Monthly Archives: May 2017

Do-it-yourself urbanism: vertical building extensions in the urban landscapes of Skopje and Tbilisi

 Do-it-yourself urbanism: vertical building extensions in the urban landscapes of Skopje and Tbilisi
Abstract
The architectural and social landscapes of many post-socialist cities have been 
transformed by an emergent urban phenomenon: the construction of vertical building extensions (VBEs) on the balconies and façades of multi-storey residential buildings.
While such structures are often of a makeshift, improvised character, many of them possess reinforced concrete frame constructions that often parallel the ‘host’ building in terms of size and function.
This paper examines the social and spatial underpinnings of such extensions, with the aid of a field study based in Skopje and Tbilisi – the capitals of, respectively, Macedonia and Georgia. We highlight the embeddedness of this phenomenon in a set of policy decisions and economic practices specific to the post-socialist period, as well as their complex implications for the
present and future use of urban space. One of our key arguments is that VBEs ‘spatialize’ coping strategies in post socialism, embodying a kind of ‘DIY urbanism’ that has deeply transformed the conduct of everyday life in the city.

Towards a new vocabulary of urbanization

“Audio from a lecture at the UCL Urban Laboratory on 27 April 2017 by Christian Schmid (Professor of Sociology, Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich).

In the last decades, urbanisation has become a planetary phenomenon. Urban areas expand and interweave, and novel forms of urbanisation emerge. In this process, new urban configurations are constantly evolving. Therefore, an adequate understanding of planetary urbanisation must derive its empirical and theoretical inspirations from the multitude of urban experiences across the various divides that shape our contemporary world. Urbanisation has to be considered an open process, determined as much by existing structures as well as by constant innovation and inventiveness.

However, in evaluating existing instruments for the analysis of urbanisation, we are confronted with many difficulties and shortcomings. New concepts and terms are urgently required that would help us, both analytically and cartographically, to decipher the differentiated and rapidly mutating landscapes of urbanisation that are today being produced across the planet. This talk presents results of a comparative study of urbanisation processes in eight metropolitan territories across the world (Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong / Shenzhen / Dongguan, Kolkata, Istanbul, Lagos, Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles). According to the broad sample of cities brought together in this research, a specific methodological design is applied mainly based on qualitative methods and a specifically developed method of mapping. The main goal of this project is to develop new conceptual categories for better understanding the patterns and pathways of planetary urbanisation. The talk will present some of the comparative categories that we developed through this process: popular urbanization, plotting urbanism, bypass urbanization and the incorporation of urban differences.

Christian Schmid is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Architecture at ETH Zürich. He has authored, co-authored, and co-edited numerous publications on theories of the urban and of space, on Henri Lefebvre, on territorial urban development, and on the comparative analysis of urbanisation. Together with architects Roger Diener, Jacques Herzog, Marcel Meili and Pierre de Meuron he co-authored the book Switzerland: an urban portrait, a pioneering analysis of extended urbanisation. He currently works together with Neil Brenner on the theorisation and investigation of emergent formations of planetary urbanisation, and he leads a project on the comparison of urbanisation processes in eight large metropolitan territories, which is based at the ETH Future Cities Laboratory Singapore.”

 

Audio