1st Edition

The Architecture of Phantasmagoria
Specters of the City

ISBN 9781138601512
Published May 8, 2018 by Routledge
208 Pages

USD $51.95

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Book Description

In a time of mass-mediated modernity, the city becomes, almost by definition, a constitutively ‘mediated’ city. Today, more than ever before, the omnipresence of media in every sphere of culture is creating a new urban ontology, saturating, fracturing, and exacerbating the manifold experience of city life. The authors describe this condition as one of 'hyper-mediation' – a qualitatively new phase in the city’s historical evolution. The concept of phantasmagoria has pride of place in their study; using it as an all-embracing explanatory framework, they explore its meanings as a critical category to understand the culture, and the architecture, of the contemporary city.

Andreotti and Lahiji argue that any account of architecture that does not include understanding the role and function of media and its impact on the city in the present ‘tele-technological-capitalist’ society is fundamentally flawed and incomplete. Their approach moves from Walter Benjamin, through the concepts of phantasmagoria and of media – as theorized also by Theodor Adorno, Siegfried Kracauer, and a new generation of contemporary critics – towards a new socio-critical and aesthetic analysis of the mediated space of the contemporary city.

Table of Contents

Foreword (Graeme Gilloch), Preface, Introduction: Specters of the City and the Task of Critique, Part I: Phantasmagoria, Modernity, and the City, 1. Urban Modernity and the Politics of Historical Memory, 2. Specters and Fetishism, 3. Phantasmagoria and Gesamtkunstwerk, Excursus I: The Specters of Baron Haussmann, Part II: Media, Technology, and Modern Experience, 4. Walter Benjamin and Media Theory, 5. From Aisthesis to Anaesthetics, 6. Poverty of Experience and the Architecture of City, Part III: Spectacle and Phantasmagoria, 7. The Ghosts of Guy Debord, 8. Spectacle Critique and Architectural Theory, 9. From Spectacle to Phantasmagoria, Excursus II: The Architecture of Phantasmagoria, Part IV: The Architecture of Phantasmagoria and the Contemporary City, 10. Virtual Technology, Apparatus, and Anaesthetics, 11. The Phantoms of Architectural Theory, 12. The City as Phantasmagoria of the World Interior, Epilogue: Specters of the city and the Critique of Ideology, Index

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Libero Andreotti is a Professor of Architecture at Georgia Tech, USA.

Nadir Lahiji is an Adjunct Faculty at the University of Canberra, Australia.



Andreotti and Lahiji's compendium of reflections on the role of the phantasmagoria - commodity's ghost - on our understanding of "city" is not a treatise on urbanism. It explores something that today is much less common: a profound update of Walter Benjamin's "Arcade Project" set in relation to multiple contemporary theorists who offer insightfully apparati for understanding our technically anaestheticized city. Unflinching in its examinations of contemporary theorists who soft-sell the "critical" of critical theory and miss the Benjaminian insight, they make connections to many others who surprisingly add to and update our reading of Benjamin and Guy Debord.

Peggy Deamer, Professor, Yale School of Architecture.


One expression is conspicuously absent from The Architecture of Phantasmagoria, a fact that encapsulates everything that is right about this timely book, since this expression stands for everything that is wrong about the contemporary city: real estate.

David Kishik, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Emerson College


Andreotti and Lahiji offer a compelling critique of contemporary architecture in this closely argued interpretation of what they call the hypermediated city of neoliberal capitalism. Updating a lineage of radical thought extending from Marx to Benjamin to Debord to Žižek, the authors astutely describe the phantasmagoric nature of present-day urban experience and the role that advanced architecture plays in its construction.

Joan Ockman


Written with a brilliance and verve reminiscent of Walter Benjamin, The Architecture of Phantasmagoria is an indispensable guide to the hyper-mediated city of today, in which heavenly fantasies for some create a hellish world for others. A passionate indictment of contemporary architecture’s submission to the dreamworlds of neoliberalism, Andreotti and Lahiji’s book is a wake-up call that should not be ignored.

David Cunningham, Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster, UK