life in the margins

The social peripheries of urban life and the resultant connections and networks of individuals and groups through various cultural proximities suggests a complexity of spatio-temporal relationships woven through the urban fabric of cities. This notion formed the basis for the research paper ‘Living on the edge: cultural proximities, social peripheries and spatial margins’ presented by the authors at the recent Architectural Humanities Research Association Annual Conference 2011: Peripheries, held at Queen’s University, Belfast, 27-29 October.  The paper expanded on the use of films as mapping devices to provide legibility or disclosure of the contemporary urban landscape, complementary to the ‘imageability’ that Kevin Lynch sought to identify in his early research on understanding cities, by contributing to our knowledge of cultural proximities interwoven with the appropriation of residual urban space. Furthermore, films were positioned to have the capacity to render the city as a narrative in a reflexive relationship concerned with spatial sequence, editing, revelation and event. Of particular significance here was the value of films as diagnostic instruments that afford us the opportunity to describe and understand urban conditions and spatio-temporal relations through the experience of them. Indeed, the ability of the camera to move through space and place facilitates the articulation of these architectures, allowing us to perceive the lived experience of the films in a visually rich manner, compressing the complexity and density of information into an understandable sequence.

Gated communities, surveillance culture and spatial tensions, La Zona, Rodrigo Plá, 2007

2 thoughts on “life in the margins

  1. Hi there, stumbled across your blog doing some research online. I know this might be a long shot but is there a way I can get a copy of this paper (‘Living on the edge: cultural proximities, social peripheries and spatial margins’)?
    Judging by the title and the description written in this post, it seems closely related to my thesis topic and I would really appreciate it if I could find a copy. I’ve checked for it on JSTOR, EBSCO and google scholar to know avail.


    • Hi there,

      Thanks for your message. Unfortunately both these papers are currently with respective publishers and as such as subject to copyright so I am unable to distribute them at the present time. However, a much more expansive treatment of the use of film and a re-framing of it as a tool to understand contemporary urban space is given in our recent book, Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City (Ashgate, 2011) which I am sure your library will be able to order for you if it doesn’t currently have it. More than happy to discuss any ideas you may have with regard your thesis topic if you wish to provide more information.

      Best wishes,


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