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Bangkok: Angelic Illusions
     

Bangkok: Angelic Illusions

by Barry Bell
 

Cities today, especially those undergoing rapid growth and transformation, seem to defy traditional principles of urbanism and urban analysis. Bangkok, the City of Angels, the capital of Thailand, and an international metaphor of development gone wrong, presents an extreme version of this condition. Indeed, Bangkok, a barely stable setting for its (approximately)

Overview


Cities today, especially those undergoing rapid growth and transformation, seem to defy traditional principles of urbanism and urban analysis. Bangkok, the City of Angels, the capital of Thailand, and an international metaphor of development gone wrong, presents an extreme version of this condition. Indeed, Bangkok, a barely stable setting for its (approximately) twelve million inhabitants, challenges our perceptions of what a city is, or should be. Yet in spite of its chaotic state Bangkok also presents moments of arresting beauty and social intensity. These fragments suggest a potential other city, resting latent within the cacophonous distractions of daily life. The resultant urban mirage is a compelling provocation.

Bangkok: Angelic Allusions uses the tangible artifacts of the city, its topography, streets and monuments, as vehicles for speculating on Bangkok and its central mythologies. Significant in themselves, these physical objects or categories also bring structure to other more perceptual observations and speculations. Ultimately the book links the city’s hectic urban sensibility to its more elusive and mysterious character, the dream of Bangkok which lurks within its physical reality.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This series of essays by author/photographer Bell, a Canadian architect who has worked extensively in Thailand, analyzes the geography, urban planning, and architecture of Bangkok. Bell acknowledges Bangkok's pollution, sprawl, and traffic chaos while studying its setting and built form, focusing on streets, waterways, and particularly Buddhist temple complexes. He notes how, historically, Thais have combined their Chinese ethnicity with Indian religions to create a new synthesis, which is consistent with their current acceptance of modernity and foreign influence. Though Bell knows his subject, most readers will find this text heavy going. His abstract musings include many sentence fragments and rhetorical questions, and he avoids drawing direct conclusions. The 141 color photographs illustrate the author's points well but should have been captioned, as they are not all self-explanatory and readers must flip to the photo credits to identify them. In addition, the text is marred by several typographical errors. Appropriate for academic libraries.-David R. Conn, Surrey P.L., B.C. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861891570
Publisher:
Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date:
10/22/2003
Series:
Topographics Series
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.75(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author


Barry Bell is a professional architect who has worked extensively in Thailand. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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