How do we see the city, the most complex thing man has designed? We daily navigate the topology of the city, as if we know and own it but as Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, much of ‘… what is essential, is invisible to the eye’. Once, much of what is hidden was under our feet – sewers, pipes and power-cables – but now there are virtual systems too, flowing through the air unseen.
To paraphrase Reyner Banham, if a home is not a house, a building is not a building and a city is not a city. All are dense systems of aligned networks made manifest in physical form. Digitisation and the information revolution has made the abstract and the invisible evermore a critical site in the production of real physical architecture. If, for the Situationists the city was a confrontation between the psycho and the spatial, in the Naked City of now, in the space of flows that transcends all objects and experiences, there are other opportunities for architecture to both understand and act: to connect, to close loops and cycles, to conflate energy with urban systems, to synthesise and speculate on the design of the future.
Perhaps architecture has never been as solid nor as stolid as we thought, it’s built on shifting sands that never rest and are becoming more restless. This publication seeks to explore some of the hidden architectures that influence and condition life in the city on a daily basis, beginning within the servicing of the house and expanding over a square kilometre of city fabric.
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