The City: Urban Architecture & Material Culture

Ciara Greaney


I sat and I wondered for a while about a suitable topic for this post. I thought about what may be right and what may be wrong, until you might say, the penny dropped. Material culture does not need to be searched for; it is all around around us, everywhere – if we may allow our eyes to see it.

It’s my favourite time of year and as I gazed at Brown Thomas’ beautiful window displays I realised there was probably no better example on Patricks Street. This year the windows celebrate the razz-ma-tazz of theatre life – from front of stage to backstage and up in the gods – with eight different scenes depicting behind the scenes action from dressing room dramas to the final encore performance.



Through mediums such as the theatre and the department store we saw the development of relationships between people and their environment and how public spaces have over time began to shape who we are as human beings – the theatre, the cinema, the development of the media have all had a huge impact on our lives. The public learned who they were, and who they wanted to be. At the theatre you dressed in your finest clothes and enjoyed the spectacle. At the department store, you invested in this lifestyle. You chose who you want to be and how you want to represent yourself.



What an interesting concept it arose within me & I looked around at the theatre of life on our cities streets. And I thought about the many wonderful cities I have travelled to and the people who stood out to me in many. The theatre of the promenade on a Sunday afternoon, the show we put on everyday. This event of space that brings together the body, the city and acts of self represent representation.



The city may never be the same again, but we may as well enjoy the spectacle.

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Blog 3- The City: Urban Architecture and Material Culture.

Name- Jeremiah Jack Linehan 112472588

Urban Architecture

For my final blog I will look at urban architecture in Cork city. I will examine the role of modernity in shaping the city as whole from the past to present day. For my final blog I will be using to online sources as I examine the role modernity played in the shaping Cork city. I will be staying special attention to urban architecture and its role in shaping the city. For this blog entry I most engage all the material that was used in the module through out the year. I shall do this in an independent manner. I will look for a deep understanding of the historical transformation in modernity.

Modernity was key in the role of shaping Cork city. The growth of the city shows how man took control of nature to bring on there own city further than it had gone before. At the same time  when the planing of building the city was going on nature was taken into consideration with green zone put in place. One of these green zone exists on the carrigohane road. The control of nature is still in operation here showing how modernity is used to shape the city. Urban architecture goes on all around this with the county hall building close to it and its development and the development of the Kingsly hotel. Within the green zone itself there is some urban architecture in the area known as the Lee fields.

Urban architecture has been going in Cork city since it has been around. Development around the city bring  knew ideas forward to the citizens of the city. Simple changes could even be classed as the university college changing from a prison to a college. More advance architecture would include the elysian apartment blocks in Cork City. This is very modern urban architecture taking the city to knew heights.

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The City: Urban Architecture and Material Culture

Anthony Punch


Third and final blog Urban Transformation in modernity.

As we moved through the centuries, cities began having new kinds of ideas, people and public spaces. These were culturally liberating kinds of spaces. Possession of material goods became the gateway to Bourgeois respectability. There were new forms of spatial relationships. As has been covered on previous blogs on this site, the ‘city’ began to transform rapidly and radically leading to – ‘Modern technology, modern consumerism, modern media and modern people’.  The modern city provided spaces and opportunities for shifting roles and shifting identities.

The College year of 2013/2014 for me was spent on Erasmus, in Aix-en-Provence, a relatively small city, close to Marseille, in the south of France. Here, I experienced a different type of city to the typically Irish cities I had spent time in. Living in the heart of the city for a year taught me a huge amount about how people’s relations with certain objects or buildings, and with certain spaces, can remain even while so much is changing. There was a lot of upgrading and refurbishment going on at the time, and looking back now, I can draw on quite a lot as regards material culture. The one thing I can’t forget is the markets.

A Market in Aix.  Photo taken by myself in October 2013 on a smartphone. One huge feature which stood out was the markets. Every day. Every morning. Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts farm produce, almost anything. The most interesting thing was the amount of squares in the city centre, where the markets are held. Pedestrianized, surrounded by buildings but big areas in which people made a living, others bought food for the family, others used it as a meeting place, a social aspect, the continual vibrations of chit chat from all four corners.

