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Warp and Weft: Infrastructural Architecture and Volumetric Urbanism

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date24/05/2017
Number of pages12
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventVolumetric Urbanism: Charting new urban divisions - Urban Institute, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 24/05/201726/05/2017


WorkshopVolumetric Urbanism
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


If we propose mobility and commerce as driving forces of spatial production in the modern city then this gives us one way of looking at certain types of urban agglomeration. We’re interested in those intensely knotted parts of the city where transportation networks, shopping malls, residential apartments and civic functions have arrived at a composite condition. These pieces of volumetric urbanism have usually grown over an extended period of time and are not by the hand of a single designer. The most obvious European example is Les Halles in Paris, a highly charged space of exchange with an underbelly of road, train and metro tunnels, surmounted by culturally valuable public realm. There is a long history in both the thinking and construction of these types of infrastructural architecture, from Vasari in sixteenth century Florence to the development of the MTR complexes in twenty-first century Hong Kong. In this paper we intend to weave a path through a genealogy of agglomerated urban functions, to show how ideas informed reality and how reality has outstripped and stripped out the social ambition of theorists. The concurrent internalisation and privatisation of urban space by techno-capitalist means has created literal and metaphorical physical and social hierarchies. We seek to provide a formal and material context, not simply a theoretical space, in an attempt to understand applied conditions of ownership, access, cultures of consumption, control and mobility in the multiple dimensions of volumetric urbanism. To do so we will draw on our existing historical research and recent fieldwork in Hong Kong.