Tag Archives: Urban Studies

New Series Announcement and Call for Proposals for Ambiances, Atmospheres and Sensory Experiences of Space

Posted by Katy Crossan, Commissioning Editor for Geography

New Series Announcement and Call for Book Proposals:
Ambiances, Atmospheres and Sensory Experiences of Space

Series Editors: Rainer Kazig, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble, France, Damien Masson, Université de Cergy-Pontoise, France and Paul Simpson, Plymouth University, UK

We are currently seeking book proposals for research monographs and edited collections which engage with the key questions outlined below.

Research on ambiances and atmospheres has grown significantly in recent years in a range of disciplines, including Francophone architecture and urban studies, German research related to philosophy and aesthetics, and a growing range of Anglophone research on affective atmospheres within human geography and sociology.

This series offers a forum for research that engages with questions around ambiances and atmospheres in exploring their significances in understanding social life. Each book in the series advances some combination of theoretical understandings, practical knowledges and methodological approaches. More specifically, a range of key questions which contributions to the series seek to address includes:

  • In what ways do ambiances and atmospheres play a part in the unfolding of social life in a variety of settings?
  • What kinds of ethical, aesthetic, and political possibilities might be opened up and cultivated through a focus on atmospheres/ambiences?
  • How do actors such as planners, architects, managers, commercial interests and public authorities actively engage with ambiances and atmospheres or seek to shape them? How might these ambiances and atmospheres be re-shaped towards critical ends?
  • What original forms of representations can be found today to (re)present the sensory, the atmospheric, the experiential?  What sort of writing, modes of expression, or vocabulary is required? What research methodologies and practices might we employ in engaging with ambiances and atmospheres?

For further information please contact the Series Editors, Rainer Kazig, Damien Masson and Paul Simpson.

Urban Maps, by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn

Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City is now available in paperback. Written by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn from Manchester School of Architecture, the book considers the city and the ‘devices’ that define the urban environment.

Layout 1‘Urban Maps provides an interesting new way of “minding the gap” between the contemporary urban condition and architectural design. Calling on familiar and well-loved theoretical friends like Walter Benjamin, but also bringing in exciting new contenders such Thomas de Quincey, the narrators interrogate an interdisciplinary array of projects from graffiti to branded environments. The map is posited as a central element of design behaviour, and Brook and Dunn argue convincingly that to address today’s pressing urban issues architecture must move outside its normal frames of reference, and engage with a new vocabulary and conceptual framework comprising images, networks, films, marks and objects.’   Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, UK, author of The Pursuit of Pleasure (2001), Art and Architecture (2006), Site-Writing (2010)

‘Fifty years ago, Kevin Lynch offered us a classical reading of “the image of the city” based on a waning ideal of clear built landmarks and distinct urban signs. Now, through inspired insights and an in-depth inquiry into a vast array of contemporary urban practices, the authors of Urban Maps reveal to us how the complex narratives currently converging in the appropriation and redefinition of an eroded urban space require a totally revamped cognitive mapping… From the readings of cinema to the interventions of street art, from the markings of graffiti to the identities of brandscapes, and from the wanderings of contemporary art to the fictional drives of theory, architecture is confronted with the need to review the cartography of its references when facing the ascendancy of the urban condition – and the prominence of new networked, information-augmented realities – as substituting for previous conceptions of the city.’   Pedro Gadanho, architect, curator and writer, Lisbon, Portugal

The texts within Urban Maps offer an interdisciplinary discourse and critique of the complex systems, artifacts, interventions and evidences that can inform our understanding of urban territories; on surfaces, in the margins or within voids. The diverse media of arts practices as well as commercial branding are used to explore narratives that reveal latent characteristics of urban situations that conventional architectural inquiry is unable to do.

Richard Brook and Nick Dunn write in the preface to the book:

We use the term ‘map’ loosely to describe any form of representation that reveals unseen space, latent conditions or narratives in and of the city. Maps, by their characteristics, show us interpretations of context and can be singularly focused to expose particular essences of space and place, whether experientially or thematically driven. As both the physical and social make-up of our cities is increasingly complex, the tools with which we view the urban environment too become diverse in media and application.

Maps can be made inside films and within networks; objects and marks yield their own discourse and narratives about space and brand has consumed, demarcated and achieved cognitive presence in our vision of the city. All of these entities are discussed in this book in respect of their meaning and interpretation in the context of urban critique, using case studies to explore particular practice or themes of each. Certain practitioners or practices cross the classifications formed here and the interrelationship of the chapters is inevitable, the collective texts describe a breadth of works, conditions and objects that have been explored in the studio teaching of architecture and urban design in our work at the Manchester School of Architecture.

The association between the arts and architecture is rarely called into question, the proximities are considered explicit and there persists an assumption that these relationships are easily read and ideologies transposed between disciplines. As the study of architecture moves steadily towards concerns of urban space and the life between buildings, there can be value ascribed to the repositioning of a critique of the practice of the arts associated with the urban environment.

Discourse around ‘the urban’ has superseded ‘the city’ as the generic ‘environment’ that crosses academic disciplines and the sheer proportion of the global population that live in urban conditions has made this territory essential to a contemporary critique of intervention. Intervention is a far-reaching term that has been used to describe any number of acts, marks, forms, dispositions, transformations and records that are constructed of more than their formal content to expose, examine and question the nature of space and environment. It is unsurprising that the act of intervention whether exploratory, on paper, or realized has become part of the mode of inquiry within contemporary architecture.

The evolution of practice concerned with the latent condition of the urban environment took place as critique of the city found a place in academia through the emergence of map-based models used in sociological analyses of city form, dispersal and zoning. The application of abstract ideas and geometries concerned with the manufacture of space grew from the postmodern tradition in architecture and gained notoriety in the critical cul-de-sac of the Deconstructivist movement. The leap made by Hadid and Koolhaas to depart this imposed stylistic affliction did not leave behind the techniques of map-based intervention as design code and generator, and these practices become paramount as we are forced to engage with a fast burgeoning datascape that is somehow connected to our physical landscape.

More information about Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City

Stephen Ramos speaking at Cities, Time, and Narratives AMPLIFIED

Cities, Time, and Narratives AMPLIFIED
Ashgate author Stephen Ramos is a panellist at Cities, Time and Narratives AMPLIFIED on February 8 at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center in New York. This special panel discussion about cities and their stories at Parsons The New School for Design is open to all.
About the panel:
Mediation and globalization have splintered the histories of cities. In their place we’ve received constantly changing, ever appearing, narratives with competing claims on the future. In Dubai Amplified Stephen Ramos reveals an opportunity to question, complicate, and interrogate these post-narratives. He portrays the unique relationship between cities and time through the story of one such place.
This panel will expand this notion across three cities: Dubai, Las Vegas, and Bangkok and explore how competing narratives reveal a deeper understanding of the contemporary urban moment and can help shape its future.

Panelists: Stephen Ramos, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Brian McGrath, Parsons the New School for Design, Aseem Inam, Parsons the New School for Design. Moderated by: Scott Pobiner, Parsons the New School for Design.

When: Tuesday, February 8th – 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Where: Theresa Lang Community and Student Center Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, (between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas) New York, NY  10011

Stephen J. Ramos is the author of Dubai Amplified: The Engineering of a Port Geography.