Between the Planned and the Lived City: New Road, Brighton Drawn

Between the Planned and the Lived City: New Road, Brighton Drawn

Susan Robertson (University of Brighton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9276-1.ch015


The material discussed in this chapter concerns the experiential qualities and representations of how urban dwellers may occupy the city. The chapter aims at a better understanding of the multisensory city and at exploring how its mediations could add to representing, describing and designing city spaces in different and innovative ways. By advancing a new spectrum of experience and engagement, designers have the potential to shape the cities that are re-presented. Currently, there is a gap between the ‘planned' and the ‘lived' city and a lack of focus on socio-spatial practices often prevents a ‘potential' city from becoming an ‘effective' city. In order to bridge the gap, we can read the city in a different way, paying more attention to actual patterns of activity, in sensory terms. To do this we must look to multi- and interdisciplinary studies with a spatial focus on different sensory dimensions and urban life.
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At around the turn of the last century there were a number of interactions between writers and thinkers that combined to develop particular ways of inventing the city. Their concerns were with the psychological effects of the modern city, qualities that are explored in the work of, for example, Walter Benjamin. His acknowledgement that the modern city was a collection of fragments has been a key influence on literary, social and cultural thinking in the 20th century and this interest has been rekindled by the more recent publication in 1999 of the English language translation of his last unfinished work The Arcades Project (started in 1927). Charles Baudelaire’s artistic portrayal of modernity in the mid-nineteenth century is evident in Benjamin’s work and also in the narrative of geographer David Pinder’s (2001) writing. On the other hand, architectural historian and urban commentator Iain Borden, on skateboarding (2001a and b), is concerned with the sensorial affects of sound and the feel, or kinaesthetics, of moving through the city. Each of these writers is concerned with the psychogeography of the city although each expresses it differently and at different times in history.

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