Another City for Another Life:

I’m starting work on a course, possibly a collaborative one, that would have three components. 1. Psychogeography, as a way of moving through the city, gathering a knowledge of its ambiences, but concentrating on its special moments. 2. Unitary Urbanism, or the practice of imagining another city for another life, based on the ambiences detected in creating a psychogeography, and 3. Speculative Design, which experiments in a playful and open way with models or projects or components for realizing Unitary Urbanism. What follows is an effort to gather materials and ideas for such a course. I would appreciate suggestions.

The opening section below introduces Psychogeography and Unitary Urbanism together, as they emerged out of the early experiments of the Situationist International in 1950s Paris. In brief: the idea is that through wandering in the city, outside of the organized time of work and leisure, one can glimpse ambiences that might suggest a whole other kind of city for a better way of life.

Guy Debord, ‘Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography’

Guy Debord ‘Theory of the Dérive’

Ivan Chtcheglov, ‘Formula for a New Urbanism’

Letterist International, ‘Proposals for Rationally Improving the City o Paris’

Guy Debord, ‘Situationist Theses on Traffic’

Constant, ‘Another City for Another Life’

McKenzie Wark, ‘New Babylon’

Kevin Pyle & McKenzie Wark ‘Totality for Kids’


The next section is about different ways of practicing psychogeography in New York City.

McKenzie Wark, ‘Zuccotti Park: A Psychogeography’

Dave Mandl, ‘The Ends of Brooklyn’

Joseph Heathcott, ‘Borderlands’

Mattern, Shannon, ‘Infrastructural Tourism’


Exercises. These are ideas for ways of combining Psychogeography that has a particular focus with thinking about Unitary Urbanism. The principle of Unitary Urbanism is “another city for another life.” Here are suggestions for various different ways one could start experiencing the city and thinking through different alternative cities one might design. I don’t have readings for all of these yet.

The alternate ability city.

What is the city like if one has to be on wheels, or cannot walk very far or fast? Could one imagine a city for everyone based on the principle of low power or self-powered wheeled motion?

John Hockenberry, Moving Violations, Hachette, 1996

Tomás Sánchez Criado on ‘funcional diversity’

Astra Taylor, Examined Live (movie), 2008 Sunaura Tayor & Judith Butler section,

The amusement city.

What if the city’s leisure zones were not time off from work, but the whole basis of a life of play?

Zoe Beloff Coney Island

Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York, Monacelli, 1997

Simon Sadler, Archigram, MIT Press, 2005

The animal city.

Maybe the idea city would not be for humans. What would a city for squirrels look like? Or birds?

Jason Munshi-South,

Architecture for Animals:

Meredith Drum ‘Oyster City’

Natalie Jeremijenko

The city of women.

What if one could reverse, or erase, male dominated space?

Laura Elkin, Flaneuse: Women Walk the City, FSG 2017

Rebecca SolnitWanderlust: A History of Walking,  Verso, 2002. (chapter on women)

Janet Wolff  ‘The Invisible Flâneuse. Women and the Literature of Modernity’ Theory, Culture & Society November 1985 2:37-46

Elizabeth Wilson, ‘The Invisible Flaneur’

The cognitive city.

We are not all of the same mind. Maybe the city would be different if one was depressed, manic, autistic, and so forth. Chtcheglov proposed different zones for different emtional states, but what about cognitive states?

Andrea Captick, in Tina Richardson (ed) Walking Inside Out, Rowen & Littlefield, 2015

Steve Graby, ‘Wandering Minds’

The driverless city.

Apparently Tesla are testing driverless cars here already. Would there be another city one could create that was driverless?

Building Blog, ‘Trap Streets’

The drowned city.

Truth is, the waters are rising. Rather than think this as an apocalypse, what might an aquatic NYC be like?

Eve S Mosher ‘High Waterline’

MOMA ‘Rising Currents’

Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312, Orbit 2013

The dumpsterdive city.