A Market in Aix.
Photo taken by myself in October 2013 on a smartphone.
Every day. Every morning. Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts farm produce, almost anything. The most interesting thing was the amount of squares in the city centre, where the markets are held. Pedestrianized, surrounded by buildings but big areas in which people made a living, others bought food for the family, others used it as a meeting place, a social aspect, the continual vibrations of chit chat from all four corners.

It was an incredible occasion to witness on a regular basis, a real vibrant economy cocooned in these squares. And it had been going on for hundreds of years as a resource and space that people use to define their culture. Although the experience of working or shopping at the market may have changed, the tradition lives on.

The production and consumption of materials in any society become the evidence of how well that society is doing. (Tolia-Kelly, 2009)

Thinking about material culture as the evidence of social relations is rooted in Marxist ideology


Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence. Taken by myself, November 2013 The setting up of the Christmas market. There is no traffic on the road which would normally be extremely busy, as the city prepares itself for another market, another year, another experience for the city’s inhabitants

Of course, it was not only food sold at these markets, household objects would be sold, clothes produced and sold, and to this day, it is a huge part of the culture of Aix to have a Christmas market every year. The experience has changed for many with nowadays more traffic on the streets, more electrical or technological devices being sold, online shopping taking customers away, but still the markets survive!

One could say that the market has become a modern space in Aix, and it forms modern people. The whole urban world creates and manages all kinds of subjects. (Foucault) Modernity has reconfigured spacial relations, re-orientated spatial experience and remade spatial practices. Space has power, and the organisation of space creates power. Therefore, the market place is a powerful modern space, although the experience offered has changed somewhat over the years.


Tolia-Kelly, D.P., 2009. Material Culture. International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 1, 500-504.

Dennis, R, 2008. Cities in Modernity Representations and Productions of Metropolitan Space, 1840–1930. 1st ed. Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography: Cambridge University Press.

Lecture Notes – Linehan, D

Personal Photo Album

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The City- Urban architecture and material culture: Urban Architecture in the city of Paris

 Catriona Olivia Moore: 111539677

The city of Paris has long been known for its beautiful Gothic style architecture, as is present below in the image of the Louvre Paris. The gothic style is very recognised, but there are many urban , modernised forms of architecture also that are invading the Parisienne Streets. There is a clear contrast here between the Gothic style of the Palace and the modern glass pyramid, which presents the modern look of straight cut lines, and a high percentage of glass, giving that ‘clean’ look.

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An image of The Louvre Museum and Pyramid, taken in the city of Paris earlier this year by myself.

This image of several signs also shows the clear contrast between modernisation in the city and the classic architecture. The Centre Pompidou is one of the most innovative and most recognisable buildings in Paris, for its modern look and different approach. These signs are at the end of the building, which you can see from the white and blue tubes. These signs are contrasted with this small ,old street sign which writes ‘Rue Rambuteau’.


Several modern signs including illumination, contrasted against an old-style Parisienne street sign . Taken earlier this year on Rue Rambuteau in Paris by myself.

“The modern city is not just that which is here

and now but also something that provides a sharp contrast
with what has gone before.”

(Thrift and Kitchin, 2009)

“…the urban is understood, its physicality – in the form of buildings, streets and pipes..” 

(Bennett and Joyce, 2010)


A view of the Eiffel Tower from the Tour Montparnasse earlier this year, showing the high-rise buildings and skyscrapers on the outskirts of Paris.

Here is another typical contrast between classic and modern. Here you can see the Eiffel Tower, an invention before its time, but you can also see many buildings of typical Parisienne style. Behind the Eiffel Tower are many high-rise buildings and skyscrapers which are located on the outskirts of the city.

” during the nineteenth century, many
important cities throughout Europe contained buildings
around which imaginations ‘beyond’ the city could be
orientated: ultimately, a city could be placed at the center
of its empire via a selective narrative based upon its own
built form.” 

(Thrift and Kitchin, 2009)


Bennett, T. and Joyce, P. (2010). Material powers. London: Routledge.

Thrift, N. and Kitchin, R. (2009). International encyclopedia of human geography. Amterdam: Elsevier.

