'From marketplace to non-place: questions of cultural atrophy'

 Nick Temple (University of Pennsylvania)

The current dominance of imagist theories of urbanism, in which the veneer and its digital reformulations are construed as the basis for establishing a new and radical construct of urban space, over-looks the essential, but largely latent, order of architectural representation that is constituted around notions of situation. Recent developments in information technology and globalisation have tended to mask the essential characteristics of both site and region, undermining the specificity of locale and its relationship to a larger horizon of topographical and cultural relationships. This has contributed to a gradual homogenisation of cities and their peripheries and at the same time to an atomisation of many aspects of society that once gave it cohesion.

The paper seeks to identify a (hermaneutic) framework for re-interpreting urban centres in which the prevailing scenographies of fashion and image can be contextualised within a historical and cultural order rather than being construed as the sole basis for authenticating reality. Looking at the corporate city, the paper argues that underlying all cities lies a continuity, embodied in public/private institutions, public space, or domestic life, that can be articulated through architecture and celebrated through festal space.