Aesthetic Perceptions of Urban Environments  book cover
1st Edition

Aesthetic Perceptions of Urban Environments

Edited By

Arundhati Virmani

ISBN 9780367280802
Published October 28, 2021 by Routledge
240 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

To what extent do urban dwellers relate to their lived and imagined environment through aesthetic perceptions, and aspirations? This book approaches experiences of urban aesthetics not as an established framework, defined by imposed norms or legislations, but as the result of a continuous reflexive and proactive gaze, a complex and deep engagement of the mind, body and sensibilities. It uses empirical studies ranging from China, India to Western Europe.

Three axes are privileged. The first considers urban everyday aesthetic experiences in the long-term as a historical production, from medieval Italy to a future imagined by science fiction. The second examines the impact of aestheticizing everyday material realities in neighbourhoods, and the tensions and conflicts these engender around urban commons. Finally, the third axis considers these relationships as aesthetic inequalities, exacerbated in a new age of urban development. The book combines local and transnational scales with an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together historians, sociologists, cultural geographers, anthropologists, architects and contemporary art curators. They illustrate the importance of combining different social science methods and functional perspectives to study such complex social and cultural realities as cities.

This book will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners of humanities and social sciences, cultural and urban studies, architecture and political geography.

Table of Contents


Arundhati Virmani

Part I Aesthetic perceptions of urban environments: A long-term perspective 

Chapter 1. Pulchritudo civitatis: Aesthetic gazes on cities in communal Italy (12th-14th century)

Paulo Pirillo

Chapter 2. London, Paris, Rome…: Travellers’ experiences of early modern European cities

Jean Boutier

Chapter 3. Cities destroyed, cities rebuilt: sightseeing after a cataclysm (London, 1666; Lisbon, 1755)

Gábor Gelléri

Chapter 4. The vertical city in science fiction: Urban utopia or social nightmare?

Alain Musset

Part II Urban everyday aesthetics as a common good 

Chapter 5. Whose river is it anyway?: River as commons, river as neighbour – The Yamuna in Delhi

Surajit Sarkar

Chapter 6. Negotiating advertising aesthetics in early twentieth-century Shanghai

Cécile Armand

Chapter 7. A plea for do(ing) the right thing. An ordinary dog day in Bed-Stuy

Anthony Pecqueux

Chapter 8. Experiencing the urban through the prism of fiction and cinema in postcolonial India

Arundhati Virmani

Part III Aesthetic inequalities, a challenge for urban grammar 

Chapter 9. From aesthetic assets to sensitive public policies: for an ethic of the affective city

Laurent Mathey and Rémi Baudouï

Chapter 10. Battling aesthetic inequalities in contemporary cities: afterthoughts of an Indian architect

Gaurav Raj Sharma

Chapter 11. The aesthetics of slum? Exploring the lived and the imagined narratives of Dharavi (Mumbai)

Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky and Min Tang

Chapter 12. Changing the metropolitan face in India

Interview with Giulia Ambrogi

Afterword: Inhabiting a city is not a planned activity

Jean-Marc Besse

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Arundhati Virmani (EHESS, Marseilles, France) is a specialist in colonial and contemporary Indian history.