"Everyday Constructions: Global Manifestations of Postmodern Urban
Space" is a major research project exploring how specific everyday
places and spaces around the world can be encountered through different
kinds of social engagement, such as knowledge, memory and risk-taking.
The spaces being explored include the Limehouse Link road tunnel in
London and the "Singapore Flyer" observation wheel in Singapore, as well
as other large-scale everyday spaces such as roads, cranes, bridges,
the sky, and constructions of urban time.
(1) provide an interpretive history of different everyday spaces as places of architecture, history and spatial experience (2) investigate urban space and, in particular, the role that different peoples' experiences play in the history of cities.
(1) How do we understand large-scale and everyday spaces not only as physical constructions but also as elements within the richly layered history of cities? (2) How do we take account of spatial experiences that people have of the these spaces? (3) How are these everyday spaces represented in film and other artistic media? (4) In what ways are these spaces archetypal or exemplary pieces of C21 postmodern urban space?
Interdisciplinary enquiry involving history, theory, photography/video and criticism. Three main research methods: (1) empirical and interpretive historical enquiry into experiences of everyday spaces using: magazines, newspapers and other published sources; photographs, drawings and other visual sources; and interviews, personal experiences and various ephemera. (2) investigation of films, movies and other moving images, used both as a way to explore different kinds of spatial experience of everyday spaces, and as a way to explore how such experiences are represented and culturally disseminated (3) theoretical enquiry into notions of everyday experience, knowing and mobility using the ideas of Lefebvre, Virilio and other related thinkers.
The research projects sits within the history of architectural and urban experience – the history of architecture after it has been constructed, and investigating the various ways in which cities and their architecture are continually reproduced through different experiences, idea and codings. It also sits within the history of London and other major cities, exploring peripheral yet monumental element of urban spaces that are often overlooked in these cities' histories.
Study 1: Limehouse Link
In the Docklands area of London lies the 'Limehouse Link', a dual-bore road tunnel used by around 80,000 cars each day. A monumental and highly expensive piece of construction, the Limehouse Link has nonetheless received almost no attention from architectural historians or others concerned with the history of construction, engineering or urban development.
This referreed article by Iain Borden provides an introduction to the Limehouse Link, explaining some of the fundamental characteristics of its construction and position in London's urban landscape. More importantly, the article then considers how one might understand an everyday yet monumental construction such as this: a tunnel without obvious aesthetic form, design intent or symbolic meaning, but which nonetheless has an undeniable presence in the city. The Limehouse Link is therefore interpreted in terms of the car driver's immersive experience of the tunnel, more active constructions of this experience through sensory qualities of sound, representations of the tunnel in different media and art, ways of knowing the history of Limehouse, and, in particular, as a kind of aesthetic experience. The article concludes that driving through the Limehouse Link is to engage in a different way of knowing the postmodern city.
Published as Iain Borden, 'The Limehouse Link: the Architectural and
Cultural History of a Monumental Road Tunnel in London's Docklands', The Journal of Architecture, v.16 n.5
(October 2011), pp. 589-613.
Iain Borden, 'The Limehouse Link: the Architectural and Cultural History of a Monumental Road Tunnel in London's Docklands', The Journal of Architecture, v.16 n.5 (October 2011), pp. 589-613.