Aesthetic Values in the Maintenance of Urban Technologies

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


    How technologies make cities look and feel is not a question that is too often asked. We take the presence and state of technologies as granted and, in some cases, urban technologies can become even emblematic of cities, fetishized for their connotations with the urban lifeform and advancements in science. Urban technologies mirror those societies that are using them, thus also changes in their uses and operations are likely to change when societal values change. Postindustrial development in the Western countries and the more recent sustainability concerns are examples of this, making some urban technologies either redundant or available for further, new types of uses. Sometimes traces of the past times are left to cities as mementos of the past as in the cases when factory pipes have become aesthetically an important part of the city even when no longer in use. Not all technologies are valued equally though and some, such as public telephone booths (with some notable exceptions as in London), quickly disappeared after the mobile phone was adopted to use. The changes in the societal context bring attention to the strategies of maintenance and to what extent aesthetic norms and values are present in the decisions over maintenance of different forms of urban technologies. Recently, approaches from care ethics have been applied to urban aesthetics to assist in understanding how the maintenance of urban infrastructures could be based on the notion of care. The care ethical horizon opens a new, empathetic way of thinking about what type of world and cities we will leave to the future generations of humans and nonhumans alike. The care aesthetics perspective introduced in this chapter underlines the ownership, responsibility, and collaboration in maintaining those structures that maintain life in cities. This requires also defining, discussing, and deliberating aesthetic values so that they would be better aligned to support different types of goals. The chapter brings together ideas from contemporary urban aesthetics, philosophy of the city, and philosophy of technology to study how aesthetic values are taken into consideration in the maintenance decisions and strategies of contemporary urban technologies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationKeeping Things Going: Maintenance and the Philosophy of Technology
    EditorsMark Thomas Young, Mark Coeckelbergh
    Publication statusSubmitted - 30 Jun 2022
    MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


    • aesthetics
    • philosophy of technology
    • maintenance


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