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The City: Urban Architecture and Material Culture- Urban Architecture within University College Cork

Aidan McCarthy 112524287

Architecture has been inseparably connected with the development of cities since people first banded together to live in settlements and ‘civilisation’ – the term implies an urban existence- was born. (Powell, K. 2000)

quad 2

Full view of the open space that exist’s within the Quad on the UCC Campus which displays a form of Urban Architecture.

Urban architecture has been critically analysed throughout the past century, with many geographers comparing and contrasting their views. In this blog entry, the city of Cork will be examined with regards its urban architecture, in particular the contrasting architecture that exists within the University College of Cork Campus.

When one views the UCC Campus it can be interpreted of incorporating all five themes which can be seen when approaching urban architecture; Machines, Power, Play, Globalization and Nostalgia. (Kraftl, 2009). Throughout time UCC has continued to adapt to new cultural and modern trends, this can be seen through its architecture.

Looking at the main quadrangle, it is evident that this space was formed to act as a public space, a place of leisure and an area to outlay reflection for people. Normally “play” architecture focuses “almost exclusively on the shopping mall as the key site at which postmodern spaces of consumption” exist, but with regards UCC it can be viewed that this Quadrangle incorporates a play aspect in its architecture, as it was formed to create a public space and act as a focal point within the college campus.


These images were captured recently of the Quad and the main entrance to the Quad by myself. The first image displays the public space that has been created by this form of architecture. Whilst the second image conveys to us an example of an old gothic style of architecture. This can be seen by the mass of concrete used, the small windows and the archways embedded in the architecture.

Moving on from this, what is most interesting with regards UCC campus is the contrast that exists within its architecture. Comparing the Boole Library and Main Gate entrance to the Western Gateway Building is a show sign of Gothic architecture contrasting with modern architecture.

Critical analysis of the Western Gateway Building in terms of urban architecture, it would appear that this building would be “representative of a technological future” (Kraftl, 2009) and falls into the theme of “Machines”. Whereas the Boole library and the main entrance to the college have a historic 19th Century architecture which incorporates themes of both power and nostalgia as they have represented both throughout time. These old architectural structures symbolize and represent “the interests of those with the power to build (very often the dominant or ruling class in a given society)” (Kraftl, 2009)


Both of these images were taken last week in order to display and convey in this blog the modern architecture that this building represents. This Building was opened in 2009 and is described by the architect “The naturally lit 100 metre long atrium concourse is the heart of the building. All principal vertical and horizontal circulation springs from here, ensuring a very clear way-finding to all departments while allowing the all important informal cross pollination of ideas between the co-located departments” (Walker, S. 2009)


– Kraftl, P. (2009) Urban Architecture. University of Leicester, Leicester, UK. Elsevier Ltd.

– Powell, K. (2000) City Transformed: Urban Architecture at the beginning of the 21st Century. Laurence King Publishing. London, UK. Calmann & King Ltd.

– Walker, S. (2009) University College Cork Western Gateway Building. [Electronic Source] Accessed 20 November 2014

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Picturing the City: Fashion in New York City in the 19th & 20th Century

Ciara Greaney, 105674247.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. – Coco Chanel

New York City is arguably the fashion capital of the world. The heart of that industry is found in the Fashion District, a square mile where the majority of the city’s major fashion labels operate showrooms and execute the fashion process from design and production to wholesaling. No other city in the world has a comparable concentration of fashion businesses and talent in a single district.


Fashion & shopping began to have a huge influence on the city.

The early 20th Century saw the emergence of women’s fashion as we know it. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, memberships of women clubs increased immensely. We also saw women beginning to work outside the home and participate in sporting activities – clothes needed for these activities helped to push and modify existing styles. No longer are females interested in the restrictive styles of the past.

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“As this catalog from Koch & Co., a long closed 19th Century New York department store on 125th Street, shows, woman’s liberation didn’t come a moment too soon. Before they were even enfranchised, women and girls were tightly stitched from hair to toe.Imprisoned in their own bodies, these were what passed for liberating fashions in 1893 — just 120 years ago.”

Fashion tells us much more about the city than just what people are wearing. It tells us a story of politics, of revolutions, of modernity. The emerging modern woman tells the stories of her new-found liberties through her fashion choices. She is no longer restricted. She has the capacity to be as powerful as man. She is equal.

