1st Edition

Provisional Cities Cautionary Tales for the Anthropocene

By Renata Tyszczuk Copyright 2018
    304 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book considers the provisional nature of cities in relation to the Anthropocene – the proposed geological epoch of human-induced changes to the Earth system. It charts an environmental history of curfews, admonitions and alarms about dwelling on Earth. ‘Provisional cities’ are explored as exemplary sites for thinking about living in this unsettled time. Each chapter focuses on cities, settlements or proxy urbanisations, including past disaster zones, remote outposts in the present and future urban fossils. The book explores the dynamic, changing and contradictory relationship between architecture and the global environmental crisis and looks at how to re-position architectural and urban practice in relation to wider intellectual, environmental, political and cultural shifts. The book argues that these rounder and richer accounts can better equip humanity to think through questions of vulnerability, responsibility and opportunity that are presented by immense processes of planetary change. These are cautionary tales for the Anthropocene. Central to this project is the proposition that living with uncertainty requires that architecture is reframed as a provisional practice. This book would be beneficial to students and academics working in architecture, geography, planning and environmental humanities as well as professionals working to shape the future of cities.

    Introduction: Provisional Cities  1. Fossil Traces  2. Disaster Zone  3. Proving Ground  4. Proxy World  5. Bounded Planet  6. Monster Earth  7. Temporary Home  Epilogue: Precautionary Tales


    Renata Tyszczuk is an academic and artist whose work explores the relationship between global environmental change and provisionality in architectural thinking and practice. She is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sheffield, UK. In 2013 she was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for her research on Provisional Cities.

    ‘Maybe we’re becoming oblivious to the constant news of impending planetary doom in all of its various guises. To counter this, in Provisional Cities, Renata Tyszczuk’s critical storytelling provides an opportunity to rehearse the forewarnings of an anthropocene-to-come, and to amplify and unsettle its relevance. Moving between a wide range of sites and scales, these Cautionary Tales offer strategies for understanding the state —or story— we’re in and the avenues open for a reconsideration of how humans might be able to interact with other earth systems.’

    Dr Stephen Walker, Reader in Architecture, Manchester Architecture Research Group, UK



    ‘This book will be essential reading for making sense of the "ontologically scary" condition provisionally termed the Anthropocene – a future dominated by the likely advent of several catastrophes usually consigned to the long tail of the bell-curve of ‘normality’.  Having liberated ourselves from myths of obligation to the once-divine natural conditions, we find ourselves disoriented in the resulting fragments.  What Tyszczuk calls the "cautionary tales" revealed in her close studies of cities struggling to cope are the basis for hope.’

    Professor Peter Carl, Visiting Professor Harvard GSD, USA