About Random Walks

Random Walks takes you on an almost ethnographic journey into the everyday. It is a space of opportunities and a collection of contingent reflections on aesthetics of cities and architecture. It starts with an interest, with questions and with experiences of urbanity. It starts from the bottom, from the streets and alleys and even from the underground. What comes to one’s eyes or ears, what one feels, smells or stumbles upon triggers all the rest.

Leinelä Railway Station, Vantaa, Finland (photo: private archive)

Who we are

This blog is an endeavour of a group of researchers of culture, gathered around an interest in urban aesthetics. In dialogue with contemporary studies of culture and theory we wish to explore what it means to move in and/or inhabit a city in the 21st century, and what kinds of aesthetic experiences may be derived from it.

Check out our Team page!

Where do we come from…

The idea that the city is ‘an immediate and everyday source of aesthetic pleasures’ (Ghita 2016: 156) is as old as modern aesthetic thought itself. Such sentiments can for instance be found in Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s daily The Spectator.

“As I drove along, it was a pleasing Reflection to see the World so prettily chequer’d since I left Richmond, . . . This Satisfaction encreased as I moved towards the City; and gay Signs, well disposed Streets, magnificent publick Structures, and wealthy Shops, adorn’d with contented Faces, made the joy still rising till we came into the Centre of the City” (The Spectator, Vol. 4, No. 454, pp. 101-102)

In the 21st century, this claim has lost neither in relevance nor appeal. Taking it as our point of departure, we collect various phenomena of urban aesthetics and reflect on them: how are they encountered? What do they represent, symbolise, embody? How do architecture and urbanity shape human life?

…and where do we go from here?

In our endeavour to explore urban space, we do not restrict ourselves to the objectivity of science nor the impartiality of journalism. Acting consciously and subjectively, the posts in this blog operate bottom up. Our inventory collects reflections and thoughts that emanate from observations and experience of urban space, which stand side by side with our academic and journalistic pieces.

We offer a view into the minutiae of everyday urban life that could inform, guide, and incite us to change the way we perceive and plan our cities, construct our architecture, and organise our life in it. We do not claim definitiveness. We start a process, and an open-ended collecting of discoveries.

How you can get involved

Our map of cities has no borders and is set to expand, and so does our map of contributors. We welcome guest posts from all over the world, and beyond!

Contact us at: random.walks.blog@gmail.com

Cited work: “‘It was a Pleasing Reflection to See the World so Prettily Chequer’d’: Aesthetics of Urban Experience in The Spectator.” University of Bucharest Review, vol. VI/2016, no. 1, pp. 149-157.