Is there a way to think the psychogeography of dumpster diving or gleaning as a fragment of another life?

Jeff Ferrell, Empire of Scrounge, NYU Press, 2005

Agnes Varda, The Gleaners and I, (movie), 2000

The edible city.

What might the city be like if it grew its own food?

Fallen Fruit:

Nicola Twiley, ‘The Coldscape’

The hip hop city

This might be a drift through used record stores as much as the streets, but what if we took the utopian promise of very early hip hop, and built a city out of it?

Jim Fricke, Yes Yes Y’all: The Oral History of Hip Hop’s First Decade, Da Capo, 2002

Charlie Ahearn, Wild Style (movie), 1092

The infrastructure city.

If one thought backwards from the experience of infrastructure, how might that be structured differently to enable other kinds of city?

Mattern, Shannon, ‘Infrastructural Tourism’

Nicola Twiley, ‘The Coldscape’

Steve Duncan’s-urban-explorer-daredevil-and-sewer-man

The invisible city.

Maybe you don’t feel at home. Maybe the best city is the one that avoids detection, that knows how to hide, If you had to hide this city, how would you do it?

Hito Steyerl, How Not to Be Seen,

The micro city.

There are cities within cities. That have their own languages, customs, idioms. You might want to start with a psychogeography of something very small, a block or two, even.

Ada Calhoun, St Marks Is Dead, Norton, 2015

HT Tsiang, The Hanging on Union Square, Kaya, 2013

The minor city.

Sometimes it seems as if NYC is only ever optimized for rich white men. What about any or every-body else?

Garnette Cadogan, ‘Walkiing While Black’

Brandon Harris, ‘Recovering Weeksville’

HT Tsiang, And China Has Hands, Kaya, 2013

The negated city.

Hollywood movies love to destroy New York. In what scenarios could its destruction, in part or whole, be beneficial?

Unclear Holocaust:

Mark Davis, Dead Cities

The queer City.

Is there another city for another life that would be a queer life? One not premised on heterosexual monogamy? And the built form it imposes?

Alvin Baltrop:

Samuel Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.

Jose Munoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, NYU Press, 2009

The sensory city.

We only see but we hear, feel and smell the city. What might a city for other senses be?

‘Matter of Sense’

Derek Jarman, Blue, (movie), 1993

The thief’s city.

A remarkable amount of time and effort goes into keeping people’s stuff secure. What does the city look like from the point of view of its liberation?

Geoff Manaugh, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, FSG, 2016

The waste city.

Where does all the trash go? Could the city be something other than a huge emitter of waste?

Gowanus Dregder’s Club

Maintenance Art


Readings: Unitary Urbanism

Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Project of Autonomy, Princeton Architectural, 2008

Craig Buckley (ed) Utopie: Texts & Projects, Semiotext(e), 2011

Larry Busbea, Topologies: Urban Utopia in France, MIT Press, 2012

Peter Lang & William Menking, Superstudio: A Life Without Objects, Skira 2003

Jose Munoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, NYU Press, 2009

Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312, Orbit 2013

Simon Sadler, The Situationist City, MIT Press, 1998

Simon Sadler, Archigram, MIT Press, 2005

McKenzie Wark, The Beach Beneath the Street, Verso, 2015

Wigley, Mark, The Hyper-architecture of Desire, 001, 1998


Readings Psychogeography (General)

Michele Bernstein, The Night, Book Works, 2013

Matthew Coolidge et al, Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Metropolis Books, 2006

Merlin Coverley, Psychogeography, Oldcastle, 2010

Laura Elkin, Flaneuse: Women Walk the City, FSG 2017

Owen Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Verso, 2011

Geoff Manaugh, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, FSG, 2016

Laura Oldfield Ford, Savage Messiah, Verso, 2011

Simon Pope, London Walking: A Handbook for Survival, Batsford, 2000

Tina Richardson (ed) Walking Inside Out, Rowen & Littlefield, 2015

Sukhdev Sandhu, Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night, Verso, 2010

