ICS Seminar Series - Donald McNeill

Date: Thursday 27 April 2017
Time: 10am–11.30am (please note earlier time)
Venue: Meeting Room 4, Level 9, 1PSQ, Western Sydney University Parramatta City campus

Donald McNeill

(Institute for Culture and Society)

Volumetric Urbanism and the Production of Territory


This paper examines the relationship between territorial development strategies, and the practices – both technical and political – of developing volumetric urban space. In doing so, it frames the built environment as being envelopes through which state accumulation strategies can be deployed. It draws on a key site of post-independence Singaporean urbanism, the Marina Bay area, to examine how dimensional urban development has been combined with governance practices to produce new territory. Conceptually, the paper works between recent political geographic understandings of the volumetric, and various theoretical commentaries on the production of 'dimensional' urban space. Empirically, the paper describes how Singaporean state agencies have deployed both experts in engineering and architecture, as well as implementing new legislation and regulation in producing these volumetric affordances. It is argued in conclusion that the built environment of global cities such as Singapore should be accorded more significance within studies of nation-state territorial strategy.


Donald McNeill is Professor of Urban and Cultural Geography at ICS, and theme champion in Urban Living and Society at Western Sydney University. His books include Global Cities, Urban Theory (Sage, 2017), The Global Architect: Fames, Firm and Urban Form (Routledge, 2009), and New Europe: Imagined Spaces (2004). He has recently completed an ARC Future Fellowship on Governing Digital Cities, and currently holds an ARC Discovery project in Volumetric Urbanism. This seminar is developed from an ARC Discovery project, Cool Living Heritage in Southeast Asia, which he conducted with Tim Winter (Deakin), and Jiat-Hwee Chang and Johannes Widodo (National University of Singapore).