Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

After the City

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

After the City

Article excerpt

After the City, Lars Lerup, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2000, 200 pp., $24.95

Lars Lerup is the Harry K. and Albert K. Smith Professor in Architecture and Dean at Rice University and this book was inspired, rewritten and expanded from his paper `Stim and Dross: Rethinking the Metropolis', (Lerup, 1995). The paper was written to describe his observations and experiences `while still shocked' following his 1993 move from Berkeley to the `twenty-eighth floor' in Houston, Texas.

This book is an emotional journey and almost autobiographical `experience in place' and the result is a meditation on making sense of life in the ever expanding suburban metropolis that is Houston. After the City is not just a book for those with an academic or professional interest in urbanism, indeed it would prove useful to a much broader audience. Its discussions of space and place are relevant to those with an interest in cities, culture and technology.

After the City begins with a portfolio of images of objects and activities of the Houston landscape- skyline, sprawl, commuting, highway, flyover, parking lot, power lines, pollution, and advertising hoardings-accompanied by thought provoking captions that transport us into contemplations of our own experiences. Lerup therefore makes the reader examine the city in an honest and often disturbing manner.

The book synthesises a broad intellectual contemplation of the philosophy and form of the modern city in an engaging and personal manner. He graphically portrays how `Lifting out of the ground, the freeway abandons its base to join, ever so briefly, the air space'. With existential rigour, Lerup progresses by tracing the metamorphosis from city to metropolis by unravelling the order of the seeming disorder of this newly emerging phenomenon. These complexities are examined by relating actual and theoretical projects and inviting `questions about theory and action'.

Using a plethora of avant-garde thinkers to formulate his strategy for a new architecture, Lerup draws upon Bataille, Deleuze, Derrida, Duchamp, Gibson and Guattari, among others. …

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