Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

From Narrative Objects to Poetic Practices: On Figurative Modes of Urbanism

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Abstract:  In the context of increased interest in literary methods for spatial design, this article argues for a reconsideration of narrative methods for urban planning. It holds that when narrative is taken not as a reified object but as an active mode, in which a strategy for organizing the phenomenal world allows for form to be created from and within the profusion of signs, the importance of heterogeneous non-narrative elements comes into full force, in particular around figurative or metaphorical language, even or especially within the narrative frame. Drawing on work from Bernardo Secchi and Paola Viganò on and around the “porous city” figure and the Greater Paris international consultations, the article makes a case for a narrative of poetic practices. By identifying the polysemic agency of the poetic function, the territorial figure becomes not a comparison between two terms, but a complex linking of similarities in multiple dissimilar states, creating an effect of rapprochement with new possible futures.

Keywords:  figurative language; metaphor; mode; narrative; poetics; urbanism



© Jeremy Allan Hawkins. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.