Publication Details

McGuirk, P. & O'Neill, P. (2007). Spatial theories of the urban. In P. O'Neill & G. Wrightson (Eds.), Proceedings of the ARCRNSISS Methodology, Tools and Techniques and Spatial Theory Paradigm Forums Workshop (pp. 194-199). Melbourne, Australia: RMIT Publishing.


This paper explores how spatial theories, models and concepts function as representations whose underlying logic and reasoning are primarily metaphorical. We examine the underlying metaphors and founding premises of key theories of urban systems and of cities' internal spatialisation, and we trace these theories' production as artifacts of how we think space. The purpose of this is to focus attention on how metaphors, as representations of space, make the city available to us for analysis; what they foreground and what they elide. We suggest how, as representations, these theories give us interpretive frames through which we grasp empirical data and develop understanding of process, creating 'facts' about urban spaces and spatial relations. Relatedly, then, we foreground more generally the necessity to think critically and reflexively about our representational practices and the analyses they sustain.