The City Inside Out: Terrain vague, inner periphery and places in-between

07 Mar 2022 | Radan Haluzík

The City Inside Out: Terrain vague, inner periphery and places in-between is a publication released by Academia Press, 2021. The book is in the Czech language.

Central European cities are places characterised by spatial as well as historical discontinuity. We can find the discontinuity not only in their architecture and  urban units (districts, distinct commercial, residential and administrative areas), but above all in the space around and between these units  - the space of inner and outer periphery that is so typical for the Central and Eastern European metropolis and that surrounds cities and often even reach into their centres. We do not notice these places in our daily lives, nor are they part of urban practice. We tend to pass them by and think of them as temporary places for something that used to be or is yet to come. We think of them as of something that is in process…

In this book we want to explore these places, which the well-known architect and philosopher Ignasi de Solà?Morales Rubió (1995) conceptualised as “terrain vague” and to show that they are not just places of chaos and disorder but also reflect a unique order of creation and disintegration. We shall argue that these places in-between, overgrown with bushes and weeds, are not places of emptiness but rather specific forms of life - natural, social and even imaginary. We shall describe how these places come into existence as the unintended by-products of successive urban masterplans, and have features typical for the period in which each was created . These places represent a blind spot of urbanism that has been ignored by municipal urban planners.

We try to show the city not from the perspective of what has been planned and intended but from the perspective of unintended consequences; not from the perspective of the city centre but from the perspective of its periphery. We want to get a glimpse of the city from the inside out.

The book, composed by 19 chapters, was created by a transdisciplinary team of 18 authors:

Editor – Radan Haluzík is a social anthropologists. Štepán špoula is a landscape architect and Cyril Ríha a philosopher focused on the theory of city. Michal Ajvaz is a philosopher and writer. Petr Pokorný,  Adéla Pokorná, David Storch, Jirí Sádlo and Lucie Juricková are biologists and ecologists focused on nature within city. Petr Gibas, Karlína Pauknerová and Martin Veselý are social geograph and anthropologists and Kristýna Bušková political psychologist. Radoslav Schmelzová is an art historian and Per Meduna is an archeologist. Epos257, Jan  Albert Šturma and Petra Lacinová are artists and performers.  

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Image: Petr Pokorny