1 ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
GUEST-EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER CM LEE AND SAM JACOBY
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM PROJECTIVE CITIES 01|2011
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN VOL 81, NO 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 ISSN 0003-8504 PROFILE NO 209 ISBN 978-0470-747209
IN THIS ISSUE
GUEST-EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER CM LEE AND SAM JACOBY
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM: PROJECTIVE CITIES
Helen Castle 6 ABOUT THE GUEST-EDITORS
Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby 8 SPOTLIGHT Visual highlights of the issue 14 INTRODUCTION Typological Urbanism and the Idea of the City
Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby
EDITORIAL BOARD Will Alsop Denise Bratton Paul Brislin Mark Burry AndrĂŠ Chaszar Nigel Coates Peter Cook Teddy Cruz Max Fordham Massimiliano Fuksas Edwin Heathcote Michael Hensel Anthony Hunt Charles Jencks Bob Maxwell Jayne Merkel Peter Murray Mark Robbins Deborah Saunt Leon van Schaik Patrik Schumacher Neil Spiller Michael Weinstock Ken Yeang Alejandro Zaera-Polo 2
The City as a Project: Types, Typical Objects and Typologies Marina Lathouri A persistent architectural category, type is traced back by Lathouri to the 18th century.
32 City as Political Form: Four Archetypes of Urban Transformation
Pier Vittorio Aureli 38 Type, Field, Culture, Praxis
Peter Carl 46 Brasilia’s Superquadra: Prototypical Design and the Project of the City
56 Type? What Type? Further Reflections on the Extended Threshold
Michael Hensel 66 Typological Instruments: Connecting Architecture and Urbanism
Caroline Bos & Ben van Berkel/ UNStudio
90 Singapore Buona Vista Masterplan Competition, Singapore
Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects 94 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA 102 The Metropolis as Integral Substance
l’AUC Architects and Urbanists (François Decoster, Caroline Poulin, Djamel Klouche) 110 A Simple Heart: Architecture on the Ruins of the Post-Fordist City
DOGMA (Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara) 120 Xi’an Horticultural Masterplan, Xi’an, China
Serie Architects 128 COUNTERPOINT Transcending Type: Designing for Urban Complexity
David Grahame Shane 78 Penang Tropical City, Penang, Malaysia OMA
João Bravo da Costa As epitomised by OMA’s project for Penang, the magnitude of urbanisation in East Asia requires an innovative approach to type.
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ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 PROFILE NO 209
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Front cover: Udayan Mazumdar, Ground Zero, Mumbai, India, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Sam Jacoby and Christopher CM Lee), Architectural Association, London, 2008. © Diploma Unit 6, AA School and Udayan Mazumdar Inside front cover: Concept CHK Design
EDITORIAL Helen Castle
Just as grammar in recent years has been revived in the classroom, the resurgence of type in architecture indicates a desire for syntax or underlying order. Type provides what Caroline Bos and Ben van Berkel refer to as ‘a legacy of rationality’. It has the potential to endow architecture with coherency, logic and structure. In a city context, moreover, it bestows the possibility of order to often complex and unstructured urban situations. For guest-editors Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby, it is reason, but with a definite objective. This issue of 2 comes out of a desire on the guest-editors’ part to promote architects’ ability to assert themselves in the city and an understanding that if architects in the future are going to be anything more than dressers of buildings, responsible for exterior whooshes and folds, then they need to approach their subject with the required ‘disciplinary knowledge’. Chris Lee’s and Sam Jacoby’s preoccupation with type comes out of extensive research, teaching and practice. Both are unit masters at the Architectural Association in London and Sam Jacoby is currently completing a doctorate on the subject; Chris Lee is also codirector, with Kapil Gupta, of award-winning office Serie Architects, a relatively small but incredibly agile and influential practice that has gained international renown for its projects spread across X’ian, Hangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, London, Bratislava and Mumbai. For Serie Architects, ‘the notion of type as operative theory’ is ‘generic enough to overcome differences and specific enough to engage and index the cultural, social and political nuances of its host’.1 It has the potential to anchor international practice in a way that is both universal and local, providing architectural solutions to urban problems. The desire for underlying order and reason – for anchorage – certainly befits the times in which architects are as much at sea in the economic downturn in the West as the tantalisingly large-scale architectural opportunities that Asia and the Middle East have to offer. As the guest-editors state at the end of their introduction, type is as much about ‘why do’ as ‘how to’. Type requires architects to look beneath the surface to find the commonalities and similarities between built form – the essence of buildings if you like. Metaphysical in scope, it presses on architecture far-reaching but necessary questions, such as ‘What is architecture?’ If, as Michael Hensel suggests in his article, it could be a preoccupation that is triggered by the current more serious turn of mind, as it was in the recession of the early 1990s, it is also one that we should not let slip through our fingers before it has gained the full attention it deserves. Type, as Lee and Jacoby demonstrate in this issue, lends order but in setting parameters also provides the essential catalyst for innovative design thinking at the city scale. 1 Note 1. Christopher CM Lee, Working in Series: Christopher CM Lee and Kapil Gupta/Serie Architects, Architectural Association (London), 2010, p 5. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Image © Steve Gorton
Serie Architects, Xin Tian Di Factory H, Hangzhou, China, 2010 top left: For the project to create an urban core for a larger masterplan of Xin Tian Di, Serie was tasked with the conservation of a large disused factory and proposed rethinking the idea of the mat building as a plinth. Here the plinth serves to punctuate the factory as the anchor for the masterplan, with surrounding buildings many times its density. This alternative strategy of rethinking what constitutes an urban core eschews the reliance on hyperdense buildings that accumulates pedestrian flows. Instead, it presents the reclaimed void as a new urban core.
Serie Architects, Bohácky Residential Masterplan, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2009 top right: Serie’s principal concern in designing the masterplan for a residential development – comprising 120 singlefamily dwellings designed by Serie as well as six other architects – is to institute an overall coherence that does not impinge on the heterogeneity of the villas. To do this, Serie utilised an undulating giant hedge that delineates autonomous plots for the various villas. An evolved courtyard type, where rooms are spun off a circular courtyard in different numbers, is used as a typological grammar for the design of the villas.
Sam Jacoby with Type 0 (Max von Werz, Marco Sanchez Castro and Charles Peronnin), Beserlpark, Vienna, 2009 above: In this masterplan, the suburban ideal of living in the park is confronted with the metropolitan typology of the inverted urban courtyard block, resulting in negotiated private and semiprivate spaces within a network of public courtyards/parks and functions.
ABOUT THE GUEST-EDITORS CHRISTOPHER CM LEE AND SAM JACOBY
Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby are the co-directors of the new postgraduate Projective Cities Programme at the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in London (projectivecities.aaschool.ac.uk), which is dedicated to a research- and design-based analysis of the emergent and contemporary city. They have taught together at the AA since 2002 and their investigation of the city, undertaken in Diploma Unit 6 from 2004 to 2009, has been published in Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City (AA Publications, 2007). The work has also been widely exhibited, including at the 10th Architecture Biennale in Venice (2006) and as a solo exhibition at the UTS Gallery in Sydney (2009). Christopher CM Lee is the co-founder and principal of Serie Architects. He graduated with an AA Diploma (Hons), has previously taught Histories and Theories Studies at the AA (2009–10) and was Unit Master of Intermediate Unit 2 from 2002 to 2004 and Diploma Unit 6 from 2004 to 2009. He is pursuing his doctoral research at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam on the topic of the dominant type and the city. The relationship between architecture and the city is a problem that has informed Sam Jacoby’s teaching in collaboration with Christopher Lee and his professional work. Jacoby is also the co-director of the Spring Semester Programme at the AA where he also previously taught History and Theories Studies. He was also a studio leader in the BArch programme at the University of Nottingham. He is currently completing a doctoral degree at the Technical University of Berlin on the topic of ‘Type and the Syntax of the City’. In this issue of 2 on Typological Urbanism, Lee and Jacoby recognise the city as a contemporary field, an area of study, and a design and research agenda, bringing together the work and research of contemporary professionals and academics that speculates on the potential of architectural experimentation and the meaningful production of new ideas for the city. 1 Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 6(t), 7(t) © Serie Architects; pp 6(b), 7(b) © Sam Jacoby
top: Christopher CM Lee above: Sam Jacoby
Brasilia, Brazil, 1957â€“60 The superquadra housing blocks, designed by Lucio Costa, are the basic unit of the urban realm in Brasilia. Their elevations, foregrounded by trees, are the backdrop to the city.
Type has a strong Modernist pedigree as exemplified by Lucio Costa’s elevations for the superquadra at Brasilia, executed in the 1950s, and Toyo Ito’s much more recent Singapore Buona Vista Masterplan, which is informed in its approach by the 1960s Metabolists. Though type often requires a level of order or systematisation, it does not prevent it from being playful, as demonstrated by SANAA’s museum for Kanazawa where the private and public spaces are entwined in a single building.
Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects and RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (Pte) Ltd Singapore Buona Vista Masterplan Competition, Singapore, 2000–01 For this IT research city, Ito envisioned a horizontal urban infrastructure connected by high-speed pedestrian walkways.
Arnhem Central, The Netherlands, due for completion 2013 In UNStudio’s work, the centralising void space becomes an adaptable type for spatial organisation, as demonstrated by this public transportation centre and the Raffles City project on pp 74–7.
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, 2004 This interior space of the art museum epitomises gallery whiteness while other translucent areas embrace the city and, by extension, the public, with their transparency. Interiority and exteriority and different types are effectively entwined.
DOGMA (Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara with Alice Bulla)
A Simple Heart: Architecture on the Ruins of the Post-Fordist City, European North Western Metropolitan Area, 2002–09 In this project for an archetype for the modern city, DOGMA espouses a repeatable architectural form that enables the city to be based on architecture alone rather than a combination of urban elements.
Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 8-9 © Adolfo Despradel/ photograph by Adolfo Despradel; p 10 © Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects; p 11 © Christian Richters; p 12 © Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/ SANAA; p 13 © FRAC Centre Collection, Orléans, France
INTRODUCTION By Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM AND THE IDEA OF THE CITY
Yifan Liu, The Great Flight Forward, Chengdu, China, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2008 Urban plan of airport. What defines Chinaâ€™s public image of monumentality and iconicity? The project subverts the idea of the Peopleâ€™s Square and turns its heroic figure into an airport.
A warehouse can be turned into apartments, and a Georgian terrace into a school. What this means is that a functional reduction prevents other knowledge that can be obtained from type by considering it as belonging to a group of formal, historical and sociocultural aspects.
Bolam Lee, Multiplex City, Seoul, South Korea, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2007 above: Model. The reconfigured high-rise is spliced with vertical public spaces and functions as an urban punctuator.
opposite: Urban plan of Multiplex City. The project aims to exploit the defunct middle floors of multiplexes (multifunctional, hyperdense high-rises) in Seoul and converts them into vertical public spaces.
At the heart of this title of 2 is an attempt to outline a possible position and approach that enables the conjectural impulses of architectural production to recover its relevance to the city. Implicit to this is that the relationship between architecture and the city is reciprocal and that the city is the overt site for architectural knowledge par excellence. This proposition to re-empower the architect in the context of urban architectural production is founded on the realisation of three essential predicaments that need to be addressed by both the profession and academia. Firstly, the relentless speed and colossal scale of urbanisation, with the current level of around 50 per cent increasing to approximately 69 per cent by 2050, has resulted in the profession merely responding to these rapid changes and challenges in retrospect. Secondly, the form of urbanisation in emerging cities in the developing countries, and in particular in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, has departed from the Western models of centralised organisation and planning.1 The separation of architecture and urban planning into segregated domains – for efficiency and speed – has left each discipline impotent to deal with the ruptured, decentralised and fast-changing context, whether in Macau, Dubai or Shanghai. Finally, the architecture of this new urbanisation, fuelled by the market economy, is predominantly driven by the regime of difference in search of novelty. Macau built the world’s biggest casino and Dubai the tallest skyscraper, with its Burj Khalifa beating the recently completed Shanghai World Finance Center of 2008 to this superlative. With this increasing stultification, the discipline’s inability to confidently and comprehensively describe, conceptualise, theorise and ultimately project any new ideas of architecture in relationship to the city must be confronted and rethought. To achieve the stated meta-critical aim, this issue tries to dispel the common misunderstanding of the notion of type (and typology) and its common misuse as the ‘straw man’ in architectural experimentation and propositions. It outlines the terms on which the discussion of type and typology can
unfold today in a more precise and considered manner. It re-argues for the instrumentality of type and typology in the field of urbanism and the city, and features four projects that are conventionally not seen as fitting within the framework of typology, proposing that the reconsideration of these projects renews and enriches the understanding of working typologically. Similarly, recent projects by young practices further illustrate the possibility of utilising the notion of type in informing the ‘idea of the city’. Type and Typology In common usage the words ‘type’ and ‘typology’ have become interchangeable and understood as buildings grouped by their use: schools, hospitals, prisons, and so on.2 ‘Type’, however, should not be confused with ‘typology’. The suffix ‘-ology’ comes from the Greek logia, which means ‘a discourse, treatise, theory or science’. Thus typology is the discourse, theory, treatise (method) or science of type. Its reduction to categories of use is limiting, as buildings are independent from their function and evolve over time, as Aldo Rossi and Neo-Rationalism have already argued.3 A warehouse can be turned into apartments, and a Georgian terrace into a school. What this means is that a functional reduction prevents other knowledge that can be obtained from type by considering it as belonging to a group of formal, historical and sociocultural aspects. The essential quality of change and transformation rather than its strict classification or obedience to historical continuity endows type with the possibility to transgress its functional and formal limitations. For the definition of the word ‘type’ in architectural theory we can turn to Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy’s masterful explanation in the Dictionnaire d’architecture (1825) that formally introduced the notion into the architectural discourse. For Quatremère: ‘The word type presents less the image of a thing to copy or imitate completely than the idea of an element which ought itself to serve as a rule for the model.’4 Type consequently is an element, an object, a thing that embodies the idea. Type 17
Deena Fakhro, The Holy City and its Discontent, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2008 above and centre: Typical plans, sections and views of airport. Once a year, every year, the Holy City of Makkah is flooded by a surge of three million pilgrims, demanding unparalleled infrastructural miracles. To counter the financial burden of the redundant hajj infrastructure, the gateway airports are opportunistically combined with mosque-based Islamic universities: airportmosques, switching between pilgrim surges and student populations.
top and opposite: An airport, a mosque: a city gateway. In response to the pilgrim surge in Makkah, the project strategically proposes polynodal gateway airports that disperse congestion multidirectionally within Makkahâ€™s valleys.
is abstract and conceptual rather than concrete and literal. Its idea guides or governs over the rules of the model. This idea, following a Neoplatonic and metaphysical tradition, is by Quatremère understood as the ideal that an architect should strive for but which never fully materialises in the process of creative production. The idea of the ‘model’, on the other hand, is developed by Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand in his typological design method of the Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’École royale polytechnique (1802–05). In the Précis, developed almost at the same time as Quatremère’s typological theory at the turn of the 19th century, Durand attempts to establish a systematic method of classifying buildings according to genres and abstracts them into diagrams.5 He proposes that new types emerge in response to the requirements of a changing society and urban conditions, whereby the typological diagrams are adapted to the constraints of specific sites. This notion of type as model, graphically reducible to diagrams, introduced precepts that are fundamental to working typologically: precedents, classification, taxonomy, repetition, differentiation and reinvention. Thus Durand’s Précis outlines an important element of the didactic theory of type and constitutes what we understand by typology. The misunderstanding of type and typology, attacked by many for its perceived restrictions, has resulted in the deliberate rejection of typological knowledge. This is evident in the exotic formal experiments of the past 15 years: every fold, every twist and bend, every swoosh and whoosh is justified as being superior to the types it displaces. However, it remains unclear what these ill properties or characteristics of type are that the novel forms want to replace and to what ends. These architectural experiments have no relevance beyond the formal and cannot be considered an invention, for invention, as Quatremère stated, ‘does not exist outside rules; for there would be no way to judge invention’.6 In ‘Type? What Type?’ (pages 56–65), Michael Hensel recounts his personal experiences in the early 1990s at the Architectural Association (AA) in London – according to
him an important juncture for the theory and experiments of architecture in urbanism – which he argues failed to recognise the need for a wider contextualisation of experimentation, due to the casual if not naive treatment of the type. Marina Lathouri in ‘The City as a Project: Types, Typical Objects and Typologies’ (pages 24–31) provides a critical and historiographical discussion of type’s role in defining the architectural object and its relationship to the city. This thematic engagement is complemented by the projects of UNStudio in ‘Typological Instruments: Connecting Architecture and Urbanism’ by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos (pages 66–77). These projects clarify the utilisation of design models to synthesise types with the complexities of practice and reality through the instrumentality of typological and serial models of organisation. The specific responses demonstrate that typological design models are capable of, and require, their transformation and hybridisation in order to fulfil the ambitions and requirements of an architectural project in an urban context. Typology and the Urban Plan The coupling of the concept of type as idea and model allows us to discuss its instrumentality in the urban context. The word ‘urbanism’ means ‘of, living or situated in, a city or town’, but it was Ildefons Cerdá – a Catalan engineer and the urban planner of the Barcelona Eixample – who first invented the words ‘urbanism’ and ‘urbanisation’ in his Theory of Urbanization (1867). For Cerdá, urbanism was the science that manages and regulates the growth of the city through housing and economic activities. He understood the word ‘urbs’ at the root of ‘urbanisation’ and, in opposition to the notion of the city, proposed that its focus was not the (historical and symbolic) city centre but the suburbs.7 Thus the process of urbanisation inevitably involves multiple stakeholders, a diversity of inhabitants, and a scale beyond that of a single building incorporated in an urban plan. This inclusive urban plan has to be differentiated from the masterplan predicated on singular authority and control. 19
The instrumentality of type in the process of envisioning, regulating and administering the urban plan lies in its ability to act as a pliable diagram, indexing the irreducible typal imprints that serve as the elemental parts to the plan.8 The diagrams of type, however, are not mere graphic representations of the urban plan, but embody the basic organisational performance, history and meaning of precedent types that are then developed into new design solutions. The function of the diagram hereby is both diagnostic and projective, and at the same time refers to the irreducible structure of the types in question.9 In ‘Type, Field, Culture, Praxis’ (pages 38–45) Peter Carl clarifies that ‘types are isolated fragments of a deeper and richer structure of typicalities’, attempting to relate the architectural object to human situations. Typicalities, says Carl, are ‘those aspects common to all’, exerting a claim on freedom, while this freedom depends in turn on that which is common to all for its meaning. A number of further projects by OMA, Toyo Ito, SANAA and l’AUC provide a second reading of how a recourse to typology is necessary when dealing with the urban context. In the Penang Tropical City (2004) by OMA (pages 78–89), distinct building types are grouped together to form ‘islands of exacerbated difference’ as yet another enactment of Koolhaas’ idea of the ‘Cities within the City’ developed with OM Ungers in 1977.10 Toyo Ito’s project for the Singapore Buona Vista Masterplan (2001 – see pages 90–3) develops the use of prototypical elements – albeit in a more ‘fluid’ manner – that bears traces to his preoccupations with the problems of collective form that typified the Metabolist movement of the 1960s in Japan. In Ito’s proposal, the city is envisioned as aggregating into a continuous whole, fusing infrastructure, building, open spaces and services into an integrated piece of architecture. l’AUC pursues a re-representation and projection of the metropolitan conditions through typological intensifications of a super-metropolitan matrix in the Grand Paris Stimulé (2008–09 – pages 108–9), which attempts a different approach to city-making. Perhaps the most unusual 20
inclusion is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa, Japan, by SANAA (pages 94–101). This project should be understood in relation to other projects such as the Moriyama House in Tokyo (2005) and the recently completed Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne (2010), which rethink the building as a piece of city fabric through the mat-building typology. Type and the City If urbanisation is concerned with the expansion of human settlement driven primarily by economics, the city on the other hand is the consolidated, concentrated settlement that precedes the urb. It is usually demarcated by a city wall and a point of concentration for people and activities, resulting in a stratified society that is functionally differentiated and politically divided.11 This city is a historical product and centred on the civic and symbolic functions of human settlement and coexistence. As cities owe their main characteristic to geographical and topographical conditions, and are always linked to other cities by trade and resources, they tend to specialise and form a distinct character.12 It is this distinct character coupled with the need to accommodate differences that gives rise to the possibility of a collective meaning for the city. This meaning changes over time in response to its evolving inhabitants and external circumstances, but its history is often formalised in the construction of civic buildings and landmarks that express a common identity. These ‘elements of permanence’ in the city are exemplified by town halls, libraries, museums and archives. It is through this understanding that we are proposing that the idea of the city can be embodied in these dominant types, communicating the idea of the city in response to specific historical and sociocultural conditions. From Barcelona with its Cerdá housing blocks, London with its Victorian and Georgian terraces and New York with its Manhattan skyscrapers, cities can be understood, described, conceptualised and theorised through their own particular dominant types. Through Rossi, we learn that a building as
Max von Werz, Open Source Fabric, Zorrozaurre, Bilbao, Spain, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2007 opposite left: Urban plan. The differentiation of urban blocks and their collective voids is utilised to absorb the shifts in the knowledge industry that is to occupy the peninsula of Zorrozaurre. The stringing together of the exterior void offers the possibility of coexistence between the models of knowledge environments: the suburban-like technopark and the city-like technopole.
opposite right: Urban plan fragment. Resisting the tendency for singular types, the project introduces the heterogeneity of diverse type-specific environments capable of consolidating leisure networks to attract a lived-in population within the peninsula.
