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Urban Metabolism

Part 2 Project 2005
Frederick Phillipson
University of Cambridge, UK
Two separate projects, linked by the Grand Union Canal, develop interventions at the periphery of London, from beyond the M25 to its nineteenth-century edge at Kensal Green. In the more detailed exploration of this second site, an urban strategy proposes the extraordinary island between Kensal Green cemetery and the railway as a garden, constituting a spectrum of conditions in which a brief structured around health is co-ordinated with this engineered nature. Speculations on this order- effectively that of life (metabolism)- through epidemiology are situated in the garden's horizons, thereby embedded in the concrete urbanity on which these depend.
Frederick Phillipson

Phillipson is one of the most remarkable students to have passed through the Cambridge Diploma (ironically its last year). The second semester scheme takes place between the representation of culture as disease (epidemiology) and concrete urban life. He avoids recourse to "space" and the usual comprehensive synthesis in bourgeois well-being. Instead he builds the order from the bottom up, out of the conflicts in the given conditions and the ambiguities of praxis. The resulting topography provides a framework for understanding through use, in history. The deep metabolism underlying civic life is exposed in the project's extraordinary intellectual richness, wit and openness to phenomena normally suppressed (how much disease is necessary for health?).

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