COVID in the City: high rise buildings, elevator lifts and fallen symbols
This article examines what the coronavirus crisis reveals about the unexamined presumptions of existing discourses of urbanisation and globalisation. It takes a micro-oriented focus on the impact of the pandemic on the future of the high-rise buildings which are central to both the functionality and the imaginary of the modern city. Its focus is specifically on the constraints which the pandemic has imposed on current norms of vertical mobility (via lifts/elevators) within these buildings. It then considers the broader significance of the potential obsolescence of previously prestigious architectural and technological forms, including the high-rise building and the cruise ship, both of which have come to be enveloped by this pandemic within dystopian forms of symbolism.
KEYWORDS: Modern city; pandemic; high-rise buildings; cruise ships; urbanisation; vertical mobility; collapsology
David Morley is Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London. His most recent monograph is Communications and Mobility: the Migrant, the Mobile Phone and the Container Box (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). He is also the editor of Stuart Hall: Essential Essays, Vols 1 and 2 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019).