From the soaring atriums of mega-hotels to the concourses of shopping malls and transport interchanges, vast interior spaces have become ubiquitous in the contemporary city. Yet such spaces are also subject to intense criticism and claims they destroy the quality of a city’s authentic life ‘on the outside’.
This project explores the roots of this contemporary tension between inside and outside, tracing the concept of interior urbanism to the works of John Portman and Associates in 1960s and 70s America. Portman’s architecture, known for its spectacular interior space, is used as a lens through which to reconsider key issues of the period: the commercial imperative in architecture, social and economic instability in cities, and debates about the role and form of public space. Utilising original photography and analytical drawings, the project offers a critical history of a pervasive contemporary condition.
The research has been disseminated in AA Files (no. 64) and the monograph Interior Urbanism, Architecture, John Portman and Downtown America (Bloomsbury, 2016).