Passages: Explorations of the Contemporary City

By Graham Livesey. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004.

The musings of Graham Livesey, Director of the Architecture Program and Associate Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary have cohered into this recent publication. Informed by the work of writers such as Henri Lefebvre, Paul Ricouer and Michel de Certeau, this collection of eight essays explores the contemporary city from a theoretical rather than historical perspective. The elemental tools that Livesey provides for understanding the city are broken down into the following: space, buildings, narrative, metaphor, gesture, points, lines and surfaces. Postwar global urban landscapes are the focus, particularly the uncontrolled sprawl of cities such as San Jos or Calgary, where “unbounded low-density development is traversed by freeways, flight paths, and communications networks connecting elsewhere; traditional urban structures are virtually absent. The dominance of modernist space has really challenged the role of architecture in the global city.”