Void Urbanism. A Genealogy

by Roi Salgueiro Barrio (MDes '14)

The thesis posits that the notion of void and its spatial manifestations have had a central and under examined position for the diverse (re)organizations of the discipline of urbanism since modernity. Accordingly, it investigates in what forms the notion has been understood, what kind of spaces it has promoted and what (re)conceptualizations of the urban have orbited around it. It does so through a genealogical analysis of discourses and projects. This begins considering the discussions of the spatial effects derived from the implementation of the first urban planning principles in the late 19th century and then covers a succession of significant episodes for the development of the discipline.

This historic analysis intends to contribute to a more precise comprehension of the possible roles of the void in the contemporary urban realm. The consideration of the urban consequences of the dynamics of creative destruction and discontinuous urban expansion of neoliberalism led, from the 1980s on, to an increasing awareness of the relevance of the void as a part of the expanded urban realm. This awareness was translated to disciplinary practices: the void emerged as a project in itself; strongly related to the (re) introduction of landscape as an urban praxis. The thesis intends to inscribe this project of the void within a more comprehensive narrative of the project of urban modernity clarifying which techniques, apart from landscape, have been mobilized for the production and management of the void and what roles have been successively assigned to it in the redefinition of the urban.