American Sociological Association

Imbricated Spaces: The High Line, Urban Parks, and the Cultural Meaning of City and Nature

This article explores how the socio-spatial relationship between cities and nature is changing under the cultural conditions of the twenty-first century. I argue that contemporary urban parks such as New York’s High Line, along with less cultivated sites of city-nature intersections such as vacant lots, represent variations of an emergent type of social space, which I term imbricated spaces. Imbricated spaces present “city” and “nature” as active agents in their creation through the decay of the built environment and the growth of the natural environment. The transformation of city-nature imbrications into culturally valued spaces, whether through architectural intervention, artistic representation, or phenomenological experience, reflects that such spaces not only have wide resonance but that their growing presence on the urban landscape is correlated with a broader recognition of how nonhuman agency—in particular, climate change and industrial decay—is shaping the social spaces of contemporary cities.


Kevin Loughran





Starting Page


Ending Page