chapter  4
32 Pages


As has previously been discussed, the city as a prevailing framework; socially, culturally, economically, politically, etc., has attracted a considerable degree of analysis and speculation, with particular regard to what many view as the failings of the modern city. These urban conditions are not, however, simply the organization of the built environment but also represent a ‘site’ of confluence across which a number of disciplines continue to address urban issues and develop modes and structures for engaging with these. Whilst Chapter 3 dealt with the advancing abstraction of space and the mutual decline of place, for most of us the city still exists in relatively conventional terms – as a largely well-defined system of elements, some of which are static whilst others are in flux. As the urban geographer David Harvey has noted, the transformations that have occurred across the physical environment post-Second World War have meant that it is no longer possible to refer to previous spatial categories that provided a clear taxonomy of urban and rural landscape conditions.1 Instead, we are now presented with urbanized space in many different guises through which the distinction between centre and periphery is constantly renegotiated resulting in a lack of definition regarding boundaries and form. However, as Richard Skeates suggests, such conditions provide fertile ground for investigation: ‘It is not only theory that has been mapping this blurred terrain. Representations, in particular in film, but also in certain forms of fiction, can be found of a city that appears to be fragmenting, mutating and generally evading old definitional categories.’2 Furthermore, the aerial overview of cities that provides us with a typically coherent, albeit deceptive, structure is significantly contrasted by the experience ‘on the ground’.