Why Urban Interior: Bluewater is not Becoming a Place?


Location: Greenhithe


In daily life, we may not realise it but interior public space play a large role in urban life and are a basic component of the contemporary city. Public interiors such as shopping malls, airports, train stations, motorway services define an increasingly familiar experience of being ‘within’ a city. These spaces have become subject of debate and criticism, in particular in determining whether they offer a genuine urban experience or, being ‘interiors’, they do not qualify for that as a genuine urban experience which can only be had outside. Furthermore, the authenticity of the experience they offer comes into question as these large interior spaces are characterised as Marc Augé’s anthropology of ‘non-places’.


‘Why Urban Interior: Bluewater is not Becoming a Place?’ explores the relationship between interiors and urban design, significantly, how the relationship is explained and defined through methods of communication. The thesis investigates past and present debates in regards to public space labelled as ‘urban interiors’. The world’s largest building, New Century Global Centre (2013) in Chengdu, China, raises questions on authenticity and identity. The initial research progressed onto the study of Charles Rice’s article, ‘The Atmosphere of Interior Urbanism: OMA at IIT’ (2008) and Deyan Sudjic’s ‘The airport as a city square’ (1992). Both theorist defines comparable characteristics of an urban interior by analysing university campus, McCormick Tribune Campus Centre (2003), and Heathrow Airport (1946). The same technique of definition and comparison was used to analyse the urban interior characteristics of Kent’s popular shopping centre, Bluewater Shopping Centre.


Furthermore, urban interior becomes more refined when compared to other form of spaces. The thesis challenges the term urban interior alongside architecture theory and film; Kim Dovey Becoming Places: Urbanism/Architecture/Identity/Power (2010), Augé’s Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity (2nd ed. 2008), Paul Sutcliff ‘dwell time’ (s.d.), Mark Pimlott ‘Prototypes for the continuous interior’ (2007), Peter Weir The Truman Show (1998) Delusion and Rem Koolhaas Generic City (1995) and Junkspace (2002). By analysing spatial diagrams, studying various theory and film it comprise and justifies ‘Why Urban Interior: Bluewater is not Becoming a Place?’

© 2020 by Samantha Li. All rights reserved.