unit: Urban Contingencies
post-urban interfaces Brian Murphy
“ It is necessary to separate this new parasitic city from its identification with the host, from its conceptual moorings as mere urban supplement and, after nearly fifty years of construction, attempt to raise it into discourse..... ..Out of a rigorous analysis of the contemporary city, a so-called “post-urban” strategy of intervention emerges” .....” 1
Professor Albert Pope ‘the primacy of space’
Abstract What are the characteristic ‘urban ecologies’ inherent in the post industrial city and what part have they played in the way in which man has adjusted his position with regards to nature and technology? I shall examine a number of case studies in order to provide examples of how the traits of the post-industrial condition have effected the socio-economic reality and potential for Dundee, and how this potential has been exploited elsewhere. What potential does architecture hold for intervening at the cities outer edges as it cascades further into the 21st century? How does architecture find an augmentative place within the debris left in the wake of city processes? I aim to formulate tools for city analysis which will enable a clearer reading of how these processes have arrived at conditions inherent within city development .In utilizing and comparing methodologies of a ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up nature I hope, as a researcher, to examine simultaneously the space of the pedestrian with that of the urban planner. I aim to arrive at city strategies which mediate between the macro scale of the city and its region and the micro scale of individual design interventions. Albert Pope in his essay ‘the primacy of space’ outlines the need for an understanding of the dominance of space over form in the post-urban condition as opposed to a retreat to the ‘primacy’ of form ;“It is not built form which characterizes the contemporary city but immense spaces over which built form has little or no control” 2. What is the future of these ‘immense spaces’ and, what are the emerging social relationships which may exist there, as manifest in the complex and changing dialectic between man and nature? In this capacity I am interested in examining the existing interfaces and programs inherent in urban conditions as the city expands and contracts.Dundee as a shrinking city provides a cogent model for this.Part of my study will concern itself with the ‘aberrant’ edges within the city, as a springboard to analyse closer the relationship between infrastructure, land use and human occupation. In so doing I hope to speculate on the potential for creative intervention at such edges, which, incorporates a broader view of how settlement formations form distinct ecologies within the city-region. Pope, writing in ‘the primacy of space’, contends that much of the failure of contemporary academic and practical activity within urbanism is due to a failure to realize that, suburban expansion has grown to constitute a wholly separate urban entity in itself. This conviction suggests an alternative perception is required ,an alternative language perhaps in order to engage with the contemporary city in its entirety. How might a rigorous analysis of peri-urban morphology provide us with methods for understanding relationships at the cities edge, and what are its dialogues with the cites core and its many ‘centres’?
I shall explore how the development of a language of urban relationships coupled with an analysis that denotes a study of generic peri-urban formations can be brought to bear on a re-interpret ting of ‘the middle landscape’3[Rowe].I shall illustrate how this difficult context can provide a possibility of typological invention to both critique and transcend social and physical constructs at the cities ‘frontier’.
Table of contents Abstract Introduction
[a] Dundee city processes:
industrial decline and morphology
[b] Case studies : Potteries thinkbelt Lichterfelde sud Detroits Emptiness
2. Methodological antipodes,
top up vs. bottom down
[a] Urban drifting [b] Methodologies for city analysis [c] Theoretical research context [d] Critical appraisal of research methodologies
3. Folk , work, place
settlement typologies and interfaces
[a] Analysis of the peri-urban in Dundee [b] Settlement and Socio-economic formations [c] Hybrid structures [d] Nomadic Urbanisms
4. A frontier ecology
the invention of a peri-urban settlement typology
[a] Peter g Rowe : constructing a poetic of place within the middle landscape [b] A Parasite for nomads : constructing an edge of city brief
Acknologements Notes Bibliography Appendices
the locus and lattice of mobility
“Look at the wasteland beyond the outer suburbs,look at the way that almost all the emerging forms of socialization have been constructed in these wastelands although [or precisely because] they are deregulated territories...given that the term ‘descampados’ embodies a fascinating concept: : land that has lost its attributes as the city approaches, sterilized before being occupied but also given a transcendental role in its new context. We ask ourselves whether architecture could be constructed in this way…” 4 Inaki Abalos
Abalos’s polemic on the relationship between territorial organization, land use and their inherent social constructs echoes much of what we observe to constitute failure in a large dimension of the cities expansion during the 20th century. It also carries a tone of excitement and hope for the potential which architecture could hold for invention within these territories by appropriating itself within the transformatory processes at work there. “On an auspicious day they would yoke together a bull and cow, to draw a bronze ploughshare and run the first furrow, which would establish the course of the town walls”
Leon Battista Alberti
Alberti’s description of the ‘setting’ out of the ancient city constituted a stance made by man in the name of religious rite and pagan custom .It depicts a reflection on how a city should be sited within its environment with a sense of arcane superstition and militant sensibilities. Agriculture a sacred act in union with landscape, constituted a mark, a beginning fabricated in the sublime interface between man and his environment, both physical and civic. Well’s wrote that the “the city evolved as a series of foot and horse strides”6 proceeding to forecast many of the disparities of the modern city, based on the transportation and communication advances, which, would lay down a palette of abstraction for mans urbanity [appx1].The 20th century brought us the motor car and the aeroplane, television and internet and with these forces came new urban paradigms, beginning with what Peter G. Rowe calls ‘a middle landscape’ [appx 2]. Out of the economic panacea of late capitalism emerged the scrambled yoke of the ‘edge city’ 7 , existing as both a centrifugal hub and an urban frontier more often that not an abject interface with the landscapes, urban or agrarian, affronting it.The ‘borders’ of the city and the countryside, are difficult to de-lineate in the spatial discordance of these urban edges. As we move forward into the 21st century the city has reached a point in its extension whereby it has begun to be discussed as a ‘post-urban’ entity, possessing neither the spatial traits or sociologies of the pre-war city. Yet the city and its suburban ‘parasite’ although distinguishable are still in se per able both socially and economically in the ‘lattice’8 of the metropolis. Looking back at some of the processes inherent in the development of the city during the 20th century it becomes clear, that, In the space between shifting economic and political ideologies and the autonomy of individual actor/s, there lies the potential for creativity to operate within and transcend the dynamic processes of the city.Out of this context there has emerged a number of distinct ‘ecologies’ which have led us to re-interpret our relationship to nature, and to our ‘manufactured’ environments. [appx 3] 1
In urban theory and research an apparent dichotomy emerges on one hand between the top down methodology of the ‘gestalt planner’ and the ‘bottom up’ perception of the ‘sidewalk analysist’ and the drifting ‘pyschogeographer’.An interrogation of the city, navigating on one hand an economically derived spatial vicariousness and on the other an impassioned and ephemeral social construct that belongs to the realm of subjective consciousness. Further disparities exist between the conceptual modeling techniques used to describe how the city works in fragments [often within a universal context] and the large scale praxis of urban design. The work of theorists such as Kevin lynch and David Graham Shane,can provide a means of untangling this divide between what is often the abstract discourse of the theorist and the hubristic postulating of the architect and planner. From Geddes’s we inherit an understanding of the city as inseparable from its region, a diagram of human occupation as bound by place [see fig 24]. And as a diagram it denotes a way of examining settlement as a dialetic emerging between social and economic factors,regulating the relationship between society and the ground on which it sits. How then does this dialectic take shape within the contemporary city whereby traditional forms are distorted by movement and communication networks,and where, as Lars Lerup claims ; “architecture as a static enterprise has been displaced by architecture as a form of software” 9. What are the inherent and potential interfaces in this city?, this collision of global and local ,parochial space and nomadic space and ‘placelessness’ if such a form can ever exist in entirety. In analysising the emerging socio-economic relationships in the contemporary city a possibility emerges for to realise the potential that these process have in store for a re-imagining of how man interfaces with his environment,particularly so at the cities edge, a sprawling ecology at the urban frontier.
A post industrial ecology Dundee City analysis Context
The city of Dundee is located in the fertile agrarian Tay valley and is situated at the base of the law hill, the most significant topographical feature in the valley. It originally developed as a port city in medieval times and rose to prominence with the rise of the jute industry and trade to the East.It is the main urban centre within the Tayside region. Dundee’s jute industry under went decline once the process was adopted in India in the early 20th century. The resulting loss in jobs led to a mass decline in population, this process continues to the present day, the result being Dundee is a post industrial shrinking city. Although Dundee is losing population the urban footprint continues to grow which has led to de-densification and a sprawling suburban edge .Dundee has reinvented itself as a knowledge centre with two universities specialising in biomedical science and the creative industries. Although the universities are prospering the city is failing to retain the students upon graduation.
The city developed as a compact medieval port centre and and later harboured industrial Development along its scouring burn which ran South through the city into the river Tay. During the 19th century building development was slower than boundary extensions and this process resulted in large tracts of open space left vacant within the burgh, these spaces include the law hill, Baxter park and Dudhope park.These were used by people who lived in dense industrial areas. In the 20th century in the inter-war and post-war periods this process was inverted with the pace of settlement expansion exceeding the rate of boundary expansion 10. This was due to an emphasis on low density expansion of housing at the cities periphery, as a means of re-housing people who had lived in declining post-industrial areas in the city centre. The construction of the Kingsway in 1926 11 coupled with zoning policies pertaining to the development of industrial estates,accentuated the rise of out of town shopping and business parks. Case Studies I have outlined the analysis of a series of case studies pertaining to post industrial urbanisms which I interpret as conditions possessing many of the traits of my case city of Dundee, in that they constitute both the problems and qualities of the post industrial condition, in conjunction with active creativity and invention in re-interpreting them. Although manifested in extremely different forms the process at work in these environments and the invention with which they have been harnessed provide a practical and theoretical basis from which to approach to condition of Dundee.
The potteries thinkbelt
The â€˜potteries thinkbeltâ€™,a project conceived by Cedric Price for an area of defunct mining industries in North Staffordshire incapuslates Priceâ€™s ideas about the relationship between education, industry and existing infrastructures. In re-imagining the context Price was also re-imagining how man relates to nature, albeit nature transformed by industry. In this hybrid of infrastructure and building components, he carefully considered the existing ecology, both of the geology of the site and its inherent social context of a post industrial area. These considerations became the tenet for reinvention [appx 4].Price laid out a deterministic infrastructure within which four faculty areas and nineteen different housing areas would be located ,all permuted by the flux of feedback loops from public interaction and discussion
Fig 1 from left to right : fig 1 : Dundee map 1776 fig 2 : Dundee shrinking and expanding city ; city footprint 1870, 2010 [N.Walkinshaw]
Fig 3 : Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt
Fig 4 :Charleroi Bernard and Hilla Becher
Fig 5 Lichterfelde Sud
Fig 6 Heidelburg project Detroit
Price’s “anti-monumental vision”12 placed infrastructure as a determinism within which an urbanism could be continually re-configured via personnel feedback. His ‘faculty sidings’, temporary units positioned adjacent to derelict factories ,a relationship between old industry, education and research, constitute a radical response to historical process ,economic and technological metamorphosis. With the ‘Thinkbelt’ Price composed a programmatic uncertainty, played out in a changing landscape of objects and events. In so doing he was attempting to arrive at a re-configuration and re-imagining of the existing post-industrial ecology. Detroit’s ‘emptiness’
Detroit provides a prescient example of the form of the post-industrial city in its extremity. Although Its expansion and decline has been much more pronounced than for example, Dundee’s,some similar processes are at work there, and their spatial manifestation is dramatic. Detroit is a shrinking city, where 800,000 people spread over 140 square miles13 and where single houses stand surrounded by micro-praries of vacant lots and deteriorating infrastructures. The large tracts of land where the former factories sat, sit vacant realizing a complex urbane mitosis of decay.As Andreas Larsson writes ; “Trees both spindly and thick, new and old, line the streets;…., make the street feel more rural than urban”14.