Phil Smith, Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways, Triarchy, 2014

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking,  Verso, 2002

McKenzie Wark, Virtual Geography, Indiana UP, 1995


Readings: Psychogeography (New York)

Marshall Berman, All that is Solid Melts into Air, Penguin, 1998

Marshall Berman, On the Town, Verso, 2009

Ingrid Burrington, Networks of New York, Melville House, 2016

Teju Cole, Open City: A Novel, Random House, 2012

Mike Davis, Dead Cities, New Press, 2002

Samuel Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, NYU Press, 2001

Jim Fricke, Yes Yes Y’all: The Oral History of Hip Hop’s First Decade, Da Capo, 2002

William Helmreich, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, Princeton University Press, 2013

David Kishik, The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City, Stanford, 2015

Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York, Monacelli, 1997

Federico Garcia Lorca, Poet in New York, Grove, 2007

Stephen Miller, Walking New York: Reflections of American Writers, Fordham 2016

Luc Sante, Low Lifes: Lures and Snares of Old New York, FSG, 2003

Phillip Lopate, Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan, Anchor, 2005

Allan Sekula, Fish Story, Richter Verlag, 2003

Rebecca Solnit, Non-Stop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, University of California Press, 2016

Michael Sorkin, Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, Reaktion, 2009

Alexander Trocchi, Cain’s Book, Grove, 1993

McKenzie Wark, Telesthesia, Polity, 2012


Readings ( misc websites)


Alvin Baltrop:

Zoe Beloff Coney Island

Jill Magid ‘Evidence Locker’

Natalie Jeremijenko

Meredith Drum ‘Oyster City’

Gordon Matta-Clark ‘Fake estates’

Unclear Holocaust:

Hito Steyerl, How Not to be Seen

Pratt Show:


Nicola Twiley, ‘The Coldscape’

Lebbeus Woods

Sensory Maps

Visualizing Cities


Jason Munshi-South,


Steve Duncan’s-urban-explorer-daredevil-and-sewer-man

Moses Gates

Gowanus Dregder’s Club


Paul Goodman, ‘Banning Cars’

Brandon Harris, ‘Recovering Weeksville’

1882 Woodbine:

10 thoughts on “Psychogeography and Speculative Design

  1. This is fantastic. Thank you. Thinking about the senses you may like this: The Psychogeographical Sat Nav by LoneLady featuring The LRM The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) are based in Manchester, UK and have been organising public derives and psychogeographical shenanigans for the last ten years, and have been commemorating that with an exhibition at the People’s History Museum

  2. Really interesting topic!

    It makes echo to a collaborative art/design projet I started last year at the Royal College of Art. Feel free to have a look at it. Could be interesting to collaborate.

    Inspired by the concept of psychogeography, The London Space is a visual database of London’s urban spaces. The website is updated weekly – with photographs and texts – by contributors with backgrounds in architecture, writing, design and photography.

  3. Some suggestions. Hope they prove interesting.

    On the alternate ability city: Tomás Sánchez Criado has been carrying out some wonderful work with the Barcelona-based group of “funcional diversity” (alternate ability) urban hackers “En torno a la silla”. There’s plenty to choose from on his website (in English and Spanish) here:

    On the infrastructure city: A number of guerrilla and “free culture” architectural and artistic collectives in Spain have been arguing for a “right to infrastructure” (as verb) that would enrich and complexify discourses on the “right to the city”. See for instance:

    On the sensory city: The popular assemblies that sprung across Madrid in the wake of the Occupy/Indignados movement have provoked some to theorize the city not (just) as “matters of concern” or “matters of care” but as “matters of sense”:

  4. Hi – I began to compile a bibliography on the flaneuse – Lauren Elkin not the first! It’s not complete, but a ‘women’s city’ might perhaps be one of the visions (more radical in some places than others, perhaps): ‘Imagine our streets full of women talking, strolling, laughing and gesticulating. Imagine parks and beaches dotted with young women sitting alone. Imagine street corners raken over by older women reflecting on the state of the world. Imagine maidans occupied by women workers planning their next strike for a raise in minimum wages…If one can imagine all of this, one can imagine a radically altered city!’ Phadke, Khan, Ranade

    Ashley, Tamara and Simone Kenyon. 2007. The Pennine Way: The Legs that Make Us. Brief Magnetics.