Martin Jameson, Project Runway, Thames Estuary, UK, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2008 top: Airport visualisation. Heathrow Airport is top of the long list of Londonâ€™s planning disasters. The solution: a 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) inhabited bridge across the mouth of the Thames Estuary.
above: Fragment model of airport. Incorporating high-speed rail and topped with three runways, this new urban condition manifests a compressed and highly varied programme tightly contained within a strict envelope. The impact: regeneration without sprawl, infrastructure without damage to civic life.
Typological Urbanism, in conclusion, brings together arguments and projects that demonstrate a commitment to the empowerment of the architect to once again utilise his or her disciplinary knowledge.
Yi Cheng Pan, Resisting the Generic Empire, Singapore, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2006 top: Masterplan model. To wrest control of the ground plane from the proliferating skyscrapers, the project inverts its massing through the cultivation of multiple urban plans within the skyscraper type. This strategy releases the ground plane for immediate activation by smaller building types (and stakeholders) and creates multiple ‘clustered’ volumes for increased public and private partnerships.
above: Urban plan. The project explores the issues of control and difference, and challenges Singapore’s addiction to the ubiquitous high-rise type. It resists the formation of the state-engineered Generic Empire – a city entirely subjugated to the whims of large corporations – by providing a typological framework that cultivates difference through the coexistence of multiple types.
Yifan Liu, The Great Flight Forward, Chengdu, China, Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby), Architectural Association, London, 2008 opposite: Masterplan model of airport. The People’s Square has become the airport. Its void becomes the runway, its edge the terminals and aerotropolis. By enforcing the edge and limiting its growth, new intimate scales of public spaces derived from the traditional Chinese courtyard-house typology are released and become prominent.
an element of ‘permanence’ is able to act as the typological repository of a city’s history, construction and form. For Rossi, type is independent of function and therefore pliable. To understand these types is to understand the city itself. Pier Vittorio Aureli in ‘City as Political Form: Four Archetypes of Urban Transformation’ (pages 32–7) discusses the instrumentality of paradigmatic architectural archetype as an extensive governance apparatus and proposes that while the evolution of the city can be thought of as the evolution of urban types, its realisation can only happen within a political ‘state of exception’. Similarly, Martino Tattara in ‘Brasilia’s Superquadra: Prototypical Design and the Project of the City’ (pages 46–55) proposes that the ‘prototype’ is the exemplar that does not reproduce itself through a set of norms, prescriptions or rules, but through the authoritativeness of the prototype itself. This ultimately constitutes a new disciplinary operativity by considering the prototype as a ‘seed’ for the idea of the city. Two projects by DOGMA and Serie offer a possible demonstration of the manifestation of the idea of the city as an architectural project. DOGMA, in their ‘A Simple Heart: Architecture on the Ruins of a Post-Fordist City’ (pages 110–19) investigate the possibility by focusing on the relationship between architectural form, large-scale design and political economy. This is rendered less as a ‘working’ proposition and more as an idea of the city brought to its (extreme) logical conclusions. In the Xi’an Horticultural Masterplan project by Serie Architects (pages 120–7), the transformation of an artefact of the city is used to confront the problem of centrality and the possible recuperation of the tradition of city-making in Xi’an, China. The city wall as a dominant type is utilised as the deep structure that sets out a typological grammar for the city. Typological Urbanism, in conclusion, brings together arguments and projects that demonstrate a commitment to the empowerment of the architect to once again utilise his or her disciplinary knowledge. It is a re-engagement with architecture’s exteriority and architectural experimentation
governed by reason and (re)inventions underpinned by typological reasoning. It is an insistence on architecture that not only answers the didactic question of ‘how to?’ but also the meta-critical question of ‘why do?’. 1 Notes 1. The United Nations expects that the population increase of 2.3 billion by 2050 will result in the growth of urbanisation levels in more developed regions from currently 75 per cent to 86 per cent, and from 45 per cent to 66 per cent in less developed regions, achieving an average of 69 per cent. Most of the population growth will take place in urban areas in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. See United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 Revision, New York, 2010. 2. In part, this tendency to classify group buildings according to use can be attributed to Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of England (1951–75). The original series by Pevsner, for Penguin, has been expanded and is now published by Yale University Press as Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England,Scotland, Wales and Ireland. 3. Compare with Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, trans Diane Ghirardo and Joan Ockman, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1982. 4. Quatremère de Quincy, ‘Type’, in Encyclopédie Méthodique, Vol 3, 1825, trans Samir Younés, Quatremere De Quincy’s Historical Dictionary of Architecture: The True, the Fictive and the Real, Papadakis Publisher (London), 2000. 5. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, Précis of the Lectures on Architecture, trans David Britt, Getty Trust Publications (Los Angeles), 2000. Durand’s diagrams primarily capture the structural elements of various building types, comprising a layer of grids that denote both structure and geometric composition. 6. Quatremère de Quincy, ‘Rule’, in Encyclopédie Méthodique, Vol 3, op cit. 7. The difference between ‘urb’ and ‘city’ and its implication are developed by Pier Vittorio Aureli in ‘Toward the Archipelago’, in Log 11, 2008. 8. For a more detailed account, see Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby (eds), Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City, AA Publications (London), 2007. 9. This understanding of the diagram is fundamentally different from interpreting diagrams of flows and pseudoscientific indexes as novel tectonics. 10. Oswald Matthias Ungers, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Riemann, Hans Kollhoff and Peter Ovaska, ‘Cities Within the City: Proposal by the Sommerakademie Berlin’, in Lotus International 19, 1977. 11. For a more elaborate description of the evolution of cities and its definition, see Spiro Kostof, City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History, Thames & Hudson (London), 1999. 12. Traditional cities are defined by their relationships to river banks, sea ports, railways, highlands (hill towns) and so on. Today we see cities that position themselves as knowledge cities, financial cities, medical cities, sport cities and so on. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Diploma Unit 6, Architectural Association School of Architecture, London
THE CITY AS A PROJECT
TYPES, TYPICAL OBJECTS AND TYPOLOGIES Marina Lathouri provides a critical overview of the historiography of typology, tracing the word ‘type’ back to its 18th-century origins and through to its re-emergence as a standardised objet-type in the Modernist era. She closes by questioning the pertinence of type and typology today. To raise the question of typology in architecture is to raise a question of the architectural work itself. — Rafael Moneo, ‘On Typology’, 19781 The concept of ‘type’ in architecture has a function inherently related to the one of language wherein type enables a manner in which to name and describe the artefact, primarily as part of a group of objects. Therefore, as Moneo succinctly points out, ‘the question of typology’ – ‘typology’ being a discourse (logos) on ‘type’ – becomes ‘a question on the architectural work itself ’, a question of what kind of object is a work of architecture. This article will begin by pointing to two characteristics of the question that could help to explain the specific functions of the concept of type in architecture. The first is that accounts of type are informed by the different ways of seeing, thinking and producing the work of architecture. The second characteristic, following on from the first, is that the notion of type, in its various meanings, has played an effective critical role in the confrontations between architecture and the city. Typological debates seek to delineate the ways in which the architectural work, by virtue of its specific conditions of production, engages with its broader milieu – material, urban, civil, political. It is in the basis of these arguments that it seems still possible and relevant to raise the question. When it first appears in architecture during the 18th century, the word ‘type’, coming from the Greek typos meaning model, matrix, the imprint or a figure in relief, carries a sense of origin closely joined to a universal law or natural principle. 24 24
The notion of type, as the law or principle that might explain how forms are generated thus endowing every element with symbolic significance, gained considerable presence among the Enlightenment architectural theorists. In the article ‘Type’, which Quatremère de Quincy wrote for the third volume of his Encyclopédie, published in 1825, type further implied the ‘characteristic form’ or ‘particular physiognomy’ that enables a building to be read as to ‘its fundamental purpose’.2 Transferring ideas developed in the natural sciences and studies of language into the theory of architecture, the word ‘type’ was employed in De Quincy’s text not only to indicate the search for origins but to organise ‘all the different kinds of production which belong to architecture’ by expressing at once general characteristics and their ‘particular physiognomy’. The link between form and purpose, general principles and ‘the imprint of the particular intention of each building’, as JF Blondel would describe the physiognomy or character of the singular artefact in 1749, turned type from its overtly symbolic function to a more signifying one.3 The meaning was to be derived from the formal and functional context of the work itself, a set of pre-existent or fixed referents in outside reality and a system inherent in architecture. Nonetheless, this amalgam of type as origin, natural principle, symbolic mark and legible form of a purpose, would be fixed in the practice of the academic architect in the first quarter of the 19th century. The establishment of architecture as a distinct discipline and profession, however, took place largely in the context of a view of its practice as socially embedded.
JNL Durand, Façade Combinations, 1809 The combination or disposition (the French term disposer means ‘to arrange, to put things in a certain order’) of typified elements gives prominence to a method of work that would become part of a radical redefinition of the ambitions of the discipline.
This introduced a historicity into architecture that also reconfigured the notion of type. Conflated with the idea of an artifice socially determined, that is, an outcome of changing social customs and needs rather than of divine or natural origin, type began to designate the process of the formation of a particular building. Signifying a process as much as an object, type claimed a functional justification as well as an active role in the process of design. It was in these terms that it became extraordinarily evocative in late 19th and early 20th century. Not a fixed ideal to imitate or aspire to, but instead a historically contingent idea, subjected to functional and programmatic changes and eventually, as we shall see, to the overriding law of economy. Having established a fundamental connection between architecture and society within an abstract and flexible view of history made the notion of type more instrumental to ‘a comprehension of a kind of evolution in architecture’ and, ultimately, to a cultural genealogy of society.4 Suspended between an evolving architectural specificity and a general schema, the notion of type brought together the appeal to specificity, the myth of cultural (and ultimately national) integrity and historical dimension. At this point, the question of type and typology became a logical extension of the ideology that extended architecture’s boundaries far beyond the limits customarily ascribed to it either as an art or as a prosaic utility, transforming the figure of the architect into a social redeemer. Objet-Type and Standard Product: The New City In these terms, the Modernist categories of the ‘typical object’ and the ‘standard product’ are symptomatic of the new understanding of the role of architecture in the articulation and expression of ‘external change or internal demands’ – spatial, material, economic, social. In fact, external changes and needs were internalised and as Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co put it, the notion of typical, now identified with the standard, succeeded in ‘expressing the presuppositions for the construction of the New City’.5 Walter Gropius’ rhetoric in The New Architecture and the Bauhaus, published in 1937, is telling: ‘the reiteration of “typical” (ie typified) buildings while “increasingly approximating to the successive stages of a manufacturing process”, “notably enhances civic dignity and coherence”.’6 Here the ‘typical building’, identical with the ‘typified’ object, became, primarily through industrial manufacturing, ‘a fusion of the best of its anterior forms – a fusion preceded by the elimination of the personal content of their designers and all otherwise ungeneric or non-essential features’.7 It was precisely this particular mode of production that, while addressing ‘the needs of the urban industrial population’,
entailed the principles for the emergence of a new harmonious social order.8 ‘Such an impersonal standard,’ which was also described by Gropius as a ‘norm’, ‘a word derived from the carpenter’s square’, functioned as an ideal to educate and nurture the inhabitants of the new city, as citizens of a democracy linked in an intrinsically spatial field. The connection between industrial production and a normative framework for the growing urban population had already been established in the early days of Modernism: Typisierung and the objet-type are but examples of it. What was different now was that the concepts of the typical and standard, incorporated into a set of new economies – material, technical, spatial, visual and graphic – became the physical prerequisite for producing the social field. In fact, they provided, through the very features of their design, a diagrammatic manifestation of this field. Their graphic formulations exemplified a form of production of the urban environment, considered as the logical precondition of moral regeneration and civic happiness. The ‘typical’ did not provide just a model for the production of the singular artefact – be it a built component, a piece of furniture, a dwelling unit or the urban block. It provided a framework for conceptualising architecture as part of a social and ideological agenda. It had a strong bearing on architectural arguments that sought to formalise the connection between the singular and processes of production of the collective. It was precisely this articulation of the individual and the collective that insinuated type in the social and political aspirations of Modernism. 25
A work of art, according to Focillon, was ‘an attempt to express something that is unique’, but it was likewise ‘an integral part of a system of highly complex relationships’.
In these terms, the ethical value of the Modernist type consisted in the combination of the ideal of architectural perfection with the laws of economy and the reality of mass production. This sense of architectural perfection was succinctly expressed in Karel Teige’s words, written in 1932, as ‘any “ideal proposal” that would be technically and economically capable’ of realisation.9 Thus, the ‘ideal proposal’, ‘a strictly standardised element’, was an analytical scheme in which programmatic functions and architectural elements on the one hand, and economic and technical variants on the other, could be unified around an idea of dwelling in the modern city. 10 Furthermore, this idea of dwelling was not so much concerned with the domestic in terms of spatial scale, but incited a programmatic and ideological link between the reality of mass production, a culture of dwelling and the ideals of the future – the ideals of the new relationship between the individual, the social and the city. This is reflected in the plans of individual dwelling units which were specific enough yet strategically general, on the one hand, to represent a fragment of inhabitable terrain that could be mapped and regulated, and on the other, to effectively project a schema of life across the entire social body. To recapitulate, at the heart of the programme of the objettype is a procedure by which a series of distinct but repetitive functions or activities are imposed on the individual. By incorporating the individual, thus controlled, within a system, the growth of that system is both ensured (by multiplication of the typified elements) and regulated (by repetition of established functions). Put succinctly, the individual is rendered typical, in order to contribute to the generative and regulative operations of the city, that is, a type of development. Urban Typologies: The City as History The conceptual and visual engagement of the different scales in the above account of the typical and type paradoxically exposes a desire for ultimate synthesis and visual coherence to be achieved in the New City. The question raised in the rethinking of the modern city in the 1950s and 1960s is what happens to the immediate conformity between the sequence of unitary elements and the synthetic instant, when we confront the complex and rather ambiguous figure of the ‘existing city’. But to define the ‘existing city’, how its identity is to be understood and engaged with, proved a rather complex task. Nothing illustrates more clearly this difficulty than the historic research done in Italy by Saverio Muratori and Ernesto Rogers in the 1950s, and later, Aldo Rossi and Giulio Carlo Argan. Despite the often conflicting attitudes involved in these explorations, the aim was to stress by means of a typological permanence the cultural continuity of what Rogers would describe as the ‘pre-existing conditions’ (preesistenze ambientali). In these studies, undoubtedly displaying aspects of the
Walter Gropius, Copper-Plate Houses, 1932 opposite: Gropius’ Copper-Plate Houses for mass-production: a kit of standardised elements – programmatic, architectural, technical – enabling the investigation of systems of inhabitation held to arise within, and produce, urban space. From Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus published in 1937.
The Evolution of the Ideal Type from Paestum to the Parthenon, from the Humber to the Delage below: A basic notion of progress is here linked with the ideal of perfection in architecture, with the idea of it as an autonomous technical product. From Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, 1923.
contemporaneous critique of the Functionalist city, any construction was thought as ‘a completed cultural history’.11 The architectural work was analysed and conceived as a singular entity (not a unitary element), and at the same time an expression of the development of the urban aggregate within a given place, which was the region, and within a precise historical space, the city. On the one hand, the city was read as a structure that constantly evolves and changes, yet certain features were constant in time, and therefore typical; that is, constituent factors of that structure. On the other, this was an attempt to develop a working method; a method which invoked history in a series of transformations rather than a sequential unfolding of time. This method brought together ideas on history and principles of morphology already formulated in the 1930s by thinkers such as Henri Focillon. In particular, Focillon’s idea of art as a system in perpetual development of coherent forms12 and of history as a superimposition of geological strata that permits us to read each fraction of time as if it was at once past, present and future is interestingly relevant.13 A work of art, according to Focillon, was ‘an attempt to express something that is unique’, but it was likewise ‘an integral part of a system of highly complex relationships’.14 Forms thus acquire in their stratified evolution a life that follows its own trajectory and can be generalised only on the level of method. It was in very similar terms that Ernesto Rogers, editor of Casabella – Continuità during the 1950s, understood the architectural work and project. For Rogers, the individual artefact was a sensible form, a singular and specific outcome, here and
now, but also part of a broader structure, and as such a process in search of laws by means of which this structure might receive a greater degree of clarity. Thus the architectural project consisted primarily in a ‘methodological process’ (processo metodologico) seeking to identify the ‘most salient qualities’ (emergenza più saliente) of the existing structure (material, urban, civil, cultural) and capture its ‘specific essence’ (essenza specifica). Moreover, if the ‘ideal of an individual architecture’ was ‘an element distinct in the time and space of experience’, it was only ‘the successive experiences’ of these distinct moments in the life of the individual artefact that ultimately ‘achieve a synthesis’.15 History here shifts into the realm of memory, and the singular form was not only to signify its own distinct individuality; it became a sign of forms and events that were part of a collective – that is, urban – memory. In these terms, any architectural form, existing or new, was the expression of its particular character at a specific time and place, but also embodied the memory of previous forms and functions. If the work was to be read, by means of associations, within the construct of this collective memory, type was the ‘apparatus’ (using Aldo Rossi’s term) which, fusing history and memory, could produce a dialectics between the individual object and the collective subject, between the idea of the object and the memory of its multiple actualities. It is precisely this dialectics which, for Rossi, was to ultimately constitute the structure of the city, a ‘collective possession that’, in its turn, ‘must be presupposed before any significance can be attributed’ to the individual work.16 2 27
For Rossi, the relationship between locus and citizenry is to inform the city’s predominant image. Many of the emerging forms of urbanity, however, are partially or completely novel systems of relations and, often, novel institutional orders. New processes of economic and cultural activity problematise the traditional bond between territory and people, and citizenship is often constituted in a radically different way.