An ecology of Urban farming has sprung up here in the vacant urban landscapes a response to a protein shortage, unemployment and disused land. Such has this movement been embraced by the citizens and outsiders alike that a utopian vision of 21st century Detroit as an “urban agricultural paradise”15 has emerged as a re-conception of Detroit as an agricultural western frontier city, freed from the shackles of the private industrial sector.‘Heidlebourg’,urban agriculture initiatives16 and their spin-off attractors represents the potential for small bodies to work within and exploit the process of decay and in so doing treating the city as a polycentric web of new ‘ecologies’. Lichterfelde Sud
The work of Florian Biegel and Phillip Christou has through research led proposals examined the nature of past industrial and military sites, realizing some of the potential for an ecological re-imagining of the post-industrial condition .The Lichterfelde site lies out on the edge of the city, adjacent to an area of industrial Estates and 1970’s housing complexes. ‘Lichterfelde Sud’ has potential to become according to Biegel a “fragment of a new model of the inbetween city…one might also speak of an ecological urbanism”17 [appx 5].The ‘citylandscape’ which Biegel envisions concerns the programming of individual fields within an infrastructural framework that deals on one hand with a sensitive ecology of biotopes, grassland and birch forests combined and with the road and rail networks connecting the site to a highway system and the city beyond. 4
It Is an architecture of contextual proximity that determines the conditions of the fields ;eg the field adjacent to the s-bahn station will contain noise-buffering low buildings with service programes.However this sensitive articulation of program In the name of ecological benignness tends at times to a programattic segregation that evokes a suburban rather than an urban approach “the fields along the Osdorfer Strafe are given over to commercial uses, keeping heavy traffic away from the housing fields”18.Each gesture combines an ecological sensibility with an awareness of the relative proximity to dense urbanity within a consensus of an open ended, emerging urban landscape where Biegel has identified a relative vertical density within an agrarian infrastructure Connected by advanced communications systems. Detroit’s ‘re-invention’ represents simultaneously the failure of governing bodies to mitigate city strategies and the resilience of individuals to work within contrived formal and economic structures. Expanding outward from the industrial debris of the last century the shrinking city illustrates an example of how man has re-evaluated how he interfaces with his environment.Wheras Detroit illustrates the potential for individual actors to activate feedback methodologies within disparite pockets of the cities fabric, Price was setting up an infrastructure whereby urban actors could self-regulate their new environment within a semi-deterministic ‘planned’ structure.The ‘thinkbelt’ was an attempt at mitigating an ecological shift via the detournment of existing infrastructures, a reisidue of man’s systemmatic expoitation of the existing ecology. Biegel illustrates the potential for a top-down planning strategy to derive its structure from rigorous bottom up analysis of the ecological proceses operating on site.His delicacy in this denotes an avoidance of the notion of ‘collision’ or hybridism within this context of disparite forms. Yet he re-programmes the peri-urban with an ecological outlook wherby the layering of ecological processes concurrent between the natural and artificial provide an ‘infrastructure’ from which to both interpret and plan out this context in a ‘top-down’, ‘bottom-up’ dialogue.In this Biegels work constitutes an ecological mediation in land already re-qualified by man as the city extends outwards in which an agrarian setting is injected with contemporary urban networks and flows.
Methodological Antipodes, Top up vs bottom down
An understanding of the city of Dundee and its spatial and social constructs as furnished in the confluence of ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ research has been one of the aims of this project.The ‘Urban contingencies unit began as an analytical platform wherby three group were both established to ascertain Dundee as a city both as an internal system and as relative to its national and international context.The methodologies developed during this period became one of the tenets of my years work.
a ‘bottom up’ methodology for city analysis
The writings of Guy Debord and the ‘Situationist International’ [appx 6] formed the theoretical background to a six week research period I conducted with four other Colleagues at the University of Dundee.We had been charged with investigating and analysing Dundee at the ‘intimate’ scale, to examine the immediate spatial reality of the city as experienced from the perspective of the pedestrian. We began by walking or ‘drifting’ and conducted five walks in all, each with their own set of parameters, some static and some shifting eg, on drift one we walked from the river Tay to the edge of the suburbs, walking North we took two imaginary lines on either side of law hill as our ‘train tracks’ within which our path could take a meandering trajectory based on mood, the nature of obstacles ,inquisitiveness and and the incitement of urbane inspiration [appx 7].These drifts provided a springboard from which to deconstruct any form of orientational prescription in how the city would be explored, the walk itself producing a spatial and perceptive infrastructure along which the different fragments of the city could be connected. The drifts extrapolated a series of urban interfaces between the individual[ an embodiment of the ‘pedestrian’,the subjective observer and the ‘civically acute’] and the disparate urban constructs experienced along such a path influenced by infrastructural, political and economic process eg: the experience of crossing a highway into a quaint suburban enclave. Seemingly impermeable barriers became distinct edges. To represent this method, the routes themselves were recorded and mapped out with several spaces along them explored in greater detail ,montage, statistical data on distance and material fabric, data on human activity and stream of consciousness writing produced a plethoric blend of perceptual and objective material[appx 7].Documenting a series of building and spatial typologies into a ‘typology trumps’ card game [fig 7] ,provided a platform within which to accumulate data such as; the number of surveillance cameras, perceived levels of safety, spatial use and variability in functional uses. This study threw up interesting results; one is perplexed for instance at the extreme overcompensation of surveillance and car parking for certain building’s and spaces without function or a clear sense of ownership in proximity to the gated community.
Fig 7 from left to right : Fig 7 : Typology trumps , Fig 8 space studies [ models]
Fig 9 : ‘Drift routes’ 1,2,3
Fig 10 : Guy Debord and Asger Jorn ‘The Naked City’
Fig 11 : Allotment space study Dundee ; [B.Murphy, N.Walkinshaw]
If space is a ‘social construct’ the methodology of the drift was a means by which this dialogue between human activity and the physical environment could be evaluated. The drift was concerned with understanding the social consequence of conditions such as the gated community, the thriving community area ,the monolithicity of industrial buildings in residential areas, the dusty emptiness of the suburban turning circle. It was how these conditions interfaced with the fervour of vibrant street life and the humdrum of a suburban Sunday afternoon that began to provide a transparent dialectic between the social image of the city and its manifestation in the ephemeral spatial fabric. Stories and narratives emerged and the city came to be understood as a series of relationships in dialogue.
‘Top down’ Methodologies for city analysis
[note : this section was Co-written by B.Murphy & N.Walkinshaw]
We built this project around the research we conducted as a group of five based on urban drifting and, a period of theoretical study that examined previous methodologies of urban research and design. The social implications of the physical conditions encountered on these drifts, and their arrangements along the entire north south extent of the city provided a springboard from which to examine the city as a series of edges. We resolved to focus on conditions that we had experienced from the perspective of the pedestrian. In this capacity we graphed a strip based on the accumulation of ‘drift routes’ [see fig 9] extending from the river Tay to ‘Bridgefoot’, a village beyond the edge of the city. Following this we examined the strip in detail, examining the relationships between infrastructures, land use and development typologies [fig 16]. We examined the extent of this strip using the ‘top down’ method of mapping urban relationships eg ; large tracts of vacant land surrounding institutions, brown field and Greenfield sites, and infra structural aerteries[ fig 15]. We established a series of ‘themes’ or interests that related to universal conditions within contemporary urbanism. These included processes such as; shrinkage, sprawl, dereliction, and displacement. We also outlined a series of personal interests or ‘thematic’ from which to begin formulating a methodology fig 14 [a]&[b]. By exploring the urban morphology in this way and by combining this with statistical data and a study of the historical morphology of the city we were able to compile a series of strategies pertaining to identified processes, responding to distinct conditions along the cities extents eg ;’Diaphragmatic city wall’[fig 39] During this period we also examined the existing programmes at these conditions and combined them with both adverse and complementary programs in order to formulate ideas for how strategies could be postulated. We arrived at a series of distinct conditions, each unique to their individual part of the city, and combined them with identified processes and our initial thematic interest into an organizational matrix [ fig 17].The ambition for the matrix was to organize the observed conditions into a series of programmes, and interfaces that would articulate complex relationships such as between land use and infrastructure in order to arrive at a series of ‘parti-concepts’ [see fig 16] that enabled interventions to be based on a series of existing and potential interfaces.
Fig 12 a
Fig 12 a&b : ‘Drift route’ concentration in strip , strip on ‘nolli’ map of city functions [B.Murphy,N.Walkinshaw,C.Brander]
Urban interface matrix
[note ; for additional drawings as extracted from the ‘matrix’ please see appendix 35]
The structure of the Matrix was as follows :
1.Edge Conditions [a].Tay bridge site : A disconnect between the city and its waterfront edge brought about via a confluence of major infrastructures
[b]Deep plan buildings: The Isolation of an industrial building within a residential context. Its scale and inactive edge creates a disconnect between the residential and the industrial.
Law hill: A major topographical divide separating both physically and visually the urban core and the periphery, while providing potential for informal agrarian allotments.
Kingsway mixed use : A band of mixed use programs including industrial and residential pavilionised along major infrastructure, isolating production and consumption .
Farmstead and sprawl: A proximity of suburban sprawl at the cities edge with a farmstead typology.
Fig 13 : David Graham Shane ‘Armature, enclave & Heterotopia
Fig 14 a&b : Processes and thematic
Fig 15 a
[B.Murphy] , [N.Walkinshaw]
Fig 15 b
From left to right ; â€˜city analysis mapsâ€™ ; Density displacement,sprawling edge,green surface,Institutional land
Fig 15 c
Fig 15 d
3.Interfaces Armature: Enclave: Stimulus: Symbiotic: Networked: Open: Animate: Inanimate:
a linear connecting device, a facilitator of flow an enclosed entity with an internal attractor and a single gatekeeper a visual attractor, sign or symbol a codependency of entities eg ; parasite an infrastructural relationship between elements an ungated, unprogrammed entity a physically or visually active interface a physically or visually in-active interface
conservative removal of certain elements on site: eg ; [fig 16 e]
re-configuration of selected elements and interfaces: eg; [fig 16 f,c]
an architectural or infrastructural addition :eg;[fig 16 a]
incorporation of new program based on analysis of existing [ see fig 30]
Fig 16 b
Fig 16 c
Fig 16 e
Fig 16 a
Figd16 b Fig 16
Fig 16 e
Fig 16 f
Fig 16Fig f 16 c
[B. Murphy] , [N.Walkinshaw]
Bottom row from left to right : ‘Infrastructural sink’,’riverside surgery’, ‘peri-urban hybrid armature’ Top row from left to right : ‘farmstead surgery’, ‘deep plan hybrid’, Kingsway ‘surgery’
The intellectual context upon which the matrix was formed was two-fold; outlined above is the practical component of the research, which examined both processes and interfaces within the city fabric. As outlined above this incorporated ‘on the ground’ and ‘top down’ analysis, statistical data and historical studies of urban morphology. This approach to research was both analytical and design based as we utilized strategic thinking to creatively test ideas for the studied conditions. This work drew upon a rich body of urban theory which has been outlined below. I have selected examples of both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ methodologies. In this way the research has zoomed in from a city-wide analysis of city Process to a series of conditions whereby these processes manifest themselves in the site-Specific. How we have interpreted and re-configured these conditions became a basis for City-intervention and ultimately the pursuit of individual design projects engaged in a dialogue across the city [appx 8].
Theoretical research Context
[note : this section was Co-written by B.Murphy & N.Walkinshaw]
The readings of urban theory and research provided a theoretical body within which our methodologies for city analysis could be propagated. The influence of urban thinkers and their ideas can be seen quite explicitly in the structure of the interface matrix. From Geddes we recognized the importance of understanding the relationship between distinct conditions and the forces that bring them into being, coupled with the need to work in a reductive way at these conditions and, within a cultural understanding of place. Jane Jacobs [appx 9] illustrates the importance of the ‘sidewalk analysist’ in understanding the social and economic health of an area as a time-based ‘on the ground’ observation as opposed to a continual referencing of static planning codes. From Lynch has been inherited an ambition to formulate city strategies derived from both the ‘perceptive image’ of the city, [which resonates with the ‘urban drift’ work described earlier] with a desire to map and categorize the city as configurations of elements in a ‘top down’ manner. Situating this work within Lynch’s ‘City forms’ [appx 10] was a way of understanding how the city has evolved as a changing form which mirrors the ideals and processes of society and the role of the citizen as potential regulator of their environment. This gave us an insight into methodological approaches that were both ‘time-based’ ,‘top up’ and ‘bottom down’. This aided in understanding phenomena such as the ‘Technoburb’ [appx 11] as described by Robert Fishman,which became very important in understanding the edge of the city in a ‘gestalt’ manner. Furthermore the work of L 21 [fig 19] was significant in utilizing the ‘top down’ perspective in speculating on the city as an expanding and contracting organism whereby large scale planning strategies could be utilized to facilitate displacements of density;ie ‘deep plan hybrid’ [fig 16] and ‘diaphragmatic city wall’ [fig 39].This work is particularly cogent in the context of Dundee as a ‘shrinking city’. Image of the city
In 1960 Kevin Lynch published his seminal text, ‘Image of the city’. The book described his five year investigation on the built environment, its component parts and how the cities inhabitants experienced and viewed the city, in order to gain a clearer understanding on how architects and planners should approach design. Lynch conducted a series of urban studies in Boston, Jersey City and Los Angles. In interviews with the residents Lynch asked each one to draw their city, after comparing these drawing to the physical reality, Lynch then took the reoccurring elements of these drawings to form what he described as the inhabitants ‘mental map’ of the city.
