Video Games, New Media and the City

Post-Apocalyptic Cities

To extend the idea of the architectural uncanny to video games, one can imagine both the game environments and the confines of the game world itself as such spaces. For instance, what if, in light of the gothic horror elements of Bioshock, we view both Rapture and the Xbox itself as haunted houses?

View from the bathysphere in “Welcome to Rapture,” moments before the splicer tries to break into the bathysphere, and thus break down the barrier of the screen and box that separates us from Rapture.
The city of Rapture was an environment built to be a utopia, a site boasting the great achievements of modernity in its museums, libraries, theater, laboratories, hospital, and the spoils of genetic research in food and plant life. Yet, these environments are brought to ruin in Bioshock, as the city is flooded with violence and darkness, and left to fall…

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Warschau Frankenstein


Christiane Büchner on Boris Sieverts
“The artist Boris Sieverts is in Warsaw for the first time. In Cologne he runs his “Office for City Travels”. After Cologne, Duisburg, Luxemburg and Paris he now wants to offer the people of Warsaw a trip through their city as well. For weeks he is wandering with a backpack and a city map through areas of which everyone is claiming, that they are not worth a visit. He meticulously looks for anomalies, cracks and edges on topographical maps. In so doing he finds places that have eluded perception, the barren lands, the parking garages and the backyards. Ugly corners that nobody is proud of but still tell something intrinsic about a city.”
Warschau Frankenstein
Warschau Frankenstein

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THE MEDIATED CITY – Two Multidisciplinary Conferences [April & October 2014]

THE MEDIATED CITY – two multidisciplinary conferences examining “the city”…… a virtual, filmic, social, political and physical construct.

Place: London
Dates: 01-03 April 2014
Host: Ravensbourne (University)

Place: Los Angeles
Dates: October 2014 (TBC)
Host: Woodbury University


The nature of the city is a contested concept. For architects it is generally a question of bricks and mortar – a physical entity. For human geographers it is a place of human interaction and engagement. For filmmakers it is a site for action and futuristic nightmare. For animators and computer programmers it becomes a virtual world – a second life, a SIMulated city. For sociologists, it is a defining aspect of cultural identity. For political activists and theorists, it is a place to ‘occupy’ and the site of the polis.

THE MEDIATED CITY conference offers a platform for multiple and diverse examinations of the city. It aims to bring people together from diverse backgrounds and fragment, multiply and reconfigure our readings of the city; to offer multiple and conflicting discipline perspectives. The intention is to share views of the city as physical entity, online community, film set, photographic backdrop, geographical map, sociological case study, political metaphor, digital or video game etc…. – to examine it as a mediated and shared phenomenon.

Key dates – Conference 1 – London

15 September 2013. Deadline for abstracts / initial proposals

15 January 2014. Deadline for full papers / detailed proposals

01 April 2014. Conference –1

For full details visit:

Do we indulge in wishful thinking for super dense cities?


The thought popped out at me as I read an interview of Jonathan Solomon, who has authored (along with fellow architects Clara Wong and Adam Frampton) what appears to be a fascinating book called Cities Without Ground on alternate networks and spaces in Hong Kong. In the interview, Solomon talks about how the impracticality of trying to impose solutions in other contexts. He says, “Paul Zimmerman (HK district councillor and urban design activist) and I disagree vehemently about this — his position is that all the footbridges are more or less bad and that Hong Kong should act more like a Dutch city. We need to make safer, healthier streets for pedestrians. Pedestrianizing Queen’s Road makes a lot of sense. But there’s a lot of wishful thinking involved thinking that Hong Kong will suddenly turn into Linden or Delft.”

To me, that sort of summed up a lot of…

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Zurich’s ‘Sex Boxes’

Short position piece for the UK’s Building Design magazine. The project deserves some serious attention from a UCS reader or two – rich, political, ambiguous, aesthetically complex. What better topic for cultural studies?


Article first published in Building Design, August 2013. For more on BD, and how to subscribe, go to 


There was much chortling this week at the opening of Zurich’s scheme for rehabilitating street prostitution via so-called “sex boxes”. Reported by the global media, the scheme is a practical approach to a real problem: street prostitution in the Sihlquai neighbourhood, which had reached uncontrollable proportions, with attendant problems of waste. Residents were used to finding prostitutes and clients using their gardens as public toilets.

The trial solution is neat. On a bit of railway land, 2km west of the city centre, social services have built a terrace of wooden drive-in huts. The design is superbly restrained Swiss-minimalist-modernist. Think Peter Zumthor with condoms.

It’s all very decently landscaped, and at night is lit up with an appealing red/green colour scheme. The cabins are open at one end, so there…

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The Birth of Territory is published

Progressive Geographies

BofTI’ve just received my advance copy of The Birth of Territory, and additional copies have been sent by the warehouse. The Chicago page for the book has the book listed as published, and orders from them direct will be sent now (there are also electronic copies available). I guess online bookstores will take a few more days to receive copies.

[Update 9th September: the Kindle edition is now available. Amazon have the physical copy down for release on 13th September]

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