Producing and living the high-rise: new contexts, old questions?

Manoel Rodrigues Alves, Manuel Appert, Christian Montès (Eds.)

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This major edited book presents the findings of the influential and creative ‘Highrise Living and the Inclusive City’ research project, conducted over the last decade by scholars in urban studies and planning in cities (mainly) of France, Brazil and Argentina. Lyon and Sao Paulo feature strongly.
Seeking to extend research evidence and create new theoretical propositions on the production of vertical residences and lifestyles, the book offers three sections which lay out the central issues effectively.
First is a section on the production of the contemporary highrise landscape by developers negotiating planning rules and the market opportunities of housing financialization. Second is a section on the ways urban-dwellers live in highrise buildings, and how they interpret and enact the advantages of doing so. And third is a section articulating the ‘mechanics’ of this research program: the different scales of data analysed, mapping strategies, and the creation of an overarching website for the project to support its scholars. The chapters of the first two sections cite a wealth of reference materials from around the world, from settings in the Global North and Global South. The authors of the third section articulate well the dilemmas they faced and the decisions they took in assembling supports for a complex, coherent, international research program. With this structure, the book will attract interest not only from researchers interested in theory and empirical evidence about urban verticalization, but also from researchers providing underpinning infrastructure for major projects.
Theoretical contributions are certainly made in this collection, very much facilitated by evidence of highrise living in a diverse range of settings. In particular, we see revealed the more and more precise targeting of certain locations by developers and the investors behind them, as the financialization of housing proceeds. It is not only greater densities and taller buildings being built now compared to past bursts of housing investment, and not only central areas of cities being sought, but very particular enclaves are now being required that suit current investors and buyers. Often what is required (it seems) is central locations with public space that can be snapped up for private use in the new development. A new geography of highrise spaces is being constructed, and a new form of desirable urban location defined.
A most interesting feature of the book, from its wide and yet highly detailed empirical work, is its demonstration of the positioning for advantage taken by the agents depicted in its chapters. All actors in the creation of the verticalized urban landscape look for their opportunities, and slip themselves into advantageous situations. We see real estate agents marketing public spaces to potential buyers as if these spaces were part of the new development, planners in government trying to take advantage of financial capital seeking a place to grow, residents positioning themselves in the best spot within the lifts that they take up and down in their highrise homes, and purchasers or renters seeking height in a tall building and a singular view. Everywhere there is active agency, involving shifting and positioning in order to achieve a best outcome. Private rather than public and collective benefit, we see in the cases presented, is always the winner.

Dr. Ruth Fincher
Professor Emeritus
University of Melbourne

“Producing and living the high-rise: new contexts, old questions?” presents a set of very fine and intriguing perspectives as the speculations of our cities are full of contradictions and counterexamples. Without the pitfall of global comparisons, all the observed modes from a multitude of angles, from Environmental Humanities to Speculative Economy, enable us to envision what mobilizes our settlements and mutates our Urban Biospheres.

Alban Mannisi
Landscape Urbanist /Academic_Scapethical & Custodian Heuristics Institute Director

This book, coordinated by Manoel Rodrigues Alves, Manuel Appert, and Christian Montès takes up the discussions that were never finished but renewed on the processes of verticalization of the city. This phenomenon gained new momentum from the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the luxury and elitization of space. The provocative question in its title does not admit a single answer and challenges us from various points of view. In this sense, there are multiple explorations to which it gives rise and which the book reveals through the analysis of the vertical production of the city, how it is lived, and the narratives associated with this process. The 17 chapters provide a set of multi-scalar approaches to various spatialities of the world through entertaining and engaging writing. Special mention deserves the profuse bibliography that accompanies each section of the book, which, in itself, constitutes an invitation and encouragement to the reader to continue the paths that the book opens. “Producing and living the high-rise: new contexts, old questions?” is a necessary book that warns us about the implications of vertical gentrification; a call to reflect and analyze our cities, spatialities, landscapes, and people for those of us who live in them, but also for those who can influence this process with their decisions.

Dr. Arq. Gabriela C. Pastor
Chief Researcher at CONICET, Argentina;
Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Áridas (IADIZA) CCT Mendoza, Argentina;
Professor, Faculty of Engineering
Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina

Building Typology, Built-high Gentrification, Built-in Gentrification, Cartography, Condominium Clubs, Contemporary City, Critical Cartographies, Densification, Developers, Equity, Financialization, Gentrification, High-rise, High-rise Cartography, High-rise Mapping, Human Development Index, Human Development Unit, Inclusiveness, Land Value, Lifestyles, Mapping, Methodology, Perversion, Public Domain, Public Space, Real Estate, Real Estate Market, Remote Sensing, Skyscrapers, Social Cartographies, Socio-spatial Practices, Socio-spatial Segregation, Spectral Mixing, Territorial Units, Urban Equity, Urban Morphology, Urban Narratives, Urban Planning, Urban Transformation, Verticality, Verticalization, Vertical Urbanism

Human Geography
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