Çarşamba, Mart 09, 2011

Retext(ur)ing the city #2

Imagining cities
Cities are not simply material or lived spaces, they are also spaces of the imagination and spaces of representation (Westwood, 1997).

The public imaginary about cities is itself part constituted by media representations as much as by lived practices. Ideas about cities, are not simply formed at a conscious level, they are also a product of unconscious desires and imaginaries.

Any representations and imaginaries are bound to be in a state of flux and will also be subject to contestation by those who feel excluded or on the margins of dominant imaginary.

Imagination is powerful and translated into policy and through the mechanisms of governance it has its effects.

The idea of the city as a crucible for ideas and imagination has a long history -back to the very origins of urbanism in fact.

What makes cities extraordinary is that they contain sites where the senses are bombarded and these can be read as a source of pleasure -the Spice Market in Istanbul or the street markets of Hanoi, or displeasure, as in the rush hour spaces of underground stations.

For pro-urbanists and city lovers, cities are imagined as spaces of opportunity, of the co-mingling of strangers, as spaces of excitement, difference, cosmopolitanism and interconnection, and as spaces of culture, engagement, enchantment, fluidity and vibrancy.
Anti-urban imaginaries…as a site of anomie, alienation, corruption, ill health, immorality, chaos, pollution, congestion and a threat to social order.

Urban designs and city plans have often embodied, implicitly or explicitly, some version of anti-urbanism which evokes the city as a place to be tamed and ordered and made predictable.

Gary Bridge & Sophie Watson, “Retext(ur)ing the city”, in City, vol.5, no.3, pp.350-362.

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