Alternative social spaces in post-war Berlin
Ana Maria Munoz Boudet
Images of power and geographies of domination
Jae-Sung Chon's current PhD research discusses ‘urban gaps’, forged by postwar elevated urban roads, as latent sites for post-functional and post-carbon imaginations. Taking ‘infra-structures’ as forms of ‘sub-presence’ of others, the discussion expands the recent discourses around ‘informal urbanism’ and imagines spatial conditions for cohabitation and coproduction of human and non-human: a braid urbanism.
Negotiating shelter in Abuja, Nigeria: the bureaucratic absurd and satiric attack from the margins
Cyborg Imaginations: nature, technology, and urban space in West Berlin (1961-1984)
My research to date has focused on how cities forge relationships between nature, technology and the human body. My doctoral thesis Cyborg Imaginations: nature, technology, and urban space in West Berlin (1961-1984), supervised by Professor Matthew Gandy and Dr Peg Rawes, traces urban change in Berlin in the post-war period. To investigate the shifting boundaries between the body and the city by I draw on concepts from urban political ecology, acoustic ecology and on feminist perspectives on bio-political space. The thesis is structured around four “experiments” materialized on different scales and in different fields of practice – infrastructural planning and civil engineering, acoustic architecture, collective publishing and an art exhibition. My recent essay ‘Phantom limbs: Encountering the hidden spaces of West Berlin’ published in Urban Constellations (ed. Matthew Gandy) draws on archival and interview material from the dissertation.
The Revival of the Turkish bath in mid-Victorian Britain
My thesis examines the revival of the Turkish bath in 1856 and its subsequent movement in relation to health, reform and the body.
Eating in public: Re-imagining collective urban space
This project aims to extend geographical engagement with urban publicness by expanding both the concepts and registers through which everyday public life is apprehended. Central to this effort is an examination of ways in which collective culture is being re-imagined in contemporary U.S. cities through a range of innovative food-related trends. Research focuses on three multi-site case studies: the growth of 'pay-what-you-can restaurants' or ‘community kitchens’; street food vending and collective advocacy for vendors; and underground restaurants or supper clubs in private homes.
For each of these topics my analysis is generally concerned with:
• how these relatively novel public trends emerge and reconfigure existing public life;
• as interventions, how they are enacted, are organised, regulated and managed
• the complexities of publicness as it unfolds in these event-spaces
• how specific material and practical configurations generate new experiences, engagements and demands
• moments of social or ethico-political potential that may be opened up in the process
Working Title: The Production of Social Memory in the Landscapes of London and Berlin’s Buried Transport Infrastructure.
My research investigates forms of ‘buried’ social memory across the physical, representational and experiential landscapes of the London Underground and Berlin UBahn with the intention to reveal how such memory is manifested and contested.
The Architecture of Financial Crisis:
urban design and urban restructuring in the inner city of London and Leeds
(1993 - 2008)
Recent uncertainties and instabilities within the global economy, banking sectors and financial markets have cast a shadow over the new retail, apartment and office buildings that have been developed in UK cities. Both economic commentators and cultural critics suggest that over the last decade asset speculation has engendered an urban landscape engineered for financial services and debt financed consumption. The suggestion that urban development has undermined the productive capacities of industrial cities has profound implications for urban governance, urban design and the future of the built environment. These developments invite a reassessment of approaches to architecture and urban design, planning and urban geography which tackle seriously the critical role of economic factors in the form, structuring and meaning of urban space. Classic works of urban design and economic geography suggest promising models of interdisciplinary analysis to understand capital accumulation and restructuring. Yet, taken as a whole, their conceptual frameworks tend to overlook the practical contexts and local dimensions of built form and space and focus narrowly on exceptional architectural forms in global city contexts – leaving a crucial gap in our knowledge about the relationship between the immediate lived spaces of contemporary cities and more general economic and geographical processes.
Against the backdrop of the build up to the 2008 crash – during a 15 year period of economic growth in the UK - this thesis investigates the role capital investments in new buildings and public spaces in the UK played in the physical restructuring of the form, function and feeling of UK cities. In particular the thesis, funded by the AHRC and CABE, explores the new commercial landscape of the City of London and Leeds to try to understand the political and economic processes behind urban investment and architectural transformation. Examining the relationship between the development of commercial property investments in office, apartment and retail space and urban regeneration policies the thesis asks: Did the recent era of asset based growth produce a new approach to urban development and design? If so how were new buildings and spaces related to new capital investment and urban development strategies? And what does the production of the built environment tell us about the role of contemporary architectural and urban design in urban economic development? In asking these questions the thesis tries to develop a new conceptual framework drawing theories of economic geography, real estate, critical urbanism and architecture, to understand more precisely the way larger scales of political, economic and geographical forces affect the shape, structure and culture of the contemporary inner city.
The thesis builds on a conference I organised in 2008 held at UCL examining the inter-relationship between finance, architecture and urban culture. A copy of the book can be viewed and downloaded for free via Issuu:
This book was also recently reviewed by Owen Hatherley in Mute Magazine:
The politics of sustainability: new environmental metaphors in Chinese urban development
The history of infrastructure provision in Lagos, Nigeria
Peripatetic Planning: An Exploration of South African Policy Mobilizers
This study investigates the role of policy mobilizers within various instances of policy circulation and the relationships forming because of these mobilizations. Policy actors, working within formal and informal policy networks have been instrumental in introducing and circulating international and domestic urban planning policy models between cities. The study investigates the role of policy mobilizers in moving information and strengthening municipal connections over the last century of South Africa policy circulation. The focus however will be on contemporary policy mobilizers and the South African Cities Network as part of a century of progression towards formal municipal policy networks. In so doing, this research exposes the pivotal role of policy mobilizers in shaping both the policies and relationships within cities. In addition to the focus on policy mobilizers, this study also draws attention to the resulting municipal collaborations as evidence of constant and continuous policy circulation.
Recently completed PhDs
The resurgence of tuberculosis in London and New York
Hydropolis: water, engineering and power in London
Modernity, planning and social control in Buenos Aires
Aerial views, professional practice and popular culture 1850-1930
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