As he wrote in the early 1960s, ‘the city is in itself a repository of history’.17 This could be understood from two different points of view. In the first, the city is above all ‘a material artefact, a man-made object built over time and retaining the traces of time, even if in a discontinuous way’. Studied from this point of view, ‘cities become historical texts’ and type is but an instrument of analysis, to enter into and decipher this text, a function similar to the archaeological section. The second point of view acknowledges history as the awareness of the historical process, the ‘collective imagination’. This leads to one of Rossi’s prominent ideas that the city is the locus of the ‘relationship of the collective to its place’.18 And it is type, this time as an element of design, which enables the formal articulations of this relationship. In this notion of type, we see an attempt to reinvest the work of architecture with a dimension of meaning, something that is not dissimilar to de Quincy’s understanding of type within a system analogous to language. Only, in this case, the meaning depends on a kind of collective memory. Nonetheless, the suggestion of type as a formal register of the collective but also an instrument of analysis as well as an element of design that can transform theoretical speculations into operative means for making architecture in the present was mostly evident in these studies, yet always recurrent in the critical discourse of architecture. Politics of Type: The Contemporary City One could now attempt to reinstate this suggestion in contemporary terms. Prior to that, however, the question ought to be posed as to whether the question of type and typology is still pertinent. If it is concerned with ‘a question of the architectural work itself ’, there are certain criteria that provide an overall different framework for thinking about the architectural work and its engagement with the city. The first of these criteria is, broadly speaking, historical. Every time brings specific conditions to the manner in which the claims on architecture and the city are made. So, the very meaning of type, architectural work and city cannot be separated from the historical situations within which it functions. It is worth noting at this point that in the ideas discussed here, type as model and natural principle, legible form of a purpose, a diagram of the new and the locus of collective memory, the relation to language has always been implicit, and indeed, operative. As Moneo writes, even ‘the very act of naming the architectural object is a process that from the nature of language, is forced to typify’.19 Yet this can only operate within a general logic of signification that confers meaning on the object by situating it in a relational structure or network. This brings us to the second criterion, which is social. In order for an artefact to be recognised as such, it has to abide by the broad parameters operative in a particular community.
Hannes Meyer, Co-op Vitrine with Co-op Standard Products, Basel, 1925 opposite: The exhibition piece consisted of arrays of 36 mass-produced items from cooperative factories. It is through the repeatability of the serial product that an effect of the collective is to be created.
E May and E Kaufmann, Furnishings of Small Apartments with Folding Beds, Frankfurt, 1929 below: The virtues of economy in the production of forms of living considered ‘typical’ of the ‘modern age’.
This is, for instance, what the categories of the ‘typical object’ and the ‘standard product’ attempted to entirely reconfigure. They were part of a rhetoric whose aim was to produce a new and distinctive way of talking about architecture by turning ‘particulars into abstract generalities’ such as the individual, the ‘dwelling unit’, the ‘collective’ and so on.20 In new urban formations, however, or existing cities which are inscribed with a multiplicity of economies and identities – ethnical, racial, cultural and religious – representations of a globality which have not been recognised as such or are contested representations, a single model or method cannot be imposed. The material (and immaterial) forces that mould these communities are diverse and produce a distinctive inter-urban and intra-urban geography. Each of these communities establishes a logic of signification that presupposes a specific understanding of what meaning is, how it operates, the normative principles it should abide by, its social function and so on. For Rossi, the relationship between locus and citizenry is to inform the city’s predominant image. Many of the emerging forms of urbanity, however, are partially or completely novel systems of relations and, often, novel institutional orders. New processes of economic and cultural activity problematise the traditional bond between territory and people, and citizenship is often constituted in a radically different way. In this context, how can the work of architecture engage with the city in terms of its structuring? How can the multiple regimes of the architectural project address the new modes of production of the urban environment and a very different account of the political role of architecture in this environment? Is it possible that the architectural project still engages conceptions of space, norms of use and modes of appropriation that are not simply forms of mediation between polarities such as individual/collective, architectural/urban, past/present, new/ existing but become effective in a more relational configuration? It seems to me that the question of type and typology could become extremely effective if the architectural project is rethought in terms of a method that may define the general coordinates within which architectural works and urban strategies can be distinguished, yet their delimitations are precisely negotiated. Moreover, the question cannot be framed simply in relation to formal or methodological issues, but within a scheme that redefines the aesthetic coordinates of the community through implementing the connections between spatial and formal practices, forms of life, conceptions of thought and figures of the community. At the very end, it is an architectural question which implements the presupposition of politics, if politics ‘revolves around what is seen and what can be said about it, around who has the ability to see and the talent to speak, around the properties of spaces and the possibilities of time’.21 1 29
Ludwig Hilberseimer, Vorschlag zur Citybebauung, 1930 opposite top: From the serial product to the typified structural element to the mass-produced living unit to the plan, identifiable architectural strategies formalise procedures and a general system that, while disposing the individual within an ever-growing multitude, produces new figures of the community.
Notes 1. Rafael Moneo, ‘On Typology’, in Oppositions 13, 1978, p 23. 2. Quatremère de Quincy, Encyclopédie Méthodique, Architecture, Vol 3, Paris, 1825. 3. Jacques–François Blondel, Cours d’architecture, Vol 2, Paris, 1771–1777, p 229. 4. ‘While a simple notion of type of progress might aspire to the “perfectibility” of each type, only an internal understanding of the constructive laws of types, and the dynamic transformations of these laws under the threat of external change or internal demands, could open the way to a comprehension of a kind of evolution in architecture.’ Anthony Vidler, ‘The Idea of Type: The Transformation of the Academic Ideal, 1750–1830’, in Oppositions, 8, 1977, p.108. 5. Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co, Modern Architecture, Abrams (New York), 1986, p 326. 6. Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus, Faber and Faber (London), 1937, p 27. 7. ‘A standard may be defined as that simplified practical exemplar of anything in general use which embodies a fusion of the best of its anterior forms – a fusion preceded by the elimination of the personal content of their designers and all otherwise ungeneric or non-essential features. Such an impersonal standard is called a “norm”, a word derived from a carpenter’s square.’ Walter Gropius, ibid. p 26. 8. Walter Gropius, ‘Die Soziologischen Grundlagen der Minimalwohnung’, in CIAM, Die Wohnung für das Existenzminimum, Englert und Schlosser (Frankfurt), 1930, pp 13–23. The same text is in English in Walter Gropius, ‘The Sociological Premises for the Minimum Dwelling of Urban Industrial Populations’, in The Scope of Total Architecture, Harper (New York), 1955, pp 104–118.
Aldo Rossi, Composition with Modena Cemetery, 1979 opposite bottom: The art of codification and disposition of residual typological meanings suggests the work of architecture primarily as a register and instrument of collective memory, and the city as the context within which this memory can become active.
BBPR Architects, Velasca Tower, Milan, 1954 below: Through the use of specific formal elements, the building, also presented by Ernesto Rogers at the last CIAM meeting in the Netherlands village of Otterlo (1959) where it caused fierce arguments, becomes a historically constituted signifier establishing a discourse on the city.
9. Karel Teige, The Minimum Dwelling, trans Eric Dluhosch, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA and London), 2002 [Nejmensí byt, Václav Petr (Prague), 1932], p 12. 10. Ibid, p 252. 11. Saverio Muratori, Studi per un’operante storia urbana di Venezia, Pligrafico dello Stato (Rome), 1960, p 2. An earlier version appears in Palladio 1–2 (1959), pp 97–106. Saverio Muratori (1910– 73) had come from Rome where he was associated with the Gruppo degli Urbanisti Romani (GUR) and began his research on the city of Venice when he was asked to teach at the Instituto Universitario di Architettura in 1950. 12. Henri Focillon, La Vie des Formes, Ernst Leroux (Paris), 1934. The first translation into English was by Charles Beecher Hogan and George Kubler, The Life of Forms in Art, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1942. 13. Henri Focillon, L’An Mil, Armand Colin (Paris), 1952. 14. The Life of Forms in Art, op cit, p 6. In fact, in L’avenir de l’esthétique, published in 1929, Etienne Souriau is the first one to define aesthetics in terms of a ‘science of forms’ (science des formes): a science that studies forms in their own structuring. Opposing the tendency of the time to reside on the psychological analysis of the pleasure of the artist and the viewer, Souriau and Focillon considered the artwork as if it was bearer of an autonomous sense. 15. Ernesto Rogers, ‘The Image: The Architect’s Inalienable Vision’, in Gyorgy Kepes (ed), Sign, Image and Symbol, Studio Vista (London), 1966, p 242. 16. Alan Colquhoun, Modernity and the Classical Tradition: Architectural Essays 1980–1987, MIT
Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989, p 249. 17. Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (New York) and MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1982, p 127. The first edition of this book, taken from Rossi’s lectures, appeared in 1966. 18. Ibid, p 128. 19. Rafael Moneo, ‘On Typology’, in Oppositions 13, 1978, p 23. 20. Adrian Forty discusses these categories (the individual, the human) in relation to the rhetoric of modernism. He notes: ‘… a marked tendency to turn particulars into abstract generalities, for example, walls become “the wall,” streets “the street,” a path becomes “the route,” a house “the dwelling,” and so on.’ Adrian Forty, Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture, Thames & Hudson (London), 2000. 21. Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, trans Gabriel Rockhill, Continuum (New York), 2004 [first published in France under the title Le Partage du Sensible: Esthétique et Politique, La FabriqueEditions (Paris), 2000, p 13. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: p 26 © Illustration from Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus, Faber and Faber (London), 1937; p 27 © FLC/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010; p 28 © gta Archives/ETH Zurich; p 29 © MIT Press 2002. Reprinted courtesy of the MIT Press from Karel Teige, The Minimum Dwelling, trans. Eric Dluhosch, 2002; p 30(t) © published in Entfaltung Einer Planungsidee (Berlin: Ullstein: 1963, pp 18-19, ill 7). Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer. Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer Papers, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. Digital File 070383.100914-01 © The Art Institute of Chicago; p 30(b) © Eredi Aldo Rossi; p 31 © Enzo & Paolo Ragazzini/CORBIS
Pier Vittorio Aureli
CITY AS POLITICAL FORM
FOUR ARCHETYPES OF URBAN TRANSFORMATION
Pier Vittorio Aureli focuses on the category of archetype as an alternative to the idea of type. Four examples – the axial streets of Renaissance Rome, the 17th-century Parisian place, the 19thcentury independent block in Berlin and the 20th-century Viennese superblock – are explored here to describe the emergence of modern urban forms that explicitly embody power relations.
The city is the most explicit index of power relationships. Walls, squares and streets are not only meant to support the functioning of the city, but they also form an extensive governmental apparatus. Without proposing a cause-and-effect relationship between form and politics, the intention here is to trace the political origin of quintessential city projects within the history of the modern city. The aim is to test the political instrumentality of architectural form. For this reason, instead of focusing on the city at large, the focus will be on paradigmatic architectural archetypes. The category of archetype that will be advocated here will not be the way Carl G Jung defined it, as a universal contentless form, nor as innate pattern of behaviour.1 Instead, following Giorgio Agamben, the idea of archetype as example will be proposed: neither a specific nor a general form, but a singular formal event that serves to define the possibility of a milieu of forms.2 Following such definition an archetype could be Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon (1785) whose form was interpreted by Michel Foucault not only as the model for that type of surveillance, but as an example through which it is possible to define a particular paradigm of spatial governance.3 The category of archetype is advanced here as an alternative to the idea of type. If type traditionally indicates the idea that regulates the development of a group of forms (and for this reason is irreducible to any particular form), archetype offers the possibility of addressing a found singular form as a definition for a possible group of forms. In architecture, an archetype is thus 32
a paradigmatic form through which it is possible to illuminate a particular critical passage in the development of the city. In the following notes, the political form of the modern city will be defined by addressing four archetypes: the papal axial streets of 16th-century Rome, the Parisian plàce of the 17th century, the independent building block in 19th-century Berlin and the 20th-century Viennese superblock. The sequence of these four archetypes attempts to synthetically describe the emergence of modern urban forms that embodied specific power relationships within the city, especially those related to the rise of economic accumulation and management as a response to particular conflicts in the city. The aim of this essay is to attempt a short and concise outline of a political history of the modern city, and the way its ethos, made of urban management on the one hand and conflict on the other, was embodied and represented by the use of certain architectural forms. The argument is that while the changes of the city can be thought of as the evolution of urban types, its realisation can only happen within a political ‘state of exceptions’, in which the exemplarity of specific and singular forms plays a leading role in resetting the urban condition. The essay counters the current mainstream of evolutionary and empirical research on the city that portrays urban space as an evolutionary and self-organising organism. Against this idea, the city emerges as a locus of a permanent political conflict of which architectural form is one of the most extreme and radical manifestations.
Axial Rule in Renaissance Rome The reinvention of Rome as the capital of Christianity between the 14th and 16th centuries can be considered as one of the most antagonistic processes of urban transformation in the Western world. This was mainly due to two specific conditions of the city: its complex topography and geography, and its idiosyncratic political regime. Unlike any other major medieval city in Europe, the major symbolic and power centres in Rome – the Capitol, the Cathedral of St John and the Vatican – were not located in the city centre, but at the city margins.4 This geography contributed to make the city centre an unresolved multipolar field of forces contested by the different powers represented by these centres. The political regime consisted of a non-dynastic monarchy where each pope was elected at a very old age in order to prevent too long a span of his reign, meaning he had only a very short time in which to implement reforms and to leave his legacy on the city form. The extreme political discontinuity between successive papacies meant popes’ efforts most often did not follow on from one another, and at best had contrasting aims. These extreme conditions resonated within a chaotic urban form made of an archipelago of clusters, each of them dominated by competing clans or dynasties. On top of everything, the conflict between secular and religious power – represented within the city by the polar contraposition between the Campidoglio and the Vatican – gave to the different forms of conflict an acute political dimension that triggered the church to engage in the management of the city. It is for this reason that, parallel with the building of new monuments and the restoration of ancient ones, those popes who wanted to leave their mark on the city’s urban form engaged with the design of new city streets. This took the form not only of the opening of new or the completion of old streets, but also in a diffuse management of urban space. Facing a situation of extreme backwardness and political uncertainty due the consequences of the Great Western Schism, and the exile of popes in Avignon (1378–1417), Pope Martino V (pope from 1417 to 1431) instituted the Magistri Viarium, public administrators who were responsible for the management of the streets.5 Their task was not only the physical maintenance of space in terms of circulation and hygiene, but also to reclaim political control of this space from the opposing clans that contended it. It must be considered that in Rome at the time there were no proper streets and public space was more the interstice between the different clusters of buildings. Instituting the Magistri Viarium created the possibility of an organic totalising space of control that would surpass the local scale of the building. What is interesting here is that this was organised not in terms of military control, but through the institution of a civic body whose power was administrative and managerial rather than coercive, and thus more adaptable to being diffused within rather than simply imposed on the city. The opening and management of new streets was also directed towards the possibility of making the city a Biblia Pauperum, an urban text whose message could be accessible to the pilgrims coming to the Eternal City. Yet the central issue of the street project was that, like in ancient Rome, representation and urban management were fused in the same architectural artefact. In Rome urban circulation acquired this ambivalent meaning of both ceremonial display and urban control.
Via Giulia, Rome, 1508– The geometrical regularity of the street offers the possibility of controlling private property by means of public space. Public space appears as regular, universal, efficient and magnificent, and in this way conceals its vested (and partial) interests.
The awareness of circulation as a means of power soon resulted in a precise and archetypical form: the axial street, of which Donato Bramante’s design for Via Giulia (1508) can be considered the most radical example.6 The almost 1,000-metre (3,280-foot) long street that cut through the city fabric running parallel to the river Tiber (and to Via della Lungara, its twin street on the other ‘suburban’ side of the river), was, above all, a strategic link connecting two important elements of medieval Rome: the 15th-century Ponte Sisto, the only bridge built after the fall of the Roman Empire, and the commercial core of the city inhabited by the emerging class of bankers. The spatiality of Via Giulia is the direct product of the culture of perspective and its application in the representation of reality. The evolution of the science of perspective during the 15th century needs to be understood not only as a means to represent in a mathematically correct way the depth of space, but also because its mathematical implications were a framework within which to reimagine the reform of urban space according to the universal and abstract principles of spatial organisation. The unprecedented axial form of Via Giulia represents the concrete application of this culture to the real body of the city. The perfect linear geometry of the street was intended to organise in one spatial gesture not only a proper circulation space but also a strongly defined interdependence between public and private space, by making the public space – the perfectly shaped void of the via recta – both the access to and control of the private properties along the street. 33 3
The Place Royale, Paris, 1605–12 Engraving after Claude Chastillon, 1677. The Place Royale was built by Henry IV starting in 1605 and was completed in 1612. According to the original project, the ground floor of the buildings around the square was intended to host a silk workshop. The square fused economic necessity and ceremonial representation within one simple space.
The formal ‘genericness’, the emphasis on space over the monumentality of architecture, can be seen as an anticipation of the biopolitical techniques of urban management implied in the theories of the raison d’état in which power is no longer identified in the symbolic and plastic figure of the sovereign, but is distributed throughout the whole social body of the city.
Economic Empowerment in the Place Royale, Paris A similar concern informs the design of another fundamental archetype of modern city spatiality: the Place Royale (1605, later known as Place des Vosges) in Paris. If Via Giulia was meant to be the urban pendant of a gigantic monumental form – the Palazzo dei Tribunali where Pope Julius II intended to concentrate all the juridical and administrative functions of the city – the Place Royale was conceived as a monumental space enclosed by a cohesive and quasianonymous residential architecture. This architecture consisted of a row of apartments with a portico on the ground floor. The portico was the circulation space for the silk workshop that, according to the original project for the square, was to be located on the ground floor.7 The square itself is thus an empty space carved within the fabric of the city. Its extreme regularity, its lack of outstanding monumental features, the sense of calm evoked by the endless fenestrations and the repetition of a few decorative elements, realised the political desire to overcome any specific symbolic identity. This desire for a ‘generic’ architecture can be linked to Henri IV’s impetus to overcome the extreme religious conflicts that were characteristic of France towards the end of the 16th century. The formal ‘genericness’, the emphasis on space over the monumentality of architecture, can be seen as an anticipation of the biopolitical techniques of urban management implied in the theories of the raison d’état in which power is no longer identified in the symbolic and plastic figure of the sovereign, but is distributed throughout the whole social body of the city. In this respect it is interesting to note that although the square was intended for royal gatherings and representations, its planning was guided by the requirement to gain income from the rental of apartments on the upper floors and the commercial activities in the workshops on the ground floor. Instead of a monumental architecture, the pragmatic monarchy of Henry IV assumed the economic management of the city in the form of production workshops and houses for rent. The economic raison d’être of the city thus becomes the very source of the square’s architectural grammar. As in the case of Via Giulia, it is evident how the evolution of an urban type depends not only on use, but also on the political instrumentality of the most immanent conditions of the city, such as circulation, the relationship between public and private space, economic regime, and organisation of production. For this reason the neat form of the Place Royale can be seen as the urban space that inaugurated an architecture of the city made of distances, voids and repetitions of the same architectural elements, and thus able to be the flexible framework for the city’s development and its consequent (often unpredictable) economic transformations. While the architecture of Via Giulia resulted in the contrast between the overall layout of the street and the individuality of the buildings along it, in the Place Royale the individuality of the architecture is totally absorbed in the uniformity of the space. In this sense, the ‘empty space’ of the Place Royale, its uniformity, its regularity, represents precisely the ubiquity and the infinity of the space, and not only the image but also the substance of power within the city. Space is here a framed void: the mere potentiality of social and economic relationships, the possibility of circulation, and thus of empowering the state per via economica.
Bourgeois Berlin and the Independent Building Block An alternative to this type of urban form that characterised the development of the European city between the 17th and 18th centuries is Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s ‘incremental’ masterplanning of Berlin between the 1820s and 1841. If 16th-century Rome and 17th-century Paris were developed through the opening of regular spaces within the medieval fabric of the city, Schinkel returns to the archetype of the isolated building block as the primary element of the city. Examples of this are his most important buildings in Berlin, such as the Neue Wache (New Guard House, 1816), the Altes Museum (1823–30) and the Bauakademie (1832–6). All were intended by the Prussian architect not only as objects per se, but also as strategic stepping stones for a punctual urban reform of the city. Indeed, the pavilion-like appearance of these buildings implies a space characterised no longer by the cohesive spatiality of the Baroque city where all the buildings are rigidly aligned along the streets and squares, but by the free and unpredictable association of the buildings themselves. Historians such as Fritz Neumeyer have interpreted such urban forms as implied in Schinkel’s pavillionaire architecture as the spatial rendering of the emerging bourgeois ethos of 19th-century Berlin.8 According to Neumeyer, Schinkel’s archetype of the building-as-individual can be understood as the architectural analogue of the free bourgeoisie initiative no longer constrained by the social and political rigidity of Baroque absolutism. In this sense it is important to consider that Berlin’s urban form was strongly defined by the application of the Polizeiwissenschaft, the apparatus of political and social control developed through a sophisticated regime of urban policing.9 The tenets of such a regime consisted in the ubiquitous internal control of the city through pervasive economic and social legislation in which power was completely identified in the principle of economic and social utility. Within such a liberal framework where control is exercised by the production of situated freedoms rather than by imposition of a strict social order, the city is no longer a rigid setting for the representation of power, but a flexible and incremental accumulation of always changing urban situations. The multiplicity of urban space that forms between Schinkel’s isolated blocks can thus be interpreted not only as the analogue of the bourgeois liberal initiative, but also as the topographical product of the regime that governed such an initiative. The urban incrementalism implied in Schinkel’s archetype of the isolated block can be interpreted as the product of an urban ethos in which the growth of the city requires a certain openness of the city space. For this reason the spatial openness that has always been emphasised in Schinkel’s approach to the city can be seen as the ultimate liberal tactic in which topographic flexibility and dissolution of rigid masterplanning becomes the ultimate form of urban governance.
Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Bauakademie, Berlin, 1832–6 Photograph from Schinkel’s Sammlung Architektonischer Entwürfe of 1837.
The urban incrementalism implied in Schinkel’s archetype of the isolated block can be interpreted as the product of an urban ethos in which the growth of the city requires a certain openness of the city space. 35
Karl Ehn, Karl-Marx-Hof, Vienna, 1927–30 View of the courtyard showing the communal services such as the kindergarten and gardens. Closure and selfsufficiency are monumentalised against the openness and infinity of the bourgeois city.
The archetype of the closed monumental courtyard clearly separated from the city but fully accessible by the community of workers that inhabited each superblock introduced a type of space that is neither public nor private.
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Closure and Obstruction: The Viennese Superblock The tradition of urban form illustrated so far can be summarised as the progressive prevalence of space over form. The archetypes that we have seen share the common denominator of being the result of politics via urban management rather than of explicit political representation. As we have seen, the emphasis on urban management finds its spatial analogue in a city where flexibility and openness towards urban development is the raison d’être of the city archetypes. It is not by chance that the legacy of such a tradition will find its logical conclusion in the emergence of social housing for the workers. As is well known, the discipline of urbanism emerged from the crisis brought about by industrial development, but the heart of such a crisis is precisely capitalism’s attempt to tame and control the labour force needed for its own development. Such control consisted of the evolution of rational criteria for city planning where rationality is the reduction of urban form to the principles of utility and social control. A decisive counterarchetype to this tradition (and in this discourse to the tradition of urban form illustrated so far) is the development of the Gemeindebauten in Vienna, the social housing superblocks built by the Social Democratic Party between 1923 and 1934.10 The fundamental archetype of such development is the rather introverted urban form of the Hof: the monumental courtyard of the historic city. Rather than the rational forms of the Siedlungen (prewar housing estates) in Berlin, or the tradition of the Garden City, the Viennese municipality revisited the monumentality of the Hof in order to counter the principle of utility and control implied in the typologies of mass dwelling. Moreover, they decided to locate the superblocks within the historic city in close proximity to its strategic points, such as the metro stations, bridges and important traffic routes, rather than to expand the periphery. Within this framework, the closed forms of the superblocks countered the managerial workings of the city by opposing its flows and networks with the obstructive closure of its introverted space.
Friedrich Gilly, Perspectival Study with Landscape, c 1800 This famous drawing anticipates the theme of the city as made by architectural blocks freely composed within space. However it will be precisely such ‘autonomy’ of architectural form from the geometric constraints of the traditional topography of the city that will allow a more flexible, and thus more efficient, management of urban space.
As we have seen, the category of public space has developed as a means to define, frame and control the access to and the maintenance of private property and its urban dimension: landownership. The defined geometry of Via Giulia or the Place Royale was intended, above all, as the instrumentalisation of private property for the sake of urban development. In this case, public space is the binding force, the common interest that forms and defines the development of private space. It is for this reason that public space has to remain open, neutral and universal. The archetype of the closed monumental courtyard clearly separated from the city but fully accessible by the community of workers that inhabited each superblock introduced a type of space that is neither public nor private. Such space is common and shared by those who live around it. The proximity of the Hof reflects the necessity for the limits that each community requires in order to manifest itself. However, the limits of such community are not economic, but political, motivated by the desire for political emancipation (and separation) rather than just (economic) upgrading of the urban condition in the name of social utility. If the urban openness and rationality implied in archetypes such as Via Giulia, the Place Royale and Schinkel’s self-standing building blocks were intended as a way to accommodate the economic and administrative conditions of the city, in the Viennese Gemeindebauten the same conditions in the form of social housing were turned into an archipelago of finite monumental forms against, yet within, the very body of the existing managerial city. In the urban gesture of the Hof, the city is no longer conceived as an infinite space for development, but as a dialectical arena of conflicting parts (the Hof as the architecture of the proletariat versus the apartment blocks of the bourgeoisie). Yet this conflict is not left before or beyond the project. In the Gemeindebauten it is instrumentalised as its very core. The sense of closeness implicit in the archetype of the Hof resonates the working class’s partiality against the bourgeoisie’s general interest. Unlike many archetypes of the modern city, the Hof was assumed not as a managerial apparatus, but as a critical challenge to the ubiquity of urban space, and thus as a political caesura within the infinite and totalising apparatus that is the modern city. 1
Notes 1. See Carl Gustav Jung, The Archetypes and Collective Unconscious, trans Gerhard Adler and RFC Full, Princeton University Press (New York), 2nd edn, 1981. 2. This definition is an attempt to adapt Giorgio Agamben’s discussion of the idea of example as a method of research. See Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of all Things, trans Luca di Santo and Kevin Atell, Zone Books (New York), 2009. 3. See Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans Alan Sheridan, Penguin Books (London), 1977, pp 195–228. 4. See Christoph Luitpold Frommel, Architettura alla corte papale del Rinascimento, Electa (Milan), 2003. 5. Enrico del Re, ‘I Maestri di Strada’, in Archivio della Regia Societa Romana di Storia Patria, XLII, 1920, p 101. 6. On the project and development of Via Giulia, see Luigi Salerno, Luigi Spezzaferro and Manfredo Tafuri, Via Giulia, un utopia urbana del Cinquencento, Staderini (Rome), 1972. See also Arnaldo Bruschi, Bramante, Thames & Hudson (London), 1977. 7. See Hilary Ballon, The Paris of Henry IV: Architecture and Urbanism, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1991, pp 57–113. 8. Fritz Neumeyer, ‘Space for Reflection: Block versus Pavilion’, in Franz Schulze (ed), Mies van der Rohe: Critical Essays, Museum of Modern Art (New York), 1989, p 196. 9. See Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, Palgrave Macmillan (London), 2007. 10. For a comprehensive overview of Red Vienna, see Eve Balu, The Architecture of the Red Vienna 1919–1934, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999. See also Manfredo Tafuri, Vienna Rossa, Electa (Milan), 1980. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Courtesy of the author
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TYPE, FIELD, CULTURE, PRAXIS 38 38
Here, Peter Carl substitutes the term ‘type’ for the typical, and ‘typology’ for typicality. In so doing he frees up the notion of type for contemporary design, liberating it from the strictures of its performance history and precedents that have often veered towards standardisation.
The word ‘typical’ applies to phenomena ranging from the least to the most important. To describe something as ‘typical’ can mean that it is boringly repetitive, or that it is characteristic, or that it is ultimately typical (either general, like a ‘law’ of physics, or universal, like an ethical principle or a divinity). The word acknowledges that different things may have common elements, aspects, properties, behaviours, meanings, and so on; and it therefore invokes the similitudes that range from logical identity to set theory to varieties of analogy to metaphor to concept and symbol. In this rich and vast thematic field, lying between ambiguity and continuity in difference, the varieties of typicality related to architecture have attracted novelists, artists, film-makers, designers and thinkers. Within architecture since the Enlightenment, however, the somewhat narrower concept of typology has dominated, perhaps because of the importance of theory in this period. In ancient Near Eastern texts, the frequency with which the prefix bit- (house) applies to houses, palaces, temples and such settings as the New Year’s festival house (bit-akitu) suggests the importance of ‘dwelling’ as a metaphor of ordering. Alexandria seems to have discovered the procedure of composing with symbolic ‘types’ (domes, arches, colonnades, halls, exedrae) that permeated Roman imperial architecture and passed thence to Byzantine, Umayyad and Romanesque architecture, and was recovered again in the Italian
Outdoor Bed in the Roofscape of Le Corbusier’s Villa Shodhan (1951) opposite: While acknowledging the custom of outdoor sleeping, the bed also draws on several themes in Le Corbusier’s iconography: the horizon and the archipelago, the ‘universe of our eyes’ (Iconostase A3), and the alchemical bed (Iconostase D3), and is part of a vertical sequence in which water is related to oculi.
Renaissance.1 Alexandria also seems to have been the source for a theoretical attitude (for example, euhemerism, mechanics) and its attendant perspectivism, therefore the background to Vitruvius, where one finds the designation genera (for example, for his types of houses, VI.III.1). Alberti treats architecture as a theme among many others pertaining to his culture; but with Serlio, writing about architecture becomes properly theoretical, striving to be as clear a demonstration as the Euclidean assumptions with which he begins. Contemporary theory on typology in architecture seems to recognise four historical phases: 1) the 18th century, culminating in Quatremère de Quincy’s tent, cave and hut,2 bearing hallmarks of species identification in zoology (for example, his contemporary Cuvier) and codified in the design-procedures of JNL Durand;3 2) early Modernist ‘Functionalism’, particularly with regard to housing, ranging from efficiency (ergonomics/Taylorism, industrial production) to poetics (Le Corbusier);4 3) the 1960s and 1970s reaction to this inheritance, largely oriented about Aldo Rossi, but bearing hallmarks of the classifications of Durand; 4) the recent present, with the advent of digital design techniques, notably parametric control of formal types. In all of these, the main topic of interest has been the type and its variation. This coincides historically with the development of the human ‘subject’ or ‘agent’ in economic, psychological or social theory. Although all four historical phases of typology accompanied theories of the city, the nature of the relationship between types and their aggregation never attracted the interest that did typological variation.5 This, too, corresponds to the difficulty the economic, psychological and social sciences have had in thematising the context(s) in which individual agents or subjects play out their lives. If the term ‘culture’ only became current with the Enlightenment (making a concept out of what arguably was being lost), the emphasis upon individual rights, politically, and upon the agent or subject, in all other fields, left the identity of ‘context’ to a range of concepts such as family, neighbourhood, class, socioeconomic category or sheer statistical description of trends and tendencies. Accordingly, as the architectural type prevails against the white of the theoretical page or against a grid like that of Durand (both versions of ‘space’), the subject or agent prevails against an equally flat, abstract background.6 With the recent attunement to information as the basis of continuity, it seems that type has been inscribed in the effort to bring reality to a single horizon of representation, in which, ideally, all relations are explicit, even calculable (as in, for example, a
Type, Stereotype and the Market – the Bedroom Planner from IKEA below: Ikea products and, in the corner, Bob from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a series which arranged people, things, settings, lifestyles in a semiotic system according to market categories, for broadcast as a soap opera for prime-time television.
parametric field).7 That is, ‘space’ as a field has given way to a type of field comprising entities that obey mathematical or logical (algorithmic) operations.8 Type Versus Typicality Typology is the very embodiment of conceptual thinking: it isolates similarities (categories) from the flux of reality in order to make purified clusters of these similarities suitable for manipulation (insertion back into reality). The natural home of a type is the taxonomy. Accordingly, there arises a tension between the conceptual field for types and the concrete topographies which we inhabit – a tension which is customarily seen to be resolved through variation of the types. From a descriptive point of view, the most important aspect of architectural types is their heuristic value; they embody considerable experience or knowledge regarding sizes, construction, use-patterns, and so on. However, design too often reifies this knowledge, closing off the true depth of typicality. For example, the type ‘bedroom’ tends to solicit a medium-sized room with a bed, side table, window, closet, and access to a WC; whereas the typical situations of sleep, dreams, sex, illness, death, open much more profound and rich possibilities of interpretation (evident, for example, in the sleeping terrace beneath the canopy of Le Corbusier’s Villa Shodhan, 1951). 39
More fundamentally, it is not obvious how to establish the criteria with regard to a type for dwelling – according to individual ergonomics, to bed and table, to the middle-class apartment or house, to ‘functions’ or decorum, to the market, to a building or urban block or city or region, to the primordial conditions of nature, to culture. Dwelling, properly understood, is more profound than the efficient or attractive accommodation of a lifestyle – it comprises orientation in reality. Once the question is put this way, it is immediately obvious that types are isolated fragments of a deeper and richer structure of typicalities.9 The principal difference between typology and typicality is that the former concentrates upon [architectural] objects, the latter upon human situations. We may be instructed here by the manner in which typicalities operate in language. By ‘language’ is not meant the structuralism of French linguistics – an effort to translate all of language into a grammar of messages (or ‘code’) – but rather language as a framework for understanding (both each other and, collectively, our possibilities in the world).10 Mutual understanding depends upon the element of recognition without which we would be compelled to invent language from scratch at each meeting. The element of recognition is carried by the typicalities, defined as those aspects commonto-all. What is common-to-all exerts a claim upon freedom; freedom depends upon what is common-to-all for its meaning (freedom would otherwise be alienation). Language does not occur by itself or in a void, but is the most important means by which human freedom is embedded in a deep structure of claims or dependencies (typicalities). As a framework for understanding, language disposes these typicalities in strata. Most immediate (and ephemeral) are common meanings (employing words, phrases, idioms, sequences of exchange, as in bartering or arguing a case in law), accents of sounds, as well as the specifically grammatical aspects of verbs, subjects, modifiers. Even this is only the referential surface of the much deeper structure of dependencies.11 Beneath this lie the gestures which customarily or habitually accompany linguistic exchange (bodily orientation; for example, dialogue is customarily faceto-face). Beneath that lie the situations in which certain kinds of discourse typically happen; for example, across the diningroom table/across the boardroom table (often stereotyped in literature, film or theatre). These situations are the receptacles of referential structures (claims) both synchronic and diachronic. All of this is susceptible to poetic transformation (creativity) within the limits of recognition.12 Against the run of philosophy (and by definition, theory) since the Enlightenment, recognition implies the universality of the one world of which we are all part, the ultimate dimension of typicality.13 If ‘context’ indeed operates like language, the stratification of typicalities invokes a communication ‘up and down’ the strata. 40
… without a concrete language, there is no formal language – no logic, no mathematics, no geometry, no ‘form’, and certainly no capacity to use these analogically (for example, to convert any of it into ‘architecture’). The more primordial aspects of a situation are more stable than the choice of words (a dining-table discussion can veer from affection to anger to silence to plate-throwing). In other words, if we are to transcend the sort of context in which types are simply reified units/data which can be packed/arranged/ disposed according to formal (explicit) criteria, we are obliged to acknowledge that any proper understanding of context exhibits the depth-structure of typicalities. It is precisely this depthstructure that is ‘flattened’ to a single horizon of representation when architecture is reduced to form and space and then even further to information. It is now dogma within the AI community that there is no way that algorithmic code can create a dialogue from its own resources (that is, not prescripted);14 and of course dialogue is the heart of anything called social or political (public). This is a more technical (and negative) description of what Heidegger framed as ‘language is the house of Being’ – a formulation intended to grasp the orienting (ontologically) requirement of ‘dwelling’.15 Representations of cities by architects, planners or theorists rarely grasp typicality in these terms. The standard of what is possible remains the Dublin of Joyce’s Ulysses (in particular, the necessity of crime, disease, ignorance or partial understanding, wit, conflict and so on, to the constant renewal in history of a civic ethos). Complexity Versus Richness The progressive conversion of architecture to form/space to information, in which the concept of type has played a significant role,16 may be seen as an effort to convert richness (the depth-structure) into complexity (formal manipulation of types).17 The first operates implicitly, like metaphor, whereas the second operates explicitly like code or axiomatic geometry or logic. Acknowledging the history of abortive efforts since
The structure of typicality at the scale of a room: Reconstruction of a Shrine from Level VI of Catal Hoyuk, Turkey, c 6th Millennium BC Nature is most typical, most common to all, and archaic cultures characteristically interpret the exchange with human culture in terms of dwelling (house/temple), as here. The shrines are distinguishable from the dwellings only by the presence of the horned stanchions, buchrania, etc, which develop carefully placed and oriented settings within that of the dwelling.
Leibniz to ‘translate’ human language into formal language, and therefore the lack of need to worry about this problem at a primary level, we may ask about the nature of the dialogue between concrete richness and formal complexity (that is, between a designer or user and form or code), which is the most common manifestation. The first and most fundamental aspect of this reciprocity is that it never happens the other way around; without a concrete language, there is no formal language – no logic, no mathematics, no geometry, no ‘form’, and certainly no capacity to use these analogically (for example, to convert any of it into ‘architecture’).18 Again, a concrete language is not intrinsic to speakers or writers; language as a framework for understanding needs the whole cultural ecology (and its history) in which humans dwell, from nature to cities (the conditions for freedom). Secondly, not only does concrete language enable analogical treatment of formal languages, formal languages positively require analogical conversion/translation in order to qualify as architecture. Everything needed for this purpose must be added to ‘form’ – materials (and their properties), use, scale, location – before ‘meaning’ can be broached. Similarly, the chief virtue of an architectural type – its encapsulation of experience – needs to be carried ‘in the head’ while manipulating the type.19 Finally, the phenomenon referred to above as ‘flattening’ arises from any attempt to ‘translate’ the concrete order into a formal order – that is, to convert the ‘depth’ of rich intensity into the ‘flatness’ of formal extensity.20 The promise of simulation (end-to-end control, analysis) is defeated by the practicalities of extensity. Russell Smith’s user’s guide to his Open [Source] Dynamic Engine (from 2001) allows one to appreciate the complexity of code required to establish a digital simulation of so-called physics; that is, a digital context in which ‘gravity’
appears to affect objects, such as a bouncing ball.21 This context is essentially a Galilean/Newtonian ‘laboratory’, a conceptual space wholly devoted to the physical phenomena of interest (ballistics, collision-detection, destruction). All other relations to ‘reality’ are contingent (one is free to endow a shape with the ballistic and collision properties of a golf ball, but, when imported into a game or animation, to render the shape as a bear, adding at every collision a sound clip of a wasp bouncing off a window). The example can be generalised: in such a regime, all shapes have the status of type; the type is embedded in a system; the capacity for any sort of system of this kind (layered, stochastic) to accommodate the full depth of reality (or dwelling) invokes such vast code as to defeat reasonable analysis or even computation. Perhaps possible in principle, it is the complexity which inhibits deploying a parametric layering exhaustive enough to generate a relatively straightforward topography such as that of the insulae at Pompeii (whose main constituent is the type or genera of the Roman house). The last century of ‘housing’ – characteristically a patterned distribution of units/types with access – would seem to indicate that the converse is also the case; that type invokes system. Such topographies are a species of simulation, a regime dominated by transparency of connectivity and control, normally carried by the ordering type of the ‘geometric system’ (also the underlying continuity of ‘network’), in which (formal) variation of type is the principal vehicle of meaning. Neither dwelling nor cities are systems, or systems of systems (acknowledging the importance of those aspects which work best as systems – plumbing, energy distribution, traffic).22 The more the context for type is a system, the less possible is dwelling. The worry is that this motive has come to dominate architectural design and the making of urban contexts. 41
The structure of typicality at the scale of a town: Fondamenta Bonini, Venice Although progressively becoming a nostalgic museum-city, Venice is among the examples of a topography developed according to sequences of interiors marked by public involvement. Everything including the Church of the Gesuati, the buildings, rooms, doors, windows, the paving and edging of the Fondamenta and the mooring poles make up a hierarchical medley of typical situations (all, as it were, ‘islands’ in the sea). It remains to be demonstrated how such a hierarchical topography of interiors can be developed vertically.
