Pyrotechnic Cities: Architecture, Fire-Safety and Standardisation (Routledge Research in Architecture) (Hardcover)

Pyrotechnic Cities: Architecture, Fire-Safety and Standardisation (Routledge Research in Architecture) By Liam Ross Cover Image

Pyrotechnic Cities: Architecture, Fire-Safety and Standardisation (Routledge Research in Architecture) (Hardcover)


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This book explores the relationship between architecture, government and fire. It posits that, through the question of fire-safety standardisation, building design comes to be both a problem for, and a tool of, government. Through a close study of fire-safety standards it demonstrates the shaping effect that architecture and the city have on the way we think about governing.

Opening with an investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire and the political actors who sought to enrol it in programmes of governmental reform before contextualising the research in current literature, the book takes four city studies, each beginning with a specific historic fire: The 1654 Great Fire of Meirecki, Edo; the 1877 town fire of Lagos; the 1911 Empire Palace Theatre fire, Edinburgh; and the 2001 World Trade Centre attack, New York. Each study identifies the governmental response to the fire, safety standards and codes designed in its wake and how these new processes spread and change.

Drawing on the work of sociologists John Law and Anne Marie Mol and their concept of 'Fire Space', it describes the way that architectural design, through the medium of fire, is an instrument of political agency. Pyrotechnic Cities is a critical investigation into these political implications, written for academics, researchers and students in architectural history and theory, infrastructure studies and governance.

Liam Ross is an architect and senior lecturer in Architectural Design at the University of Edinburgh. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Architectural Association, and completed his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Mark Dorrian. Through his research he responds 'to a call to study boring things', paying attention to taken-for-granted aspects of design practice that nonetheless have pervasive effects. Over the past six years his work has focussed on fire-safety standards; he has sought to foreground the contingencies that underpin these universalising codes, and to illustrate their often surprising side-effects. That work has been published in Arch +, arq, Architectural Theory Review, Candide, Gta Papers and Volume, was exhibited at the British Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, and features in the edited collections Industries of Architecture and Neoliberalism on the Ground. At present he is working on a study of fire metaphors, considering them part of the conceptual infrastructure of architectural theory.
Product Details ISBN: 9780367459673
ISBN-10: 0367459671
Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: June 24th, 2022
Pages: 228
Language: English
Series: Routledge Research in Architecture