Fig 17 ‘Urban interface matrix’
[note ; for additional drawings as extracted from the ‘matrix’ please see appendix 35]
While studying the city of New Delhi, Patrick Geddes’s observed how work being done on the de-congestion of the urban fabric was conducted by authorities that understood neither the cultural context of the urbanism or the social consequences of their actions. He noticed that European settlers had preferred to ‘compound’ themselves into small enclaves ,made possible by cheap land prices and often complete with servants quarters. This accentuated a lack of understanding in the phenomenon of congestion within the dynamic of the Indian city. Engineers would plan large ,expensive roads through dilapidated urban areas in a similar manner to Haussmann in Paris or Abercrombie in Edinburgh. Geddes’s approach was to study the forces that gave rise to these distinct conditions, the particular forces underlying development and following that, decay. Armed with this understanding he was then able to sensitively remove the most decrepit parts of the urban fabric, en widening lane ways and creating small public spaces as needed. Geddes’s untangled the complex layering of conditions and processes in order to arrive at a solution that was more economically viable and less disruptive for the communities. “On Geddes’s plan note the untidy mix of old and new and the individuality of this little area down to the planting of a single tree to shade the newly created urban area”19. Geddes’s approach was both delicate and interpretive, reflecting an acute awareness of social process L21 Core and Plasma
L21 developed their Core and Plasma concept for Eastern Leipzig in response to the projection that the cities population would reduce by 50 percent. L21 divided the city into three categories, “core”, “plasma” and “loud plasma”.20 The “core” area had developed organically over a long period of time, had a high density, important amenities and represented the historical “European city”.The core was to remain stable, despite the population loss. The areas designated “Plasma” were low density developments, with high vacancy rates, that had suffered the most from the population exodus. ‘Plasma’ was considered dynamic, it would absorb the population loss when the city shrank, the empty plots turning into public gardens, if the city began to grow, and these gardens would be developed on. ‘Loud plasma’ was the area built along side the main infrastructure roads; this area of the city would be demolished and absorbed by the plasma. In the area left after demolition, a dense urban forest would be planted. .
Fig 20 Kevin Lynch Image of a city
Fig 18 : Patrick Geddes’s ‘conservative surgery’
Fig 19 : L22 Core and Plasma
Fig 21 Christopher Alexander : a city is not a tree
Methodological antipodes : critical appraisal of research methodologies In mediating between research that dealt with on one hand the intimate social space of the city and on the other an analytical top-down approach that examined distinctly objective relationships, a certain methodological disjunction becomes apparent. Although the information maps formulated on the urban drifts constituted physical data on both social and material contents its accumulation as a series of data fragments built on emotive and subjective movements was limited in how it could critically examine communities and conditions in isolation,ie; as internal structures [appx 12].We judge ‘gated’ and insular, without fully examining what is taking place within, the sometimes in-transparent social dynamics, and movements in urban communities, and how they interface with national and international networks. What this research did provide in its vertiginous nature was a kind of unprejudiced methodology of approaching urban analysis, a de-coupling of the perceptive merger between economic and social buoyancy.However In similar way it is difficult to distill from a Series of static notations [urban interface matrix], a picture of the dynamism of these conditions as they exist with bodies in motion. Analytically they sit as frozen conditions within the flows of the metropolis. However I believe that as studies of urban conditions they are heavily informed via the immediate ‘bottom up’ experience of the ‘drift’, while providing a much more ‘objective’ form of analysis of spatial relationships which have already been directly experienced on the ground.
3. Folk, work Place Analysis of Dryborough site
settlement typologies and interfaces
[for image please see appendix 13]
The site I have focused on following the earlier research stage straddles the ‘Kingsway West’ highway along Dundee’s industrial periphery, four miles from the city centre. I examined on one side of the highway a large tract of mono-functional housing development and on the other a retail park abutted by eleven hectares of vacant green-field land with the Camperdown park to its North and West. The park contains a wildlife centre and basic facilities for visitors and has plans to open a café and educational facility. The ‘leisure park’ which contains a cinema, ice rink and a restaurant represents a generic peri-urban development of retail outlets suspended in a sea of car parking. Supporting a car-dependent customer base the area sits as an isolated setting abutting the pastoral and organic expanse of the Camperdown park, although ownership is shared. The pedestrian exiting the camperdown park or the nearby bus-top enters the complex in a similar means to the driver, along the same entrance road illustrating the ‘car-centric’ nature of the complex. The council housing development on the opposite side of the highway is triangularly divided in plan and is abutted by a secondary road [Coupar Angus road] and dryborough industrial to its East and a secondary road [liff road] and further industrial estates to its south. To the South East two fifteenstorey tower blocks stand as remnants of 1960’s urban displacement of inner city slums to ‘towers in gardens’. Contained within the housing complex is a single newsagents and an abandoned resource centre exhibiting the stark lack of supporting services for the inhabitants of this area [appx 15].
It is heavily divided by access roads with much of its surface given over to cul de sacs, turning circles and corner plots of vacant land. The semi-detached houses formulate a sense of scale and density that is as distinctly suburban as its landscape of cul de sacs and ‘cultivated’ expanses of lawn grass. The houses,the closest being built twenty meters from the highway are well within the noise zone of the speeding traffic which includes cars and freight trucks. And so there exists on either side of the highway two distinctly unsustainable peri-urban environments. The existing connection points consist of a poorly lit underpass on the Eastern side and a pedestrian crossing which shares the vehicular highway intersection to the west. The sociological impact of these conditions is quite transparent, the disconnection of the housing area from both the public amenities and parkland across the highway via unsavory and unsafe crossing points [the darkening danger of the underpass and the speeding traffic along the highway exchange].These conditions make access via car to the other side of the highway an attractive option while lack of facilities on site create a deadened under-serviced urbanism [appx 14].At the time of writing an itinerant community were camped in the East of the retail park colonizing the surface of the carpark with caravans [see title photograph]. I had initially studied a similar condition at the highway interchange to the East of this site for the ‘urban interface matrix’, where I deduced an absurd juxtaposition of scale and a poor relationship between buildings [fig 22].I proposed as part of this work a re-configuration of this condition; a removal of houses abutting highway[fig 16 e] and an augmentation; a programmed armature crossing the highway[fig 23].This diagram which contained ideas about the relationship between program and interface became my strategic beginning for an intervention on the Dryborough site.
[B.Murphy & N.Walkinshaw]
Fig 23 Kingsway; re-configuration & augmentation [B.Murphy & N.walkinshaw]
Folk, Work, Place Patrick Geddes’s triad of ‘Folk,work,place’ provides a springboard from which to examine the nature and potential for how human settlement is incorporated within the processes and qualifications of the 21st century city. Below I outline a theoretical context which I built 17 up as a way of developing ideas for the analysis and creative intervention of Peri-urban
.The dialectic which emerges between human beings and their environment as mediated by socio-economic factors. Here I have compared and contrasted Geddes’s regionalism with the ‘generic urbanism’ of Euralille.I believe this contrast provides a basis from which to ascertain how evolving relationships between people and place can be tested off of one another and how evolving conceptions of context can be understood in the dynamic environment of the 21st century. .The potential for hybridism to arrive at new conceptions of how human activity and the environment can co-exist and the tensions inherent in these relationships. This study places human occupation within a matrix of urban components such as infrastructure and landuse types. .The notion of ‘nomadic settlement’ as both polemic and reality in urban theory and research as a migration of bodies along territories and their potential to inhabit and re-qualify peri-urban areas with new social formations Settlement and socio-economic formations
Two case studies of settlement typologies
In his work on city and regional planning Patrick Gedde’s formulated an approach that combined geography with sociology and anthropology. For Geddes the environment and the culture that it furnished constituted an inseparable union bound in geography ,economics and anthropology.He was attracted by Frederic le plays idea’s about the relationship between social and economic conditions, as a localized study of existing processes and how they interfaced off of each other “ their concern was with actual communities, existing industries and the variations between them”21 developing this study into the triad of Place ,work and family. Le plays idea was that geography and natural resources were central to the development of a social structure22.Geddes ‘Valley section’ a diagrammatic section through a river valley “from source to sea”23 placed human occupation along an evolving continuum of civilization.
Fig 24 Patrick Geddes , Valley Section
Fig 25 Euralille sketch plan [b.murphy] ,original drawing [R.Koolhaas]
The influence of Geddes’s thinking can be seen in his idea that the social implications of a culture could be studied and understood as a cooperative series of inter-relationships mediating between man and his environment. A Generic urbanism
In ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ David Graham Shane describes a “generic urbanism”24 that finds its conceptual basis in the real estate economics of the post-modern city. Shane describes Rem Koolhaas, master planner of Euralille as a proponent of this movement which seeks “a scientific order within the flows of the marketplace”25. Shane describes how this is an urbanism that exists in a field of capital flows and marketing under the influence of large corporations, supported by government policies,-the economy and urbanism intrinsically joined. In this capacity Euralille as a conception of urbanism is founded on a distinct relationship between a politics of the local and of the global driven forward by dominating economic incentives.[Appx 15] In attempting to connect what Shane might call the ‘tele cittia’26 with the historical fabric of the existing city in a way departs from the ‘city as machine’27 conception of Lynch,wherby the business centre existed as a segregated unit whereby production and consumption are Segregated. It also constitutes an ambition to imbue a stale localized economy within a trans-European network of flows. This conception of how the local interfaces with the global embodies a distinctly different concept of ‘place’ as in the Geddes triad. Working in the 19th century Geddes saw the socio-economic as inseparably bound up in the dialectic between man, his environment and primary industry. At Euralille the vision is that of how the local is transformed via its connection to high speed networks within an expanding territory. The new city provides an infrastructural, and economic interface with the historical fabric of Lille.Le Plays ideas regarding how geography and natural resources were central to the development of a social structure are replaced via a flow of individuals across a broader geographical territory whereby a more ephemeral social structure is based on the service,finance and communications industry.
Lessons in hybridism
Made in Tokyo
In ‘Made in Tokyo’ a research project carried out by ‘Atelier Bow Wow’ the authors analyse the often bizarre configurations of hybrid structures in Tokyo. Examining how relationships and programs are organized within hybrid buildings allows them to articulate interfaces between architectural program and infrastructure often concerning buildings designed by engineers for industrial uses. The authors break their process down into a chart that relates examples via category, structure, and use combined with a decision as to whether each building typology constitutes architecture or ‘environmental unit’28.This occurs where a hybrid of architecture,engineering,city and landscape occur simultaneously and where each of these elements is not easily disconcernable from the whole.
from left to right : Atilier Bow Wow ; ‘Proliferating water slides’, Buckminster Fuller ‘4D house’, Abalos and herreros ; coast park forum
The terms ‘on’ and ‘off’ outline the relationship each individual category has within a certain typological example. By breaking down the examples in this way the authors are able to catalogue the relationships between different programs ,as contained in hybrid relationships, forming an unbroken matrix of architecture, program and infrastructure. The resultant is a series of hybrid structures for example : the ‘highway department store’which consists of an expressway and a department store in a structural relationship, its structure is ‘on’. These studies throw up exciting examples of how seemingly incompatible programs operate in absurd propinquity eg; a sewage works with a sports complex on its roof. By looking at the city in this way we are able to discern any given point how the components that make up its structure operate as a collaborative system in what might be conceived as an opportunity for typological and programmatic invention as opposed to spatial aberrance .
