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Boundaries of the City

Boundaries of the City: The Architecture of Western Urbanism

Alan Waterhouse
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    Boundaries of the City
    Book Description:

    In this study Alan Waterhouse draws on anthropological, social and cultural history, literature, and philosophy to reach an understanding of the roots of Western architecture and city building.

    Disclaimer: Image 6.5 removed at the request of the rights holder.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2358-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Architecture and Architectural History, Sociology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Alan Waterhouse
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxiv)

    The human imagination, social forms, the constructed city – these are the axes we shall consider. How do the first two intersect with the other?

    The central character in Hermann Hesse’s spiritual autobiographyGertrudis a man called Kuhn. This name, which translates as ‘boldness,’ or ‘daring,’ stands for everything Kuhn lacks but wishes he had. Lohe, the perspicacious schoolmaster in the story, tells him: ‘individualism or imaginary loneliness ... has insinuated itself into your imagination; you are isolated; no one troubles about you and no one understands you.’ Hesse wrote that piece in 1910, at a time and place I...

  6. PART ONE: Elements of the Boundary Idea

    • CHAPTER ONE Expressive Meanings, Ancient and Modern
      (pp. 3-32)

      Readers of theIliadwill know that one of Homer’s favourites was the lame god Hephaestus. On Olympus, only he had neither beauty nor swiftness; his every move was agonizing to him, his deformations an insult to the eye. Yet he alone could take lifeless material, metal and stone, and give to it the very things fate had denied him: unparalleled beauty. Through his work, his countless shining images of the chase and the dance, Hephaestus could transform himself, astonishing even the Olympian pantheon when showing them the perfect identity of his interior self and the artefacts he forged.


    • CHAPTER TWO The Narrative of Boundary Architecture
      (pp. 33-59)

      How could the incubus and Proteus, hoary metaphors born out of the fears and fantasy of childhood, possibly be relevant to contemporary urbanism? Do we not try to purge action of such things, filtering history itself from planning by subjecting it to the strictures of institutional reason? Are not real estate economies intrinsic to this reason, modelling cities for better or worse according to the rules of the market-place? Subjecting urban development to rules of one sort or another seems, after all, to be the primary purpose of planning, which seeks to play one regularizing system off against another. But...

    • CHAPTER THREE Self-Interest and Reciprocity
      (pp. 60-92)

      So far in this discussion, emphasis has been placed on the role of the human imagination in urbanism, especially on how it orients memory, creativity, and perception towards homage and respect, or to an enchanted, accessible world. We have suggested, too, that this imagination is connected instinctively to moral questions, pursuing, through the way in which urban landscapes are arranged, a return to that integrative state before men and women separated themselves from nature, and from other people, behind constructed boundaries.

      But what of that other side to dialectical urbanism we sometimes equate with rationality, which seeks to set down...

  7. PART TWO: Urban Boundaries in Practice

    • CHAPTER FOUR Cities in a God-billed Landscape
      (pp. 95-123)

      The Crucible of Reconstruction Literalness, applying single, unambiguous meanings to things, is a recent human trait. ‘As emotions were the first motives that induced man to speak, his first utterances were tropes. Figurative language was the first to be born. At the beginning only poetry was spoken.’²

      Before the first temple, gods were worshipped outdoors in the fields and sacred groves. For the Greeks, their deities lived in nature, in rocks and trees, the earth itself. Pliny tells us that trees were the first temples, 3 homage being paid to ‘the oak of Zeus, the myrtle of Aphrodite, the laurel...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Dividing the Urban Realm
      (pp. 124-148)

      Perennial beauty (but bound inexorably to perishing, to images, to earthly vicissitudes, to history, and thusillusivelyperennial, as Palinurus will say) assumed in my mind the aspect of Aeneas. Aeneas is beauty, youth, ingenuousness ever in search of a promised land, where, in the contemplated, fleeting beauty, his own beauty smiles and enchants. But it is not the myth of Narcissus: it is the animating union of the life of the memory, of fantasy, of speculation, of the life of the mind; and it is, too, the fecund union of the carnal life in the long succession of the...

    • CHAPTER SIX Intensity, Insularity, and Communitas
      (pp. 149-192)

      As we have seen, the Imperial Roman settlements were far from being perfect models of harmony and communal solidarity. Propagandists in the capital made sure that official culture permeated the farthest reaches of the Empire by maintaining a sometimes oppressive colonial magistery with its supporting armies. Officialdom also rendered itself visible in the prominent positioning of its monuments and facilities along the armatures of such cities as Ostia, Lepcis Magna, and Timgad. Materialism, working through the competitive instincts of urban landlords, petty retailers, and status-seekers, patterned the spatial organization of Djemila, Constantinople, and the Antiochs, squeezinginsulaeand other profitable...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Subversion of Everyday Life
      (pp. 193-245)

      Up to the close of the Middle Ages in the West – and, indeed, well beyond it in most places – those who were involved in city building did so at close quarters to their task. They were mostly ordinary men, concerned with materials and their weekly money, engaged in the vicissitudes and poetry of everyday life, from which they took their cues. If a distant authority intervened in the boundary dialectic, then it usually had to come to terms with local ways of doing things, and with a discourse limited by wrangling and a suspicion of single ideas, but patterned, too,...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Urban Boundaries in Turmoil
      (pp. 246-275)

      The neoclassical spirit, in so far as it touched corner of European urbanism, offered a seductive compound of nostalgia and scientific rationalism to those who theorized about cities. The theorists’ dream of Cartesian order reincarnating a stable past persisted and gathered strength as the early years of the nineteenth century witnessed a growing unruliness in urban formation, but practice tended, as usual, to follow its own course.

      London, more than Paris, was beset by an accelerating transformation of old places, although one tempered by practices, cultivated over centuries past, of architectural reticence. Much intellectual heat may have been generated in...

    • CHAPTER NINE The Dissolving Boundaries of Modernism
      (pp. 276-298)

      On most occasions, the urban landscape becomes a distillation of the more important around which society at large is organized, although not only because cities are a repository of contemporary aesthetic ideals, technology, and capital. As we have seen, the building of the boundaries of Ur, this landscape has also been associated with the of power, less as a giant political than as an instrument used to sustain and control, whether on behalf of state, in production and the market-place, even in the family. We have seen, too, how architecture itself undergoes mutations in conjunction with large-scale alteration in mechanical...

    • CHAPTER TEN Retreat from a Magic Landscape
      (pp. 299-312)

      Urban theory, we have seen, proliferates whenever the boundaries of the city are in flux. Cities of the mind were not limited to the Dark Ages; they flourished throughout the Renaissance at a time of economic decline in Italy, and did so again during the suburbanization of neoclassical Paris. The metropolitan advent, too, has ushered in a century or more filled with theory-based prescriptions for embodying the public interest in the arrangement of urban space. The latter occurrence, like all its predecessors, seeks to suppress the old boundary dialectic through strategies of disengagement, seeing opportunities, in the spread of extensive...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 313-324)
  9. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 325-328)
  10. General Index
    (pp. 329-338)
  11. Index of Illustrations
    (pp. 339-342)