Type Versus History The affiliation of type with concept has allowed it to flourish as part of grander type-like concepts such as epochs, historical periods, styles and Zeitgeist. Here, in the impossibility of making history an object of science (hoping to replace symbolic interpretation with immanent demonstration) or of planning, we discern the highest aspiration and dilemma of typological thinking.23 Whether striving to recover the civic qualities of medieval European towns or to invent new topographies capable of resisting the sheer accumulation characteristic of the giant cities of global capitalism, typology would seek to recover the meaning of civic life through the formal variation of types.24 Attempting to derive a context from types inevitably finds itself in the stark schematism of Ledoux’s utopia of Chaux. His programme of salvation is characteristic of the genre of arranging people in space so that the spatial order might magically stand for, or even promote, civic or ontological order (the so-called Ideal City, dating from Vitruvius: city reduced to perfected type). Exemplifying the correlation of type/field with subject/space, Chaux proposes a reciprocity between the neo-Masonic theatre-factory of the central circle and types of people (woodcutter, river manager and so on) embodied in the ‘houses’ which populate the surrounding English Garden – or, more accurately, which populate Ledoux’s didactic text as a relentless taxonomy of plans, sections, elevations, perspectives.25 Obeying Ledoux’s quixotic effort to reconcile caractère with formal variation (architecture parlante), these houses are ‘little monuments’. This attachment to the monument shows the tendency for types to adhere to the conceptual clarity necessary for the gnostic-utopian purpose of trying to control history, of trying to make a project of meaning or culture.26 The motif of the little monument was central to Rossi’s early architecture, thereby making it difficult to reconcile with the segments of his Architettura della città27 which argued for 4 42
urban continuity. The use of dramatic shadows in Rossi’s drawings was not for the purpose of articulating profiles, but rather to juxtapose the explicitly abstract/atemporal types with a sign for temporality/history. He created images composed entirely of haunted monuments/concepts (la cittá analoga), equally at home in architectural treatises from Scamozzi to Durand as well as in the mimetic art of painting. That is, he superimposed the conceptual field of types upon the pictorial field inherited from late Romantic perspectivism. His drawings and sketches took advantage of the enigma of familiarity central to pittura metafisica (notably de Chirico and Morandi).28 De Chirico had inverted the pompous self-assurance of fin de siècle European cities29 firstly through simply repeating the technique by which these comprehensive programmes of didactic goodness were produced – a field of moral types obeying the laws of perspective (culture as picture). Secondly, however, he distressed the perspective towards an indeterminate projective space, altered the customary relations of scale, emphasised the emptiness between framing elements and (limp) monuments, and made figural the shadows created by the low, transitional light (of history). By means such as these, and with Nietzsche in his ear, de Chirico exposed the motives behind the stultifying project of earnest goodness as the response to anxiety, nervous wit or melancholia. Rossi embraced both the procedure and its negation (perhaps inspired by Adorno’s negative dialectic), and thereby exposed the ghost in the prevailing machinery of goodness through drawings and buildings whose austerity ironically passed for modesty of intentions and recovery of meaning.30 In other words, there is a fundamental similarity between the conceptual field and the perspectival disposition of didactic monuments,31 and a fundamental discontinuity between both and the concrete, situational topography of actual cities. It was in perspective representation that we discovered ‘things as such’, whereby all phenomena became ‘things’, types, concepts,
Typicalities are never abstract forms, processes or relationships, but are rather embedded within constituencies – even the isosceles triangle has a specific history, people and culture attached to it.
credible only when ‘placed’ within a milieu with the consistency of geometry, but whose own status as a fragile hypothesis could be saved by a frame. On this basis, a type is far less determined by any intrinsic properties than by the mode of isolation that is the context for its use (a background for the ‘shading’ which makes things ‘real’). Architectural design has too often become the securing and constant reaffirmation of this field, assigning it to concrete settings in actual cities (to such an extent that a properly situational topography is now mostly restricted to the historical cores of vast urban regions). Throughout the Enlightenment, from the encyclopaedia and museum to fragment/field to the grey of the CAD screen, this background – prior to any concept – has retained its essential characteristic as the theatre-laboratory for design, for analysis, for making a project of meaning (references, beauty, health, efficiency, monetary value). The apparatus of codes and techniques in which types such as high-rise offices or housing are embalmed further inhibits a more nuanced, more creative interpretation responding to the depth-structure of typicalities. Seeking to fulfil the happy ending always promised by theory, the heuristic value of types succumbs to their use as instruments of salvation (from everything which does not participate in the perfection of the concept, or of form). Typology is a leading concept within an architectural procedure comprising the orchestration of concepts, striving to conflate formal coherence and moral perfection.32 The procedure inevitably supports the impression that history is not the basis for continuity (therefore ethics), but rather for the familiar choice between death/decay and revolution/newness. Topography of Praxis The alternative to a field of types (or agents/subjects) is the structure of involvements with people and things that comprises urban praxis (situations). Out of urban praxis – actions and
reflections – grows everything that constitutes ‘culture’ or ‘city’, and certainly anything related to ethics or morals (neither of which, along with politics, can be inscribed in a system). Accordingly we may be more critical regarding the standard generalisations of city – form/morphology, space, zones, abstract machine, network; and we may speak of the city as a topography of praxis. In this we follow Alva Noë in acknowledging that ‘consciousness’ is far less a property of brain, or ‘mind’ (of agents/subjects), than it is of the urban praxis/culture in which we are always already involved.33 Typicalities are never abstract forms, processes or relationships, but are rather embedded within constituencies – even the isosceles triangle has a specific history, people and culture attached to it.34 So much more is the case with habits, customs, language and so on. We have seen that such structures are deeply resistant to modelling or simulation – it is even doubtful that one could properly model the processes and situations involving only food.35 It is a mark of human finitude that we have only representation to mediate between historical situations and universal conditions. If a city is our most concrete receptacle of these universal conditions, and if we are not to find ourselves in the conflict between conceptual fields and the urban topography of praxis, it would seem best to treat the knowledge or experience embodied in a wellformulated type somewhat like the Rhetorical topos – a commonplace that operates like a question, soliciting debate and commitment to a theme or topic.36 In this manner, the type remains open to the deep context on which it depends for meaning (that is, it migrates towards the structure of typicalities), and therefore resists incorporation in a system. The centre of gravity of what is typical is praxis, the depth of whose contexts manifest themselves as architectural and topographic horizons. 1 43
Typology as System: Kowloon, Hong Kong The lower level of buildings, in the region of 10 to 12 storeys, was the average building height in Kowloon prior to the explosion in the housing market. No amount of formal variation could save the subsequent industrial multiplication of apartment types into towers often only one apartment deep.
Notes 1. According to J McKenzie, The Art and Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt 300 BC – AD 700, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2007, chapters 9, 12–14. 2. Quatremère de Quincy, De l’architecture égyptienne: considérée dans son origine, ses principes et son goût, et comparée sous les mêmes rapports à l’architecture grecque, Paris, 1803, p 239. 3. JNL Durand, Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’École polytechnique, Paris, 1802–5. 4. Le Corbusier embodied both approaches. On Taylorism, see M McLeod, ‘”Architecture or Revolution”, Taylorism, Technocracy, and Social Change’, Art Journal, Summer 1983, pp 132–46. On the poetics of his apartment, see P Carl, ‘The Godless Temple – Organon of the Infinite’, Journal of Architecture, Vol 10, 2005, pp 2–28. 5. Anthony Vidler’s brief introduction to Oppositions 6 (1976), ‘The Third Typology’ was more suggestive of the possibilities than were the actual design proposals of the period. If the aggregation of apartment types in the Unite d’Habitation allowed speculations on a vertical city that was in fact a building, the urban blocks as worked out for the Internationales Bau Ausstellung (IBA) proposals in Berlin were little more than horizontal buildings of this kind, with hollow centres. 6. Exemplary in this respect is P Bourdieu’s diagram of the ‘social positions’ of Paris of the 1970s (Pierre
While losing the subtle differentiation of activities as seen at mid-century, the urban topography of Kowloon seems robust enough to absorb the new densities. However, this sort of topography did not guide the expansion of Hong Kong, which favoured the usual parameters for systematic distribution in ‘space’ of 40-storey walls of apartment types.
Bourdieu, La Distinction. Critique sociale de jugement, Paris, 1979, fig 5). It comprises a Cartesian plot with the ratio of cultural and economic capital on the x-axis, capital volume on the y-axis, and types of Parisians distributed across the resulting field (‘space’). 7. In physics, the shift from treating matter and energy to information and energy (Wheeler’s ‘it from bit’) was prompted by Claude Shannon’s famous paper ‘A Mathematical Theory of Communication’, 1948, which, though ‘in no way necessary for [his] present theory’ (p 11), showed that information exhibited entropy, according to a formula like that of Boltzmann. 8. S Kwinter’s article of 1986 anticipated the introduction into architecture of this form of field – calculable, rather than spatial (‘La Cittá Nuova: Modernity and Continuity’, ZONE 1/2: The Contemporary City, Zone Books (New York), 1986). 9. This distinction was first drawn by D Vesley 30 years ago. See now his Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation: The Question of Creativity in the Shadow of Production, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004, chapters 2 and 8, and particularly the role of what he terms ‘paradigmatic situation’. 10. Nor, therefore, is meant the ‘language of architecture’ as any sort of formal system. S Lavin argues that the 18th-century reformulation of hieroglyphs is the principal vehicle by which Quatremère registers ‘type’ as a constituent of his concept of architecture as a
[social] language: ‘Type and its meaning were impressed on the book of architecture in a language “of form and line”’. See S Lavin, Quatremère de Quincy and the Invention of a Modern Language of Architecture, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992, p 95. The third phase of architectural typology was strongly influenced by the debates surrounding structuralism and linguistics – at the time, one often heard of a ‘grammar of types’. 11. This structure, the moments of commonalitywithin-difference (continuity), gives rise to geometry in its Platonic–Pythagorean form, whose connection with logos has been obscured since Descartes’ mathematisation of geometry. The arythmos of the logos is treated by H-G Gadamer in Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1980. Still the best account of the structure of embodiment is that of M Merleau-Ponty, La Phenomenologie de la perception, Gallimard (Paris), 1949. 12. With respect to what is said below, the difficulty/ reward of understanding Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) differs from that of understanding highly technical language as richness differs from complexity; the highly referential language of the former contrasts with the highly specific terminology and formulations of the latter. 13. It is important to distinguish universality from generality. This ambiguity dates from Aristotle’s double use of katholou in the Metaphysics (where it refers to
the ultimate conditions of Being, universal) and in the Organon (where it refers, for example, to all triangles, the general). 14. Issues ignored here include what might be the identity of entities discoursing in these terms, what they might ‘discuss’. The Turing Test, by placing the whole burden upon the human half (basically, by reducing the human to a Cartesian sceptic), obscures the depth of reality needed for anything like language as used by humans (and, I would suggest, by animals; is there explicit or implicit continuity between language and an ecology understood genetically?). What has happened in practice is more likely to be the case – the adaptability on the part of humans to the binary milieu of computing as it is currently configured (nothing in between it works/it doesn’t) is eased/ blurred by the referential/analogical richness of what is displayed on screens. 15. M Heidegger, ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’, in A Hofstadter, trans, Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper & Row (New York), 1971. 16. For example, the ‘primitives’ that come with every CAD package are types of this kind, as are the routines/ algorithms by which they are made to interact (for example, Booleans, sweeps). 17.According to the neurophysiologist Colin Blakemore (interview on Radio 4, 1992): ‘Complexity is like the molecular structure of the Himalayas, richness is like the human brain or language.’ 18. See E Husserl, ‘The Origins of Geometry’, Appendix VI of The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1970, pp 353–78. The contrary is claimed by the theory of ‘emergence’, which, however, seems to be more interested in the systematic mathematics which lead to emergence than with the quite different properties of what has emerged (when one arrives at the level of ant colonies, for example). 19. The leading examples often used to justify a typological ‘approach’, medieval Italian towns were not the product of theory; rather theory seeks to account for what is apparently ‘natural’, ‘spontaneous’, ‘organic’. The experience which types carry, the basis of their heuristic value, is transmitted differently under such conditions. They are not forms set within ‘knowledge’ as such, but are part of a more elaborate civic praxis involving guilds and their social, political and symbolic cycles, how the modes of fabrication and decorum promote certain sizes, materials, iconography, how all of this reconciles civic conflict with the Christian year, the cycles of season, the possibilities of salvation at the end of time, and so forth. This civic praxis is one
version of interpretation according to the depth-structure of typicalities, which is later flattened to the theoretical concept of type. 20. To its adherents, of course, this is a positive desideratum. See, for example, GL Legendre’s paean to ‘surface’ as against ‘depth’ in the opening remarks of his ijp: the book of surfaces, Architectural Association Publications (London), 2003. Manuel De Landa’s advocacy of reality as a version of Foucault’s ‘abstract machine’ (A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History, Zone Books (New York), 1997) follows M Castell’s ‘network society’ (M Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, Wiley/Blackwell (Oxford), 1996), though note the useful correctives to digital ‘transcendence’ at the beginning of S Graham, ‘Strategies for Networked Cities’, in L Albrechts and S Mandelbaum, The Network Society: A New Context for Planning?, Routledge (Oxford), 2005, pp 95 ff. 21. www.ode.org/ode-latest-userguide.html. 22. Still harbouring the early Modernist aspiration to be the means of empowerment of ‘the people’, housing has never escaped its preoccupation with provision for great numbers – a phenomenon of mass culture. However, if wealth enables emancipation from the regime of ‘housing’, it is curious that the results are usually restricted to variations of the type of middle-class dwelling (more space, more rooms, better materials, unusual forms). 23. This has its origins in the Romantic struggle with the notion of the philosophical system, in which the supposed counterform of nature and the arts – poesie – was swiftly absorbed into the conceptual framework of aesthetics and the fine arts: see, for example, FWJ Schelling, The Philosophy of Art, trans DW Stott, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1989. 24. The preoccupation with type has never successfully been able to redeem its formalism through the occasional appeal to biblical hermeneutics, to the Platonic idea, to the Idealist idea, to Jungian archetypes. Anthony Vidler’s ‘The Idea of Type: The Transformation of the Academic Ideal, 1750–1830’, for example, distinguishes the instrumental hut of Laugier from the symbolic Temple of Solomon (see Oppositions 8, 1977, pp 95–115). 25. Of course, the English Garden may also be read as a didactic text of this kind. CN Ledoux, L’Architecture considérée sous le rapport de l’art, des moeurs et de la législation, Paris, 1804. 26. On this, see E Voegelin, Science, Politics and Gnosticism, Chicago University Press (Chicago, IL), 1968. 27. A Rossi, Architettura della città, Marsilio (Padua), 1966. 28. The obviously silly mumblings about ‘fascism’
with respect to Rossi’s projects were interesting only for having this element of familiarity in common. With respect to commemorative monuments and familiarity, see DL Sherman, The Construction of Memory in Interwar France, Chicago University Press (Chicago, IL), 1999. This is a sensitive point, since it touches on the moment when recognition in language or understanding is balanced between creative interpretation and the movement from persuasion to propaganda to coercion. 29. Wonderfully characterised in his Hebdomeros, Peter Owen Ltd (New York), 1992. 30. D Leatherbarrow, drawing on Rossi’s Scientific Autobiography (1981), argues for the role of memory in Rossi’s concept of type. I am grateful to him for a copy of his unpublished chapter, ‘Buildings Remember’, in Building Time, forthcoming. 31. Even if the imagery and motives seem to lie at opposite sides of the architectural debate of the period, Rossi’s typological thought is not intrinsically different from the intentionally empty formal variation of types in Tschumi’s Park de la Villette (1987) scheme. Rossi emphasised the pictorial field, Tschumi emphasised the conceptual field. Both only acknowledged what is already present in Durand. 32. Le Corbusier never gave up trying to reconcile morality, proportions and standardised manufacturing, from his early treatment of the ‘standard’ to the pun on droiture (‘rectitude’, combining the right angle with legal rights), towards the end of his career. 33. A Noë, Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness, Hill & Wang (New York), 2009, a work which augments with the latest research the more philosophically profound M Merleau-Ponty, La phenomenologie de la perception, op cit. 34. For which reason, I usually refer to the order of typicalities as ‘institutional order’. There are at least three levels of institution in this sense: the formal institution (for example, parliaments, post offices), the informal institution (modes of association in pubs, factories), and the most fundamental stratum of language (customs and so on). 35. See C Steel, Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, Chatto & Windus (London), 2008, and LR Kass, The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Human Nature, Chicago University Press (Chicago, IL), 1999. 36. Le Corbusier’s Objets à réaction poétique are examples of this form of interpretation. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 38, 41-4 © courtesy of Peter Carl; p 39 © Used with the permission of Inter IKEA Systems BV
BRASILIA’ S PROTOTYPICAL DESIGN The prototype for Brasilia was captured by Lucio Costa’s 1957 competition entry that constituted no more than a written description, a few sketches and a drawing of the superquadra. Martino Tattara describes Costa’s vision for the city’s residential blocks that so effectively defined the urban realm of Brazil’s new capital.
Proliferation of the Superquadra Prototype After the construction of the first superquadra, the original model was used by many architects for the construction of more than 100 quadras along both the northern and southern residential axes of the city.
SUPERQUADRA AND THE PROJECT OF THE CITY
One of the most compelling aspects of the pilot plan for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, inaugurated 50 years ago after three years of hasty construction, is the single unified manner in which it tackled both architecture and the city. In his proposal for the Plano piloto (pilot plan), Lucio Costa (1902–98) – the winning architect of the 1957 national competition to design the new capital for Brazil – quite consciously deployed architecture and urbanism in order to define a specific idea of the urban realm. Through a text (the competition report), a few sketches, and a drawing of the plan of the city, the architect was able to clearly describe at once all that was necessary to initiate and control the development of a city that a few years later would become the administrative and symbolic capital of the country and today its sixth largest metropolitan region. To understand this unique approach to the project of the city, it is necessary to examine one part of the city’s pilot plan: the project for the ‘superquadra’, the solution advanced by Costa to tackle the problem of housing and what he would call the city’s ‘residential scale’,1 and which, as revealed by the architect in an interview, represents the most positive outcome of the whole 48
project,2 despite the city still today being commonly identified with the buildings masterly designed by Oscar Niemeyer along its monumental axis. Costa’s competition report, the Memória descritiva do Plano piloto, was, not mistakenly, immediately recognised by the competition’s jury as the most extraordinary part of his submission. In the text, his single solution to the residential problem calls for a continuous sequence of large blocks set in double or single lines along both sides of the residential highway axis, each surrounded by bands of greenery planted with trees.3 The city’s residential system would not be formed by the linear disposition of urban blocks, but rather by a superquadra – a large-scale 300 x 300 metre (984 x 984 foot) urban block. What is striking here is how the description of the superquadra begins by tackling those aspects that would normally be considered, in relation to the residential problem, as secondary. Costa defines the superquadra thus: [In every block ] where one particular type of tree would predominate, the ground would
be carpeted with grass and shrubs and foliage will screen the internal grouping of the superblock from the spectator: who will get a view of the layout through a haze of greenery. This will have the two-fold advantage of guaranteeing orderly planning, even when the density, category, pattern or architectural standard of individual buildings are of a different quality; and, at the same time, it will provide the inhabitants with shady avenues down which to stroll at leisure, in addition to the open spaces planned for their use in the internal pattern of the superblock.4 The strategic relevance of the landscape in Costa’s proposal was confirmed a few years later, in 1958, in a debate published in 1,5 in which Costa affirmed that each ‘block must be surrounded by trees’, as the overall objective of the project was to see the minimum of houses because: ‘We must be prepared to have buildings that have no significance.’6 The principles at the origin of the superquadra are not the typological definition of the residential units nor the architectural
Plan for a Residential Superquadra opposite: Although never fully realised, each quadra was originally intended to be surrounded by a 20 metre (65.6 foot) wide green belt planted with a single species of tree, thus differentiating each quadra from the others.
Lucio Costa, Sketch of the neighbourhood unit, 1950s below: The green belt around each quadra was meant to generate a sense of belonging among residents without engendering a closed urban entity.
Through a text (the competition report), a few sketches, and a drawing of the plan of the city, the architect was able to clearly describe at once all that was necessary to initiate and control the development of a city that a few years later would become the administrative and symbolic capital of the country and today its sixth largest metropolitan region.
Classic Neighbourhood Unit Aerial view of the ‘classic’ neighbourhood unit (Superquadras 108S, 308S, 107S and 307S), considered as the one that best represents Costa’s original conception.
