1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space and Politics, Volume I Violence, Spectacle and Data

Edited By Nikolina Bobic, Farzaneh Haghighi Copyright 2023
    630 Pages 88 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    For architecture and urban space to have relevance in the 21st Century, we cannot merely reignite the approaches of thought and design that were operative in the last century. This is despite, or because of, the nexus between politics and space often being theorized as a representation or by-product of politics. As a symbol or an effect, the spatial dimension is depoliticized. Consequently, architecture and the urban are halted from fostering any systematic change as they are secondary to the event and therefore incapable of performing any political role. This handbook explores how architecture and urban space can unsettle the unquestioned construct of the spatial politics of governing.

    Considering both ongoing and unprecedented global problems – from violence and urban warfare, the refugee crisis, borderization, detention camps, terrorist attacks to capitalist urbanization, inequity, social unrest and climate change – this handbook provides a comprehensive and multidisciplinary research focused on the complex nexus of politics, architecture and urban space. Volume I starts by pointing out the need to explore the politics of spatialization to make sense of the operational nature of spatial oppression in contemporary times. The operative and active political reading of space is disseminated through five thematics: Violence and War Machines; Security and Borders; Race, Identity and Ideology; Spectacle and the Screen; and Mapping Landscapes and Big Data.

    This first volume of the handbook frames cutting-edge contemporary debates and presents studies of actual theories and projects that address spatial politics. This Handbook will be of interest to anyone seeking to meaningfully disrupt the reduction of space to an oppressive or neutral backdrop of political realities.

    PART I: Introduction

    1. Spatialization of oppression: Contemporary politics of architecture and the urban


    PART II: Violence and War Machines

    2. Introduction to violence and war machines


    3. The rise of zoöpolitics: On urbanism and warfare


    4. 2015 Paris Terrorist Attack: A threat to urban life and territorial integrity


    5. Whose vision, which city? Planning and unseeing in urban Asia


    6. Architecture as Infrastructure: The spatial politics of extractivism


    7. Manus prison: The brutality of offshore detention


    PART III: Security and Borders

    8. Introduction to security and borders


    9. Dialogic dilemmas: Citizen participation in built environment alterations in Malmö, Sweden


    10. Regenerating Shanghai through urban spatial design? The limits to experimentalism and participation


    11. The city and the camp: Destabilizing a spatial-political dichotomy


    12. Architectures of motion at the US Mexico border


    13. Belfast’s ‘peace walls’: How the politics and policy of 1969-1971 shaped the city’s contemporary ‘interface areas’


    PART IV: Race, Identity and Ideology

    14. Introduction to race, identity and ideology


    15. The Space of Labor – Racialization and ethnicization of Port Kembla, Australia


    16. The Audit: Perils and possibilities for contesting oppression in the heritage landscape


    17. The Persistent design-politics of race: Power and ideology in American public housing redevelopment


    18. The Socialist past is a foreign country: Mass housing and uses of heritage in contemporary Eastern Europe


    19. Collectivity and privacy in housing: Path dependencies and limited choices


    PART V: Spectacle and the Screen

    20. Introduction to spectacle and the screen


    21. A ‘Crisis’ of indeterminacy in the architectural photograph: Architectural spectacle and everyday life in the photography of Lacaton & Vassal’s Coutras House


    22. Mediated spectacles: Urban representation and far-right propaganda in crisis Athens


    23. Street protest and its representations: Urban dissidence in Iran


    24. Western fantasy and tropical nightmare: Spectacular architecture and urban warfare in Rio


    25. The political construction of Medellín’s global image: Strategies of replacement, erasure and disconnection via urban and architectural interventions


    PART VI: Mapping Landscapes and Big Data

    26. Introduction to mapping landscapes and big data


    27. The socio-cultural construction of urban wasteland: Mapping of the Antwerp Southside


    28. Brownfields as climate colonialism: Land reuse and development divides


    29. The bomb, the circle and the drawing undone


    30. Infrastructures of urban simulation: Digital twins, virtual humans and synthetic populations


    31. Posthuman urbanism: datafication, algorithmic governance, and Covid-19



    32. Intermission: Critical mapping of spatial politics and aesthetics



    Nikolina Bobic is an academic and an architect. After completing her PhD in Architecture at the University of Sydney (Australia), she moved to the UK and is now based at the University of Plymouth. Apart from her extensive experience in teaching in Australia, Hong Kong and the UK, Bobic has also given lectures in the Netherlands and New Zealand. Engaging with the two disciplines in which she is trained, architecture and sociology, her research addresses the intersections of power, politics, and space in their oppressive and liberatory mechanisms. Bobic is the author of Balkanization and Global Politics: Remaking Cities and Architecture (Routledge, 2019), and in 2020 she coedited Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts thematic issue 20 ‘Political Matters’.

    Farzaneh Haghighi is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland, New Zealand. She holds a PhD in Architecture from The University of Sydney, Australia. Her research is concerned with the intersection of political philosophy, architecture and urbanism, and her first book, Is the Tehran Bazaar Dead? Foucault, Politics, and Architecture, was published in 2018. Her research seeks new avenues to enrich our creative analysis of complex built environments through investigating the implications of critical and cultural theory for architectural knowledge.