Modernity: Shop windows filled with colour and new ideas for a new people.

Paul Poiret, who became known in America as “The King of Fashion”, was the originator of fashion branding as we know it today. He was the first designer to sell a lifestyle – taking advantage of the growing media, hosting lavish parties and fashion shows, creating an image that people wanted to belong to. Even if you couldn’t afford the high-end clothing, you could buy the bag, hat, scarf or fragrance. He liberated women from the corset, introducing vibrant colour to the female wardrobe. We begin to see fashion and art merge.

Paul Poiret – “The King of Fashion”.

The social practice of fashion allows us to follow the move from traditional to new; the many representations of the female form and femininity & who we have become as women in the modern city.

20th Century Fashion magazine featuring the new functional wardrobe of the modern unrestricted female.


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Picturing the City: Traffic in New York City in the 19th and 20th Century

Aidan McCarthy 112524287


Picture depicting late 19th century New York city showcasing the use of pushcarts and horse’s as modes of transport within the city.

Traffic in big cities can always be seen as an issue in the modern day world. With the rise of the metropolis in many cities throughout the world, the rise of traffic congestion also comes along with it. New York City and the subject of traffic within the city has been a talking point since the late 18th century. (, 2012). In Richard Dennis’ (2008) publication of “Cities in Modernity” he wrote how the increase of public transport led to increased traffic within the city. Dennis wrote how “public transport provided a space which you could be private in public”, however Dennis also documented Richard Sennett’s argument where he believes with the increased amount of traffic and the comfort public transport provides, it ends up disconnecting people with the space that surrounds them.


This image conveys to us the amount of pushcarts which were used on the roads in early 20th century New York. We can see from this image also that there was free movement of pedestrians to cross the roads as Traffic lights were not installed until later years.

Pushcarts, Horses, cars and pedestrians had been New York’s main build up of traffic in the late 18th century and the early 19th century. Pushcarts and horse’s were mainly used as modes of transportation, whilst also being used as stations of commerce. Pushcarts would halt on the side of the roads and begin selling goods to the passerby’s. However, these stalls soon became an issue within the city as they were not only effecting local businesses in New York by reducing their trade, they were also causing major traffic congestion within the city.


This image was found on a website displaying old postcards of New York City. This particular postcard displays 5th Avenue and Broadway, where you can see that the street traffic was quite high. You can also see that no traffic signals have been put in place yet.

As an aid to this problem, New York’s chamber of commerce called for a ban on these pushcart businesses. Daniel Bluestone (1992) wrote “Proposals for banning pushcarts favored a modern ideal of the street as the exclusive province of smoothly circulating traffic”. He went on to describe that the narrow view of the street as a traffic artery resembled the broader specialization of urban space during the 19th century. New York city then introduced in 1904 it’s first Subway line to provide rapid transport within the city to help elevate traffic congestion on the streets.


The introduction of Traffic lights becomes a milestone for the transport infrastructure of the city, the introduction of auto mobiles reduces the amount of pushcarts and horse’s used for travel within the city of New York.

As the city developed over time with the increase of auto mobiles and almost the extinction of pushcarts, the right infrastructures had to be put in place to ensure the free use of streets by citizens of New York in a modern day world. With this saw the increase of Traffic lights, Subway lines, and pedestrianized areas.

If we look at Times Square which is renowned for its high tourism attraction within the city. This square acts as a focal point within the city. It had always been quite heavily congested with both pedestrians and traffic on the streets. It was not until the early 21st Century where this Public space became a traffic free zone to allow the free movement of citizens within the area.(, 2009)


Free movement of pedestrians within Times Square introduced in early 21st Century to reduce amount of accidents within the notorious tourist landmark in New York City.


Bluestone, D (1992) The Landscape of Modernity: New York city 1900-1940. Chapter 13 “The pushcart evil” Published university press oxford. (2009) “New York celebrates new era as cars are banished from Times Square” Published 25th May 2009 [Electronic Source] Accessed 4 November 2014

Dennis, R. (2008) Cities in Modernity. New York. NY. Cambridge University Press. (2012) “From Horse Power to Horsepower” Published 26th March 2012 [Electronic Source] Accessed 2 November 2014

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