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Landmark and the Twentieth Century Urban Planning - Landmark’s Symbolic Transformations and its Implications for Urban Planning -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2016, (63), pp.5-34
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 6, 2016
  • Accepted : October 31, 2016

JongMan Moon 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the basis of philosophical interpretation of a landmark’s symbolic meaning as well as its transformation in modern urban planning. Literally “landmark” is formed from the words ‘land’ and ‘mark’. In a modern sense, landmarks are usually referred to as recognizable natural objects and artefacts used for navigation. It can also be applied to smaller structures or features that have become local symbols. Differing from this modern perspective, landmarks were originally symbolic: a place where since the advent of society the sky, land and humans were connected as one. From then on, the landmark effectively functioned on the one hand as a site for patterns of collective action, periodically through rituals, worship, and the use of language; the landmark helped to strengthen social integrity. On the other hand people reinterpreted the landmark as a means to solve social problems in times of social duress. Landmarks functioned not only as the symbolic from of societies, but also as a centre that produced and reinterpreted social meanings. In this study, I concentrate more on the latter role of a landmark rather than the former in order to emphasize the meaning of philosophical interpretation of the landmark. Departing from this definition of the landmark, I then focus on the implication of the landmark on urban planning by exploring a 20th century dispute concerning urban planning. When it comes to urban planning, I analyze the viewpoints of three urban planners: Le Corbusier, Lewis Mumford, and Jane Jacobs; all of who still influence contemporary urban planning field. In modern times, the landmark has broadened to include a variety of cultural objects, becoming blurred. The landmark has become an object of focus involved in the dispute between ‘city’ and ‘cityness’ or ‘urban planning’ and ‘good life of the urban community’. In order to explain the strained relationship between landmark and urban planning, I use Claude Lefort’s concept of ‘empty place’; impossible to occupy, to the extent that those who exercise public authority cannot claim to appropriate it. By ‘empty space’, I refer to the indeterminism of the social, so opens the possibilities for various interpretations. As a result, I show that Le Corbusier thinks of ‘empty space’ as a transcendental geometry, Mumford regards it as a source of new imagination and possibility to realize the purpose of urban planning, and Jacobs thinks of it as a social flag by extending the meaning of the ‘cityness’. Lastly, the results of these studies shed light on the present state of our urban planning, which is related to the landmark.

Citation status

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