Architecture in Contemporary Literature

Urban Architecture in the Narrative of NW London

Author(s): Dilek Yıldız Özkan * .

Pp: 87-95 (9)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815165166123010012

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


In the novel of NW by Zadie Smith, the multiethnic and multicultural social structure in northwest London is narrated through the story of four city dwellers. The aim of this study is to examine the story of the novel through the lenses of urban architecture in relation to the psychological, social, and environmental themes of the plot. For this aim, firstly, a brief introduction of the novel is presented. After the introduction, the main subject of the story, its main characters, and the relations between them are explained. In this section, characters of various ethnic backgrounds living in the economic difficulties brought on by metropolitan life, and the relationship between the different classes they represent, are examined. Then, the themes that the author fictionalized through the relations between the main characters by referring to the field of environmental psychology and sociology are extracted from the story. In the next section, the main characteristics of the streets, parks, and especially the council housing of the district that forms the urban architecture of northwest London in the background of the story, are summarized. Moreover, the main themes that were presented in the previous section are associated with the spaces and the architecture in which they pass. This association is made by examining the relationships of the characters who are in motion in spaces with each other, formed by the occasional intersection of their paths from place to place, and their experiences with space, place and institutions. In conclusion, it is determined that the author embodied many social and psychological themes in urban architecture, including council housing, which constitute the scenario of the story. These themes correspond to the fields of environmental psychology and sociology, such as racism, interracial relations, social class, social pressures, class distinctions, inequality, ethnicity, immigrants, identity, belonging, privacy, attachment to place, marriage, love, gender roles, violence, crime and mobility are put forward. Finally, the results show the following: The urban architecture, including council housing, affects the sense of belonging and identity of the people living in the area; housing perceptions and expectations of people differ from each other in accordance with their social class; and housing is considered an indicator of prestige and social class in the lives of the protagonists.

Keywords: Attachment to place, Belonging, Council housing, Crime, Caldwell district, Ethnicity, Gender roles, Inequalities, Interracial relations, Immigrants, Identity, Mobility, NW London, Parks, Privacy, Racism, Streets, Social class, Social pressures, Urban architecture, Zadie smith.

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