“By its very efficiency, the high-rise took over the task of maintaining the social structure that supported them all. For the first time it removed the need to repress every kind of anti-social behaviour, and left them free to explore any deviant or wayward impulses. It was precisely in these areas that the most important aspects of their lives would take place. Secure within the shell of the high-rise like passengers on board an automatically piloted airliner, they were free to behave in any way they wished, explore the darkest corners they could find. In many ways, the high-rise was a model of all that technology had done to make possible the expression of a truly ‘free’ psychopathology.”
(J.G. Ballard, High-Rise, 1975: 46)
In cities across the globe, the familiar form of skyscrapers delineate downtowns, stretching upwards in a competitive gymnastics of extension and accumulation. In other instances, high-rise buildings mark urban peripheries, forming distributed agglomerations of suburban life, remnants of the Welfare State that are left to decay quietly. Neither the former nor the latter, to this typology we might add those sentinels that occupy wind-swept shorelines and the sides of the enormous freeways, those occasional lonely towers that punctuate the low-slung skylines of “the traditional city”, running interference on the trademark silhouettes of church spires and town halls. These high-rise survey the horizon – the coastline, the airport, the motorway – loudly announcing “Arrival!” in semaphore, the lights of their sky bars blinking dully.
High-rise architecture inspires fear, awe, rapture, disillusionment and dissent. It stacks humanity vertically, allocating us all a programme. It concentrates, divides, excludes, disseminates and multiplies. It signifies and affects.
The first issue of LO-RES is dedicated to the architecture of infinite extension, of capitalist expansion and the Welfare State: the high-rise. We are seeking submissions from theorists, researchers, writers and practitioners that address the sociomaterial phenomenon of the highrise in and through architectural theory.
The deadline for submissions for this issue is on the 30th of April, 2014.
For submissions and questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org