The Unknown City: Contesting Architecture and Social Space

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Iain Borden, Joe Kerr, Alicia Pivaro, Jane Rendell
MIT Press, 2002 - Architecture - 533 pages

Essays on architecture as narrative and urban space as experience and the new geographies they create.

The Unknown City takes its place in the emerging architectural literature that looks beyond design process and buildings to discover new ways of looking at the urban experience. A multistranded contemplation of the notion of "knowing a place," it is about both the existence and the possibilities of architecture and the city. An important inspiration for the book is the work of Henri Lefebvre, in particular his ideas on space as a historical production. Many of the essays also draw on the social critique and tactics of the Situationist movement. The international gathering of contributors includes art, architectural, and urban historians and theorists; urban geographers; architects, artists, and filmmakers; and literary and cultural theorists. The essays range from abstract considerations of spatial production and representation to such concrete examples of urban domination as video surveillance and Regency London as the site of male pleasure. Although many of the essays are driven by social, cultural, and urban theory, they also tell real stories about real places. Each piece is in some way a critique of capitalism and a thought experiment about how designers and city dwellers working together can shape the cities of tomorrow.


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The unknown city: contesting architecture and social space: a Strangely Familiar project

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In a rather opaque and highly theoretical introduction, the editors explore how the inhabitant of the city perceives urban images and symbols and constructs the urban experience, relating this ... Read full review


Things Flows Filters Tactics 2
Filtering Tactics 176
Filters 28
Barry Curtis
A New Concept of the City 90
A Spatial Story 104
The Maidan Calcutta 138
Colonialism Power and the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank 160
The Feminist Remapping of Public
Tactics 312
Live Adventures 328
Bernard Tschumi
The Accident of Where I LiveJourneys on
Tactical Filters 406
Jonathan Charley

Skateboarding and
The Royal Festival Halla Democratic Space? 200
The Claremont Road Situation 228
Sally R Munt
The Unknown City or an Urban Geography
The Contested Streetscape in Amsterdam 280
bell hooks
Doreen Massey
The Last Days of London 476
Around the World in Three Hundred Yards 492

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About the author (2002)

Alicia Pivaro is former Director of the RIBA Architecture Gallery in London.

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