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Urban tellurics in Barcelona: Between a Heideggerian rock and a postmodern swimming pool

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This article reflects on the possibility of resisting globalization by relying on some sense of the local as found in public art and public space. The term ‘urban tellurics’ explores how the notion of the tellurics of place, which I derive from Heidegger’s thinking and from Kenneth Frampton’s proposal for a Critical Regionalist architecture of resistance, interacts with the reality of endless urbanization within global capitalism. To articulate this relation, I focus on a singular public space in Barcelona, the Parc de la Creueta del Coll, designed in 1987 by the architectural firm MBM. The park was ‘sculpted’ on the slopes of a former stone quarry and includes a sculpture by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida that hangs above a swimming pool. Heidegger considered Chillida’s work the most precise embodiment of his thought on art and space. Thus, focusing on the tension between the telluric elements of the park and the flat surface of the swimming pool provides a good occasion to reflect on the contradictions between Heideggerian rootedness and the flatness of capitalist globalization. ‘Urban tellurics’ aims to enable forms of spatial resistance that are neither reactionary returns to the provinces, nor mere celebrations of city diversity, nor simple manifestations of political struggle.
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Keywords: Barcelona; Bohigas; Frampton; Heidegger; globalization; telluric

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Indiana University

Publication date: 01 September 2014

More about this publication?
  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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