The Fabric of Space
Water lies at the intersection of landscape and infrastructure, crossing between visible and invisible domains of urban space, in the tanks and buckets of the global South and the vast subterranean technological networks of the global North. In this book, Matthew Gandy considers the cultural and material significance of water through the experiences of six cities: Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and London. Tracing the evolving relationships among modernity, nature, and the urban imagination, from different vantage points and through different periods, Gandy uses water as a lens through which to observe both the ambiguities and the limits of nature as conventionally understood.
Gandy begins with the Parisian sewers of the nineteenth century, captured in the photographs of Nadar, and the reconstruction of subterranean Paris. He moves on to Weimar-era Berlin and its protection of public access to lakes for swimming, the culmination of efforts to reconnect the city with nature. He considers the threat of malaria in Lagos, where changing geopolitical circumstances led to large-scale swamp drainage in the 1940s. He shows how the dysfunctional water infrastructure of Mumbai offers a vivid expression of persistent social inequality in a postcolonial city. He explores the incongruous concrete landscapes of the Los Angeles River. Finally, Gandy uses the fictional scenario of a partially submerged London as the starting point for an investigation of the actual hydrological threats facing that city.
About the Author
Matthew Gandy is Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City (MIT Press), recipient of the 2003 Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, and The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination (MIT Press), recipient of the 2014 Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography, given by the American Association of Geographers, and has published widely on urban, cultural, and environmental themes.
—Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University; author of The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition
—Gyan Prakash, author of Mumbai Fables
—Michael Watts, Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Winner, 2014 Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography given by the American Association of Geographers.
Winner, 2016 IPHS Book Prize for the most innovative book in planning history, sponsored by the International Planning History Society.