Urban ghosts and the architectural detail : a dialogue between mental construing and physical construction


Cowley, Louise




The city exists in two forms: the tangible and the intangible. The tangible city is the physical form of the built environment and the intangible city is the perception of that same physical space. These two forms interact in a continuous dialogue of corporeal experience and mental understanding.

The Industrial Revolution undermined the art of crafting in North America and, as a result, city design disengaged the imagination and grew to scales beyond corporeal perception. The thesis reacts to these developments by choreographing the dialogue in order to enhance a user's interaction with the city and synchronize physical manipulation with psychological understanding.

Critical to the analysis is the role of the corporeal unit as the vessel of cognitive and spatial understanding. Using Marco Frascari's depiction of the detail as the means through which the interplay of construction (tangible) and construing (intangible) is made manifest, along with Kevin Lynch's analysis of urban images, the thesis will choreograph the conversation between these two forms of the city. The thesis aims to invigorate the intangible essence of the city and understand the mental mind frame as a key factor in urban involvement. Through mapping the chosen site is evaluated and the intangible made manifest. The phenomena of ghosts and the  imagination, which perpetuate mental imagery and create internal landscapes of physical associations, will guide the project of architecture in examining the role of the dialogue as a means of assimilating the dweller to the  project and the project to the city.


Architecture, Industrial
Urban renewal




Carleton University

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Master of Architecture: 

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Theses and Dissertations

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