Visions of urban mobility: the Westway, London, England

Robertson, Susan (2007) Visions of urban mobility: the Westway, London, England Cultural Geographies, 14 (1). pp. 74-91. ISSN 1474-4740

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This paper explores issues of urban architecture and geography through an interpretation of built form. More specifically, it attends to the urban landscapes of mobility of the elevated highway, showing how landscape and environment frame ideas and practices of movement. The concept of limited access highways in the city could be considered as the epitome of modernity, reflecting the ever-increasing speed of everyday life and the distancing of individuals from communities. Separation from contact with the landscape and its effect on space-time relationships creates a new spatiality. The elevated highway project opens up the possibility of a completely new perception of the city, from above and at speed. The Westway, opened in 1970, is a two and a half-mile long elevated highway linking the centre of London, England with the west of England route to Oxford. The paper treats the space of the Westway in two particular ways: firstly as a modernist marker, symbolic of prevailing national urban aspirations; secondly as material form, through considering the Westway as machinic entity and as cinematic experience. Through this combination I argue that reading landscape as text is insufficient in the analysis of built form; other frameworks are necessary. In particular, this paper seeks to understand architectural space and form through a closer connection of body to space and form in both the kinaesthetic and imaginary senses.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: elevated highway; landscape; urban architecture; urban mobility
Subjects: L000 Social Sciences > L700 Human and Social Geography > L710 Human and Social Geography by area > L711 Human and Social Geography of Europe
K000 Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1177/1474474007072820
Faculties: Faculty of Arts
Depositing User: Susan Robertson
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2012 12:56
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2015 11:41

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