Abalos and Herraros
re-qualification and hybridisation of urban edges
The Spanish architect Inaki Abalos uses the term “descampados”29 or ‘de-countrified’ in denoting the processes of re-qualification inherent in the horizontal expansion of the city. His practice has concerned itself via several design projects in this zone of human inhabitation and has realized several environmental projects that engage with the re-qualification of land-uses in peri-urban areas. In their ‘Coast park forum’ [fig 28] project on the outskirts of Barcelona the architects were faced with the difficulty of mediating between land which has undergone heavy industrialization and punctuated with major infrastructures and a coastal condition containing a variety of existing and potential public program. The architects have re-configured the landscape in the form of what they call the ‘mountain’ as a means of mediating between the major infrastructure passing through the site and to protect a proposed hostel which is due to be constructed next to a major electricity exchange station. What emerges here is a complex hybrid landscape,a landform used for housing technical systems for recycling industry while doubling as buffer and surface for pedestrian movement to and from a vibrant piece of public program. The organization and re-configuration of disparate land-use functions provide an environment in which public, private and specialized programs can co-exist within highly contrasting ecological systems ie ; that of beach tourism and heavy industry. It provides a good example of the architects conviction that “the dissolution of the natural-artifical opposition that we observe at every scale implies a working program which is nothing other than re-describing, via architecture the position of contemporary man vis-à-vis the world”30 20
Nomadic Urbanisms “The wandering of nomads is a merely formal one, as it is limited to uniform spaces”31 Gwl Hegel
Speculating a nomadic edge
The above quote by Hegel is cogent in that it constitutes a historical conception of nomadic experience which may well be situated within the genericity and uniformity of contemporary peri-urban environments. This statement is polemical as I have encountered nomadic people on a visit to my site and have observed their illegal presence on private land[see title photograph].My ideas within this have been heavily influenced by the notion of mobile urbanisms which have been explored by many theorists of the 20th century such as Cedric Prices ‘Potteries Thinkbelt’ ,Ron Herrons ‘Walking city’32 and Buckminster Fullers ‘Dymaxion house’ [fig 27].A contemporary vision of mobility and a nomadic existence within an ever more globalized world is what bind these projects together in the context of my research. Each contain ideas about a decentralized and mobile urban network. Price’s ‘Think belt’ project which I described earlier illustrated a mobile urbanism that both facilitated the flow of resources required by an educational facility with the potential for change and expansion within non-deterministic structures. Price was interested in the concept of ‘feedback loops’ and believed that urban actors could regulate their own environments based on analysis of local and global processes echoing Geddes’s mantra of “think globally, act locally”33. Ron Herron extended this idea further in his ‘Walking city’ which examined the movement of entire cities across the globe, large tracts of Manhattan walking across the landscape. Although the idea here is purely allegorical its seems to combine the historical movement of nomadic peoples within shifting desires for autonomy in a globalizing landscape. Fuller’s ‘Dymaxion House’ utilized existing forms of mass production to invent a type of prefabricated ‘4d’34 dwelling.4D referred to the notion of the building as both a spatial element and a temporal element ,ie the buildings could be flown to different locations via aircraft. Fullers scheme contained ambitions for autonomy and a decentralized urbanism made possible by technological process : “fuller pointed out that the air,road and rail infrastructure in existence in 1928 all pointed towards de-centralised human settlement,but there is no 20th century home for them to centralize to”35. In this way the historical notion of tribal nomadism is detourned, and exists as a sociology of movement in the digital age whereby technology, settlement typologies and temporal ecologies emerge dialectically. These observations are qualified with a sociological and anthropological study in Jenny Nordquist and Lars Eriksen’s essay ‘moving house’ which describes the contemporary nomadic experience in the United States among caravaners [appx 18].This describes a mobile urbanism containing both its internal organization and self-regulation.
Like mobile versions of Archizooms ‘Non-stop city’36 or indeed the suburban house for that matter ,the caravan culture is one serviced by mass-production, a transplanted suburban enclave, in a mobile form. The authors outline the technological advancement concomitant with the development of ‘caravanning’ and their reliance on the highly serviced caravan parks that allow those facilities to function in seasonal urban migrations. One might imagine, [both in reflection both on Hegels quote and on encountering the temporal settlement encountered on site [title fig],a temporal urbanism, migrating from one uniform peri-urban landscape to another. An infection of the uninviting asphalt and compartmentalized homogeneity.Community and autonomy coexisting, in self-regulated fervour.
Analysis, re-configuration and hybridization of existing urban networks
Due to my interest in the relationship between land use, human activity and infrastructure I was interested in inventing a matrix that could be used as a creative tool for arriving at a re configuration and hybridization of elements, and programs, existing on or in close proximity to the site. I analysed the existing programs on site and combined these in a matrix containing existing infrastructures, hypothetical programs and interfaces. In this I was constructing a ‘lattice’ [fig 29] of existing and potential urban relationships which had its theoretical derivative In Christopher Alexander’s essay ‘a city is not a tree’37 [fig 21] ,where Alexander describes the ‘interrelatedness of urban elements’ in open networks as opposed to closed and isolated systems. I began to imagine how functions observed in the area such as a telecommunications office,market gardening and a re-employment centre may operate in proximity or conjunction.
‘re programming lattice’ [B.Murphy]
Fig 30 Hybrid program for Dryborough site
[B.Murphy] Note for additional work on re-programming please see appendices 26&27
The research intention for the peri-urban toolkit arose out of my earlier research into observed conditions which I had examined through the ‘urban interface matrix’.I envisaged the format of the toolkit, as reciprocating the linear movement of the Urban Interface matrix and in working backwards, along a series of interventive ideas for the site.Beginning with a re-configuration of infrastructure and land-use, through to ‘re-programming’ and then testing these ideas through a series of design exercises [ fig 34].I also began to re-introduce data which I had accumulated in the ‘Typology trumps’ [fig 7].during the initial six week research period. The ambition was to incorporate these studies, both of building and spatial use typologies into a notation system that I was developing for occupation encompassing infrastructural network points, human occupation and land use. The aim of the matrix was twofold ; firstly, in order to formulate a structure within which I could test ideas for different interventions on different scales within a series of very complex conditions. The second aim was to arrive at a series of linear ally worked through strategies which could be related to one another diagonally ie; a re-configuration of street hierarchies, surgery of housing tracts closest to major infrastructure could be combined with a major intervention such as the ‘land bridge’ [fig 32] . The idea here was to begin to formulate and test strategies for the site based on the interrelationship and re-combination of very different strategies and ways of interpreting the condition[appx 17].By incorporating a notation system of human and land use occupation with the existing information contained in the typology trumps I was able to begin formulating strategies which incorporated all the modes of landuse function combined with that of building program [ fig 38].
Fig 31 Hybrid space
from left to right : ‘Landbridge’ , ‘Timing and territory’ top : ‘hybrid space’ sketches
Fig 34 ‘peri-urban toolkit’
from left to right : ‘Double exit hybrid’ , ‘Underpass interactive device’ ‘tunnel perspective - land bridge’ [B.Murphy]
Fig 38 section of ‘peri-urban hybrid’ showing ; ‘speedzone surgery’ , ‘double exit hybrid’ and re-introduction of typology data and use of localized program as documented further back in the city.
Fig 39 Diaphragmattic city wall
4. A frontier ecology
Fig 40 [a] [top] ‘Confluence point’ [b] [bottom] ‘Nodal Ctty’
the development of a peri-urban settlement typology
The development of this work has moved towards a nexus of attempting to understand the complex relationships inherent in the peri-urban realm. As I described in the previous chapter the tenet of this work derives itself from both analysing and creating strategies for how to intervene in these environments. I shall now discuss the work of Peter G Rowe in untangling the sociologies and spatial relationships inherent and potential of the peri-urban realm which shall provide a historical and critical backround of the ‘middle landscape’ in which my previous observations may be synthesized into a meaningful and coherent strategy of intervention. Peter g Rowe : constructing a poetic of place within the middle landscape
In “Making a middle landscape” Peter G Rowe laments the failure of peri-urban commercial strips and building complexes to produce a spatial coherence in how they relate both to each other and to the landscapes on which they sit “Commercial strips extend out into the surrounding countryside without any suggestion of a centre or termination”38. It is the illconsidered vagrancies, of vacant land, amidst harsh juxtapositions of banal housing developments and office parks that Rowe is critiquing here, as a root cause of spatial confusion at the cities edge.“The surrounding landscape is pervaded by parking lots that offer little definition of their primary function let alone an inviting environment”39. Rowe outlines a series of projects which examine the ills of both commercial and housing developments combined with a series re-configurations and interventions carried out or theorized by architects and planners for their alleviation. He examines the history of the middle landscape, as it has evolved through the dialectic between philosophical and moral conceptions of pastoralism, and how this has been influenced in the settlement of land and the advancement of technology; “ overall it is a pastoral design in which the ‘pastoral ideal,or metaphor is exposed to the changes that will change it most dramatically”41.’[appx 19] Rowe champions the ‘machine in the garden’ perspective of modern pastoralism, which seeks a functional and formal tension between building and landscape while retaining a high degree of ambiguity in this relationship.This is a a characteristic he sees as forming a key component of modernism and its technical and functional ‘placelessness’. 27
from left to right : Sebastian Serlio ‘the rural scene’,Superstudio ‘Endless city’, ‘Hilberseimer ‘Street Hierarchies’
“The machine must be able to qualify the garden and vice versa, it is the emergent dialectical relationship that is of interest ,not simply the terms themselves”42.The paragon of this dialectic in built form that Rowe mentions is the ‘Union Carbide Headquarters’[fig 44]. Designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkerloo the building alters its forested landscape in a very minimum way and its primary expression of connection of place is via its infrastructure. As a ‘highway building’ the scheme connects to a major highway via a piece of secondary infrastructure which brings the motorist right into the building in the form of a car park.”There is at once a sense of opposition of building on the landscape and a sense of disengagement…..what seems to be very important is that the natural environment appears to be interrupted and impaired as little as possible”43. Rowe contrasts what he sees as this rather successful form of ‘technological pastoralism’ in a corporate context with less successful manifestations of the term; “the case to be made for modern pastoralism in contemporary shopping realms is poorly defined and potentially something of a missed opportunity, too often the commercial zone that bounds most metropolitan thoroughfares is a hodgepodge of different land uses and building types, billboards and desolate parking lots”43 Rowe criticizes the expanses of development of highways, office buildings and retail centres as illustrating a discordant spatial configuration. He attributes this to the tendency of modernism to organize land use into solely functional patterns. For Rowe this incoherent field of unarticulated elements has resulted in a civically laconic and unwelcoming environment. Robert Venturi [appx 20] outlined the breakdown in relationship of these big retail buildings with their adjacent spatial environments, and their blatant lack of dialogue with one another. Rowe calls for a re-examination of these adjacent in-between spaces both between the buildings and between public infrastructure and private parking lots. “Programmatic re-invention of the space between buildings and building complexes is required to help divest suburban commercial zones of their placelessness.”44.He speaks about the importance of of “anticipation and arrival” on site45 being more pronounced and how the prototypical relationship between parking lots ending in inanimate facades of buildings constitute a distinct failure. 28
Highlighting the need for ways in which to deal with the left over space along highways Rowe describes the need and potential for a stronger relationship between infrastructure and architecture wherein the relationship between both is reciprocated ““rather than seeing only buildings as objects worthy of sustained design attention,as we do today roads themselves can become pieces of architecture”46 denoting a form of hybridism existent in Roches work at ‘Union Carbide’. Rowe sees the role and opportunity of invention as critical to the transformation of the ‘middle landscape .Out of this experimentation we may arrive at both new urban typologies and a “newfound sense of place”47.And in so doing he stresses the need to work within and transform existing peri-urban forms. He sets out three principle approaches for study and intervention. I have attempted to address these principles in my own design project as a way of learning from the rationale and generic abstraction of the ‘peri-urban’ order. This is opposed to relating directly to a specific peri-urban development complex which often may lack design quality, and architectural or spatial merit. For me the historical context of the middle landscape has provided a catalogue of ‘trial and error’ situations where architects have attempted to intervene in these contexts. The principles Rowe lays out which I have listed below are cogent in that within the formalistically and spatial ambiguity of the middle landscape they denote an interventive approach which tends towards analysising and understanding ‘relationships’ as opposed to a schematic master planning of specific formal typologies. 1 Juxtaposition Rowe uses minimalist art [fig 45] as a means of communicating the idea of juxtaposition of scale and material and how this may inform the nature of how we build within the middle landscape. The scope for ambiguity between built form and landscape combined with the articulation of elements into a hierarchically distinct ‘visual field’ may be affected by the way in which the building ‘displaces’ the space around it. 2.Scale The potential for dramatic scalar relationships between elements eg ; Rowe cites landscape portals and parking lots. He describes how scale can be exploited in combination with symbolism to articulate an other wise uniform spatial field. 3.order Here Rowe speaks about the notion of ‘interval’ by which he means the rhythms concurrent via the space left between buildings and how this provides a highly articulate visual field. His aim here is twofold, to make the visual aspect of an otherwise monotonous or chaotic environment more coherent and memorable and to articulate the hierarchy of building program and spatial order inherent in the environment .He also outlines the possibility of re-arranging currently existing elements into new orders, eg ;supermarkets surround a carpark which becomes a defined courtyard space.
