Cosmopolitan and Non-cosmopolitan Surfaces

  • Eduardo de la Fuente


In this chapter, I extend arguments regarding ‘actually existing cosmopolitanism’ by considering the skins, textures, and surface qualities of the cosmopolitan and noncosmopolitan built environment. I contend that cosmopolitan surfaces don’t need to be—as is often the case—shiny, glossy, urbane, glamorous, or expensive-looking. While there is clearly a global architecture of lightweight transparent materials, liquid designs, and ‘starchitect’ designers, there is also a global cosmoscape of Brutalist social housing, Soviet-era public buildings, concrete freeways and parking lots, and buildings that look old well before their time. I proposea material such as concrete embodies the contradictions and paradoxes of globality writ large; and its surface-qualities—including its infamous tendency to stain, deteriorate, and otherwise show the signs of climate and context—ask us to ponder: What if real cosmopolitanism involves the capacity to embrace the world with all its apparent material and aesthetic shortcomings? Following Nietzsche’s Gay Science, I conclude the world’s surfaces are where we encounter life, power, growth, and decay, as well as where we confront the need to engage and more fully appreciate the ‘other’.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo de la Fuente
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarIllawongAustralia

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