Intimate Cities

By Richard Dargavel and Amy Hanley.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The research theme proposed for the conference has been developed by Bachelor of Architecture students at the Manchester School of Architecture. The Unit title is ‘Intimate Cities’ under the direction of Richard Dargavel and Amy Hanley.
This paper documents a process of research that aims to give space to the situational contexts between pleasure and fear, and guilt and delight, within the contemporary city where the conditions for pleasure have disappeared. The aim is to make manifest the hidden identity of urban reality from an interdisciplinary perspective, which in turn can be legitimised by urban and architectural intervention.
The position taken is that pleasure, intimacy, diversity and individualism are illusions within a mass society controlled by corporate and consumerist regulation, and that city space is becoming merely a conduit between home and work. If the ‘illusion of the real’ is the commodified space of downtown Main Street then the ‘real’ resides elsewhere in the residual space and alleyways of the city.
Intimate Cities is concerned with re-figuring the ‘real’, developing strategies for hybrid multi-layered space that recognizes and gives expression to the culturally diverse characters, situations and programmes, legitimated and transgressive, that add richness and pleasure to the contemporary city. The research and practice is informed by leading contemporary thinkers from the fine arts, social and political sciences, through an understanding of contemporary cultural documents such as the Yellow Pages and newspaper small ads, and through on-site documentary archiving – processes that reveal as much about what has disappeared from the city as to what the city has to offer.
The design studio relies on both prescribed rules and chance to play out the matrices of people, spaces, objects and programmes as situational contexts in an urban field.

Keywords: Architecture, Urbanism, Culture, Alleyways, Back Streets, Postmodernity, Hegemony, Manchester

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.189-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.266MB).

Richard Dargavel

Senior Lecturer, Manchester School of Architecture, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

Richard Dargavel is a Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture, a joint School of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. He directs the Intimate Cities Unit of the Bachelor of Architecture course. His teaching and research interests explore a contemporary phenomenology of architecture. This concerns culture in its widest sense, the situational contexts of everyday life, and is about how we as humans identify with our natural environment and how we orientate ourselves meaningfully within it in time and space. This interest is interdisciplinary in nature and draws upon the social sciences, archaeology, geology, philosophy and the fine arts to inform the context in which architectural propositions are developed. Critical themes have emerged that explore the material, cultural, topographical and temporal conditions through which architectural strategies can be developed and realized in a range of physical, climatic and cultural situations and at a range of physical and time scales. A fascination with modernist, abstract and contemporary art practice provides a complimentary research interest that develops compositional, material and spatial possibilities for architectural exploration and representation.

Amy Hanley

Senior Lecturer, Manchester School of Architecture, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK


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