A Configuration Pregnant with Tensions

A constellation is a spatio-temporal configuration, it provides both a map and calendar of the individual stars and planets and their place in the overall pattern of the sky. Each star occupies a discrete position in relation to the others; it also has its own unique life span or time. Each star has a different duration, and what we see of a star today is not simply a function of what is physically present right now, but it is also a trace of what has occurred, which even as we look at it now is no longer present.[i]

On a visit to a ruined arts and crafts house in London’s green belt ten years ago I salvaged a few items – notably one book, New Architecture of London: A Selection of Buildings since 1930,[ii] along with a selection of back and white photographs, some of which are reproduced here. Recently I have become fascinated with tracking down the buildings imaged in the photographs. As well as the architectural qualities of the structures, I have had five text-based clues to work with – a board in front of one block of flats with the name: ‘Ernest Knifton Ltd.’; a car parked outside another with the registration plate: ‘SLX 956’; a street sign reading ‘Westmoreland Terrace’; and letters over the entrances to two other buildings with the words: ‘1-24 Edmund Street’ and ‘Witl-‘.

Publication Details: ‘A Configuration Pregnant with Tensions’, Matthew Gandy (ed) Urban Constellations (Berlin: Jovis, 2011).

http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/ … /matthew-gandy/files/Urban_constellations.pdf


[i] In popular parlance we use the term constellation to refer to ‘a group of celestial bodies (usually stars) that appear to form a pattern in the sky or appear visibly related to each other’ This is actually something astronomers would call an asterism, and in astronomy the term constellation refers to the stars and other celestial bodies that are present in a particular area of the night sky. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constellation#Definitions (accessed 9 June 2011).

[ii] Sam Lambert,  (ed.), New Architecture of London: A Selection of Buildings since 1930. The British Travel and Holidays Association in collaboration with the Architectural Association (1963).

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