, 108, 163, 198–9, 227, 251–2, 254–9, 256, 259, pl.3–4 walking 107–8, 218 Walker, B. and Salt, D. 265–8 waterfronts 21, 149, 163, 173, 197, 225 Webber, M. 112 Webster, C. 172 Weizman, E. 271 West 8 71–2 Wittgenstein, L. 106 Wollan, S. 202 Wood, S. 59, 116, 247, 252 Woodcock, I. 116, 202, 254 Wrong, D. 126 Yatmo, Y. 219–20 Young, A. 206 Zhu, J. 138 zoning see functional mix Zukin, S. and Braslow, L. 245


Plate 1  Functional mix mapping – Jiyugaoka, Tokyo (Map by Milena Duric)


Plate 2  Interface mapping – Fitzroy, Melbourne


Plate 3  Mapping creative clusters in Melbourne and Sydney (source: Wood and Dovey 2015)


Plate 4  Multi-modal isochrones – Melbourne (Source: Dovey & Woodcock 2014)

Urban design thinking  

A stunning, full-color showcase of the latest innovations in sustainable architecture and eco-friendly design, featuring thirty-five diverse...

Urban design thinking  

A stunning, full-color showcase of the latest innovations in sustainable architecture and eco-friendly design, featuring thirty-five diverse...

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