Motorways as Lefebvrian Urbanisation March 14, 2012Posted by Oli in Human Geography, Motorways, Urban Geography.
Tags: Cities, Motorways
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Those of you in the know will perhaps shudder at the amount of time I spend hurtling up and down various stretches of England’s motorway network (all within the speed limit of course and always keeping left unless overtaking). The banality of the endless asphalt whizzing by with only 5live to keep me company (any other station requires constant retuning) can, at times, be infuriating when all you see is a line of sleek black snaking into the horizon punctured by red brake lights; but also simultaneously some of the most explicitly urban encounters one can ever achieve. (more…)
Life in Pruitt-Igoe January 16, 2012Posted by Oli in Films, Human Geography, Poststructuralism, Pruitt-Igoe.
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16th of March, 1972 at 3.00pm precisely. That is when Charles Jencks proclaimed ‘the death of modenism’, as the Pruitt-Igoe housing estate in St. Louis was razed to the ground. Many commentators of architecture and city living in general claimed it was the representative ‘end’ of the Cities of the Future which were based on the Le Courbusierian ‘Machines for Living’ – the modernist utopian dream lay in ruins on the Missourian soil. It was with its iconic (dis)appearance is the beautifully esoteric film Koyaanisqatsi (1982), that the Pruitt-Igoe complex symbolised more than simply a disastrous 1950s housing policy, but a retraction of an entire philosophy for life. The Sassurian structuralist mode of thought that had influenced the modernist agenda of architecture and urban planning had given way to the heterogeneity of urban life, the ebb and flow of a Lefebvrian rhythm which was essentially un-containable by these ‘streets in the sky’. Pruitt-Igoe as the symbol of the beginning of ‘post-modernism’ is now well versed, and is part of cultural geography modules up and down the land (including, I hasten to add, my own). (more…)
CFP: Spatialities of Digital and Creative Work, RGS-IBG 2012 December 13, 2011Posted by Oli in Creative Industries, Freelancers, Human Geography.
Tags: Call for papers, RGS-IBG 2012
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Call for papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2012
2-5th July, University of Edinburgh
Rachel Granger, Coventry University, UK
Oli Mould, University of Salford, UK
SPATIALITIES OF DIGITAL AND CREATIVE WORK
While research on the growing and highly influential digital and creative industries has been well-represented in recent years, this session signifies a departure from mainstream research on digital and creative industries towards more exploratory research of the social spaces in and through which, digital and creative work is occupied and shaped. As such it welcomes contributions in the form of case studies, new empirical methods, and conceptual pieces relating to networks, social spaces, urban subcultures, working practices, and even ‘underground’ spaces (Cohendet et al., 2011) relating to this group of workers – as a way of broadening our understanding about how these new economic activities operate in practice.
We particularly welcome pieces about:
- The working practices of digital and creative workers – such as portfolio working, freelance operations
- New working practices of professionals afforded by digital mediums – such as location independent working, and co-working
- Unveiling subcultures and underground geographies of creative and digital workers, which are substantially different to other areas of economic activity
- New and imaginative methods for capturing and examining creative and digital work
The broader context for the session relates to our understanding of this broad and emergent area of the economy, which continues to be dominated by traditional research methods, especially those relating to ‘sectors’, ‘occupations’, ‘places’ and ‘spaces’. Yet, there is compelling evidence that this group of activities are shaped, organized and can be better understood, through more imaginative spatial constructs. These workers, more than others, appear to be at the vanguard of a changing economy and society – with new working methods and practices – representing a break with the past, which calls for more nuanced research approaches.
The conveners welcome abstracts of approximately 250 words, which along with paper titles and full contact details should be emailed by Monday 23rd January 2012 to: Rachel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Oli (email@example.com)
Cities and the Creative Industries – a quick rant… November 29, 2011Posted by Oli in Creative Industries, MediaCityUK, Urban Geography.
Tags: MediaCityUK, Stoke's Croft
Having secured some funding to study MediaCityUK in-depth, it is a great opportunity to grapple with that old problem of the ‘spaces’ of creative industries. I have always tried to write/research/teach around the intersection of urban geographies and the creative industries, yet it seems that despite much academic literature to the contrary, there remains in the ‘real world’ (for want of a more academically-friendly term) a distinct disconnect between the importance of place (and getting that place right) and creative industry development.