The only two rules determined by the architect are very different to those norms traditionally contained in urban building codes, as in this case they dictate the relational aspects between the buildings and the open space around them. The height of the buildings, over six floors, led to the definition of the scale of each block, controlling both the quality of the open space and the variation of the number of inhabitants.
Plants, trees and landscape acquire a primary role in opposition to what is traditionally intended as the object of architectural design. In this first definition of the superquadra, it is surprising to recall hints of a phenomenological nature, here used to evoke the quality of the spatial experience that can be favoured by the precise articulation and distribution of trees and of the lawns between buildings.
layout of the buildings (which, within the entire set of materials of the competition submission, are generically indicated as slabs while their planimetric distribution is simply suggested by one sketch), but the system of trees and the composition of the horizontal surface. Plants, trees and landscape acquire a primary role in opposition to what is traditionally intended as the object of architectural design. In this first definition of the superquadra, it is surprising to recall hints of a phenomenological nature, here used to evoke the quality of the spatial experience that can be favoured by the precise articulation and distribution of trees and of the lawns between buildings. Trees placed along the perimeter not only contribute to defining the spatial identity of each block but consequently – through the use of different arboreal species used to create diversity among the multiplicity of the blocks — also set the physical and social dimension of every ‘neighbourhood unit’ by creating an edge which is both permeable and crossable. In each block, the residential buildings are arranged in numerous and varying ways, thus achieving ample variations of the value of density, ‘always provided that two general principles are observed: uniform height regulations, possibly six storeys raised on pillars, and separation of motor and pedestrian traffic’.7 52
The only two rules determined by the architect are very different to those norms traditionally contained in urban building codes, as in this case they dictate the relational aspects between the buildings and the open space around them. The height of the buildings, over six floors, led to the definition of the scale of each block, controlling both the quality of the open space and the variation of the number of inhabitants. Each building was to be placed on top of pillars because, as explained in the report, the horizontal surface belongs to the collectivity and it must be possible to go from one edge of the city to the other in a comfortable and safe manner. The role of the pillars is to mediate between the buildings and the horizontal datum, to define the ground condition of every unit; their presence grants the right to free movement, provides uninterrupted views and offers a shadowed and protected space from the frequent rains. The land on top of which every building is constructed is defined by the architect as a ‘projection’: private ownership here does not concern the property of the land – whose nature remains public – but its projection, the potential to build on top of a certain portion of land whose nature remains untouchable. In order to guarantee spatial continuity, the ground floor of each building is the object of a careful landscape design aimed at coordinating the multiple-height levels of the horizontal surfaces: that of the ground,
sloping down eastwards, and the ground floor of each residential building. The coordination between these two surfaces prevents uncontrolled differences between the natural surface of the block and the artificial surface of the pillars, thus avoiding the generation of residual spaces and barriers that would diminish the possibility of views and pedestrian access. After tackling other complementary aspects (among them, the position of the public facilities, the social structure of each block, the problem of land property in relation to public access and the process of construction), Costa confirms that if the impossibility of a certain level of quality of the architectural object is to be accepted, the coherence of the ensemble is achieved thanks to the careful composition of those aspects traditionally considered complementary. The green belt along the perimeter of every block, the relationship between the landscape and the isolated building, the overall scale of the urban composition, the right to mobility, the simple rule dictating the necessity for every residential building of land on the ground by means of pillars, and the collective dimension of the horizontal plane; these were not only rules for the architects who would build all of the remaining quadras along the city’s residential axis, but architectural devices that define what can be identified as an urban typology.
Superquadra 308S, Brasilia, Brazil, 1957â€“60 Through a very simple abstract elevation of the residential slabs in the superquadra they become a generic background with nature at the forefront.
below: The superquadra 308 was meant to be the prototype for the construction of the other quadras along the cityâ€™s residential axis.
opposite: The trees of the green belt and the pilotis under each residential slab define a continuous public canopy freely used by both residents and visitors.
The superquadra is not a part of the city whose meaning can be reduced to the relationship it establishes with other urban elements, but a microcity where the rapport between interior and exterior is dissolved in a miniaturised representation of the urban complexity.
Different from the traditional urban block, which is part of the urban tissue, or in other words an ensemble of buildings organised through a precise logic, according to which to every space is associated a special character,8 the principles described by Costa in his competition report define a new urban entity able to foster new ways of living. The superquadra is not a part of the city whose meaning can be reduced to the relationship it establishes with other urban elements, but a microcity where the rapport between interior and exterior is dissolved in a miniaturised representation of the urban complexity. Thanks to its exemplary nature, the superquadra could be defined as a prototype. The example is not the ‘empirical application of a universal concept, but the singularity and the qualitative completeness that, when speaking of the “life of the mind”, we attribute to the idea’.9 What can be defined as exemplary does not reproduce itself through the normativeness
of command or the prescription of norm, but ‘through the authoritativeness of the prototype itself, which is a species made of a single individual’.10 Translating this definition to the domains of architecture and urbanism, the superquadra, and also in general terms the pilot plan for Brasilia, offer the constructors of the new capital the authoritativeness of the prototype, whose strength does not lie in the prescriptive character of its rules, but in the exemplary way the model has been consciously composed. The superquadra prototype is not only exemplary of a residential system, but is also the seed of an idea of the city as it offers itself as an example. This fundamental characteristic of Costa’s approach to planning pervades the entire text of the competition report to form the idea of the new capital – a city that is at the same time the rule and model for its future development within the territory of the Brazilian federal district. 1
Notes 1. A few years after its inauguration, the city was described by Lucio Costa as the interaction of four different scales: the monumental scale, the residential scale, the gregarious scale and the bucolic scale. See Lucio Costa, ‘Sôbre a construção de Brasília’, in Alberto Xavier (ed), Lucio Costa: sôbre arquitetura, UFRGS (Porto Alegre), 1962, pp 342–7. 2. Farés el-Dahdah, ‘Introduction: The Superquadra and the Importance of Leisure’, in Farés el-Dahdah (ed), Lucio Costa: Brasília’s Superquadra, Prestel (Munich/ New York), 2005, p 11. 3. Lucio Costa, Memória descritiva do Plano piloto, 1957, point 16 (the text of the competition report is available in English at www.infobrasilia.com.br/pilot_plan.htm). 4. Ibid. 5. Lucio Costa, Arthur Korn, Denys Lasdun and Peter Smithson, ‘Capital Cities’, in 1 11, November 1958, pp 437–41. 6. Ibid. 7. Lucio Costa, Memória descritiva do Plano piloto, op cit, point 16. 8. See Philippe Panerai, Jean Castex and Jean-Charles Depaule, Isolato urbano e città contemporanea, CittàStudi (Milan), 1991, pp 122–3. 9. Paolo Virno, Mondanità. L’idea di mondo tra esperienza sensibile e sfera pubblica, Manifestolibri (Rome), 1994, pp 105–7. 10. Ibid. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 46-7 © Martino Tattara, diagram by Martino Tattara; p 49 © Casa de Lucio Costa; p 50 © Martino Tattara; pp 53-5 © Adolfo Despradel/photographs by Adolfo Despradel
TYPE? WHAT TYPE?
FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON THE EXTENDED THRESHOLD
Michael Hensel draws a parallel between the present and a moment in the early 1990s when typology seemed poised to come to the fore. He highlights how despite a promising start this interest slipped away and was supplanted by an obsession with topography and highly complex surfaces, leading to a primacy of the individual built form over the urban.
This issue of 2 offers an opportunity to revisit a critical yet overlooked juncture in the early 1990s, a time of economic downturn during which swift and significant changes in architectural theory and experimentation occurred. The consequences of these changes continue to greatly affect practice and the built environment today and relate to questions of discrete form and typology in architecture. The aim of this article is to re-examine this juncture and its ongoing repercussions, as well as bringing to attention an immense, yet missed, opportunity for a fundamental revision of the product of architectural and urban design practice. The account brings together a more general discussion as well as personal experiences and realisations over two decades. It commences with the decision in 1992 to join the then newly established graduate design programme at the Architectural Association (AA) in London directed by Jeffrey Kipnis and Don Bates. The programme introduced a series of radical ideas and design experiments, the theoretical basis of which is rooted in Kipnis’ seminal article ‘Towards a New Architecture’ published in 1 Folding in Architecture in 1993.1 Here, Kipnis launched a fundamental critique of Postmodern practice, which contained an elaboration of five points or principles aimed at overcoming collage as the then prevailing mode of design (in direct response to an analogous attempt by Roberto Mangabeira Unger during the ANYONE conference in 1990).2 Alongside this was his discussion of two differing modes of actualising the principles: DeFormation, with an emphasis on the articulation of monolithic built form, and InFormation, with an emphasis on questions of programme while de-emphasising form. In rejecting Postmodern collage, Kipnis offered a detailed account of proposed design concepts and methods that would result in designs with entirely new characteristics or, to use his own expression, new architectural ‘effects’.3 As graduate students we were as astounded as we were intrigued by the raw potential of this discourse. Naturally we wished to examine the projects cited in Kipnis’ article. While it was clear that the DeFormationist schemes were poised entirely outside of the canon of established architectural typologies, they were as unbuilt as they were underpublished, and their material articulation, the relation of the built volume to the ground and the context were difficult to grasp. In the context of the new graduate design programme we aimed to tackle this problem, yet with the added aim of the eventual ultimate dissolution of built form into a tectonic landscape that would no longer be based on a traditional process of subdividing the site, allocating plots and floor-area ratios in order then to allocate typologies and extrude discrete volumes. A technique termed ‘grafting’4 was used to concurrently derive multiple organisational layers for an urban and architectural design from a heterogeneous graphic space. The underlying interest derived from Kipnis’ fascination with the American artist Jasper Johns’ ‘crosshatch’ paintings that defied any attempt at traditional decomposition into fore-, middle- and background. Instead the paintings constituted, in Kipnis’ view, the elaboration of a new and deep middle-ground. If an analogous architecture were possible, this would entail that built form no longer be extruded into a figure-ground relation but, instead, built mass and landscape surface would engage in the formation of a heterogeneous and
Johan Bettum, Michael Hensel, Chul Kong and Nopadol Limwatankul, A Thousand Grounds: Tectonic Landscape – Spreebogen, A New Governmental Centre for Berlin Urban Design Study, Graduate Design Programme (tutors: Jeffrey Kipnis and Don Bates), Architectural Association, London, 1992–3 opposite: Conceptual model indicating the folding of landscape and built mass into one another. below: Programme and event map showing all systems that organise the site and its potential for use over time. below: Axonometric indicating spatial transitions and degrees of interiority in conjunction with landscape surfaces and other spatial elements such as plantation fields and densities.
If an analogous architecture were possible, this would entail that built form no longer be extruded into a figureground relation but, instead, built mass and landscape surface would engage in the formation of a heterogeneous and coherent amalgam that would no longer be decomposable. coherent amalgam that would no longer be decomposable. Although it was clear that developing an architectural analogue to Johns’ ‘new middle-ground’ was not possible in a singular project, let alone a graduate design thesis, my colleagues Johan Bettum, Chul Kong and Nopadol Limwatankul and I nevertheless embarked on this attempt under the keen supervision of Kipnis and Bates. The international Spreebogen competition for a new governmental centre in Berlin was chosen as the context for the project as it offered the opportunity to concurrently pursue an urban, landscape and architectural design project. Based on a ‘graft’ developed by our colleague Amna Emir and the design approach elaborated by Kipnis, several key items were produced to describe the project intentions: 1) a programme and event map that contained information about (planned and unplanned) activities, circulation, landscape items and surfaces for programme and public appropriation, assembly fields, time-specific plantation schemes and lighting systems, river regulation and flooding areas – in short all systems that organise the site and its potential for use over time;5 2) an axonometric that elaborated spatial transitions and degrees of interiority in conjunction with landscape surfaces that make up the tectonic landscape together with other spatial elements such as plantation fields and densities; and 3) a conceptual model that indicated the folding of landscape and built mass into one another, using colour-coding for the various surface systems that make up the tectonic landscape. Eventually, however, we did not succeed in defining the actual tectonic of the intended tectonic landscape, though the foundation for a new series of experimentations towards this aim had been laid. The significance of the experiment is not in its apparent proximity to what has come to be termed ‘landscape urbanism’, but instead in its organisation of the various items and systems that would eventually culminate in an urban and architectural project that redefines a heterogeneous spatial scheme based on extended spatial transitions and the ultimate extension and fine dissolution of the material threshold which had previously resulted in the dichotomous division of the figure from the ground and the inside from the outside – in short the ushering in of the end of type. In this might lie perhaps one of the greatest potentials with regard to Kipnis’ heralded emergence of new institutional ‘form’ and social formations. It only dawned on us much more recently that there would have been some rather interesting precursors to this to be found throughout architectural history, which might have served to inform an initial approach towards articulating a material resolution for 58
AA Graduate Design Group, Changliu Grouing Area Masterplan, Haikou, Hanian Island, China, Graduate Design Programme (tutors: Jeffrey Kipnis, Bahram Shirdel and Michael Hensel), Architectural Association, London, 1993â€“4 opposite top: 1/5,000 model of the masterplan for a new city for 600,000 inhabitants at 70 per cent of the final density. The model indicates building volumes and densities, road and harbour infrastructure, green and reserved areas, and in the centre (in blue) the Central Business District. opposite bottom: 1/ 20,000 masterplan showing single-, mixed-, multiple- and differential-use areas, road, rail and harbour infrastructure, parks and landscape elements, 40 integrated farmerâ€™s and fishermenâ€™s villages, and reserved land for future development.
below left: Various plan diagrams elaborating different combinations of buildings and hard and soft landscape. The diagrams indicate potentials for folding buildings and landscape into one another. The left and right perimeters are characterised by standard piloti buildings raised from the ground, while the landscaped area along the central axis shows an increasing degree of a more complex relationship between landscape and buildings. below right: Sectional sequence elaborating the transition from the standard piloti building typology to the areas where buildings and landscape fold into one another.
Chris Lee, Gallery Project for Spitalfields Market, London, AA Diploma Unit 4 (tutors: Ben van Berkel and Michael Hensel), Architectural Association, London, 1995–6 below Left: 1/100 model showing the partly burrowed spatial organisation of the gallery scheme inspired by Greg Lynn’s theoretical elaborations on differential gravities. The spatial scheme is based on relinquishing the dichotomous division between figure and ground, which become indivisible and non-decomposable. Right: Plan organisation of the gallery project showing the various inclined circulation surfaces inspired by Paul Virilio’s and Claude Parent’s notion of oblique space.
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Nasrin Kalbasi and Dimitrios Tsigos, Copenhagen Playhouse Competition, Copenhagen, Denmark, AA Diploma Unit 4 (tutors: Michael Hensel and Ludo Grooteman), Architectural Association, London, 2001–02 below: Two views of the digital model showing the transitions from closed surfaces to the striated organisation of the envelope and the semi-burrowed multiple ground configuration engendered by the continuous surface. opposite, bottom left: Geometric study of striation density, orientation and curvature and the resultant viewpoint-dependent visual transparency of the envelope. opposite, bottom right: Study of gradual size transitions of the striated envelope and its smooth transformation into furniture-scale and ergonomics-related requirements. In this scheme the rotation of the elements along their longitudinal axis occurs in the areas of size transitions to accommodate the furnishing of space on a human scale. In doing so the design diverges from the striation projects of Bahram Shirdel and the sculptural works of Raimo Utriainen which are characterised by parallel and straight elements.
the scheme.6 With this project the best we could achieve was to help make more specific the questions regarding the articulation of a tectonic landscape. What was to follow, however, was the swift and ultimate shift away from what had just come into our grasp. Numerous influences and developments concurred in time with our efforts described above. Various publications, symposia, teaching programmes and projects of this and the directly following period attest to a shift in interest away from typology towards both topography and topology. While the former might suggest a relationship to the above, the latter swiftly shifted back towards the articulation of exotic yet discrete built form. In the wake of this shift, in the following year’s AA’s graduate design programme, then co-directed by Kipnis and Bahram Shirdel, the emphasis also shifted. The possibility of working on a life project of a masterplan for a new city in China enforced a faster pace of experimentation and production. In tandem with this development, Kipnis and Shirdel developed a new interest in the group form or field condition of flocks and swarms, in particular schools of fish. While this constitutes a weak form with smooth edges, the figure nevertheless consists of discrete elements that are all similar yet individual; in other words coherent yet varied.7 The masterplan for the new city in China that was developed by the AA’s graduate design group in 1993–4 shows then a clear return to buildings as figures set firmly against the ground. Again the scheme was developed from a grafted graphic space, yet, while the heterogeneous articulation and use of the datum prevails, the landscaped surface and the built volumes are in general clearly separated. While some surfaces were designed to be continuous from exterior to interior or from envelope to landscape, these occasions remained largely gestural and the discreteness of the volumes was left intact. This characteristic can also be identified in some of the key projects of the time, for instance FOA’s Yokohama Ferry Terminal (1994), which constitutes a variation of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye diagram (1928–9) with a more articulated roof garden surface that continues as a circulation surface and connects to the ground of the city, though, alas, the terminal constitutes a discrete form. On a larger scale it is interesting to observe that the swarm or school of fish actually prevailed in the form of current discourses of so-called parametric urbanism. If one examines, for instance, Zaha Hadid’s prize-winning masterplan for Kartal in Istanbul (2006) it is clear that a specific block typology was computationally (parametrically) 61 1
varied so as to constitute a group of discrete buildings that are similar yet individually different. Such projects invariably follow a traditional process of urban planning: a (deformed) grid serves to define roads and plots, the floor-area ratio and required floor areas are established together with the building typology (for example, the courtyard block), and the building forms are defined through some computational manipulation. However, one significant difference emerges: since the interior organisation needs to fulfil developer expectations, the architectural project becomes one of a total exterior necessarily articulated by one practice in order to maintain a coherent appearance to fulfil the criteria of similarity and variation. In order to elaborate the latter it is necessary to trace back to a second important shift in interest. This is best exemplified through another key moment in Kipnis’ seminal writings, which focuses on the works of Herzog & de Meuron.8 Here Kipnis revised his former position vis-à-vis Herzog & de Meuron’s work on the example of their Signal Box (Basel, 1995) project, highlighting the effects emanating from the copper-strip skin laid over the actual climate envelope of the building. Kipnis then distinguished ornamentation from cosmetics, characterising the former as discrete aesthetic entities and the latter as fields and as atmospheric. His praise was nothing short of a striking foresight of what was to follow: the parametrically varied pattern that today characterises the parametric buildings of parametric urbanism, schools of fish with similar yet varied scales that ‘populate’ similar yet varied bodies, the ultimate exercise in superficiality that claims the thinness of the exterior skin as the sole architectural project. Meanwhile, those of us who were puzzled enough to stay behind the fast pace of fashion and try to tackle the questions that had arisen from the thoughts and experiments of the early 1990s also got sidetracked. In attempting to address the question of the extended and dissolved material threshold of the tectonic landscape, attention was drawn to material organisations on increasingly smaller scales, leading eventually to the detailed elaboration of material systems and their interaction with the environment.9 In this context the question of spatial transitions and extended threshold shifted from material to environmental or energetic gradients. For example, a strong interest in Shirdel’s concept of striation,10 a monolithic form articulated as sets of parallel bars, led to a series of student projects that examined the possibility of articulating the built volume, the adjacent landscape surfaces and the furnishing of the public spaces from the same, yet scaled, set of parallel bars to projects that eventually deployed strips of material in a much more articulated manner to define spaces and microclimatic conditions. Having arrived here it is very interesting indeed to reconnect the project of the extended environmental threshold with the project of the tectonic landscape. Both offer a heterogeneous space based on gradient conditions over a variety of scales. The tectonic landscape enables a versatile distribution of all elements and systems that are different in 62
Daniel Coll i Capdevila, Strip-Morphologies, AA Diploma Unit 4 (tutors: Michael Hensel and Achim Menges), Architectural Association, London, 2004â€“05 opposite top: The controlled deformation of strips made from different materials delivers the limits to the manipulation of an associative model. The top row shows a component made from three strips and their relationship to an environmental input; that is, light or sound. The middle row shows the same for a larger arrangement of strips. The bottom row shows the subdivision of the large arrangement into smaller areas that can each be articulated in a coherent and interrelated manner in response to a variety of environmental stimuli. In this way the material threshold can become extensive rather then remaining a hard division between inside and outside. opposite bottom: This sample assembly with synclastic and anticlastic surface curvature shows a complex arrangement of bent and twisted strips.
