Reading Urban Landscapes

What do we see when we look closely at the cities that surround us?  One of the most important tools in the urbanist’s tool kit is close observation—the ability to “read” the landscape, morphology, architecture, and social life of the city.  This is not simply a matter of “intuition”; unless you know a place intimately, it requires a lot of work, patience, and practice.  And it is not just “looking around”; rather, we build up our understanding of urban landscapes through a range of documentary, interpretive, and analytical methods, such as fieldwork, photographysite studies, archival research, visual analysis, mapping, drawing, and deep listening. 


Aerial States. Exhibit under development.
"Architecture, Urban Form, and Assemblage Aesthetics in Mexico City's Street Markets." International Journal of Architectural Research 13, 1 (2019).
"Mexico City's Multicoloured Markets from Above," The Guardian, 12 Oct 2018.
Queens Urbanism: Research project in progress
"What's In a Roofline? Architectural Memory in the Heart of New York." Photographic essay. Urban Omnibus: The Journal of the Architectural League of New York. Dec 2017.
"Urban Data Streams: Selections from the Façade Project." Photographs. Domus (Mar 2017).
"Angels of Memory in the City." Presidential Address for the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, delivered at the Sixteenth Biennial Planning History Conference, Los Angeles, Nov 2015.
"Boundary Worlds: Traveling the Brooklyn-Queens Border." Photographic and documentary essay in Urban Omnibus: The Journal of the Architectural League of New York, 15 January 2015.
"Urban Margins: Borders, Boundaries, and Lines on the Land." Lecture delivered for the City of New York's Department of Design and Construction Monthly Speaker Series, Mar 2015.
"Official, Informal, Insurgent: Creative Approaches to Public Space." Lecture at the University of Vienna, Jul 2014.
"Borderlands." Installation of photographs and archival maps detailing the Brooklyn-Queens border landscapes, prepared for the reopening of the Queens Museum of Art. Nov 2013-Jan 2014.
Revised, expanded, and published as "The Historic Urban Landscape of the Swahili Coast: New Frameworks for Conservation." In World Heritage Papers Series No. 36: Swahili Historic Urban Landscapes (Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center, 2013).
"Place specificity in the emergence of urban cultural phenomena: The case of Hip-Hop
and the South Bronx." Lecture, University of Amsterdam, Sept 2012.
"One Night in Belleville, Paris, 2011." Photographic essay for XCP Streetnotes 19, 1 special issue on
'The New Europe" (June 2011).
"Surface Moments, Marrakech." Photographic essay for Camera Obscura 18 (March 2011).
"One New Year's Eve in a Dying City." Antioch Review 69, 2 (Spring 2011).
Post-Acropolis: Five photographers document the Midwest metropolitan landscape, with work by Michael Allen, Toby Weiss, Robert Powers, Clare Boyd, and John Montre. Curator.
"Is There a Queens Urbanism? Hyperdiversity and City Form in New York's Enigmatic Borough." Inaugural lecture for the Columbia University American Studies Lecture Series on "NYC in American Studies / American Studies in NYC." Sept 2009.
"The Street as a Transnational Space." On Site Review: Journal of Architecture and Culture 19, special issue on "Streets," Summer 2008.
"Block Signs." Photographic essay with Damon Rich. In Public Phenomena, ed. Temporary Services. Chicago: Half Letter Press, 2008.
Rebuilding Bohemian Hill. Site analysis, community charrette, and architectural program proposal for 16 affordable housing units in South St. Louis. With Solana Rice. October-December 2006.
"Intimate, Stark, and Mundane: The River and the Metropolis in Daily Life." Lecture delivered at the Institut Charles V, Université de Paris VII, Paris, France, May 2003.
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© 2016 Joseph Heathcott