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Airport Urbanism

Infrastructure and Mobility in Asia

2016
Author:

Max Hirsh

Airport Urbanism

The first book on infrastructure and migration to focus on the Asian transportation boom

In Airport Urbanism, Max Hirsh undertakes an unprecedented study of airport infrastructure in five Asian cities—Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Drawing on material gathered in restricted zones of airports and border control facilities, Hirsh provides a fascinating, up-close view of the mechanics of cross-border mobility.

Airport Urbanism dissects issues in infrastructural design and aesthetics, physical mobility and social immobility, and the lived experiences of an emerging Asian urbanism—a remarkable achievement by a scholar who possesses the intellectual virtuosity to bridge realms in every direction.

Helen F. Siu, Yale University

Thirty years ago, few residents of Asian cities had ever been on a plane, much less outside their home countries. Today, flying, and flying abroad, is commonplace. How has this leap in cross-border mobility affected the design and use of such cities? And how is it accelerating broader socioeconomic and political changes in Asian societies?

In Airport Urbanism, Max Hirsh undertakes an unprecedented study of airport infrastructure in five Asian cities—Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Through this lens he examines the exponential increase in international air traffic and its implications for the planning and design of the contemporary city. By investigating the low-cost, informal, and transborder transport systems used by new members of the flying public—such as migrant workers, retirees, and Asia’s emerging middle class—he uncovers an architecture of incipient global mobility that has been inconspicuously inserted into places not typically associated with the infrastructure of international air travel.

Drawing on material gathered in restricted zones of airports and border control facilities, Hirsh provides a fascinating, up-close view of the mechanics of cross-border mobility. Moreover, his personal experience of growing up and living on three continents inflects his analyses with unique insight into the practicalities of international migration and into the mindset of people on the move.

Airport Urbanism

Max Hirsh is a research assistant professor at the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong.

Airport Urbanism

Airport Urbanism dissects issues in infrastructural design and aesthetics, physical mobility and social immobility, and the lived experiences of an emerging Asian urbanism—a remarkable achievement by a scholar who possesses the intellectual virtuosity to bridge realms in every direction.

Helen F. Siu, Yale University

Lucid and entertaining, Max Hirsh’s account of airport infrastructure shatters the fiction of showpiece airports as the acme of international air travel. This highly perceptive reading of cross-border mobility and its role in shaping the urban landscape in Asia is a critical contribution to the emerging scholarship on infrastructure.

Swati Chattopadhyay, University of California, Santa Barbara

A fascinating examination of the many elements, and the countless ways in which societies have grown an infrastructure of air travel parallel to any intended arrangements, and well outside any comprehensive plans.

Urban Land Magazine

A fascinating, well-documented story of a world in transition.

CHOICE

Airport Urbanism’s perceptive and extensive empirical analysis will certainly be of value not only to scholars of East and Southeast Asian cities but also to those who intervene directly in their planning and development.

Urban Studies

Airport Urbanism

Contents
Preface
Introduction: What Is Airport Urbanism?
1. Parallel Lines
2. Transborder Infrastructure
3. Special Zones
4. Cheap Tickets
Conclusion: Mobility, Migration, and the Future Asian City
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index