03/02/2010 Guest Lecture by Matthew Gandy: Sinking cities. The inundation of post-industrial London


Sinking cities. The inundation of post-industrial London
We begin with J.G. Ballard’s depiction of a future London submerged under water in his prescient novel The drow- ned world to explore the threat of ooding in the early twenty- rst century post-industrial metropolis. First publis- hed at the height of the Cold War in 1962 Ballard’s novel examines the relics of a modern urban society in a post- catastrophe scenario. The destruction of Ballard’s London is attributed to a dramatic change in climate so that the city is thrown into a reprise of the Palaeozoic era. Ballard’s ctional scenario is contextualized through an analysis of the actual hydrological threats facing London from rising ground water levels and the long-term threat to ood de- fences posed by changes in sea level. The adaptive capa- city of London is explored in relation to the redistribution of environmental risk undertaken by nancial institutions, new forms of municipal administration and the recon gu- ration of the public realm engendered by the privatization of public services.
Matthew Gandy is Professor of Geography at University
College London and Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory. His publications include Concrete and clay: reworking nature in New York City (MIT Press, 2002), „Learning from Lagos“ in New Left Review (2005) and „Cyborg urbanization“ in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2005). He is currently writing a book on cultural histories of urban infrastructure.