About

Vertigo in the City is a research project led by Dr Davide Deriu at the University of Westminster School of Architecture + Cities. Prompted by the growth of vertical cities around the world, this project investigates the phenomenon of vertigo in relation to the urban environment. Vertigo is an ambivalent term that evokes emotions of thrill and pleasure as well as fear and anxiety. This tension lies at the heart of the modern urban experience. In the early twentieth century, vertigo was associated with the maelstrom of the metropolis and with the subversion of perceptual stability pursued by avant-garde artists.

But what is the significance of vertigo today? In medical terms, it names a symptom of perceptual disorientation that may be caused by a disruption or impairment of the multisensory balance system. Besides, there are psychic as well as physiological explanations for sensations of dizziness that are known as vertigo. This is why, in everyday language, the word refers to a broad range of feelings such as giddiness, insecurity, confusion (‘a swimming in the head’) and bears an enduring relation to the fear of falling.

Since the turn of the millennium, the concept of vertigo has informed various attempts by philosophers and social scientists to define the present condition of uncertainty and instability – a state of socio-spatial disorientation that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In parallel, there has been a surge in design interventions that pose deliberate challenges to the user’s sense of balance. High-rise platforms around the urbanised world are increasingly designed as stages for thrill experiences. Meanwhile, contemporary artists have engaged with the perception of vertical space, provoking us to rethink the states of suspension that pervade the urban age.

How can we make sense of this wide-ranging and multi-faceted phenomenon? Can vertigo offer a productive category for interpreting the contemporary urban experience? What methods can be developed to address these questions in creative as well critical fashion? Our project sets up an interdisciplinary framework for exploring vertigo in the city. It develops a range of activities such as workshops, symposia, and exhibitions that involve a plurality of contributions from academics and practitioners. The aims are to produce and share knowledge around key thematics, develop collaborations across disciplines, and foster public engagement. This evolving project is open to new contributions.

People

Reader in Architectural History and Theory at the School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster.

Contributors

The project draws on a loose network of researchers and practitioners working in a variety of different fields who have been involved at different stages of collaboration.

Vienna-based artists-researchers leading the cross-disciplinary project “Navigating Dizziness Together” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and editors of “Dizziness ​– A Resource” (Sternberg Press, 2019).

Practising architect and Lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Reading.

Emeritus Professor at University of Roehampton. Dance artist, director, performer and educator. Gestalt psychotherapist. Author of Falling through Dance and Life (Bloomsbury, 2021).

Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster.

Lecturer in Art History at the University of the Arts, London. Author of Falling for Gravity: Invisible Forces in Contemporary Art (Peter Lang, 2018).
Tutor in History of Design at Royal College of Art, London.
Author of The Architecture of Pleasure: British Amusement Parks 1900-1939 (Ashgate 2013).

Curator of Ambika P3 and Reader in Film and Video at the University of Westminster.

Thrill Engineer and Professor of Creative Industries at Middlesex University, London.

London-based artist and Professorial Fellow at the School of Fine Arts, University for the Creative Arts.

Ruth Anderwald & Leonhard Grond

Vienna-based artists-researchers leading the cross-disciplinary project “Navigating Dizziness Together” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and editors of “Dizziness ​– A Resource” (Sternberg Press, 2019).

Amy Butt

Practising architect and Lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Reading.

Emilyn Claid

Emeritus Professor at University of Roehampton. Dance artist, director, performer and educator. Gestalt psychotherapist. Author of Falling through Dance and Life (Bloomsbury, 2021).

John Golding

Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster.

Catherine James

Lecturer in Art History at the University of the Arts, London. Author of Falling for Gravity: Invisible Forces in Contemporary Art (Peter Lang, 2018).

Josephine Kane

Tutor in History of Design at Royal College of Art, London.
Author of The Architecture of Pleasure: British Amusement Parks 1900-1939 (Ashgate 2013).

Michael Mazière

Curator of Ambika P3 and Reader in Film and Video at the University of Westminster.

Brendan Walker

Thrill Engineer and Professor of Creative Industries at Middlesex University, London.

Catherine Yass

London-based artist and Professorial Fellow at the School of Fine Arts, University for the Creative Arts.

Ruth Anderwald & Leonhard Grond

Vienna-based artists-researchers leading the cross-disciplinary project “Navigating Dizziness Together” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and editors of Dizziness ​– A Resource (Sternberg Press, 2019).

Amy Butt

Practising architect and Lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Reading.

Emilyn Claid

Emeritus Professor at University of Roehampton. Dance artist, director, performer and educator. Gestalt psychotherapist. Author of Falling through Dance and Life (Bloomsbury, 2021).

John Golding

Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster.

Catherine James

Lecturer in Art History at the University of the Arts, London. Author of Falling for Gravity: Invisible Forces in Contemporary Art (Peter Lang, 2018).

Josephine Kane

Tutor in History of Design at Royal College of Art, London.
Author of The Architecture of Pleasure: British Amusement Parks 1900-1939 (Ashgate 2013).

Michael Mazière

Curator of Ambika P3 and Reader in Film and Video at the University of Westminster.

Brendan Walker

Thrill Engineer and Professor of Creative Industries at Middlesex University, London.

Catherine Yass

London-based artist and Professorial Fellow at the School of Fine Arts, University for the Creative Arts.

Untitled

35 MARYLEBONE ROAD
LONDON
NW1 5LS

CONTACT

Davide Deriu
Reader in Architectural History & Theory
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Funding

2014/5 | WELLCOME TRUST
Small Grant in the Medical Humanities

2019/20 | BRITISH ACADEMY
Mid-Career Fellowship

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© Vertigo in the City 2021