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A Tale of 3 Cities...

Feasibility Report Specialization: Urban Design & Creative Practices


Tutor: Johnny Rodgers

Milan Prithi Yadav M.Arch (taught) 2007-2008 Mackintosh School of Architecture Berlin

Piecing Together the Perceptions of 3 cities paris, berlin & milan through the 3 parameters of Tourists, Residents & Urbanists...

Thesis: Tourists percieve a picture-perfect, problem-free city that has been

manufactured, marketed and sustained in that manner to avail of an income that will sell the city to the tourists.

Anti-thesis: Residents perceive a more wholesome picture of the city,

complete with all its flaws and all its goodness. The flaws take on exaggerated proportions, when juxtaposed with the tourists’ image of the city and this often leads to resentment from the residents point of view.

Synthesis: Urbanists see both sides of the coin in a well-balanced

perspective and work towards solving the problems of the residents while keeping in mind the marketability of the city as well.







• As a space of representation, the city is simultaneously symbolic, real & imaginary; • it exists as visual culture, material environment and as psychic space. • My attempt to interpret representations of selected European cities will focus on the difference of the imageability of cities as percieved by Tourists, Residents and Urbanists and finding paralells with: • tourists’ perceptions as Symbolic • Residents perceptions as real • Urbanists Perceptions as imaginary

Methodology Visual Representation: • The city is entwined with its representations, for it is both the subject and the product of the images which give it legible form. Questions of legibility have long given rise to efforts to ‘plan’, ‘map’ or ‘read’ the city; to render it legible has also meant for it to emulate coherence, knowability, integrity and governability. • Representation does powerful cultural work in a wide variety of forms to produce and maintain common notions of urban existence. Literature, film, architecture, tourist guides, postcards, photography, city plans - all provide selective representations of the city and shape the metaphors, narratives and syntax through which the modern experience of urban living takes on meaning. • In order to refine & define the broad subjectivities of the experience of an Urban Space, the parameters of the perception of Tourists, Residents & Urbanists are related to media specific to them, like • • •

Postcards, tourist-guides, sketches & photographs for the tourists. Film & Literature are used to study the perceptions of the residents. Maps & Analytical Diagrams are employed for the role of an Urbanist.

• Paris: The basic but perpetual problem that it seems to have is how to dress up the social realities, while sustaining the tourists’ myth of historic Paris. From heights such as Pont Neuf, the 18th & 19th century city appears remarkably intact. But theres much stage decor in this image. Social changes are reflected and conditioned by the political scene. Previously, the hotbed of revolution, Paris and some of its old suburbs have become the bulwark of the right. But still, the populist, revolutionary image lingers on. Oddly, enough this image can co-exist with the glossy magazine projection of Paris chic, the now somewhat overworked image of de luxe shops, restaurants, galleries and tarts.

• Milan: All the crucial happenings in 20th century Italy have had their epicenter in Milan. The first

trade-unions and fascism was made in Milan. The city was the center of the economic miracle that transformed Italy and also the de-industrialization of the 1980s. Center of Italy’s creative-industrial design revolution in the 1960s, it is home to Armani, Prada, Versace. The Milan of the 90s was a city with an identity-crisis. The rapid transition from a city with a clear industrial mission to a successful post-industrial metropolis, it had left many of the population traumatized and disoriented. Italian modernity - for good and ill - has always started to appear and take root in Milan.

• Berlin: Berlin is fascinating, as a city that expresses boldly and startling parallels, of catalysts

and destruction. It is a city whose buildings, ruins and voids, reflect their frustration at the heavy burden of its painful political past. The fate of its urban spaces is hotly disputed, making Berlins landscape highly politicized. It cannot be treated as a museum for all the glory of its past, as like all cities, it has a present and a future that has to be accounted for. It is a living and constantly changing system that cannot be encapsulated. Planners and developers at work in the new Berlin undergo constant tussles when they try to treat the city’s streets and buildings and lots as mere real estate.