City-Regions of regions of cities? October 26, 2011Posted by Oli in Urban diversity, Urban Geography.
Tags: city regions, Salford
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On one of my daily walks across the campus of the University of Salford, I came across something that really encapsulated some of the current thinking of the local area. It was a piece of cardboard, maybe 5 inches by 15, wedged in the grills of the heras fencing that surrounded the Maxwell Hall development. On this cardboard someone had scrawled “Manchester ≠ Salford”. I really wish I had taken a photo, as the following day it had gone. To put this into context as to why it was there, the front of Maxwell Hall faces A6 (Chapel Street), and on the front of the building is the huge University of Salford logo – the green circle with the lion (nicknamed the Peugeot Lion for obvious reasons). The building is now under wraps, presumably to unveil the University’s new logo, which reads, “the University of Salford, Manchester“. The merits of the new brand are not up for debate here, but what it plays into I think is more important – in that is a prime example of the sprawling ‘city-region’. (more…)
Spaces of failure September 13, 2011Posted by Oli in Architecture Industry, Community Engagement, Urban Geography.
Tags: planning, urban policy, Westfield
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While the media gaze has been on the Olympic site in the East End of London, the new Westfield shopping centre has quietly been rising from the dirt, and today, opens it’s doors to the public. While some have questioned whether a multi-million square-footed shopping megaplex will attract the custom it needs to survive in these ‘austere times’, others have quite rightly argued that it is offering some 10,000 jobs (although how permanent they’ll be is another matter). A quick look at the store list, and even without seeing a single picture or news reel from inside the glittering, shimmering steel and glass simulacra of consumerism you can conjure up an image of pretty much exactly what it’ll be like to walk around this cathedral to capitalism.
“To City or not city” August 23, 2011Posted by Oli in Community Engagement, Urban diversity, Urban Geography.
Tags: Cities, Urban Acupuncture
I read an article on Urban Acupuncture that cropped up on my RSS feed not too long ago and given it’s proposal of more community focused and localised approach to urban planning, it certainly struck a chord. Eerily reminiscent of what Jane Jacobs proposed back in 1968, the Finnish architect, Marco Casagrande who is credited with the term ‘urban acupuncture’ could be accused of simply recycling a common urban ideal for 21st century urbanites. Indeed, the idea of ‘micro-planning’ conducted informally by local residents is nothing really new – instances of re-use of abandoned buildings or derelict spaces as micro-parks or mixed-use urban lounges can be recounted throughout many cities across the world. Whether it’s artistic interventions or playful appendages to functional urban artifacts, people have been ‘micro-planning’ for many years. There are countless examples, but for a fantastic resource of some of the best, one has to look no further than Pop-up City blog, or the Urban Subversion twitter feed. The 72 hour urban action scheme started Tel Aviv, shown in the picture above, is also a great example of the way in which planning can be interventionist, local and above all, useful.
An open letter to Mr. Willetts June 28, 2011Posted by Oli in Human Geography.
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Dear Mr. Willetts,
It is becoming increasingly clear the way in which you and the rest of the coalition government wants universities to operate. You have outlined today that you want to give students more ‘consumer power’ putting students in the ‘driving seat’. Well, that’s that then. We, as university academic employees may as well shut down our word processors, lay down or methodological weaponry, stop exploring the world and staple ourselves to the lectern. It seems that ‘lecturers’ will be just a byword for a teacher with a few more letters after their name.
MediaCityUK, it’s too early to tell… June 20, 2011Posted by Oli in BBC, Creative Industries, Human Geography.
Having just spent the day at ‘The Impact of MediaCityUK‘, I am left feeling slightly disheartened as to the way in which those in charge of it’s development are orientating themselves. If you know nothing of the MediaCityUK development, then this will all come as a surprise to you, but you can read some background to it on their website, and you can see the headline figures expertly captured by Sarah Hartley (you can also read her thoughts from the Guardian blog, and look, there’s me in the middle of the picture!)