Transport, space and society in Copenhagen and Bogotá, 1940-2010

Andres Felipe Valderrama Pineda

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


    This paper explores the way urban space, transportation networks and urban societies co-evolve and shape each other in time and how this process impacts the development of specific infrastructure projects in cities. To illustrate and analyse these processes, I examine the space design and transport planning history of Copenhagen and Bogotá since the 1940s and how the heritage of decisions and non-decisions shape some of the urban and design features of the most recent transport projects in both cities: the Metro in Copenhagen and the Transmilenio in Bogotá. At the core of the argument is the assumption that history can become an actor in the multiorganizational and complex process of developing large technological systems: For instance, in Copenhagen the five finger plan of 1947 still determines global and detail planning decisions and in Bogotá the master plan of Le Corbusier issued in 1950 defined the main transport corridors taken up by Transmilenio 48 years later; In both cities the complex of decisions and non-decisions related to the development of infrastructure for cars since the 1950s and the unsuccessful anti-congestion policies since the 1970s also shape the present projects as both the Metro and Transmilenio were promoted as high end means to move commuters out of their cars and into the public transport system. Based on the work of Ulrik Jørgensen, I propose that a city can be considered as an arena of development where different actor-networks interact and thus shape and are shaped by social processes such as the space development of the city, the enactment of certain discourse of self representation (cities as regional poles of development for instance) and the daily routines of city dwellers and their living choices, among others. This type of sociological analysis forwards the benefits of bringing together disciplines such as Urban History, Science and Technology Studies and Engineering Studies, with special emphasis in the multidisciplinary Actor-Network Theory and the Large Technological Systems tradition. The cases considered here are an opportunity to discuss the works of Thomas Bender (urban history), John Law (on ANT and post-ANT), Bruno Latour (mainly Reassembling the Social), John Urry (specially his work on mobilities and also his papers on the sociology of automobility), Nigel Thrift (on space), Steven Graham and Simon Marvin (mainly Splintering Urbanism) and Thomas Hughes and Jane Summerton (on Large Technological Systems). This paper is part of a PhD research project that will examine the transformations in transportation in the cities of Copenhagen, Denmark and Bogotá, Colombia. The project is carried out at the Design and Innovation Research School, at the Technical University of Denmark. This space provides a rich interdisciplinary environment where the traditions of engineering, design and social sciences are combined with STS and other interdisciplinary efforts for education and research purposes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2008
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    Event2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science - Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 20 Aug 200823 Aug 2008


    Conference2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science
    Internet address


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