High-rise living: A criminological account of fire, spatiality and atmosphere

Ms Kajsa Lundberg1

1The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Along with growing populations, cities are expanding. One form of expansion is through the construction of residential high-rise buildings. Land prices are expensive in central locations, so vertical constructions may seem advantageous. However, there are specific challenges associated with fire in high-rises, such as population density and limited evacuation routes as well as various cases where fires have spread along the flammable cladding of buildings. The Grenfell Tower fire in London made these issues devastatingly clear and demonstrated how fire and housing security is tied up with power, inequality and injustice. Drawing parallels between the Grenfell Tower fire and similar cladding issues in Melbourne, Australia, I present findings from an ongoing qualitative study examining the experience of living up high. I observe the problems of flammable cladding and fire on the vertical extreme, the vulnerabilities associated with high-rise living and the difficulties involved in having such cladding removed. In line with spatial criminology and work drawing from non-representational theory and the concept of atmospheres, I argue for an extension of place-based criminology/zemiology that considers new kinds of places and their associated harms.


Kajsa Lundberg is a doctoral researcher in Criminology at the University of Melbourne. Her research centres on social and environmental harms, fire in various locations and urban public spaces. She has previously published on mobility and bushfires in Crime, Media, Culture.


Aug 26 2021


8:00 am - 6:00 pm