IPHS Book Prize awarded to King's Fellow

The Fabric of Space by Matthew Gandy


Citation from the IPHS: This book explores the "intersections between water and the technological spaces of modernity" through case studies of six cities– Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles and London. Matthew Gandy achieves something impressive with this well-produced, scholarly yet highly readable book.

He deals with the 'fabric' of space through studying its most determining element – infrastructure – and its most fluid element – water. Water is a powerful theme in current urban research, but Gandy uses the historical perspective to tell us something new.  Creating the infrastructure necessary to route water efficiently is one of the defining problematics of urban modernity.

The book travels transnationally through time – Parisian sewers, Malaria in Nigeria, the Thames Barrier – pursuing its central theme with dedication to create a well-crafted narrative out of geographically and historically dispersed stories. Each chapter highlights a different aspect of planning and civil engineering: reconstructing infrastructure, connecting the city with nature, the politics of public health, social inequalities, rediscovering "natural" water landscapes, and dealing with future threats. It succeeds in placing planning and history at the centre of a complex of questions about the spatial conditions of urban life.

27 July 2016