© 2016 Joseph Heathcott

What I do

I am a scholar-practitioner working in the interdisciplinary mode of Urbanism.  I study the urban condition through a range of scales, registers, and media.  The goal is to produce new knowledge and understadning of the world, which I do through writing, making things, and engaging communities.  You can see a rough chronology of my work here.

 

The primary focus of my work is on the mutual constitution of the city and the idea of the city, for every city is at once imagined and real.  Thus, I examine the production of everyday city life as well as discourses about cities over the past two centuries.  From my view, cities are both artifacts and generators of human creativity; they cannot be studied apart from the meanings that we make of them. 

 

Faced with the immeasurable complexity and dynamism of cities, most urbanists draw on a variety of methods.  In my case, I use fieldwork, architectural studies, archival research, site analysis, photography, and other practices.  My goal is to illuminate some portion of urban experience, however momentary, fragmented, or small.  Much of my work focuses on the interrelation of professional and discursive practices such as planning, architecture, and urban design as these shape the everyday landscapes that surround us.  I am particularly interested in how people relate to these landscapes—planned and unplanned, monumental and mundane, legible and uncanny—and how the material solidity of the city obscures the forces of its production and masks the systemic inequalities of its development over time.

I am also interested in the vital public life of cities, particularly in those spaces where people encounter one another across lines of difference--streets, sidewalks, plazas, shopping centers, parks, playgrounds, markets, train stations, and 'third spaces'.  I look closely at how people negotiate these spaces of encounter, and how they deploy their creativity to illuminate the cities around them. 

 

Motivating this work is a fundamental concern for the welfare of our urban environments and the people in them.  Ultimately through my scholarship and practice I hope to contribute to the creation of a justly formed, equitably resourced, collaboratively designed, and democratically stewarded metropolis.