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City portraits

We read the city, listening to its stories. Sometimes a building pulls at a thread that unravels the city around it; other times the city has a story all of its own. These city portraits tell us about the wide, complex fabric in which architecture sits.

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Reading the city: Roland Barthes in Paris and TokyoSubscription

By Edwina Attlee

From ‘The Eiffel Tower’ to Empire of Signs, Roland Barthes teaches architects how to interpret places


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A future for DublinSubscription

By Lance Wright, Kenneth Browne

This is not a ‘Guide to Dublin’; nor is it about conservation in the currently accepted meaning of the word. It is about urbanism



The raingod’s green, dark as passionSubscription

By Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry paints an auto/biographical portrait of a city that is a man; that is Cork


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Driving the social divide: planning in Belfast reinforces the city’s segregationSubscription

By Mark Hackett

Proving roads and urban planning can be as divisive as walls: twenty years since the peace process began Belfast remains a city disunited


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Pride amid prejudice: Navez social housing, Brussels, by MSA and V+Subscription


Schaerbeek’s elegant and striking watchtower by MSA and V+ proves that the design of housing still constitutes a powerful weapon in the battle against social exclusion 


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True grit: Cadix docklands regeneration in AntwerpSubscription

By Anna Winston

In the face of gradual gentrification, Antwerp must guard against losing the edge that defines the city


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Bank balance: Quai 10 cultural centre and riverside regeneration, Charleroi, by V+ / L’EscautSubscription


Transforming the riverside and converting a Brutalist bank into a centre for cinema, V+ and L’Escaut set a gold standard for Charleroi’s future as the city attempts to rise from its post-industrial ashes


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City within the city: Sewoon Sangga renovation in Seoul, South KoreaSubscription


Despite falling into a state of disrepair and disrepute, Sewoon Sangga remains a vibrant hub of human industry and leisure


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Brought to book: the Paju Book City storySubscription

By Dirk Somers

The reality of Paju Book City today is far from the architectural utopia promised by ARU’s Youlhwadang Book Hall nearly a decade ago



Changing places: reuse of obsolescent buildings in south LondonSubscription

By Owen Hatherley

Driven by culture, commerce, convenience and the vogue for adaptive reuse, south London’s current wave of gentrification is still problematic

Milton Keynes

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Off grid: MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK, by 6a ArchitectsSubscription

By Douglas Murphy

Poised at the edge of Milton Keynes’ Modernist city plan, 6a Architects’ extension of the MK Gallery rekindles a lost arcadian vision


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Love letter to suburbia: Croydon's buried treasureSubscription


In contrast to its staid, soulless reputation, the outskirts of Croydon brim with life

Los Angeles


Seeing red: racial segregation in LA’s suburbsSubscription

30 May, 2019 By Andrea Gibbons

The urbanisation of Los Angeles racially segregated its citizens through ‘redlining’ policies, an urban violence that perseveres today

New York

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Outrage: form follows financeSubscription

By Oliver Wainwright

By exploiting legal loopholes to target the super-rich, developers are ravaging New York and its people


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Zero tolerance: Amsterdam, the cradle of capitalismSubscription

By Alex Raúl

Despite a historical culture of tolerance, the Netherlands is also guilty of oppression. With the global rise of the far right, perhaps it is time for Amsterdam to reassert its liberal values



Becoming BerlinSubscription

By Sophie Lovell

Since the fall of the Wall, the city has transformed itself from a divided, stagnant anomaly into one of the most exciting capitals in the world


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Back to school: Lycée Hôtelier de Lille, France, by Caruso St John ArchitectsSubscription

31 October, 2018 By

Bringing new life to a forgotten factory on the outskirts of Lille, the cookery and hospitality school by Caruso St John is the first piece in a complex, political puzzle


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The gondola and the speedboat: Venice as a crucible of cultureSubscription

By Jonathan Glancey

As a melting pot of art and culture, Venice has historically been a source of inspiration for many

St Petersburg

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St Petersburg: the city of three revolutionsSubscription

By Owen Hatherley

Instigated by an unequal and divided populace, St Petersburg was pivotal in a succession of momentous revolutionary upheavals 

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Unequal measures: the right to the city in Lagos and Addis AbabaSubscription

By Marco Di Nunzio

In African cities – as in cities all over the world – ‘building as development’ is depriving people of their right to the city, exacerbating inequality rather than diminishing it


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Durban Renewal: Pixley House by Designworkshop : SASubscription

By Julian Raxworthy

The Pixley House refurbishment reconciles desire with emergent conditions


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Cultural capital: the ongoing regeneration of Algiers' CasbahSubscription

By Stephen Zacks

A sense of promise hangs in the air over Algiers, accompanied by renewed interest in the fate of the Casbah, but its proposed regeneration is cause for concern


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Makkah's popularity: a tale of two citiesSubscription

By Hessa AlBader, Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki

In its quest to cater for pilgrims, Makkah has transformed from modest to grandiose, socially, architecturally and technologically


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A map in search of lost territory: Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar by Arup, AECOM and Allies and MorrisonSubscription

By Jay Merrick

The development of Msheireb Downtown Doha is intended to recreate the cultural roots of the district while accepting the march of time

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Stepping out: the flâneuse claims the city for herselfSubscription

By Lauren Elkin

Forging a pattern for a new archetypal character distinct from that of her oft-cited male counterpart, the flâneuse savours the city in a way that has historically been denied her

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The Indian city kinetic: consuming, reinterpreting and recycling spacesSubscription

By Rahul Mehrotra, Felipe Vera

Re-envisaging the city as a fluid symbiosis of the formal and informal could spark a more synergetic urbanism

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Notopia: Cultivating the city of the 21st centurySubscription

By Terry Farrell

With the world’s cities growing at a rate never seen before, Terry Farrell is optimistic that digital technologies will determine their future