…none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography…

Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings. -Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism



Meet Gurgaon: A Patch-work Private City without Sewage System

Gurgaon is a city in India, where many private housing enclaves are located and run by private management companies. With no municipal services, the private management companies provide key urban facilities only within the gates of the enclaves.

The practice draws a horrendous picture of the piecemeal private provision of municipal services, replacing sewage system with gigantic septic tanks, dumping sewage to public land, replacing police force with the army of private security, dodgy lost spaces between the housing enclaves…

A patchwork of private services emerges, but only within property lines. “If you’re living inside the development, everything looks great. It looks like you have functional sewage, but those lines are not connected to a main line. They go nowhere.” Instead, the sewage collects in a septic tank at the edge of the property. The building’s owner contracts a tanker truck to ferry the sewage to a dumping ground or river.

Gurgaon’s developers can weather shortages in electricity by using diesel-powered generators … which serve only their own properties. They’ve beefed up the city’s 4,000-strong police force with an army of 35,000 private security guards.  (ideas.ted.com)

Another controversial topic regarding this developments is their relationship with surrounding slum areas.

Sewage trucks will frequently bypass treatment plants and dump their contents on public land, and while it poses a health hazard to nearby slums, public officials don’t have the resources to counter such infractions.(ideas.ted.com)

What we see here is double exploitation of the urban space: on one hand, exclusive private provision of municipal services is hampering public provision; on the other hand, the enclaves expulse their unwanted bits to the surroundings such as dumping their sewage on public land.

All in all, we should ask ourselves, if we want to live in such an unsustainable dystopia before it is too late. Because this is what we are heading towards with a speed of light in this level of the commodification of urban space.

High Rise (2016) – Ever wanted something more?

Ben Wheatley shot a movie about my thesis 😀 Can’t wait to see 🙂

The movie is based on J.G. Ballard’s novel written in the 1970s. However, considering the housing situation, condo developments, branded housing projects, housing enclaves, and various forms of exclusionary housing, it is very much about contemporary urban issues.

High-Rise is a 2015 British science fiction action thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy and Keeley Hawes. The screenplay by Amy Jump is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard. It was produced by Jeremy Thomas through his production company Recorded Picture Company.

In September 2015, the film received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and its European premiere at the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival. The film is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2016 by StudioCanal.

Check amazing trailers out! I absolutely love that they shot the first trailer as a housing project advertisement.


In-situ Simulacrum or Extreme Forms of Theming in Urban Space

Theming urban space is an issue for decades, it is nothing new in that sense.

However, something about its scale is happening in China: the Clone Cities.

No, it is nothing to do with clone wars!

The copycat city in north-eastern Liaoning province is just the latest example of China’s fondness for replicating Europe’s greatest architectural hits Check the here for galery!

Chinese people can now experience Venice without actually going to Italy after the Northern Chinese city of Dalian built a 4km canal lined with European style buildings.

Venice recreation in Dalian, China

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

Welcome to Venice, China: Dalian copies canals, palaces … and gondoliers

Another example is Hallstatt in Guangdong, replica of Australian town.

Replica of the Austrian alpine town Hallstat in Guangdong Province, China

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

When it was reported last year that the ­Austrian town had been “secretly cloned”, right down to its statues of angels, some ­residents were outraged. But the mayor, ­Alexander Scheutz, was over the moon. “We are very proud,” he said, as he signed up to a cultural ­exchange with his town’s new twin. It is now clear why: the clone has been a lucrative means of cultural ­promotion, with the number of ­Chinese visitors to the real Hallstatt jumping from 50 to 1,000 per year. For the full story check here!

Or if you would like to see world of wonders in one city without traveling around, check Chinese city of Suzhou, the city of clone landmarks!

Suzhou’s Tower Bridge is not quite a carbon copy of the London original; it has four towers and no raising mechanism.

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

Check here for the full story!

From Tower Bridge to Sydney Harbour, welcome to China’s city of clones

As a bonus, you can even find Corbu around!

Ronchamp, Zhengzhou, 2004

A barbecue restaurant in Zhengzhou (Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

“Highway to Hitler”

Voigtlaender and Voth argue the role of Autobahn in the Nazi regime in their research – Highway to Hitler. The authors produce an interesting analysis on the relationship of road construction and the rise of Hitler:

By analyzing voting records between November 1933 and August 1934 alongside highway patterns, Voigtlaender and Voth found that any opposition to Hitler swung in his favor significantly faster in areas where the Autobahn was being built than elsewhere. With the country still recovering from the Great Depression, Germans might have seen the new roads as a sign the Hitler regime could jumpstart the economy. (cityLab)

According to Voigtlaender, the results shows “strong evidence for changes in voting behavior in one of the most salient examples of infrastructure spending”(cityLab).


(Image Credit: cityLab)

The analysis presents quite a picture of the relationship of consent building for authoritarianism via construction and infrastructure spending. However, the authors also conclude that the positive image of this spending is a constructed illusion.

Why did motorway building reduce opposition to the regime? … …the Autobahn demonstrated the new government’s determination and competence in a convincing fashion; even without direct economic benefits, Germans could plausibly have decided that Autobahn construction marked a welcome change from the perceived ineffectiveness of Weimar governments. This is the aspect that propaganda emphasized the most. Voters may have perceived motorway construction as a sign of “competence”, along the lines of Rogoff (1990), and seeing the work taking place in one’s district may have made it more salient. (Highway to Hitler)

For a contemporary example of for such relationship check Turkey case. Turkey has been going through a rise of an authoritarian regime and construction boom since the early 2000s. Building an extensive road network is one of the main points of the propaganda of AKP governments. Bayraktar’s statement, former Ministry of Urbanism,  below shows the emphasis on the roads and road network and its usage in propaganda.

Erdoğan: İnşaat sektörünün olmadığı ülke bitmiş demektir

(Image credit: BHT)

You can demolish a house, a cemetery for a road. The path of the roads is definite. This road will serve for 1,000 years. Two thousand years. (hurriyetdailynews)

The discourse is all over the speeches of many politicians of ruling party from top to bottom ranks such as this one below:

We would even demolish a mosque to build a road: Turkish PM

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reaffirmed his government’s determination to go ahead with construction projects that have generated harsh criticism particularly from environmentalists, while accusing protesters blocking the construction of engaging in banditry. (hurriyetdailynews)

The determination of the government to build roads and empty houses of TOKI can be read in relation to the case of Hitler.

Our results suggest that infrastructure spending can indeed create electoral support for a nascent dictatorship – it can win the “hearts and minds” of the populace. (Highway to Hitler)