Geoworld Spotlight

Rising High, Residentially  (Apr 2008)


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This project explores the play of difference and repetition in a global urban form, that being the modernist residential highrise. It investigates two cases that encapsulate the varied fortunes of the highrise: the UK, where the form is routinely condemned, even demolished; and Singapore, where it is embraced enthusiastically and continues to be built at greater heights and densities. The project elaborates an ethnographic and visual methodology, and a theory of relational materiality, to investigate the multi-scaled logics of such divergence and its implications for understanding social and urban space. The study contributes to current debates on in geographies of architecture and materiality, architectural technology, everyday urban life, transnationalism, and high-density living.

The residential highrise is one of the world's most ubiquitous building forms. Its global spread, uniformity and apparent indifference to local conditions means it is routinely seen as an emblem of globalisation. Conceived within avant-garde continental modernism, then mainstreamed into state building programmes across the globe, it was repeated with a unique rigor in the history of human habitation. Underpinned by standardised production, guided by the concept of an aerated city, and packaged within a functionalist 'machine aesthetic', the highrise offered high-density dwelling within parkland settings - 'healthy', 'rational', 'efficient'. Read More...


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