Andrew Harris – Vertical Urbanism



Event date: 8 December 2010
Bedford Square London
WC1E 6DP

Royal Holloway University of London Department of Geography

Vertical Geographies


Recent geographical scholarship has highlighted the importance of ‘verticality’ – aerial and three dimensional perspectives – in conceptualizations of space, territory, sovereignty and power. Within the subdiscipline of critical geopolitics, this interest has been, in part, provoked by recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan and mobilized though broader discussions of warfare, surveillance, air (and space) power, communications technologies and military hardware.

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Andrew Harris (University College London)
Vertical Urbanism

The paper considers how contemporary cities are constructed, framed and understood through  vertical axes and dimensions. It charts upward trajectories in not only iconic high-rises, but in  vertical gardens, townships, slums and urban farms, and in modes and methods of urban  transport. The paper argues that these vertical manifestations and domains of urban life are not  simply a response to space constraints and land values but mark and make visible new forms of  social and political power, which disrupt notions of centre-periphery in traditional, flahter models  of the city. Although recognising the validity and relevance of highlighting and analysing spatial  dichotomies between vertical and horizontal urban worlds, the paper seeks to complicate such  binaries.  Drawing on recent research from Mumbai, the paper explores and identifies overlapping (or vertizontal) connections, practices and assemblages in three-dimensional city-making.

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