    "This volume offers a cutting-edge, valuable, and critical perspectives on how power – in its different forms and scales – shapes architecture and urban space. Importantly this unique book presents a wide and rich collection of chapters and case studies that support an important intellectual agenda, arguing that the built landscape itself should be understood as a political force, rather than a background to power and politics, especially in the current global human-made crises. Critical discussion around borders and bordering, state violence, coloniality and political ecology in both Global South and Global North are critically theoretically debated throughout this must-read collection. The multidisciplinary approach of this book will attract scholars and students from different fields including architecture, urbanism, political science, sociology, and political philosophy."

    Prof Haim Yacobi, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London, UK

    "With amazing erudition this comprehensive volume provides a state of the art treatment of the complex connections between architecture, violence and the politics of urban space. Theoretically incisive and empirically wide-ranging it will be essential reading for scholars and activist seeking to come to terms with all aspects of the politicisation of urban space in the contemporary world."

    Prof Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University, UK

    "We learn through these contributions that architecture and the management of space are implicated in segregation, inequity and authoritarianism. The volume is an urgent call to think of architectural planning as an instrument of economic, political and structural violence. While this is not the only volume to tackle this point, it is definitely the first interdisciplinary work to cover a wide range of themes, theories, methods, geographies of space as politics and for it is a trailblazer."

    Prof Aomar Boum, UCLA Department of Anthropology, US

    "It is commendable that architecture as a profession should strive to offer viable solutions to the problems of reliability, affordability, and sustainability. Yet it also requires that architecture as a discipline is not only solution-oriented. The Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space and Politics, Volume I: Violence, Spectacle and Data offers a necessary departure from the proverbial architectural complacency with politics by posing new problems politically, i.e., through maximum inclusion and minimal identification. The contributors differ in the degree of their allegiance to the concepts of responsibility and response-ability, respectively. While the former appeals to the moral sense of duty, the latter is attuned to ethics as a mode of existence. Framed this way, ethology becomes a problem of power and not of a priori rights and messianism."

    Andrej Radman, Assistant Professor of Architecture Philosophy and Theory, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

    "Bobic and Haghighi have provided us with a handbook that grapples incisively with the relationship between architecture, urbanism and politics. Its multi-disciplinary array of contributors offer up a comprehensive range of insights and analysis essential to our age of borders and barricades. Landscapes of big data are mapped, questions of race and identity are reckoned with, and security is scrutinized. The Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space and Politics is a vital tool in coming to terms with how the power and violence of resurgent nationalisms, proliferating wars, ubiquitous surveillance and social struggle are made manifest in architecture and urbanism."

    Douglas C Spencer, Director of Graduate Education, Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture, Department of Architecture, Iowa State University, US

    “This is an exciting and diverse set of reflections on the politics of urban space. It breaks new ground in outlining novel perspectives on the way war, borders, race, identity, representation, and data shape urban spaces. This handbook will shape future conversations on the way architecture is both target and tool of violence as well as the oppressive spatialities of planetary urbanisation.”

    Dr Martin Coward, Reader in International Politics, Lead Editor, Review of International Studies, The University of Manchester, UK

    “The volume of Bobic and Haghighi presents a timely and rich overview of contemporary treatments of the multidimensional nexus between politics and architecture. It offers a much-needed rethinking of the political dimensions of architectural and urban process as they relate to the topical issues of climate change, racism, inequality, the refugee crises, colonization and surveillance. As an insightful treatment of the ability of spatial practices to inform, retain or sustain agency, the book can be a useful addition to courses in urban studies, architecture, urban design and geography.”

    Prof Albena Yaneva, University of Manchester, UK

    “This book has brought together an impressive and welcome collection of critical contributions by major researchers from around the world, examining the interface between power and space, as played out in the politics of architecture in war and violence, security and borders, race and identity, spectacle and the screen, and big data.”

    Prof Ali Madanipour, Newcastle University, UK

    “This impressive and informative collection of essays brings together the voices of many leading and emerging researchers in architecture and urbanism to shed light on some of today’s most urgent debates on the politics of the built environment. An essential and informative read, this handbook not only brings to light lesser-known case studies from around the globe, but also affords much-needed theoretical frameworks for analysing other similar accounts.”

    Prof Pamela Karimi, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, US

    “The investigation of how practices of politics and power play out through the shaping of architecture and urban space is one of the most complex and pressing issues of our time. This book brings a broad range of research approaches and critiques to issues such as urban conflict, incarceration, border politics, ethnic segregation and street protest; it will be a crucial resource for academics and students in architecture, planning and urban studies.“

    Prof Kim Dovey, Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Melbourne, Australia

    "Nikolina Bobic and Farzanah Haghighi, have assembled a stellar multidisciplinary cast whose original thinking on the politics of citizenship, violence, and right to urban space shines through the pages of the volume. Ambitious in terms of method as well as geographical scope, it helps us recalibrate the “urban” in the twenty-first century."

    Prof Swati Chattoapdhyay, Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, US