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On Balance: Architecture and Vertigo

Author/EditorDeriu, Davide (Author)
ISBN: 9781848226210
Pub Date24/02/2023
BindingHardback
Pages256
Dimensions (mm)240(h) * 170(w) * 25(d)
$37.89
excluding shipping
Availability: Available to order but dispatch within 7-10 days
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Since the construction of the first skyscrapers in the nineteenth century, urban environments have been increasingly marked by verticality. The experience of modernity fed a spatialised lexicon derived from the sense of balance - 'groundlessness', 'suspension' and 'freefall' - which resonates acutely today. At a time of instability, the rise and rise of vertical cities poses new challenges to the perception of gravity, but the implications of vertigo remain unacknowledged.


This book reflects on the precarious equilibrium at the heart of contemporary cities, where the drive to conquer ever greater heights has reconfigured our notion of abyss. Through an interdisciplinary approach informed by social and medical sciences, the book explores how built environments elicit a range of spatial thrills as well as anxieties. On Balance first provides an overview of how the modern discourse on vertigo has permeated the sciences, arts and humanities. The second part of the book shifts the attention to spatial practices predicated on the mastery of vertigo such as climbing and wire walking. The final part moves into the realm of architectural culture, offering an original reading of modern and
contemporary spaces that affect our perceptual stability.

Since the turn of millennium, urban environments have been increasingly turned into gravity playgrounds as new and existing buildings alike furnish the stages for visceral thrills. On Balance argues that, within the experience economy, architecture has become a site for games of vertigo. The loss of grounding is not only an inherently spatialised experience, but one that is bound up with the design and representation of space. Hence, this book provokes up to consider architecture as deeply implicated in our perception of balance at multiple sensory, spatial and social levels.

Since the construction of the first skyscrapers in the nineteenth century, urban environments have been increasingly marked by verticality. The experience of modernity fed a spatialised lexicon derived from the sense of balance - 'groundlessness', 'suspension' and 'freefall' - which resonates acutely today. At a time of instability, the rise and rise of vertical cities poses new challenges to the perception of gravity, but the implications of vertigo remain unacknowledged.


This book reflects on the precarious equilibrium at the heart of contemporary cities, where the drive to conquer ever greater heights has reconfigured our notion of abyss. Through an interdisciplinary approach informed by social and medical sciences, the book explores how built environments elicit a range of spatial thrills as well as anxieties. On Balance first provides an overview of how the modern discourse on vertigo has permeated the sciences, arts and humanities. The second part of the book shifts the attention to spatial practices predicated on the mastery of vertigo such as climbing and wire walking. The final part moves into the realm of architectural culture, offering an original reading of modern and
contemporary spaces that affect our perceptual stability.

Since the turn of millennium, urban environments have been increasingly turned into gravity playgrounds as new and existing buildings alike furnish the stages for visceral thrills. On Balance argues that, within the experience economy, architecture has become a site for games of vertigo. The loss of grounding is not only an inherently spatialised experience, but one that is bound up with the design and representation of space. Hence, this book provokes up to consider architecture as deeply implicated in our perception of balance at multiple sensory, spatial and social levels.

Davide Deriu is a Reader in Architectural History and Theory at the University of Westminster, UK.

Introduction; PICTURING VERTIGO: Sensing the Abyss; Dizzy Visions. TAMING VERTIGO: Wire Walking in the City; Urban Ascents. STAGING VERTIGO: Thrills of Gravity; Losing the Ground; Architectures of Vertigo. Epilogue. Notes. Bibliography. Index.

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