Dimitrios Tsigos and Hani Fallaha, Temporal Housing Study, The Netherlands, AA Diploma Unit 4 (tutors: Michael Hensel and Ludo Grooteman), London, Architectural Association, 2002â€“03 below left: Four samples of an extensive catalogue of geometric manipulations of the material strips and the resulting arrays based on preceding material experiments. below right: Longitudinal section and two planar sections displaying the striated tectonic scheme of the project. Due to the small scale of the housing unit, the material strips that make up the surface always relate to the scale of the human body. Rotation of the strips along their longitudinal axis therefore occurs throughout the scheme.
Defne Sungurog˘lu Hensel with Øyvind Andreassen and Emma MM Wingstedt, Extended Theshold Research, Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Kjeller, Norway, 2010 Threshold articulation and environmental performance analysis of the Baghdad kiosk (Bag˘dad Kös¸kü) (1638–39) at the Forth Courtyard (Sofa-I Hümâyûn: The Imperial Sofa) of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. Left: Vertical and horizontal sectional sequences indicating the intricate articulation and variation of the combined spatial and material deep threshold of the kiosk. Right: Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of airflow velocities, pressure zones and turbulent kinetic energy indicating the environmental effects and interaction of the kiosk. This approach extends the question of the spatial and material organisation of the building threshold to its exchange with the local environment.
The microclimatic differentiation of the extended environmental threshold enables greater heterogeneity in the choice of conditions for activities of a lesser a-priori programmed scheme.
kind into a coherent organisation, freed from the dictate of strict conformity and phasing based on extrinsic organisational devices such as the grid. In doing so it ultimately differs from parametric urbanism, which is characterised solely by variation and differences in degree. The microclimatic differentiation of the extended environmental threshold enables greater heterogeneity in the choice of conditions for activities of a lesser a-priori programmed scheme. All this does not deny the production of new effects, but instead strives for it, for the sake of the possibility of an architecture that engenders new social formations and a space that is equally articulated by both tectonics and environment. This might then result in an architecture that would either leave the current notion of type behind or forge an entirely different one, perhaps one of different types of extended spatial and environmental threshold conditions as discussed above.11 To not miss this opportunity requires the stamina to abide by the strenuously slow pace of dedicated research, the will to look both backwards and forwards to construct a rich discourse, to resist the empty lure of current trends and, in so doing, to extend potentials and missed opportunities of the distant and recent past with the complex design problems of today and tomorrow. Cases of missed opportunities exist in part due to the retreat of leading history and theory programmes around the world into self-imposed solipsism. Moreover, the heydays of the early 2000s turbo-capitalism saw the self-declared avant-garde follow suit and drop valid discourse in favour of cooking up funnyshaped buildings in Dubai, China or wherever else everything goes. Together these developments have led to fragmentary pseudo-discourses and the marginalisation of architectural debate and practice. However, given that the beginning of the approaches and agendas described here was located at a time of strong economic downturn, it may seem that we are just now in the middle of another opportunity. Will we miss it again? 1 Notes 1. J Kipnis, ‘Towards a New Architecture’, 1 Folding in Architecture, April 2003, pp 40–9. 2. RM Unger, ‘The Better Futures of Architecture’, Anyone, Rizzoli (New York), 1991, pp 30–6. 3. To elaborate all these interesting aspects in detail is not possible in the context of this short article. The interested reader may refer to the quoted literature. 4. Owing to Jeffrey Kipnis, Peter Eisenman and Bahram Shirdel. 5. Owing to Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas and influential aspects of French landscape design of the early 1990s. 6. M Hensel and D Sungurog˘lu Hensel, ‘The Extended Threshold I: Nomadism, Settlements and the Defiance of Figure-Ground’, 1 Turkey: At the Threshold, Jan/Feb 2010, pp 14–19. 7. For a succinct theoretical elaboration see S Allen, ‘From Object to Field: Field Conditions in Architecture and Urbanism’, 1 Architecture after Geometry, 1997, pp 24–31. 8. J Kipnis, ‘The Cunning of Cosmetics: A Personal Reflection on the Architecture of Herzog and de Meuron’, El Croquis, Vol 84, 1997. 9. See, for instance: M Hensel and A Menges, ‘The Heterogeneous Space of Morpho-Ecologies’. Space Reader: Heterogeneous Space in Architecture, John Wiley & Sons (London), 2009, pp 195–215. 10. Shirdel’s interest originated from the detailed study of the artworks and installations of the Finnish sculptor Raimo Utriainen. 11. For a detailed discussion see, for instance: M Hensel and D Sungurog˘lu Hensel, ‘The Extended Threshold I, op cit; ‘The Extended Threshold II: The Articulated Threshold’, 1 Turkey: At the Threshold, Jan/Feb 2010, pp 20–5; ‘The Extended Threshold III: Auxiliary Architectures’, 1 Turkey: At the Threshold, Jan/Feb 2010, pp 76–83. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 56-59 © Michael Hensel, AAGDG; p 60(t) © Christopher CM Lee; pp 60(b), 61 © Dimitri Tsigos and Nasrin Kalbasi; p 62 © Daniel Coll I Capdevila; p 63 © Dmitri Tsigos and Hani Fallaha; p 64 © Defne Sunguroglu Hensel and Michael Hensel
Caroline Bos & Ben van Berkel
CONNECTING I ARCHITECTURE C AND URBANISM A For Caroline Bos and Ben van a Berkel of UNStudio, type in architecture â€˜exists to direct, d to connect or to be instrumentalâ€™ rather than a to prescribe. They describe how in their projectss for Arnhem Central in the Netherlands and the Raffl fles City development in Hangzhou, China, they have a deftly developed and applied typologies in order d to gain control of the design process in complex urban b contexts.
Raffles City, Hangzhou, China, due for completion 2012 A system of voids incorporating dynamic shapes and sizes defines the orientation and spatial qualities of the retail podium.
The projects here explore the instrumental potential of typology in architecture and urbanism, and in particular the area where the two disciplines intersect and merge. Whether described as classification, indexing, categorisation or taxonomy, the typological effort essentially constitutes grouping similar things together in a way that is meant to be helpful. The helpfulness of types can be expressed in different ways by different architects. A prized benefit is the legacy of rationality. The systemic reasoning behind the emergence of a type replicates a scientific approach; it conveys that an underlying strict logic is controlling a discipline that might at times appear incoherent and out of control. Types are for this reason also eminently communicable. But the values of scientific rationale and transmittability, while not eschewed by UNStudio, are not the ones being sought to be highlighted here. The focus is instead on how types are developed out of a symbiotic relationship between professional observation and invention on the one hand, and externally oriented instrumentality on the other. Still central to this is the aforementioned helpfulness or utility; as every librarian knows, types, categories, catalogues, assemblages and so on are not made for their own sake, but to direct people. Similarly, in architecture a type exists to direct, to connect or to be instrumental in other ways.
The systemic reasoning behind the emergence of a type replicates a scientific approach; it conveys that an underlying strict logic is controlling a discipline that might at times appear incoherent and out of control. The projects explore how typology may be helpful in designing architecture in dense, complex, mixed-use urban contexts. To see typological thinking as appropriate in a complex condition seems counterintuitive. Complexity entails acknowledging that countless, intricately interwoven parameters are at work, that no situation is exactly like another, and that there is no one correct solution. Putting things in categories, on the other hand, means simplifying, framing and interpreting, usually boldly, sometimes normatively. How can these two tendencies be reconciled? In the Arnhem Central transport node in the Netherlands, and the Raffles City development in Hangzhou, China, UNStudio has developed and applied certain typologies in two different, large-scale urban projects with the intention of regaining a specific architectural and urban control in complex, hard-to-control contexts, using a number of different models or types. While both of the projects differ substantially in nature, some of the same typologies were applied in their design in order to process, guide and edit the design process.
UNStudio, Design Models, 2005 centre: The design model is a prototypical tool for design and can evolve and be implemented in various situations, scales and projects.
opposite: Blob-to-box model. top left: Deep planning principle. top right: Mathematical model. bottom left: Inclusive principle. bottom right: V-model.
ARNHEM CENTRAL, ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS
UNStudio, Arnhem Central, The Netherlands, due for completion 2013 top: This integrated public transportation area has a roofed-over, climate-controlled plaza which interconnects and provides access to trains, taxis, buses, bicycles, parking, office spaces and the town centre.
Conceptual tools employed in the design for the Arnhem Central project. The V-model (above left), along with further conceptual tools such as cuts (centre), the flattened Klein bottle (above) and the twist (above right), are materialised as structural elements in various parts of the mixed-use project.
Arnhem Central, with a total surface of almost 100,000 square metres (1,076,426 square feet) consists of a transfer hall with underground parking, a bus terminal and office towers situated on a plot of 40,000 square metres (430,570 square feet). As these figures indicate, the project is fundamentally an urban densification exercise. The infrastructural knot, planned as a stop on the (as yet unrealised) extension of the high-speed rail route to Germany, is understood as an opportunity to connect the town to a larger, transnational network and simultaneously generate new office spaces, shops, housing units and ancillary functions. The enormous diversity in scales and user functions requires a methodological approach that can accommodate the hybrid nature of the development and fully realise the connective aspirations as well as create a contemporary urban milieu on the site. While in other times urban growth schemes were largely ground-bound or sky-bound, relying on simple models of horizontal or vertical expansion, for Arnhem Central new, more topologically inclined models were developed that privilege connective and transitional qualities rather than oppositional ones.
There are not many ready-made typologies available for this. The closest reference model is Grand Central Terminal in New York, with its multilevel public concourse and multilevel infrastructural connections surrounded by dense mixed-use architecture. In Arnhem, to achieve a fluent and coherent terminal landscape with minimal obstruction to passenger flow, several models were used, two of which will be elaborated on here. The two models, or types, were introduced gradually as the project developed over various phases. Both emerged from the combination of time, movement, space and structure. Time-based studies at the beginning of the project delivered images of parts of the location as transformative models that address relationships vital to developmental potential, such as programme and distance, public access and attraction. Movement studies showed up sequences of exchange and interaction, revealing the relations between duration and territorial usage. The typology that encapsulates and advances the technical/ spatial organisation is a centralising void space inspired by the Klein bottle. This vortex-like centre connects the different levels of the station area in a hermetic way. The Klein bottle stays continuous throughout the spatial transformation that it undergoes from a surface to opening and back again. As the ultimate outcome of shared, motion-based relations, the Klein bottle-inspired space is an infrastructural element both pragmatically and diagrammatically. The void space at the centre of the site is the terminal; an amply lit and spacious gradient landscape that accompanies and directs the 60,000 people moving over the location daily. The gradient solution accommodates expansive visual overviews as well as physical flow through ramps and sloping surfaces. As the last element of the project to remain incomplete this new type of terminal, based on the abstract model of the Klein bottle, which is seamlessly continuous from outside to inside and vice versa, is as yet untried and untested.
While in other times urban growth schemes were largely ground-bound or sky-bound, relying on simple models of horizontal or vertical expansion, for Arnhem Central new, more topologically inclined models were developed that privilege connective and transitional qualities rather than oppositional ones.
above left: Connections. The deep planning method was employed to develop a coherent set of site- and programmespecific organisational principles. A view of the contemporary city as a material organisation of time-sharing social practices, working through flows, lies at the basis of deep planning.
above right: The flow of the physical movement of people and goods at Arnhem Central reveals the relationship between duration and territorial use.
As a type the V can be characterised as a morphing technique to fuse together the user typologies of parking, offices and public space, while still providing simultaneously constructive and usable space, in this case forming the daylit pedestrian access to the parking garage.
The V-construction at the bus deck level, above the underground car park at Arnhem Central. The vertical slant of the V addresses the issue of stacking a series of different programmes, each with its own grid. The materialisation of the V-model is a structural element combining a car park, public space and offices.
72 7 2
However, the second type has been in operation for a number of years. It consists of deep and long shafts that connect the underground layers of the parking garage to the terminal and to the high-rise office towers. These shafts are V-shaped in order to form the structural backbone of various programmes with their different restrictions. In the parking garage the Vs are materialised as a concrete structure of high corridors with slanting walls, resulting in an oblique, permeable space which lets in daylight and is filled with programme and circulation. The vertical slants of the V address the issue of stacking a series of different programmes, each with their own grid. As a type the V can be characterised as a morphing technique to fuse together the user typologies of parking, offices and public space, while still providing simultaneously constructive and usable space, in this case forming the daylit pedestrian access to the parking garage. As these two examples indicate, the models UNStudio invents, adapts or constructs fulfil pragmatic purposes in a relational manner; they are always connective and several needs are addressed at once, without prioritising one over another. Underlying all of this is a harder to define or rationalise design philosophy and urban ideal. Both models allow for column-free spaces; indeed it could be argued that they were introduced precisely to make columnlessness possible, bringing new qualities to the forgotten territory of transitory spaces in which a large part of contemporary life takes place. In large-scale, dense, mixed-use urban projects, non-specific public circulation space is an important and integral part of the total package. It can no longer be seen as strictly utilitarian, needing minimal attention, but on the contrary it is those types of space that we need to invest with new urban experiences. To us, the city of the future is manifested in those in-between use-related typologies, such as the vertical circulation, corridors and car parks that hold together urban mixed-use constellations. New models and typologies, such as the ones presented here, are necessary to exercise a form of control over those spaces.
Both the V and the Klein bottle models can be seen as types rather than as one-offs, as in different forms and constellations both have been applied in various urban and architectural projects over time. But as types they are visceral; there are no fixed functions ascribed to them, nor scales or dimensions, unlike typologies that are based on uncomplicated categories such as ‘museums’, ‘churches’, ‘tall buildings’, ‘long buildings’ and so on. Therefore they also withstand the transition between scales; the distinction between the urban and the architectural scale is irrelevant to our reading of type. The types proposed still need to acquire site-specific, user-specific and structure-specific meanings along the way. This happens not just over the course of an individual project, but by reusing and redefining the type over time in different projects. In this way, the architectural practice gains control over its own work, by working in series, not as an aesthetic choice, but as a way to acquire knowledge. And in that way, now that the age of the icon may come to an end, control exercised in a thoughtful, knowledge-building manner replaces style. Tracing UNStudio’s serial typology buildings shows how the Klein bottle, for instance, is a continuation of the Möbius strip. The theme of a surface/volume being able to take up circulation, construction and programme in one coherent gesture has been explored in a series of architectural projects. The Vs also have a history of their own; their highly particular transformative, multidirectional way of uniting various horizontal and vertical layers can be adapted to fit different dimensions and compositions. The third model presented in this article, that of the turning plan, likewise has been utilised in UNStudio’s previous work in many different guises and varieties. In a very simple way it can first be seen in the Karbouw project in Amersfoort, the Netherlands (1992), where the first floor turns away from the ground floor. In the unbuilt competition entry for the European Central Bank in Frankfurt (2003), this principle has been carried out in a more extreme form: within a sphere, the office spaces are hewn out as spirals of turning floor plans. In the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (2006) we also see floor plates evolving around a central void space. This requires them to be vertically secured to each other with a hyperparabolic twist. The same principle was adapted for use in the VilLA NM (2007) project in upstate New York.
Prototype of the combined three design models for Arnhem Central: V-model, blob-to-box and mathematical model. Ground-level infrastructure and upper-level office programmes are interlinked by a raised topological mezzanine.
RAFFLES CITY, HANGZHOU, CHINA
In one of UNStudioâ€™s current projects the turning plan has been put into effect on an unparalleled scale. Progressing at infinitely greater speed than Arnhem Central is the Raffles City project in Hangzhou. The mixed-use project contains a total of almost 400,000 square metres (4,305,705 square feet) of office, hotel, residential and leisure space with underground parking. It is situated in the centre of the Qianjiang New Town area, adjacent to the new cultural district and the nearby Qian Tang River. The huge lake which gives Hangzhou its character as a tourist city can be seen from the higher levels of the project. The total height of the double-towered scheme is 250 metres (820.2 feet). The project, like many current developments in rapidly urbanising societies, contains urban dimensions and aspects in such a compact constellation that the project could be read as a well-visited and architecturally relatively unchallenging typology, that of the high-rise. But with approximately 30,000 people living and visiting the site daily, it can also be thought of as a neighbourhood, or a metropolitan district. It can have the diversity, the balance of short-stay and longer-stay places, comfort-giving zones and more resistant areas, familiarity and anonymity, the orientation and way-finding capacities that will allow its users to experience it as a city within a city rather than as a non-specific mega-block. A type is therefore necessary that helps to articulate and to proliferate urban qualities. Such ideas were tried by architects in the 1960s, often unsuccessfully. But at that time the knowledge-processing and visualising techniques we have available today were not in existence. User-related information was speculative and ideologically driven, rather than exact. The mixed-use typology had not been developed to the extent it currently has, so that programme packages were more monofunctional, resulting in insufficiently activated areas.
Ensuring an active environment, with lively and welldistributed people movement with multiple access and destination options is a prime goal of the contemporary urban mixed-use project. The city within the city has different rhythms and forms of enclosure; its system encompasses variation and differentiation. It is also open towards the city beyond and in constant rapport with the wider urban environment. Logistically relating the architecture to the city by making literal connections to the complex infrastructure in and underneath the site is an important first step. Ensuring accessibility by various means of transport in a layered condition is a complex puzzle. Again, as in Arnhem Central, this issue is closely related to the quality of the access spaces. In todayâ€™s compact, mixed-use complexes, transitory spaces should be of equal quality to spaces dedicated to longer-stay programmes. In the Raffles City project three large void spaces are incorporated in the plinth that stretches between the two diagonally opposed towers attached to it. These voids, like the Arnhem Central terminal, are envisaged as cogent, yet galvanising, public spaces. The diagonal positioning of the entire scheme results in a dynamic alignment that is extruded upwards and in the round, thus forming intricate, three-dimensional plans emerging from a comparatively straightforward origin. Since both Arnhem Central and Raffles City are still under construction, we would like to refer to previous projects to describe the projected spatial effects of these voids. Specifically, the void space of Star Place shopping plaza in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, derives its spatial character from a variation of the turning plan. Here, the floor plate remains in place, but the escalators are positioned in a rotational order around the void, giving the deceptive visual impression of exaggerated depth, mobility and asymmetry, making the circulation space the focal point and centre of the building.
The diagonal positioning of the entire scheme results in a dynamic alignment that is extruded upwards and in the round, thus forming intricate, three-dimensional plans emerging from a comparatively straightforward origin.
Raffles City, Hangzhou, China, due for completion 2012 The Raffles City project incorporates housing, retail, offices and hotel facilities housed in two diagonally opposed towers connected by a plinth.
Unlike a tower with a twist that is located somewhere along its length, there is a gradual transformation of the entire volume. Like a body in contrapposto, the tall building with a turning plan appears to sway in a lissom manner, seemingly frozen while engaging in a forceful dynamic.
top: The street-level presence of the towers and view towards the river create an organisational and formal structure which twists, creating an â€˜urban contrappostoâ€™.
above: The interconnected void spaces enable extensive retail outlet visibility and improved way-finding. The interior circulation spaces are connected to exterior courtyards.