Structure: 1. Introduction 2. Argument 3. case-studies: Paris

Thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Tourist Anti-thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Native Synthesis - Visuals through the eyes of an Urbanist



Thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Tourist Anti-thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Native Synthesis - Visuals through the eyes of an Urbanist Thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Tourist Anti-thesis - Visuals through the eyes of a Native Synthesis - Visuals through the eyes of an Urbanist

4. Conclusion

the argument: Tourist, resident & Urbanist Symbolic, real & imaginary Jacques Lacan’s three psychoanalytic orders were developed during a series of lectures in the 1950’s. In the Lacanian arena, the symbolic-real-imaginary forms a trio of intrapsychic realms which comprise the various levels of psychic phenomena. They serve to situate subjectivity within a system of perception and a dialogue with the external world. Whereas the symbolic is all about desire, the real concerns need and the imaginary concerns demand, according to Lacan. the tourists desire to experience the new city, The residents concerns are their own needs as to the functioning of the city and the Urbanists cater to the demands of the residents, tourists, marketability, etc. While the imaginary is all about equations and identifications, which the urbanists should familiarise themselves with, the symbolic is about a certain language - a certain way of thought that is unique to tourists, that which requires a kind of oblivion and the real is a narrative that is linked to impossibility, because it is impossible to imagine, impossible to integrate into the symbolic order, and impossible to attain in any way.

the symbolic is essentially a linguistic dimension. language involves imaginary and real dimensions in addition to its symbolic dimension. It is the realm of culture as opposed to the imaginary order of nature. It is Desire. the Real and the Imaginary continue to play a part in the evolution of human desire within the symbolic order. The fact that our fantasies always fail before the Real, for example, ensures that we continue to desire. Thus, Tourism alone could never survive on its own. It has to enroach upon the status of residency and Urbanists to compliment it. Although it is a separate industry by itself, There is a dependence on residency and Urbanism. It is the character of impossibility and of resistance to symbolisation which lends the real its essentially traumatic quality. There is a need followed by a search for satisfaction. As far as humans are concerned, however, “the real is impossible,� The real marks the state of nature from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into language. The residents perception is fused with the impossibility of not being ideal, the residents forever yearn for a better city, a better traffic system, which will lead to a better life and consciously resist the tourists space permeating into the residential areas and all the nuisances that comes with it. Once a city is experienced as a resident, all bridges to experiencing it as a tourist are burnt.

while the imaginary always retains connotations of illusion and lure, it does not simply imply something unnecessary and inconsequential. far from it; it has powerful effects on the real, and is not simply something that can be dispensed with or ‘overcome’. It marks the movement of the subject from need to “demand.” the “imaginary” is primarily narcissistic even though it sets the stage for the fantasies of desire. The tasks of the urbanist are along these lines. They make very powerful impacts on the life of the residents & tourists. not an easy task. Urbanists cater to the demands of the residents needs. and THE DESIRES OF THE TOURISTS. uRBANISTS ARE NARCISSTIC ENOUGH TO FOREVER TRY TO CREATE THE ‘PERFECT’ CITY. UNAWARE THAT EVERY CITY IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING and CONSTANTLY EVOLVING, AND PLANNING HAS TO BE DONE KEEPING IN MIND ROOM TO ACCOMODATE ALL THESE CHANGES AND ADAPTABILITY. In the sixteenth century, Pieter Bruegel painted the Tower of Babel represented as a miniature city. (figure, right). A tower piercing the clouds depicts the entire problem of cities and city life. It is a depiction of a city crumbling and rebuilding at the same time. This city is constantly changing.


Indeed, the imaginary and the symbolic are, according to Lacan, inextricably intertwined and work in tension with the Real, which is the key to a successful working city - the successful working order of a tourism industry, happy residents and efficient urbanists.

References: 1. Highmore, B. 2005, Cityscapes - cultural readings in the material & symbolic city: Palgrave Macmillan, N.Y.

2. Olsen, D.J. 1986, The City as a work of Art: Yale University Press, New Haven, London U.K. 3. Barnstone, D. A. 2005, The Transparent State: Architecture & Politics in post-war Germany, Routledge, UK 4. Ladd, B. 1997, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Land scape, The University of Chi cago Press, Chicago 5. Foot, J. 2001, Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture & Identity, Berg, Oxford. 6. Kirk, T. 2005, The Architecture of Modern Italy: Volume 2, Visions of Utopia, 1900-present, Princeton Architectural Press, New York 7. Leach, N. 1999, Architecture & Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central & Eastern Europe, Routledge, UK 8. Sutcliffe, A. 1970, The Autumn of Central Paris: The defeat of town-planning 1850-1970, Edward Arnold, London 9. Hall, T. 1997, Planning Europe’s Capital cities: Aspects of 19th century Urban Development, Chapman & Hall, UK 10. Molinari, L. 2000, Introduction in 2G International Architecture Review, Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona 11. Milione, E. D. 1971, Recent Italian Architecture, Edizioni Del Milione, Milan

Tale of 3 Cities  

Feasibility Report for project.

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