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Conference Papers Year : 2013

The sky is the limit : Airport imaginary facing the urban realm


Airports embody an urban fiction, the one of a whole architecture, a distorting mirror – optimist or dark – reflecting the hopes and the disillusions of their accosting cities. Due to their exile out of the dense city, their exteriority produced an exacerbated interiority, which absorbs the city desires while in the meantime being progressively absorbed by the metropolis. As soon as it is achieved, this frontier – architectural, urban, territorial, dimensional, technological, institutional - calls for its transcendence. This paradigm of the limit brings a fructuous prism for the comprehension of the flourishing imaginary that has designed the airport as an urban artefact, since the years 10’s, The conference will focus in particular on the three decades following the second world war; they marked a spectacular moment for the airports building within industrialized countries. The cases of Orly and Roissy in Paris will help us to explore our purpose. Between the birth of airport authorities, crystallizing the autonomy of airports government, and the rising of a mass transportation, subject to key risks – such as terrorism, resources rarefaction, technological failures -, the 30 Glorieuses embody for airports a radical transition: transition between a transport firstly dedicated to an elite and the rapidly massification of flows, between the certain future projection and the obsolescence anticipation, between the space distension and the urban intensification, between the inevitable routine and the permanent innovation. Shifts and reversals for representations, reveal the urban nature of such spaces, both fictional and concrete.


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Dates and versions

hal-00941936 , version 1 (04-02-2014)


  • HAL Id : hal-00941936 , version 1


Nathalie Roseau. The sky is the limit : Airport imaginary facing the urban realm. Conférence, Nov 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ⟨hal-00941936⟩
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