New Media Urbanism: How Brand-driven City Building is Virtualising the Actual of Space

Gutzmer, Alexander. 2011. New Media Urbanism: How Brand-driven City Building is Virtualising the Actual of Space. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This work is an investigation of the cultural phenomenon of branding in relation to its transformational effects on the contemporary spatial – and urban – reality. Based on a cultural analysis of the brand as capitalist institution, it develops an understanding of the rationale behind the construction of large-scale architectural complexes that relate to corporate brands. The consequences of this process will be discussed regarding two examples of corporate brand-building (“Autostadt Wolfsburg”, “BMW Welt Munich”) and one case of indirectly brand-inspired city development (“Anting New Town”).

Theoretically, the work relies on a poststructuralist framework, employing ideas from Deleuze and Sloterdijk. It argues that the brand can be interpreted as a “virtual” in the Deleuzian sense, and that its going-spatial can be read as a way to create new levels of virtual-actual interaction. These interactions will be interpreted as necessary for a brand to survive, but also to generate new levels of risk.

This work will analyse how the effects on the urban sphere that are the outcome of corporate spatialisation effectively mean that the city enters into a mode of virtual urbanity. In this process, urban structure will be shown to force the historical into space. A notion of a hybrid history will be developed. It will be shown that brand space consists of different modes of temporality which create different colliding “strands” of history.

These colliding histories are arguably part of what will be called “viral urbanism”. This viral mediatisation of space will be shown to result in a regime of “global urbanity”. This regime will be approached by integrating the arguments around virtual and actual into Sloterdijk’s concept of a world of “spheres”. The latter will be used to understand the spatiality of mediatised spaces. It will be argued that brand space can be seen as an instance of new media urbanism.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


April 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2011 09:31

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:12


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