from left to right : Kevin Roche,John Dinkerloo and associates ‘Union Carbide headquaters’ , Robert Irwin installation,library plaza Dallas, Sahel AL-Hiyari ‘proposal in a suburban context’
A parasite for mobility
The construction of a peri-urban ecology
The scheme is conceived as a peri-urban ‘manifold’ in that it both mitigates multiple flows and multiple speeds. Its flows are that of the mobile [caravan, car traffic,] the local [market gardening and farmers market serving primarily local networks, council building servicing local areas] and the ‘placeless’ [the non-place of the call centre and telecommunications centre which interfaces with multiple and global networks and which could exist, in effect, anywhere. The scheme will be composed of three packets of facilities, 1.’The centre for de-regulated territories’, 2.’The call centre’ and 3.’The centre for mobility’, in a hybrid of civic, administrative, corporate cultural facilities and [some] industrial storage functions[ pertaining to the adjacent market gardening program I am proposing for the eleven hectare site].The scheme attempts to facilitate flows in the edge-territory, such as the movement of nomadic people, the occupation and cultivation of land and the proliferation of community service program and management of waste in an area of social need. To its south the scheme abuts the highway and rises to meet the flow of traffic as both an access point off the motorway and a service station for travelers.The scheme flows Northward into the groundscape towards the agrarian edge Brief [For schedule of accommodation please see appendix 21]
In arriving at the site specific the question arises as to how to formulate a brief and program strategy having compiled such a large body of research, and a theoretical base from which to critique urban constructs. My approach in this has been twofold ; The brief itself was formulated through the data collected in the confluence of research stages both of a ‘top down’ [city analysis and condition interfaces] and a ‘bottom up’ nature [eg; a close analysis on site and the encounter of Itinerants the experience of the ‘drift’]. The work described earlier on re-programming and the close analysis of the processes and ‘ecologies’ existent on the site provided ample knowledge of the urban ‘ecology’ of the area and how it could be creatively interpreted. Secondly I have tried to move systematically through a series of conceptual ‘moves’ built up on a body of theoretical and analytical ideas regarding the peri-urban in general and the site in particular ;
from left to right :Venturi,Scott Brown and Izenour : National Football league hall of Fame,New Brunswick NJ 1967,Tarla Mc Gabhann Letterkenny area offices, Superstudio ‘superexistance,life and death’
1: ‘Endless’ surface The notion of architecture as ‘expansive surface’ as party derived from the polemic of Superstudio [appx 22] and partly a response to the dominance of space over form in the expansion of the contemporary city.I conceived the first move in architecture as the creation of a sloping ‘networked surface’, a surface which extends into the site itself upon which urban events occur in hybrid combinations eg Caravan park,Call centre. 2. Four horizons The inclined surface creates a horizon towards the countryside for the ‘caravanners’, the vertical volume looks back towards the city and the horizon of Fife. The two ‘indentations’ create alternating horizons east and west along the prospects opened up by the highway. The articulation of the ‘surface’ responds to the elements which hold it in tension. 3.Internal tensions and external fields The scheme embodies a collision of the urban and rural, the motorist and pedestrian, the national and local in its interior while being situated in complementary ‘fields’ :ie agriculture and the surface of the carpark. The the events taking place on this surface will [containing their own internal tensions,instabilities and potential for change] qualify these ‘fields’ in different ways over time. For example how might the surface of the existing carpark be re-qualified in future if some inter-breeding was to occur between recreational program occuring in the scheme as juxtaposed against the vacancy of the carparks. 4.inflection and deflection I have ‘deflected’ the sloping surface away from the highway to provide a commercial facade and ‘inflected‘ the vertical volume towards it aligning to the geometry of the ‘big boxes’ on site forming an internal space as a transparent ‘billboard’ to the highway. This conception of how a building may relate to the motion of the highway is party derived from ‘Learning from Las Vegas’[appx 20] where Venturi describes how large retail buildings ‘inflect’ towards the space of the highway. This constitutes a distinct relationship pertaining to movement perception along the motorway in a commercial environment. 31
‘A Parasite for mobility’ Site concept model 1/500
5.A re-imagining of the ‘highway-lot-fascade’ relationship. The scheme aims at a re-imagining of the relationship between the ‘parking lot’ and ‘in-animate’ facade of large retail buildings.The building intends to combine both these elements into one cohesive system. The ‘landscape facade’ brings the pedestrian slowly upwards along a field of activity eg; caravans,sports and the point of arrival is subtly distinguished by an entrance emerging out of the shallow slope. Its ‘speedzone’[Lerup] facade engages visually with the speed of the highway,its animation is derived from motion and its visual coherence as a separate system to the highway is derived from its elevation. 6.Expansion and the ‘centripetal’ I am interested in how this scheme may form both an expansive capacity into this territory both into the urban and rural[as discussed earlier] coupled with its more internalized and gated ‘indents’ of activity. In this way the ‘interface’ between different internal functions may be explored while maintaining a dynamic relationship to its site. In his book ‘ladders’47.Pope outlines the concept of the ‘ladder’ a ‘centripetal’ in-ward looking system. In this way as the city sprawls outwards, its individual ‘compartments’ look inward as segregated systems. The scheme aims at a detournment of this process on a particular site. 7.’Switch on , Switch off’ The building is hybrid in nature and contains programs which operate and switch on at different times while maintaining at least one ‘switched on’ program at any point within the 24hr day : ie market operating from 10am to 3:30pm ,call centre operating from 8pm to 8am, service station 24hrs.In this it combines the latent diversity already contained in the ‘timing’ of different programs in the peri-urban into one spot of activity. The mobile nature of the scheme eg caravan ‘motel’ ,informal market provides multiple opportunities for different ‘stims’ to occur on this surface at alternating times. In ‘Stimdross, re-thinking the metropolis’48. Lerup discusses the nature of suburban program as constituting distinct timing patterns in pockets mediating between periods of vibrance and periods of complete inactivity. 32
Fig 51 David Graham Shane , multiple actors in conceptual modelling and media space
‘A Parasite for mobility’ Site strategy diagrams
8.The mirror and the billboard In inflecting towards the highway the ‘surveillance call centre’ provides a digitized billboard to the highway as it does a sloping visual surface of flickering screens towards the agrarian edge and camperdown park. A digital feed of Dundee and its multiple sites which undergo surveillance throughout the city,reflecting a real-time image of the cities spaces to its periphery, and overiding the visual barrier to the city as formed by topography and distance. This stratedgy has been derived from Michael Focaults concept of the heterotopia49 in that it denotes an existance of multiple sites in one location and in this it ‘reflects’ the institutional component of the scheme as a regulator of flows.It does this by the exploitation of the digital in a re-routing of the specific sites of the city,simultaneously present in the ‘placelessness’ of the peri-urban.[see also appx 23] Finally I have drawn on the theoretical and built works of architects and urbanists that ranges from the ultimately polemical and idealistic such as Stephen Holls ‘edge of a city’ projects to the regional pragmatism of Tarla Mcgabhann’s Letterkenny area offices [appx 24 and 25] as a way of situating this work within the context of previious attempts by architects at tackling such issues.
Conclusion The locus and lattice of mobility lo•cal, mobile
: from Latin locus, place, of, relating to, or applicable to part of a whole 50 : capable of moving or being moved 51
: a regular geometrical arrangement of points or objects over an area or in space 52
It becomes clear in reflecting upon this work that the twin axes of the global and the local, the citywide and the city specific hold each other in consistent tension throughout the course of the study. The research began with a highly localized study of the intimate space of the city within an ambigious parameter of what constituted ‘the urban’ and in this it incorporated five of Tunnards ‘six domains’ 53,
In reflecting on Alberti’s setting out of the ancient city and the Well’s predictions on the late 19th century cities ‘diffusion’,therin lies in the former an establishment of a determinate boundary, in the latter incremental growth as to be distorted by accelerating processes. Alberti’s edge was one of accretion, Well’s, of erosion. Each denotes across the vault of history the scale of man and his direct relationship to the city as a planned or growing entity. It is in the last century that the ‘horse and foot strides’ have been taken over by infrastructures which have distorted the city into an abstract system whereby the forces driving it forward are no longer explicitly visible. It is partly the nature of these ‘interfaces’ between man and his environment in contemporary urbanism which I have been seeking to understand in this work. As I described earlier a methodological disparity emerges in the space between the ‘urban drift’ and the ‘urban interface matrix’ .In this lesson maybe learnt about how to incorporate a time-based study of the specific in the broader context of shifting social dynamics. The final programmatic and spatial context for the design project has arrived from an initial ‘bottom up’ drift encounter through ‘top down’ city analysis to a series of ‘bottom up’ observations on site. In this the final strategy has mediated between both methodological poles. I have illustrated how these methodological tensions can provide a fresh way of approaching research on the city. The ‘parasite’ of the peri-urban although distinct remains part of the ‘lattice’ of the metropolis and that of the rural.Its is a place of local flows such as agriculture, and of global flows such telecommunications industries.The ‘lattice’, here concerns a hybrid mesh of disparate sites in relationship at the city’s edge.The architecture of my project finds it augmentation at the point where this mesh is punctured by a broader infrastructural network.I call this the ‘locus of mobility’, a point where the local, the global and the mobile, the regional and generic co-exist simultaneously in juxtapositions of functions. It would be fallacious to contend that these relationships are not already existent to some degree,and this is the cusp of my argument -that this study has been about understanding and augmentating extisting processes and conditions in a creative way.It Is the intensification of these ‘sites’ into one point which has been an ambition here, the search for a dynamic and mobile conception of place, within the apparent ‘placelessness’ of a globalizing world. This is a paradigm wherin we have witnessed simultaneously the invasion of the urban by the suburban,the reclamation of the city by its hinterland and the proliferation of absurd densities in agrarian settings.And in the ‘private landcape’ of suburbia we have witnessed a period of mass-compartmentalization.However by no means am I proposing a broad re-confiugrtaion of an existant social and economic system, so much as the possibility of more diverse accretions of life in small pockets, co-existing in hybrids of private, civic, ‘industrial’ and commercial functions.I have proposed through this work, a detournement of the existing into richer forms of urban relationships. It might condern itself with ‘simple things’,a place to buy local produce,to recycle or engage in informal trade.But In attempting to operate within the existing processes of the city and in accecpting the nature of the peri-urban context and of late capitalism itself , I am interested in the relationships inherent in collisions of seemingly disparite values and modes of being.Hybridism,in this instance the selective exploitation of proximity, is, for me is a way of examining and augmenatating the nature of human relationships architecturally.I consider this a cogent probe in a world so ardently driven forward by socio-economic relations and their concurrent secularizations.
At the edge of the city as ones gaze turns consecutively back towards the city and outwards towards the agrarian palimpsest a disparation of forms appears. Urban forms which contain their own internal and external spatial tensions and relationships which may be a way of looking at alternative ways of organizing and developing land. This is an Urbanism of spatial and social relationships as opposed to isolated formal typologies. In this way a different language and understanding of the peri-urban is impossible to reap from solely examining the historical morphology of the city’s historical core. I have illustrated how by examining existing and potential relationships between ‘sites’ one can arrive at an understanding and re-configuration of these landscapes. In the final columns of the ‘urban interface matrix’ a dialogue emerges between hypothetical urban interventions which contextually transverse contemporary space and historical time within the city. The design projects pursued by my colleague and I engage in a transcity discourse on broader urban processes while operating in radically different environments. It is this way of looking at the contemporary city,and Dundee in particular which has been one of the ambitions of this research. In this capacity I believe it has illustrated the relationship between city processes and the morphology of specific conditions as both reality and potential.Dundee,as a shrinking city has provided an appropriate model for this. It is evident that this work has examined the relationships between urban elements as manifested by distinct process as opposed to the mechanisms of the processes themselves. I make no illusions to the fact that it is both conceptual and speculative for the architect or urbanist to postulate interventiions in these contexts ,and in this the notion of pragmatism is important. In reality such interventions into the urban fabric would constitute complex and lengthy processes between various bodies. Perhaps new infrastructures of exchange and communication need to be developed and exploited between governing bodies in order for these ideas to become manifest in reality. I believe the pragmatism of this work could be extended into such a realm of understanding and invention.
‘A Parasite for mobility’ Site strategy diagram
If, for a moment the city is to be perceived as a purely horizontally expanding entity then its peri-urban realm encapsulates both its recent history and its near future. The perceived dichotomies of urban an rural evoke an epic collision of two realms of human occupation, and as volatile systems their tensions are inseperable in their relationship to the whole. Within the architectural profession the nature these ‘borderlands’ provide for us, a reflective veil to our conceptual latency in truly engaging with the excitement of the city as it sprawls onward into the 21st century. I hope that this work is a reminder as to narrowness of our engagement with contemporary urbanism and for the possibilities for further exploration at the forgotten fringes of the city.
This thesis owes much of its depth to the ideas and intuition of my fellow students. Of all my colleagues five, in particular require mention here as having been with me at the beginning of the years research at that point where, the propagation of values and conception of ideas emerged in the richness of group dialogue ; Esme Fieldhouse,Ryan Mcgloughlin,Stephen Mackey and Neil Walkinshaw. As ‘the intimate group’ their ideas and effort shaped the initial six week research period of which I was part. To Neil Walkinshaw I owe due credit and thanks for the work we pursued together in the ‘city analysis’ and ‘urban interface matrix’ and for enduring in dialogue throughout the year. The conceptual base from which this project has grown arose out of a collision and confluence of interests between Neil and I and through which our joint knowledge base has developed to inform the direction of this work. I am convinced that the energy of this work has been fostered in this dialogue and in our many long discources, arguments and conversations on the contemporary city. Thanks are also due to my tutors Graeme Hutton and Dr Lorens Holm who have supervised this work from its inception, with enthusiastic rigour and insight. Further thanks are due to several teachers with whom i have been engaged in discussion regarding the relationship between man and landscape,and the nature of urban topography. In this I would like to thank Thomas Deckker, Brian Adams, Michael Spens and Brian Messana for their advice and encouragement
Notes 1.From the essay ‘The primacy of space’ by Albert Pope, Bulman,Luke , Jessica Young , (2009) , ‘Everything must move’ , Houston, Rice school of Architecture , p 18-21 2.From the essay ‘The primacy of space’ by Albert Pope, Bulman,Luke , Jessica Young , (2009) , ‘Everything must move’ , Houston, Rice school of Architecture , p 18-21 3.Rowe , Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 250 4.Abalos, Inaki ‘A new naturalism, 7 micromanifestos’ , Gil, Gustavo , (2002) , ‘Abalos & Herreros’ , Barcelona, 2G International Architecture Review : no.22 , p26-33 5.Alberti, Leon, Battista, [translated by Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach and Robert Tavernor] (1988) , in Ten books’, MIT press , p 101
‘On the Art of building
6.Wells , HG (1924) ‘The probable diffusion of great cities’ in ‘Anticipations and other papers, Vol .4 of the work of H.G Wells’ , New York ,Scribners 7.The term ‘edge city’ as coined by the author Joel Garreau ; Garreau, Joel , ‘Edge Cities, life on the new Frontier’ , Anchor books,New York , 1992 8. Alexander, Christopher (1988) , ‘A City is not a Tree’ London, pp. 67-84.
Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object, Thames and Hudson,
9.Lerup , Lars , (2001) , ‘ After the City’ , Cambridge MA , MIT Press, p 22-23 10. Jones, S.J , (1968) , ‘Dundee and district’, Committee of the British association for the advancment of science, Urban geography of Dundee. 11. Jones, S.J , (1968) , ‘Dundee and district’, Committee of the British association for the advancment of science, Urban geography of Dundee. 12.Banham, Reyner , “ Flatscape with containers” originally published in ‘New Society’ p232, Matthews, Stanley , (2007), ‘From agit-prop to free space : the architecture of Cedric Price’,London, Black Dog, 192-240 13.Larsson , Andreas , (2009) , ‘Detroit’s emptiness , The art of abandonment’ , London, Economist 14. Larsson , Andreas , (2009) , ‘Detroit’s emptiness , The art of abandonment’ , London, Economist 15. Larsson , Andreas , (2009) , ‘Detroit’s emptiness , The art of abandonment’ , London, Economist
16.Poppenk Manfred, Poppenk Mascha, (2009),‘Grown in Detroit’ [film documentary] ,Netherlands 17.Biegel,Florian,Christou,Phillip , (1999) , ‘Time architecture : Stadtlandschaft Lichtefelde Sud, Berlin, Arq Architectural research quaterly, vol 3-no 3, Cambridge University press 18. Biegel,Florian,Christou,Phillip , (1999) , ‘Time architecture : Stadtlandschaft Lichtefelde Sud, Berlin, Arq Architectural research quaterly, vol 3-no 3, Cambridge University press 19. Leonard, Sofia , Walter, Stephen, (2004) , ‘Think Global,act local : the life and legacy of Patrick Geddes’ , Edinburgh , Luath Press 20. L21 , Oswalt, Philipp, (2006) ,
‘Shrinking Cities’ , Osfildern Germany, Hatje cantz
21. Meller, Helen, Elizabeth (2005) , ‘Patrick Geddes : social evolutionist and city planner, London, Roundledge p 18-52 22. Frederic Le Play, Meller, Helen, Elizabeth (2005) , ‘Patrick Geddes : social evolutionist and city planner, London, Roundledge p34
Notes 23. Meller, Helen, Elizabeth (2005) , ‘Patrick Geddes : social evolutionist and city planner, London, Roundledge,p 41 24.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd , p 102 25.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd , p 102 26.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd , p 72 27. 27.Lynch, Kevin , (1981), ‘A theory of good city form’,Cambridge MA, MIT press, p 343
28. [what the authors call “the unexpected adjacency of function created by cross categorical hybrids”] Kaijima,Momoyo, Kuroda, Junzo, Tsukamoto, (2008),‘Made in Tokyo’, Tokyo ,Kajima institute,p 8-39
29.Gil, Gustavo , (2002) ,
‘Abalos & Herreros’ , Barcelona, 2G International Architecture Review : no.22 p 60-69
30Abalos, Inaki ‘A new naturalism, 7 micromanifestos’ , Gil, Gustavo , (2002) , ‘Abalos & Herreros’ , Barcelona, 2G International Architecture Review : no.22 , p26-33 31. Hegel Gwl , Guy Debord, (1970) , ‘The Society of Spectacle’ , New York, Zone books
32. Sadler, Simon, (2005) , ‘Archigram , architecture without architecture , Cambridge MA, MIT Press,
33. P.Geddes , (1905) , ‘Civics as applied sociology’ , Part 1 , Sociological papers,(ed.) V.V Branford London : Macmillan, pp 105-6 34.Gorman, Michael John , (2005) , ‘ Buckminster Fuller designing for mobility ’, Milano ,Skira editore S.p.A , 35.Gorman, Michael John , (2005) , ‘ Buckminster Fuller designing for mobility ’, Milano ,Skira editore S.p.A , 36.As discussed by Peter g Rowe ; Rowe , Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 59
37. Alexander, Christopher (1988) , ‘A City is not a Tree’ London, pp. 67-84.
Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object, Thames and Hudson,
38. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 39. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 40. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 41.Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 42. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 43. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 44. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244
45. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 249-289 46. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 249-289 47.Pope, Albert , (1996) , ‘Ladders, Architecture at Rice 34’ , Princeton Architectural Press 48.Lerup,Lars , from the essay ‘Stimdross, re-thinking the metropolis’ , Bulman,Luke , Jessica Young , (2009) , ‘Everything must move’ Houston, Rice school of Architecture , p 18-21 49.Michel Foucault, (1986) , ‘Other spaces: The principles of heterotopia’, Lotus International, no. 48-49 50.Merriam-Webster online dictionary,(2007) ,’ lo·cal’ , http://www.thefreedictionary.com/local 51. Merriam-Webster online dictionary,(2007) , ’glob·al’ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/global 52. Merriam-Webster online dictionary,(2007) , ‘lat·tice’ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lattice 53. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 250 54.Friedman, Thomas L, (2005) , ‘The world is Flat’, London , Penguin Books 55.Sassen,Saskia, (2001) , The global city New York, London, Tokyo , rinceton, Princeton University Press 56. Koolhaas, Rem , (2000) , ‘Mutations’ , Barcelona, ACTAR arc en reve d’architecture,p 589 57.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 189-90 58.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 189-90 59. Becher,Hilla,Bernard , (1931) , ‘Industrial landscapes’
60. Biegel,Florian,Christou,Phillip , (1999) , ‘Time architecture : Stadtlandschaft Lichtefelde Sud, Berlin, Arq Architectural research quaterly, vol 3-no 3, Cambridge University press 61.Debord , Guy ; McDonough, Tom (editor) , (2002) , Guy Debord and the Situationist International,texts and documents, London , MIT Press 62. Debord , Guy ; Andreotti , Libero , (1996) rani de Barcelona
‘Theory of the derive and other situationist writings on the city’, Museu d’Art Contempo-
63. Debord , Guy ; Andreotti , Libero , (1996)
‘Theory of the derive and other situationist writings on the city’, Museu d’Art Contempo-
rani de Barcelona 64.Debord, Guy ; Andreotti , Libero , (1996)
‘Theory of the derive and other situationist writings on the city’, Museu d’Art Contempo-
rani de Barcelona 65. Debord,Guy ;Andreotti , Libero , (1996)
‘Theory of the derive and other situationist writings on the city’, Museu d’Art Contempo-
rani de Barcelona 66.Andreotti , Libero , (1996)
‘Theory of the derive and other situationist writings on the city’, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barce-
lona 67. Jacobs Jane, (1962) , ‘Death and Life of Great American Cities’ London , Johanathan Cape,p 3-25 68.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 39-44 69.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 39-44 70.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 39-44 71.Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 39-44 72. Fishman, Robert “ beyond suburbia, the rise and fall of the technoburb” :Le Gates, Richard, Stout, Frederic ,(1996) , ‘The city reader’ , New York, Roundledge, 73. Fishman, Robert “ beyond suburbia, the rise and fall of the technoburb” :Le Gates, Richard, Stout, Frederic ,(1996) , ‘The city
reader’ , New York, Roundledge, 74.Croise, Espace, (1996) , ‘Euralille the making of a new city centre’, Basel , Birkhauser p 12-39 75.Croise, Espace, (1996) , ‘Euralille the making of a new city centre’, Basel , Birkhauser p 12-39 76.Croise, Espace, (1996) , ‘Euralille the making of a new city centre’, Basel , Birkhauser p 12-39 77. Nordquist, Jenny and Eriksen, Lars ‘Moving House’ ,Hoete, Anthony (Editor) , (2003) , Roam: reader on the aesthetics of mobility’ , London , Black Dog 78.Nordquist, Jenny and Eriksen, Lars ‘Moving House’ ,Hoete, Anthony (Editor) , (2003) , Roam: reader on the aesthetics of mobility’ , London , Black Dog 79. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 80. Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press , p 217 - 244 81.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 82.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 2002 83.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 84.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 85.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 86.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 87..Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 199 88.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 89.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 90.Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) 91. Lang,Peter
‘Superstudio : Life Without Objects’ Skira ,Milano 2003 p 175 - 213
92. Mcgabhann, Tarla
‘Letterkenny area office [LAO]’
Irish Architect no 179 July/August 2002
93. Mcgabhann, Tarla
‘Letterkenny area office [LAO]’
Irish Architect no 179 July/August 2002
‘ On the edge’
ARQ Architectural Research Quaterly , Cambridge University Press , volume 9 nr 2 2005
Images 1. [fig 1] ,Jones, S.J , (1968) , ‘Dundee and district’, Committee of the British association for the advancment of science, Urban geography of Dundee.
2.[fig 2] ,
Courtesy of Neil Walkinshaw
3.[fig 3] ,Matthews, Stanley , (2007), ‘From agit-prop to free space : the architecture of Cedric Price’,London, Black Dog 4.[fig 4] ,Becher,Hilla,Bernard , (1931) ,
5 [fig 5] ,Biegel,Florian,Christou,Phillip , (1999) , ‘Time architecture : Stadtlandschaft Lichtefelde Sud, Berlin,
Arq Architectural re-
search quaterly, vol 3-no 3, Cambridge University press
6 [fig 6] ,Larsson , Andreas , (2009) , ‘Detroit’s emptiness , The art of abandonment’ , London, Economist 7 [fig 10] , Debord,Guy,Jorn,asper [taken from] Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory ,Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 79
8 [fig 13] Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory ,Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 79
9[fig 18] Walter, Stephen, (2004) , ‘Think Global,act local : the life and legacy of Patrick Geddes’ , Edinburgh , Luath Press 10 [fig 19] L22, [taken from] , Oswalt, Philipp, (2006)
‘Shrinking Cities’ , Osfildern Germany, Hatje cantz
11 [fig 20] Kevin Lynch, (1961), ‘Image of the City’, Cambridge MA , (MIT Press). 12 [fig 21] Alexander, Christopher Hudson, London, pp. 67-84.
