What is the relationship between how cities work and what cities mean? Spatial Cultures: Towards a New Social Morphology of Cities Past and Present announces an innovative research agenda for urban studies in which themes and methods from urban history, social theory and built environment research are brought into dialogue across disciplinary and chronological boundaries. The collection confronts the recurrent epistemological impasse that arises between research focussing on the description of material built environments and that which is concerned primarily with the people who inhabit, govern and write about cities past and present. A reluctance to engage substantively with this issue has been detrimental to scholarly efforts to understand the urban built environment as a meaningful agent of human social experience. Drawing on a wide range of historical and contemporary urban case studies, as well as a selection of theoretical and methodological reflections, the contributions to this volume seek to historically, geographically and architecturally contextualize diverse spatial practices including movement, encounter, play, procession and neighbourhood. The aim is to challenge their tacit treatment as universal categories in much writing on cities and to propose alternative research possibilities with implications as much for urban design thinking as for history and the social sciences.
Sam Griffiths is Lecturer in Spatial Cultures and a member of the Space Syntax Laboratory at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. His research interests include the spatial cultures of industrial cities, processional culture, high streets, the representation of spatial cultures in literary and historical writing, and interdisciplinary spatial-morphological theory and methods. He teaches a range of topics in spatial cultures on UCL’s Arts and Sciences BASc and MSc 'Spatial Design: Architecture and Cities' programmes. He has published widely on a range of urban and suburban topics.
Alexander von Lünen is Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Huddersfield. He holds a degree in computer science and a doctorate in history, both from the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. From 2007 to 2012 he was technical lead for the Great Britain Historical GIS and its website 'A Vision of Britain through Time'. He is co-editor, with Charles Travis, of History and GIS: Epistemologies, Considerations and Reflections (2013).
’As someone who learns urban history by walking the streets and thinking about the past, I welcome this collection of essays. It is a book for thinking with. Its great strength is its enormous range, from ancient Rome to the digital, from theory to case study.’ R.J. Morris, Edinburgh University, UK