Envisaging L'Aquila
edited by Alessandro Coppola

Towards the city of thresholds

by Stavros Stavrides

ISBN 978-88-904295-3-8, pp. 160 – € 16

Download the full PDF version

In the creation and social use of thresholds a potential spatiality of emancipation emerges. Social struggles and movements are exposed to the formative potentialities of thresholds.

Fragments of a different life, experienced during the struggle, take form in spaces and times with threshold characteristics. When people collectively realize that their actions are becoming different from their usual collective habits, then comparison becomes liberating.

But these thresholds, these heterotopias, are bound to the inconsistencies and twisting ways of social change. In them, the radical otherness of human emancipation is confronted, approached and explored.

Can the city of thresholds become the spatial equivalent of an emancipating project based on the negotiation between different but open identities in the process of collectively inventing the future?


Table of Contents


Spatiotemporal thresholds and the experience of otherness
Beyond borders
Thresholds as social artifacts
Approaching otherness
An emancipating spatiality?

Part I

Chapter 1

Exemplary metropolitan rhythms and the city of enclaves
Rhythms, social practices and public space
The logic of red zones
The partitioned city and the “framing” of identities
A “state of exception” becoming the rule 31
Exception versus thresholds
Red zones as normalizing exceptions and the “city of thresholds”
Citizens before the fencing politics
From the city of enclaves to the city of thresholds

Chapter 2

Inventing rhythms, inhabiting exception
Inhabiting rhythms
Habits, habitation and otherness
An experience of the aftermath: inhabiting a “state of exception”
Can space activate memories of discontinuity?

Part II

Chapter 3

Walter Benjamin’s thresholds
Traces and individuality
The flaneur and urban phantasmagoria
The dialectics of de-enchantment
A “study of thresholds”

Chapter 4

Navigating the metropolitan space: walking as a form of negotiation wi th otherness
The metaphor of navigation
Crossing passages to otherness
Negotiating choreographies

Chapter 5

Theatricality: the art of creating thresholds
Approaching the other
Distance and democracy
Distance, difference and racism
Four steps towards the different
Theatrical distance
Proximate otherness
Baudelaire and the clown
The theatrical city
Neighborhoods and manageable proximity

Part III

Chapter 6

Heterotopias: appropriating Foucault’s geography of otherness
Power, order and places
The spatialization of knowledge
Spaces of otherness?
Constitution in turmoil
Heterotopias as spaces in suspense

Chapter 7

Identities and rebellion in Zapatista heterotopias
Those without face
The mask
Any face
Heterotopian experiences

Chapter 8

The December 2008 youth uprising in Athens: glimpses of a possible city of thresholds
A spontaneous uprising
The quest for urban justice
Identities in crisis and the experience of urban porosity
Is there life after December?


About the author. Stavros Stavrides is an architect and teaches at the National Technical University of Athens.


This book has been reviewed in City – Analysis of Urban Trends

An interview by An Architektur with the Author can be found at e-flux journal

More information and papers by the Author can be found at NTUA

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