(1988) , ‘A City is not a Tree’
Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object, Thames and
13 [fig 24] Patrick Geddes, [taken from] Meller, Helen, Elizabeth (2005) , ‘Patrick Geddes : social evolutionist and city planner, London, Roundledge
14 [fig 26]
Kaijima,Momoyo, Kuroda, Junzo, Tsukamoto, (2008),‘Made in Tokyo’, Tokyo ,Kajima institute,
15.[fig 27] Gorman, Michael John , (2005) , ‘ Buckminster Fuller designing for mobility ’, Milano ,Skira editore S.p.A 16.[fig 28] [taken from] Gil, Gustavo , (2002) ,
‘Abalos & Herreros’ , Barcelona, 2G International Architecture Review : no.22
17.[fig 41] Serlio,Sebastian [taken from]
Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory ,Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd p 79
‘Superstudio : Life Without Objects’ Skira ,Milano 2003 p 175 - 213
19.[fig 43] Hilberseimer, Ludwig
(1955) , ‘The nature of cities , oirigin, growth and decline , Chicago, Ill. Theobald,
Rowe , Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press
Rowe , Peter G, (1991), ‘Making a middle landscape’ , MIT Press
Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press)
23.[fig 48] 24.[fig 49]
[Taken from] ‘Ryan,Raymond’ , (2002) , ‘ReDeConstructing Donegal’ Irish Architect no 179 July/August Lang,Peter
‘Superstudio : Life Without Objects’ Skira ,Milano 2003
Shane David Grahame, (2005), â€˜Recombinant Urbanismâ€™ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory ,Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd
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Guy Debord, (1970) , ‘The Society of Spectacle’ , New York, Zone books Michel Foucault, (1986) , ‘Other spaces: The principles of heterotopia’, Lotus International, no. 48-49 Kevin Lynch, (1961), ‘Image of the City’, Cambridge MA , (MIT Press). Venturi, Robert, Brown, Denise Scott and Izenour Steven, (1972), ‘Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form’ Cambridge MA , (MIT Press) Shane David Grahame, (2005), ‘Recombinant Urbanism’ : conceptual modelling in architecture, urban design, and city theory , Chichester ,John Wiley & Sons Ltd Jacobs Jane, (1962) , ‘Death and Life of Great American Cities’ London , Johanathan Cape Koolhaas, Rem , (2000) , ‘Mutations’ , Barcelona, ACTAR arc en reve d’architecture Holl , Stephen , (1991) , ‘Pamphlet Architecture, edge of a city’, New York ,Princeton Architectural press Gorman, Michael John , (2005) , ‘ Buckminster Fuller designing for mobility ’, Milano ,Skira editore S.p.A , Bulman,Luke , Jessica Young , (2009) , ‘Everything must move’ , Houston, Rice school of Architecture Wells , HG (1924) ‘The probable diffusion of great cities’ in ‘Anticipations and other papers, Vol .4 of the work of H.G Wells’ , New York ,Scribners Friedman, Thomas L, (2005) , ‘The world is Flat’, London , Penguin Books Rattray, Charles, (2005) , ‘ On the edge’ , ARQ Architectural Research Quaterly, volume 9 nr 2 , Cambridge University Press Mcgabhann, Tarla , (2002) , ‘Letterkenny area office [LAO]’ , Irish Architect no 179 July/ August 2002 ‘Ryan,Raymond’ , (2002) , ‘ReDeConstructing Donegal’ Irish Architect no 179 July/August 43
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Communication advancements and urban transformations
According to Thomas l Friedman we are currently experiencing the third phase of globalization in human history taking the world wide web and fiber optic Cable as its primary infrastructures. Friedman’s “flattening”54 situates the contemporary city firmly within a context of global circuits, what Saskia Sassen calls “the global city”55. These very forces can be observed within the ever shifting perimeters of the city and as a part of an International network, they have formed compound cites .They have agglomerations, megalopolises and gated communities. And yet we have seen the reclamation of the city by its hinterland , and major exchanges from the private sphere to the public as in Detroit’s metamorphosis. A ‘reining in’ of a cities future through autonomous civic cooperation , an ecological patchwork of individual pro-action, fed back to the cities fabric. According to Rem koolhaas, the rise of the Suburban America was vindicated by the infrastructure of television ; “Allowing one ostensibly to participate simultaneously in the [pseudo-]pastorality of the suburb and in the teeming information rich-social world made possible by a concentration of central Markets” 56 This suggests that the centripetal nature of the city was distorted not solely by economic incentives and transportation but by a new paradigm of human communication. David Graham Shane describes the bundling effect relationships between “knowledge”57 enclaves and gated communities and its effect on the contemporary city, driven by the shifting ideologies of political process.Shane describes how the relationship between communications infrastructures the city fabric ie “gated”58 or knowledge enclaves at the cities edge has led to inequalities that stem form information transfer highlighting the importance of the infrastructure of the internet in the 21st century city. 2.’Middle Landscape’ A post war mono-functional wasteland of suburban housing sprawl and shopping malls an offspring of economic displacement, population growth and the rise of the state-supported corporation. 3. Charleroi
The photographs of Bernard and Hilla Becher among other things exhibit a seemingly alien relationship between” the functional architecture of industry” and their nearby urban context. In their documentation of an ever-changing landscape they have recorded images of industrial sites such as mines and quarries some of which are no longer in existence. The Becher’s were interested in the juxtaposition of industry, agriculture and settlements that came about during the peak of the coal industry, particularly in France and Belgium. They witnessed the morphosis of what were once flat landscapes into giant hills and wastelands of coal and slag, and more importantly the sentiment felt for this new landscape by the people that lived there “This type of landscape has become anchored In the minds of people with the result that today the people who live there want the hills to stay” 59 46
This empirical conclusion is evidence that people’s connection with a landscape be it urban or rural may not necessarily be a static entity, the aversion to change and attachment to the old landscapes over time succumbs to the reality of the new surroundings, their essence and truth. The machines themselves have a symbiotic relationship with this landscape, they exist on it yet at that same time they have brought it into being. Their genius loci that of function and human occupation, rather than a benign interface with human settlement. Although systematic rather than regional, the augmentative nature of the industrial machines and buildings accentuate the placelessness and frailty of the residential settlements , like suburban diodes in a volatile landscape of industry, infrastructure and change. 4.Think Belt
Price planned his think belt as a type of mobile urbanism consisting of three primary ‘transfer areas’[appendices 5].Forming a portal to existing infrastructures and connected by the disused train tracks. In this capacity Price was envisioning the scheme as a localized infrastructure of mobile components incorporated into a broader network of flows. 5.Lichterfelde Sud
A former US urban warfare practice ground the Site contains traces of that former infrastructure in conjunction with the agricultural field patterns of the 18th century and the railway yards of the 1930’s.Biegel combines this chronological juxtaposition with the current ecological diversity visible on site today. “There are signs of previous purpose and order to which the site is no longer subject” 60 6.Theory of the derive “I believe that this society is moved by absurd forces that tend unconsciously to satisfy our true needs” 61
The writings of Guy Debord and the situationist international elicited a radical social methodology for conducting research on the city. The “derive” a technique whereby a small group of people:- [Debord stated that 2-3 was the optimum number ]drifted through the City utilizing their emotions as a visceral map guiding them through an urban fabric. The theory formed part of Debord’s use of the concept of ‘Homo luden’62, the man freed from the constraints of work by a more acutely mechanized society would engage in ’architectural Play’, and formed part of Debord’s critique of the social manifestations of late capitalism. During the ‘derive’ the individual .Would allow themselves to be freed from the banalities and obligations of daily life and chores to “explore a new terrain”63 or achieve “emotional Disorientation”64. Debord elucidates : the potential the Derive had for the individual and the urban surround forming part of their own image “Men can see nothing around them that is not in their own image; Everything speaks to them of themselves”65. Debord’s ‘naked city’ a fragment map of Paris constructed in collaboration with the artist Asger Jorn represented the city as a sequence of social relationships and subjective perceptions of urban geography ,seemingly disparate in the physical and in the distances between them in space. Debord believed that space was a social construct and the ‘derive’ was a liberating and 47
individual form of movement, a wandering through this social fabric wherein the individual freed from the conception of the city could form their own pyschogeographical map of the urban environment. Debord was frustrated by the limited experiential and exploratory field of the modern citizen ,and although outlining his view that the derive should be confined within the limits of the city and its suburbs, he cities the yearly field of movement of a certain student in Paris â€œher itinerary delineates a small triangle with no deviationsâ€?66.As a way of outlining the contrived nature of how the average citizen explores and utilizes their urban surrounding in the contemporary city. 7.Urban Drifting
On drift three the consensus was to attempt a series of perceptual turning points as a series of dynamic parameters, eg an arrival at a certain apex in the ground terrain or the desire to pursue an underground tunnel on arriving at the location of a former mill. Drawings and models were produced which had a measured and mathematical quality in conjunction with a conceptual basis tinged with the freshly faded memories of spatial experience, eg the reductive nature of the model along Dudhope St ,attempted to accentuate the dominance of Jamica tower on the prospect of the site.
[b.murphy & N.Walkinshaw]
Jane Jacob’s in “the death and life of great American cities outlined a form of city analysis that articulated the complex relationships between cities and their inhabitants .Focusing on ‘great’ American cities Jacob’s criticized the role of conventional planning methods and their inability to interpret the dynamic relationships between people, work, infrastructure and the city environment. Jacobs believed that the oversimplification of the urban dynamic combined with top down, universal and systematic planning methods resulted in failure to solve existing problems and furnished the existence of new ones. Through studies done on the North end of Boston and the Morning side heights area of New York she identified a disconnect between the social and economic salubrity of a neighbourhood [she draws on observation of street life and statistical data to back up her argument] and the authorities categorization of it based on how planning laws attempt to define urban qualities. “ My friends instincts told him the North End was a good place ,and his social statistics confirmed it. But everything he had learned as a physical planner about what is good for people and good for city neighbourhoods, everything that had made him an expert, told him the North End had to be a bad place”67.
The urban theorist Lynch attempted in ‘A theory of good city form’ to segregate the city through history into three formal typologies ‘the city of faith’ ‘the city as machine’ and the ‘ecological city’ Lynch was attempting a chronological tracing of urban development in order to arrive at models through which the city could be analysed and understood. The city of faith was composed of “a magical model of the universe and the gods ”68a totalitarian ruled city of enclosures containing temples. David Graham shane describes the city of faith as “comprised of nested enclaves ,the temple stands within the sacred precinct ,the sacred precinct stands within the sacred district and the sacred district stands within the walls of the sacred city”69. ‘The city as machine’ concerns alternating currents of flow and stasis consisting of a network and a series of ‘cells’ Shane writes that “the theory underlying the city as a machine assumes that a city is a system of mechanical parts that interact in a network and are not bound to any particular place”70 .The city of as machine both decontextualized itself and omitted a relationship with landscape, focusing instead on its internal flow of ‘high-speed communication’.
The ‘ecological city’ contains a self-regulating system of existence that relies on citizen feedback to determine its future. Communities exist as ‘separate social and spatial units’71 where conventional boundaries do not exist and a hybridization of structures is the common. Lynch was attempting to outline the relationship between the evolving social structures throughout and their effect on the spatial fabric of the city. To do this outlined a process of city analysis that is top down examining the overriding aerial influence of rulers and economic forces. In doing this lynch also illustrates a ‘bottom up’ methodology that deals with how the individual influences the space of the city, most transparent in the ‘ecological city’. 11 .Technoburb As the suburbs grew larger and expanded increasingly further away from the historic urban centre, their symbiotic relationship with the city transformed. Cheap land and the availability of skilled workers led to many businesses following the residents outward to the fringes of the city, were they developed ‘out of town’ business parks and shopping centres. While the traditional suburb was designed to serve the city with a commuting workforce, this new home, work and leisure relationship meant that the suburb became increasingly independent and less reliant on the urban centre. The suburb evolved into what Robert Fishman describes as a ‘techno burb’ 72 or edge city. The metropolitan area transformed into two distinct cities, with multiple centers. The affirmation of the decentralized city and the raise of the techno burb is evident as more people begin to commute from suburb to suburb rather than from suburb to city. “By the year 2000 three out of five jobs in America metropolitan areas were located in suburbs. More than twice as many people in the united sates commuted from suburb to suburb, where the job growth was concentrated, than from suburb to city” 73 12.Critical note
For instance the documentation of the volume and types of vegetables in an allotment space as equated next to its area provides an idea of land use and informal constructions in isolation however it hardly provides an insight into the resource cycle of a community any more that the documentation of human activity on a particular Sunday afternoon provides an idea of the social robustness of an urban area. Likewise in analysing physical conditions along a series of urban ‘edges’, albeit experienced initially on the ground, in the study of urban ‘interfaces’ a type of contextualization is formulated that attempts to find in the relationship between physical objects and the sometimes murky dynamism of urban and rural infrastructures a kind of social ecology that does not reveal transparency in ‘pressing pause’ and analysing chronologically isolated urban conditions, be they generic or deeply regional. They are the surface manifestation of underlying and shifting processes that may be more meaningfully examined within time-based observations. An approach that attempts to re-configure existing infrastructures, programmes and interfaces with new program in a hybridization and invention of urban networks, postulates an urbanism that even in its consideration for social programmes constitutes a top-down approach to dealing with urban problems. The fact that the notation itself is a graphic abstraction of specialized research denotes the isolated esotericism of the creative professional, the interactive media artist, the urban planner, but most probably the architect.
13.Dryborough Site interfaces [B.Murphy]
14 Dryborough site
The over allocation of road infrastructure in the housing area signifies the tragically familiar conditions of peri-urban areas. A necklace of development has occurred along the Kingsway [completed in abutted by warehouses and parking lots. Large expanses of vacant land have sprung up along the infrastructure as a result of economic competition and some of these are zoned as brown field sites for development. The Camperdown park has limited sprawl beyond the Northwest edge of the Kingsway however to the Notheast the housing blight sprawls into the agrarian periphery seemingly unbridled in a palimpsest of development evoking low density and mono-functional environments supported by large scale commuter retail centers such as Tesco.
15 Euralille Euralille emerged from the decentralized decision making policies of the French government in the 1980’s which gave local authorities new powers and incentive on an urban level ; “ some cities realized early on the need to couple the day-to-day assignment of space with the ongoing discussion about its potential and future”74.These policies were cultivated within a context of the encroaching establishment of the European Union, and the opening up of a single market and a single territory. New relationships were emerging between nations amid rapidly expanding transportation and communication systems,displacing traditional notions of space boundaries, or indeed the boundaries of the natural environment as outlined by Geddes. Eurallile was part of the conscious repositioning of European cities within a network of changing flows that aimed via new “transportation and business hub”75 to transcend the economic condition of the greater Lille area. The project was conceived as “European business centre” predominately service based while providing a series of multi- purpose programmes 76.
