Building the City from the Inside: Architecture and Urban Transformation in Los Angeles, Porto, and Las Vegas

PhD Thesis Project, presented March 2020.
KTH School of Architecture, Stockholm, Sweden
Supervisors: Roemer van Toorn, Catharina Gabrielsson, Daniel Koch

Positioned in the research field of “interior urbanism” (Rice, 2016), the thesis investigates ways in which architecture mediates processes of urban redevelopment. Three case studies - Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, Casa da Música in Porto, and Wynn Casino in Las Vegas - each epitomize a particular discourse about architecture and the city. The thesis unpacks some of the mechanisms behind the staging of urban transformation, first by highlighting the spatial logic of the threshold between building and city, second by considering the temporal aspects of the waiting room, and third by observing the necessary labor to produce interior “atmospheres”. Together the chapters underline an often overlooked parallel between the refurbishment of building interiors and the economical and political redevelopment of the city outside. The thesis points to the border between building and city not as an absolute formal object, but as a fragile and unstable territory under continuous negotiation. This perpetual transformation of architecture in relation to the city is discussed as a possibility rather than a shortcoming. To conclude, the thesis speculates on the possibilities for re-imagining the border between building and city, using architectural techniques of montage drawing.

Book available at Konst/ig books.