1st Edition

Aesthetic Perceptions of Urban Environments

Edited By Arundhati Virmani Copyright 2022
    240 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.


    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


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