16.Speculating a nomadic edge I thus began to think in a broader sense about the relationship between mobility, flow and the cities edge[appx 16].Following the initial six week research period and during my city analysis on the processes and relationships in Dundee I began to speculate on the possibility of a kind of mobile urbanism that existed on the edge of the city. Out of this speculation came the concept of the “diaphragmatic city wall”[fig 39] a dynamic edge along the ‘Kingsway’ that would facilitate expansion and contraction of the cities fabric along major infrastructure. Within this capacity I envisioned a network of infrastructures and large institutional building left over after the life-span of the services within the housing units that constitute the sprawl would cause them to decay and become vacant. I was interested here both in the notion of symbiosis [derived from man reading of the work of the Becher’s [appendix]between architecture; object and groundscape and its integration with infrastructure. I envisioned a type of inhabited infrastructure that would take control of the road and service networks left after the wake of suburban decline [this phenomenon is visible in the recent decline of Detroit]. These structures would contain mobile systems which could disperse and be utilized in the now partially vacant landscape. I proposed three different typologies of system or ‘machines’: the agricultural machine, the bio-plastics machine and the human service machine. The agricultural ‘probe’ would provide equipment for agricultural cultivation,the processing of food and agricultural and ecological research. It would house accommodation for 2 operators and contain highly specialized equipment. The bio-plastics machine would be equally specialized and mitigate wastemanagement particularly within a paradigm of biodegradable plastics. Finally the human services machine would cluster around existing institutions or areas of scarcity and provide cultural,recreational and sports facilities for citizens. These systems served as polemics as to how the problem of decay could be intervened with and within this context Detroit formed a valuable precedent 3
For example each respective strategy represented different aspect of my interests within hybridism, with different scalar relationships for eg: ‘Timing and territory’ see fig concerns itself with the linear organization of differently timed program along the Greenfield site so as to arrive at a hybrid structure that engages with the surface of the earth in different ways and at different times; eg a farmers market,a library and a research centre all engage with the ground on which they sit and become ‘activated’ at different times of the day, running on different time schedules.‘A parasite for nomads’ see fig interprets the site as two separate systems operating on either side of the highway as does ‘Double Exit Hybrid’ see fig . However in each of these there is a different approach to the encountered condition. ‘A parasite for nomads responds to the scale and landscape of the retail park, the difficulty of the car and the relationship between approach, land use and programmed surface as opposed to the monofunctional surface of the car park.’Double exit hybrid’ concerns the insertion of ‘ordinary’ programs within a residential neighbourhood in order to make it more ‘livable’ and sustainable creating internal public ‘mixing spaces’. This method allowed me to think through how the different programs might interface off one another and with the landscape ; e.g. Parasitic. I was interested in how these programs, infrastructures and land uses could be combined and hybridized , incorporated and conjoined with new program I had developed for the area[based on analysis of how existing program in this area related to the broader context of the city, its present conditions and future projections] see fig 18.Nomadic urbanisms in the contemporary city
In their essay ‘moving house’ Jenny Nordquist and Lars Eriksen describe how the town of Quartzite in Arizona becomes an annual base for a form of mobile urbanism.The pair describe how the austerity of the site becomes transformed by a juxtaposed texture of activity “ the interaction between vehicle,nature and fake garden ornaments create a dreamlike simulation,a strange hyperreality where nature becomes artificial and artifice becomes natural”77. The pair describe how the culture of ‘caravanning’ has sprung for a lust for exploration that can be supported by a moving community of caravan nomads. This new form of caravan urbanism is one of tough urban surface and consumerism as opposed to any kind of idyllic communion with nature, it is a heavily serviced landscape of astro turf and parking lots “they provide all the necessary complements to a happy holiday for the whole family: swimming pools, fast-food resturaunts and the odd casino-twenty-four hours a day”78 Some of these ‘hook up’ points have become seasonal stations for human gathering, exchange of goods and social activities. Like the suburban house, the caravan culture is one service by mass-production, a transplanted suburban enclave in a mobile form. The authors outline the technological advancement concomitant with the development of ‘caravanning’ and their reliance on the highly serviced caravan parks that allow those facilities to function. 19 Pastoralism
Rowe tentatively describes pastoralism “as an artistic and ideological motif ,seeks to transcend the ordinary by describing a far better world”79.He makes it clear that is a “expansive and venerable topic”80 however he charters its progression throughout history beginning with 54
Theocritus’s idols and progressing through virgil ,the settlement of the American frontier and the English garden tradition to the consumerism of the modern age. Much of the theoretical background for the scheme has grown out of Rowe’s exploration of the history of mans relationship with the cultivated landscape and in his belief in the “machine in the garden”. According to Rowe ‘The machine in the garden’ is a fundamentally modern conception wherein a high- tension mergence between pastoralised land and technology is achieved. Rowe explores the development of retail parks, corporate estates and suburban housing schemes in order to arrive at a combinative view of the dialectic between man, nature and technology and its relationship with peri-urban morphology.
highway space as combinatory visual field
In their study of the Las Vegas strip Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown explore a type of architecture of ‘sign and symbol’ which articulates the space of the Las Vegas strip as a carcentric communication system of billboards and sculptures engaged in dialogues of scalar and spatial hierarchies “ they make verbal and symbolic connections through space communicating a complexity of meanings through hundreds of associations in a few seconds from far away”81. Venturi is conscious of a deeper order within the space of the highway and how its architecture is ordered in a shrewd commercial logic “ the zone of the highway is a shared order, the zone off the highway is an individual order, the elements of the highway are civic, the buildings and signs are private”82. He contrasts the spatial experience of moving through this landscape with that of older forms of urbanism “ to move through a piazza is to move between high enclosing forms. To move through this landscape is to move over vast expansive texture”83.In outlining the notion of a sequential spatial movement through a commercial landscape mitigated by “the difficult visual order”84 of buildings and signs Venturi illustrates how the highway and the “architecture of the strip”85 cohere to form a unified spatial system “the bulk of the parking along the sides of the complex allows direct access to the hotel yet stays visible from the highway”86. Venturi describes how this sequence of architectural elements and their proximity in space relate directly to the speed of traffic movement and zone of what David Graham Shane calls “the stretched armature”87.Venturi champions the space of the strip as a cinematic experience and contends that its vast space can only be truly experienced sequentially. “ the side elevation of the complex is important because it is seen by approaching traffic from a greater distance and for a longer time than the fascade”88 The vast combinatory visual field of strip is introverted in the “big low space”89 of the casino, where the sheer depth of the building and its artificial lighting reflect an endless and boundless interior within minimum relationship to its exterior environment. As the buildings and signs of the strip look towards the highway,they resign their position in space and their coherence as a system in primary gestures towards the highway “casinos whose fronts relate so sensitively to the highway turn their ill-kempt backsides towards the local environment”90. All the systems of the strip then share a stringent order that binds the elements of infrastructure, advertisement and architecture which communicate with the space of movement along
21. Schedule of accomadation Brief
Schedule of accomadation
Office for de-regulated territories
Factions of : housing [gypsy liason] ,communities, transport,waste managment
A decentralized office for Dundee city council
Reception Admin Offices  Wcs Wheelchair accessable wcs Cleaner storage Document storage
50 40 15 35 4 15 15
Staff area Meeting room Staff area
20 60 20
 Telecommunications centre A call centre and telecommunications centre Employees 30
Workstations 25 Managerial offices Wc Cleaner storage
3 20 35
Document storage shared
Staff area shared
Cleaner storage shared
Document storage shared
Staff area shared
 Centre for mobility
[a] Motel campground [b] Council site for traveling people Employees 2
Managers office shared
on networked surface +shared
Hook up Electricity Hot water Wi-fi Sewage Television Recycling post box
Utility units  Shower/toilet Kitchen Storage
3 3 3
 Shared accomadation
Internet cafĂŠ + Coffe shop
Supermarket Supermarket storage Managers office
60 15 15
[x] Surface accomadation [networked surface]
[x] Surface accomadation [networked surface]
Bicycle racks  Multi purpose sports surface Skatesurface Picnic benches
Service depot Recycling depot
Carparking Campsite Visitor Staff Carshare Box offices
700 parking + 960 circulation 15 x 10 10 x 10 45 x 10 2 x 20
Auto repair garage
Program zoned for site Machinery storage Food storage
Farmers market 30 stalls Washing facilities
Architecture as ‘endless’ surface
The idea of architecture and urbanism as endless surface pervades many of the projects of superstudio. The farcical notion of the object as architectural device supreme and as an answer to the problems of cities and of mankind is explored in the ‘twelve cautionary tales for Christmas’project. The 10th city or city of order is ,one flat surface extended indefinitely towards the horizon and is representative of one single gesture of order and inhabitation on the landscape. The notion of urban extension as reflected landscape is evoked through the ‘continuous city’ project wherein the city exists as an elevated and reflected landscape hovering over the pastoral scene below. It is a powerful commentary on the nature and reflection of human inhabitation. In the work of Super studio the subversion of the object and its capacity for consumerism into a surface that would provide for all the complexity of life, for all of mans needs represented a polemic on the capability of architecture to effect positive change. In the fundamental acts project, wherein the group set out to establish a position for architecture as providing a surface for human activity ,and wherin the monumentality of architecture retreats into the background as the rituals of life take dominance over the formal monumentality of the surface. “Architecture began to pale to fade away in the actions of men, to be a stage rather than a receptacle or a prison”91 Through montages and vignettes the group illustrate both human beings relating to the earth they inhabit and the nature of human relationships established along an endless surface of ‘migration’ wherein human institutions would spring up at a moment of gathering. The datum as ‘networked surface’, along which various provisional infrastructures would provide Software, communication, survival strategies and energy flows represented a utopian, uniform floor for humanity to occupy as an egalitarian realm which would serve its true needs.
23 .Surveillance city
24.Letterkenny Area Offices
a frontier mitigator
Sitting I km outside the town of Letterkenny the tough urban edge of the LAO looks back towards the town that will soon extend towards it as part of a river valley strip development .Within this capacity its urban interface [a sloping car park and entrance promenade] faces towards the town. Viewed from the passing road the building appears as an artificial hill sloping away from the infrastructure, its lower surfaces coming close to the pastoral landscape and its urban facade orientated back towards the built up area. Tarla McGabhann describes the scheme as a “drive by building”92 “like an airport runway”93 sitting as a decentralized urbanism within a preliminary rural site beckoning the town towards its carefully mediated urban edge. The building program houses various public services including several factions of Donegal county council ,offices for the regional health board and a crèche. The entrance and approach to the building illustrate a consideration for infrastructure and a stoic acceptance of a car-centric clientele, However as Charles Rattray writes : ”But as a gateway between the urban and the rural the building engages in a dialogue not with the road and the approaching traffic but with the town itself”94. In this way the building has concerned itself with formulating and inventing an urban edge condition, an anticipatory incision that holds rein to its soon to be hypothetical context. If one were the imagine that town may not extend so far , the building my sit as isolated piece of urbanism holding an extraordinary tension between the urban and the rural, a ‘machine in the garden’. 25.Stephen Holl
re-programming the ‘edge city’
The ‘spatial retaining bars’ of his Phoenix project stand as gossamer frames against the horizontality of the landscape, transparent constructions that make way for the panorama of landscape beyond. As Stan Allen writes “Holl turns over and re-programs the current social and formal reality of cities periphery allowing us to see the landscape of the American city in a new way. Allen highlights the fact that these generic conditions as propagated in de-regulated territories,though having been abandoned by a large degree by architects office major possibilities for invention “yet this is the territory in which these projects operate most effectively: not as concrete proposals ,but as infiltrations of the collective imagination, producing an idea of what the city could be95”.Holls interventive approach illustrates a stoic acceptance of both the complexity of peri-urban development and of the limits to which the architects can study and augment this ambiguous territory. In forming both a social and environmental ambition for these areas he envisions the possibility of research and cultural programs in a realm where the retail park and the suburban dwelling and the vast expanse of the highway hold dominance. The ‘spatial retaining bars’ of his Phoenix project stand as gossamer frames against the horizontality of the landscape, transparent constructions that make way for the panorama of landscape beyond. As Stan Allen writes “Holl turns over and re-programs the current social and formal reality of cities periphery allowing us to see the landscape of the American city in a new way”96
26 Re-programming [a]
28 Highway interface
29 & 30 Ecology machines
Interactive surface [B.Murphy]
32 ‘Cut up V&A’
33 ‘frontier typologies’
34 ‘Cut up V&A’
35 ‘Urban Interface Matrix’
[B.Murphy and N.Walkinshaw]