    Caws, Mary Ann. 1993. Seeing the Surrealist Woman: We Are a Problem. In Surrealism and Women, eds. Mary Ann Caws, Rudolf Kuenzli and Gwen Raaberg, 11 – 16. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

    Cocker, Emma. 2007. Desiring to be Led Astray. Papers of Surrealism, 6, 1 – 30.

    D’Souza, Aruna and Tom McDonough (2006) The Invisible Flaneuse?: Gender, Public Space and Visual Culture in nineteenth century Paris, Manchester University Press.

    Grauerholtz, Angela (2013) doa 6.10.16

    Heddon, D., and Turner, C. (2010) ‘Walking women: interviews with artists on the move.’ Performance Research, 15(4), pp. 14–22.

    Heddon, D., and Turner, C. (2012) ‘Walking women: shifting the tales and scales of mobility’. Contemporary Theatre Review, 22(2), pp. 224–236

    Massey, Doreen. 2007 (1994). Space, Place and Gender. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Munt, Sally R. 2002. The Lesbian Flâneur. In The Unknown City: Contesting Architecture and Social Space eds. Ian Borden et al, 246 – 261. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

    Myers, Misha, ‘Walk with me, talk with me’: the art of conversive wayfinding’, Visual Studies, 25:1, 69-68.

    Phadke, Shilpa, Khan, Sameera, Ranade, Shilpa (2011), Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets, London: Penguin

    Rendell, Jane (2002) The Pursuit of Pleasure: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London, London: Continuum.

    Scalway, Helen (2002), ‘The Contemporary Flaneuse: Exploring Strategies for the Drifter in a Feminine Mode’, found at, doa 6.10.16.

    Schneider, Rebecca. 2009. Patricide and the Passerby. In Performance and the City, ed. D.J. Hopkins, Shelley Orr and Kim Solga, 51-70. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Solnit, Rebecca. 2002. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Verso. (chapter on women)

    Wolff, Janet (1985) ‘The Invisible Flâneuse. Women and the Literature of Modernity’ Theory, Culture & Society November 1985 2:37-46

    Wolff, Janette. 1994. The Artist and the Flâneur: Rodin, Rilke, and Gwen John in Paris. In The Flâneur, ed. Keith Tester, 111 – 37. London: Routledge

    (Oh and then, not on flaneuse, but there’s my book ‘Dramaturgy and Architecture: Theatre, utopia and the built environment’, which is often about reimagining cities through theatre, and which has a chapter on the Situationists, and which cites you a few times actually)

  5. This looks very interesting, thank you for sharing it online!

    Along the Sensory City / Hip-Hop City lines of your inquiry, my MIT Media Lab thesis work, Syncwalk, might be of interest or of use to your students. The thesis is here:
    Syncwalk is a locative audio composition platform (for Android and Spotify, right now). I made it so I could share my impressions of a locale with you by “sound designing” your walk through a neighborhood. Sort of a spatial mixtape.
    I recently revived the platform using modern web tools, and it lives, free for all, at
    It’s brand new and still quite alpha, but I would appreciate any brave souls willing to try it out! I’m based in NYC, btw, so there are already quite a few Brooklyn-centric Syncwalks already made that you can try out…

    My sincere apologies if this comes off as spam, by the way, that is not my intention – I’m happy to delete this post if it’s not appropriate.


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