Today, the circulation of images of iconic architectural projects is a visible part of broader transnational mobilities of urban policies, investments, expertise, and people. Through images of their places and future projects, cities compete to stand out on the global scene and the presence of iconic buildings in these promoted imaginaries often follows a trend of spectacularizing the urban environment. Easily recognizable urban and architectural projects typically have a high figural profile and, we argue, their images can serve as a reference for a broader understanding of urban transformation. In this sense, iconicity contributes to accelerating the representational, symbolic, and market values of buildings and sites, rather than considering their actual use and meanings for citizens, and city users. Cities competing for a place in the global imagination through architecture strongly lever photographic images that are generally perceived as objective representations of the urban and architectural environment. In this chapter, we investigate three main categories of photographic representation: pictures taken by amateurs and tourists as souvenirs of their travels; photographs produced by professionals for promotional purposes; and photorealistic architectural renderings that anticipate the construction of spectacular projects. We concentrate our attention on recurrent images and types such as the iconic building and the skyscraper as well as the skyline and waterfront, which have come to define many cities around the world. We draw on the extreme case of Dubai – considered a city of distinctive skylines and the setting for the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa – to show how grand-scale architectural and city images concretely shape the urban environment. Other examples of highly iconic cultural buildings set on the waterfront of large-scale urban developments (e.g. the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi) will show how architectural renderings influence public opinion, ease social approval, or stir fierce controversy concentrated primarily on the spectacular rather than on the actual architectural, political, and economic substance of projects, or, again, their use. According to this evidence, one can observe how the virtual imagery of renderings at times substitutes actual projects in the public domain, both locally and internationally. We argue that photographic images of masterplans and iconic buildings not only serve as powerful tools for the recognition of cities, but have also become a sort of model for decision-makers to follow. In this sense, such imaginaries can be considered as drivers for urban transformation, in some instances gradually supplanting other technically informed representations of architecture and the city.
|Titolo:||Toward a photographic urbanism?: Images iconizing cities and swaying urban transformation|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||02.1 Contributo in Volume|