In the upper levels of the Raffles City project, the turning plan type is applied in a real way. The two towers thus display a slow-moving, elongated twist running over the entire elevation. From the point of view of the city, this gives the towers an everaltering appearance. Unlike a tower with a twist that is located somewhere along its length, there is a gradual transformation of the entire volume. Like a body in contrapposto, the tall building with a turning plan appears to sway in a lissom manner, seemingly frozen while engaging in a forceful dynamic. On the inside, the turning plan offers great variety; practically each floor plate is different. In the Raffles City constellation this benefits both the relationship between the two towers and that of the project as a whole with the city. By turning away from each other the two towers offer residents and other users of their facilities more privacy than if they had been facing each other directly and immutably. The towers also take in the various aspects of the city, giving alternate views to its best features: the park, the river and the lake. In this way, the turning plan, like the other models elaborated on here, is a complex instrument rather than a reductive type. It enables architectural gestures that cohesively envelop a wide and differentiated range of issues and ambitions. For that reason these instrumental types form the best way we know to connect the urban with the architectural. 1 Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 66-71, 73-7 © UNStudio; p 72 © Christian Richters
top: The void spaces in the plinth allow for natural ventilation and smoke extraction throughout the podium.
above: The semi-enclosed courtyards serve as green ‘gateways’ to the podium, while the positioning of the two towers perpendicular to the main podium axis creates an arrangement with maximum integration of programmatic elements.
Jo達o Bravo da Costa
OMA, Penang Tropical City, Penang, Malaysia, 2004 Penang Tropical City is a combination of Southeast Asian identity and aspiration.
PENANG TROPICAL CITY PENANG MALAYSIA OMA
A mixed-use programme for Penang in Malaysia with the potential to accommodate a resident population of 27,000 required OMA to operate at a planning level, while providing architectural definition. Jo達o Bravo da Costa describes how this led to a strategy that focused on types rather than objects, and specifically a typological distribution of programme across the site.
The contrasts between hills and sea, countryside and city, offer a powerful backdrop to the rich mixture of contrasting flavours, aromas, languages and habits that make up Penangite society and culture. Given the privileged location, the site is a choice plot of land with the potential to become a residential, business and leisure hub within a regional corridor primed to generate strong economic activity.
Regulated building heights and densities in zones of precisely allocated architectural types; each island is recognisable though not ostensibly designed.
Recent large-scale urban development in East Asia has brought about unprecedented transformations to vast expanses of territory and multitudes of people. Yet the problem of large-scale urban development in the region has so far resulted in a less than ambitious debate on strategies, options and priorities. Given the growth of urban populations and the accelerating transformation of their habits, the problem is often approached as a technical one: a challenge to be addressed by the optimisation of processes, infrastructure and devices. Considering, on the other hand, the increasing opportunities to use recent technology as a means of generating built forms with high visual impact and novelty value, large-scale urban development has recently been interpreted by some as a formal problem: promoting a new repertoire of forms and the processes to generate them. Both approaches are limited in scope. Whereas the technical approach often aims for imprecise targets of environmental sustainability (with only one parameter – energy consumption – against which to measure its success), the formal approach is usually reduced to one conceptual and abstract process that emphasises form while neglecting programmatic and typological content.
How to design a new city in East Asia? How to work with the East Asian scale and speed of urban transformation, towards strategies that positively respond to the ambitions and needs of contemporary Asian cities and regions? New urban development in East Asia is often intended to be a bold implantation of modernity that quickly replaces small-scale, informal urban settlements. Just as often, the modern East Asian city is destined to take over vast expanses of non-urban ‘open territory’. These operations are almost always ambitious – in size and means – and are often meant to transform the images of countries, the economies of regions, and the livelihoods of millions of people. Such initiatives exceed by many orders of magnitude the kind of project with which most Western architects are comfortable. Consequently, Western architects almost invariably balk at the scale and speed of East Asian urban transformation. Several traumas, anxieties and controversies regarding ‘the modern’ and Modernism – its adulterations, excesses and failures – run deep and wide in Western minds, and often inhibit the willingness to understand why the modern city is desirable in Asia, and how to contribute positively to
the most significant architectural and urban transformations of this age. OMA’s Penang Tropical City is a proposal for a large-scale urban development in West Malaysia. A mixed-use programme totalling 1.67 million square metres (17.97 million square feet) of gross floor area will replace the Penang Turf Club – a horseracing track and related social facilities from British colonial times. The site extends over 104 hectares (257 acres) at the foot of thickly wooded hillsides, a short distance from the centre of Penang state capital Georgetown, and 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from the Penang Strait shoreline. The contrasts between hills and sea, countryside and city, offer a powerful backdrop to the rich mixture of contrasting flavours, aromas, languages and habits that make up Penangite society and culture. Given the privileged location, the site is a choice plot of land with the potential to become a residential, business and leisure hub within a regional corridor primed to generate strong economic activity. The new ‘city’ is intended to become an emblem of Malaysian development and ambition. The vision at the origin of this initiative is too ambitious to be formulated as a planning proposal. To begin with, the brief
The proposal responds to these aspirations by encapsulating local character in a sweeping onrush of newness. It is a suggestion of how a modern Southeast Asian city can be imbued with deep-rooted features of the inherited Southeast Asian city â€“ its contrasts and its stir of improvisation.
opposite: A spatial interpretation of type and programme: the brief is divided into ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ programme, then sorted by architectural types and distributed into a diagram of proximities and dependencies.
below: Penang Tropical City at a scale between planning strategy and architectural definition, with an emphasis on contrasts and transitions between different urban environments.
below: The identity and aspirations of the Southeast Asian city as a formula of contrasts; the stir of improvisation and the precepts of regulated development.
reflects a regional purpose concentrated on economic development and prestige: the new city will be a highlight within the Northern Corridor Economic Region, where industrial entrepreneurship in advanced technology will receive special incentives. Penang Tropical City will therefore have an important regional role. Along with that prospective role comes a desire for a unique image. The proposal responds to these aspirations by encapsulating local character in a sweeping onrush of newness. It is a suggestion of how a modern Southeast Asian city can be imbued with deep-rooted features of the inherited Southeast Asian city – its contrasts and its stir of improvisation. This demands more than planning infrastructure and devising general strategies for building development. The brief, on the other hand, is too extensive and too complex to be formulated as an architectural project. With a mixed-use programme large enough to accommodate a resident population of at least 27,000 (with employment opportunities as well as leisure and civic facilities for many others), Penang Tropical City is a large-scale development to be conducted in phases over several years. This proposal provides typological outlines to be developed further in later stages. Different 84
architects would design the several clusters of the city, following the given parameters of building height and position, number of units, and type of clustering. The method is, then, to achieve an effective planning strategy as well as a suggestive architectural definition, with a concept that is open enough to multiple design contributions and to fertilisation by local culture. At a strategic level, government, developer and local inhabitants want a change to modernity. Newness notwithstanding, the vitality and spontaneity of local urban life as it exists now will be a vital ingredient of a stirring and characteristic ‘new city’. At the level of design, the proposal is defined mainly at a scale between urban planning and architectural design. Various urban environments are characterised by typological combinations (not individual buildings). This is a method focused on types rather than on objects – a kind of typological thinking concentrated on an intermediary scale of operation, reaching into infrastructural generality as well as architectural specificity. Penang Tropical City originates from a typological distribution of programme – a method of giving shape to differentiated
opposite: Soft programme forms a soup, the infrastructural substrate for typological islands of hard programme. Soup and islands are contrasting urban territories that complete each other in function and use.
urban environments by precisely allocating architectural and urban types. Architectural types (hotels, apartment towers, parking structures and so on) are concentrated in clusters that depend on their proximity to other clusters (housing to offices, hotel to convention centre), and all are connected by a fabric of public facilities, thoroughfares and roads. Urban types (a tower plaza, an elevated podium, a pedestrian street) are interwoven with this system of proximities and dependencies. The proposal is a web of relations (contrasts and transitions), the result of a spatial interpretation of type and programme. First, a distinction is made between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ programme. Soft programme (schools, a concert hall, medical centre, library, museums, a convention centre and mosque) is institutional and necessitates public investment. Hard programme (housing, hotels, offices and retail) is private and attractive for profit. Soft is kept to a modest (necessary?) amount of facilities, while hard takes up more than 90 per cent of the total volume to be built. Soft comes in small amounts of large, individual, distributed units (for example, a school for each neighbourhood, one mosque for the whole
bottom and overleaf: Hard programme is sorted by architectural type and distributed into circumscribed clusters. Starting from a simple set of typological rules, each cluster can be further developed by a different architect.
below: A colonial-era turf club outside Georgetown will be replaced by a new urban hub. Mountains and sea will surround the new tropical city.
Soft and hard programme are then identified with two contrasting types of urban environment. Soft is the connective tissue, a fabric formed by the infrastructure and amenities that support and energise the city. It is a minimally regulated territory where the spontaneity of Malaysian outdoor life flourishes in full force. It is a fluid zone â€“ an urban â€˜soupâ€™. Hard programme, on the other hand, is sorted by architectural types into clusters, inside regulated zones.
As a result of typological distribution, soup and islands embody contrasting urban territories that complete each other in function and use. The soup is the zone of movement, interaction and outdoor life. Stalls and open-door shops surround public buildings and line the streets, filling them with the strong smells, the hot flavours, and the multilingual sounds of Malaysian life.
below: In a Penangite street, the spontaneous and permanently stirring mixture of the images, flavours, scents and languages that make up Malaysian culture.
area), whereas hard comes in large amounts of small, aggregated units (apartments, shops, hotel rooms and office floors). Soft is contingent on institutional initiative and is manifested in singular facilities that serve large areas of hard programme. Hard depends on a different logic – repetition and agglomeration according to type (apartment blocks, office slabs, shopping strips). Soft and hard programme are then identified with two contrasting types of urban environment. Soft is the connective tissue, a fabric formed by the infrastructure and amenities that support and energise the city. It is a minimally regulated territory where the spontaneity of Malaysian outdoor life flourishes in full force. It is a fluid zone – an urban ‘soup’. Hard programme, on the other hand, is sorted by architectural types into clusters, inside regulated zones. Building height, volume and density are specified in order to create clearly identifiable agglomerations, each of which is circumscribed and forms a unique silhouette in Penang Tropical City’s horizon, one in an archipelago of urban ‘islands’. As a result of typological distribution, soup and islands embody contrasting urban
territories that complete each other in function and use. The soup is the zone of movement, interaction and outdoor life. Stalls and open-door shops surround public buildings and line the streets, filling them with the strong smells, the hot flavours, and the multilingual sounds of Malaysian life. Positioned within the soup, the islands are the realm of indoor activity and contained public space, the regulated environments of the modern Asian city. The ingredients of the tropical city come together in a play of contrasts that expresses and amplifies the contact between old and new habits, identity and aspiration. Large-scale urban development in East Asia – or the rise of the modern Asian city, echoed in other locations where scale and speed combine to bring about radical urban change – remains an urgent subject for contemporary architectural enquiry and discourse. The subject/problem is evidently not new. Yet despite the unprecedented transformative effect on an enormous portion of the world, three decades of staggering urban growth and change
in East Asia have so far inspired no such discursive efforts or generational phenomena as the advent of Modernism in the early 20th century, or the Radical event a half-century later. Whether regarded with awe or disdain, whether greeted by silence or uproar, the modern Asian city simply advances, inexorably and confidently. In its many peculiar incarnations it continues to present singular challenges, and to offer opportunities for far-reaching strategies, beyond stolid functionality, beyond self-absorbed formalism. Scale and ambition, along with climate and culture, motivated the concept of typological distribution at the origin of the Penang Tropical City project. The thinking behind that concept is tied neither to strategic expedients nor to design intricacies. It is a logic of relations. Penang Tropical City is an expression of the contrasts, transitions and similarities latent in a mixed programme of architectural types and urban environments – the authentic ingredients of the new tropical city. 1 Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © OMA
SINGAPORE BUONA VISTA MASTERPLAN COMPETITION, SINGAPORE TOYO ITO & ASSOCIATES, ARCHITECTS
Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects and RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (Pte) Ltd, Singapore Buona Vista Masterplan Competition, Singapore, 2000–01 opposite: Masterplan.
below: The hierarchy of the masterplan’s elements also reflects the sequence of growth and phasing – from HNC (large module) to hnc (small module) to towers.
bottom: Elements of the masterplan: hnc, HNC towers and open spaces.
A plan for an IT-based research city in Singapore provided Toyo Ito & Associates with the unique opportunity to rethink urban typology. In a project that revives some of the ideas of 1960s metabolism, Ito recasts architecture and infrastructure in a unified structure that envisions the city environment as a ‘neuron-like network of sequences’.
below left: The masterplan is articulated by modules made up of HNC, hnc and tower. The modules are set up as a typological grammar rather than as repetitive construction modules.
bottom left: Plan of HNC and hnc: first-, second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-storey plan and roof plan. bottom right: Masterplan model.
below right: Concept sketch.
The information technology revolution in Singapore has led directly to rapid urban development. The way in which skyscrapers bristle up among tropical jungle makes it appear as if the cityâ€™s ascendancy is immediately fuelled by the fluid energy of the city.
below left: Detail of sectioned model of HNC showing the integration between infrastructure and nature.
The information technology revolution in Singapore has led directly to rapid urban development. The way in which skyscrapers bristle up among tropical jungle makes it appear as if the city’s ascendancy is immediately fuelled by the fluid energy of the city. When a design competition was held between 2000 and 2001 to develop a plan for a research city oriented towards information technology and the life sciences, Toyo Ito & Associates proposed a potential new city model based on a study of the relationship between our physical senses, as impacted by the new informationtechnology-led changes to our lifestyle, and the urban environment. Buona Vista district is in an exposed area in 180 hectares (444.7 acres) located a few kilometres away from the centre of Singapore. It is a predominantly greenfield
below right: Typical sections of HNC/hnc showing integration between infrastructure, nature and architecture.
site dotted with former military barracks, facilities and colonial bungalows. The intention of the proposal was to unify the infrastructure of a city through architecture, creating a network spreading in a rhizomelike manner rather than in a typically linear fashion. The buildings here are not layered perpendicularly, but integrated into a ‘hyper neuron continuum’ (HNC) as a ‘horizontal skyscraper’. This is based on a new concept of an urban architecture where roads, infrastructure and a few hundred buildings are unified as one, and all the fluid elements of a city, such as its people, information and energy circulation are intermingled and coexisting. The urban infrastructure is spread in horizontal directions with highspeed pedestrian walkways, and the internal territory enclosed by the HNC; this houses the networked architecture containing a
small-scale infrastructure of capillary vessels that keeps growing in fractal patterns. The urban model of the 20th century aimed at the clarification of the city through a hierarchy that classified the infrastructure of each element, and was executed through zoning and the segmenting of building volumes. In this proposal, a city environment is not dissected and isolated, but developed as a neuron-like network of sequences by unifying the flow of energy carried by a city through its architecture. This leads to a proposition for a 21st-century Asian city with urban spaces that flow dynamically through its system, growing up in the manner of trees and plants. 1 Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects
21ST CENTURY MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, KANAZAWA, ISHIKAWA PREFECTURE, JAPAN KAZUYO SEJIMA + RYUE NISHIZAWA/SANAA
‘Tactical translucency’ is a distinct characteristic of the work of SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa. In the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, it was applied as a strategy in which to blur the boundaries between the city and the interior space of the art museum, creating a type that fuses areas for public activities and the more contemplative gallery spaces.
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/ SANAA, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, 2004 Ground-floor plan.
The intertwined public and museum zones are designed to provoke interaction between potential user groups, with the public spaces encircling the museum.
Birdâ€™s-eye view of the museum.
The scattered bulk of the galleries also creates transparency and a feeling of openness marked by long vistas through the entire depth of the building.
opposite: Interior view of the gallery.
below left: View from the foyer to the courtyard.
below right: View from the circulation space to the outer courtyard.
below left: Site location plan.
below right: View from the foyer to the city.
opposite: External view of the foyer and gallery.
SANAA’s work is characterised by a persistent preoccupation with the rethinking of boundaries, their removal, blurring, and clarification. Their concern with transparency has created both a subtle phenomenal translucency and a highly effective process of diagrammatic reduction.1 As a result of the optical and programmatic translucency anticipated in a project such as the firm’s Moriyama House (2005), the museum in Kanazawa succeeds in radically rethinking the relationship between interior and exterior volumes and spaces, between the room, the building and the city. The subsequent typological challenge of the museum, the transformation of the traditionally highly representative physical nature and programmatic interiority into an extended yet delicate fragment of the city, the dematerialisation of the museum
itself, can be understood as conditioned by tactical translucency and motivated by the convergence of opposites such as inside and outside, private and public, individual and collective, or programmatic and formal. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art sits in the city centre and, in addition to museum spaces, includes community gathering spaces such as a library, lecture hall and children’s workshop. The intertwined public and museum zones are designed to provoke interaction between potential user groups, with the public spaces encircling the museum. The site links together the diverse but equally important municipal functions surrounding it. Circular in form, the building has no front or back, allowing exploration from all sides. The exhibition area is fragmented into numerous galleries, all of
Despite its size, the building feels bright, open and free. This is consistent with SANAA’s typological intent to open the museum (architecture) up to its surroundings, to the city, its activities and people.
which are embedded in a field of circulation space. This approach provides individual gallery spaces with different characteristics while creating flexible museum circulation that allows for a variety of expanded or contracted areas. The scattered bulk of the galleries also creates transparency and a feeling of openness marked by long vistas through the entire depth of the building. A walk just inside the curved glass of the exterior facade smoothly unfolds a 360-degree panorama of the site. Gallery spaces have various proportions and provide diverse lighting options; from bright daylight through glass ceilings to spaces lacking any natural light. The heights range from 4 to 12 metres (13.1 to 39.4 feet). The materiality and sequence of the circulation space is geared towards use as additional exhibition areas. Four fully glazed
internal courtyards, each unique in character, provide ample daylight at the centre of the building and a fluent border between the public zone and the museum zone. Despite its size, the building feels bright, open and free. This is consistent with SANAA’s typological intent to open the museum (architecture) up to its surroundings, to the city, its activities and people. Typological consistency, however, is reinstated – if displaced – by considering the project not as a building, but as a piece of simulated and extended fabric of the city: a translucent and edgeless mat-building typology. 1 Note 1. Toyo Ito coined the term ‘diagram architecture’ for Sejima’s work in ‘Diagram Architecture’, El Croquis, 77.1, 1996, pp 18–24. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA
François Decoster Caroline Poulin Djamel Klouche
THE METROPOLIS AS INTEGRAL SUBSTANCE l’AUC ARCHITECTS AND URBANISTS
l’AUC Architects and Urbanists (François Decoster, Caroline Poulin and Djamel Klouche) advocate an approach to typological urbanism that they refer to as ‘urbanism of substance’. Here they describe three projects for Paris in which they have developed this strategy for maximising the intensity between local, metropolitan and global conditions.
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l’AUC Architects and Urbanists, Grand Paris Stimulé, Paris, 2008–09 opposite and below: Matrix for a polyphonic and polymorphous metropolis. A selection of 19 cities throughout the world draws a multi-identity blueprint of the contemporaneous metropolis. There is no unique solution, no universal recipe for the post-Kyoto metropolis. Each city has its own ways to deal with the issues of its own metropolisation, and all cities assembled on the matrix form an open reading of what the globalised metropolitan condition is about.
The word ‘substance’ denotes what is permanent in changing things. Neither generic nor specific, the next metropolis is a total substance. Everything is in everything. Nothing relates to anything. It is a historical chance for urbanism and architecture to forge a new alliance and build the metropolitan conditions of tomorrow. The goal is not to assign an ostentatious mix or diversity (to the metropolis), but to increase exchange (between the near and the near, and the not so near and the far) inside the micro-scale itself: the scale of the spatialmetropolitan situation. This is the scale at which a non-nostalgic reading of the city and of the metropolis as substance could be rebuilt, but not as a system. Three projects, still maturing, attempt to illustrate this approach to typological urbanism as urbanism of substance and the condition for city- or metropolis-making.
Grand Paris Stimulé, Paris, 2008–09 R&D consultation on the postKyoto metropolis and the future of metropolitan Paris l’AUC was selected as one of 10 teams for the international research and development consultation on the post-Kyoto metropolis and the future of metropolitan Paris, launched by the French government in 2008. The consultation was an unprecedented opportunity to approach the issues of the contemporary metropolis with a new eye and to open new directions in the system of its representations and projection: a new perspective on what the contemporary metropolis is – its reality – and what it can be – its potentiality. The notion of ‘metropolitan climates’ gradually emerged from the work, a notion able to grasp the continuum of the metropolis, its commonness, while at the same time revealing the multitude of
its microclimates, its ‘situations’ and the everyday metropolitan being. Matrix for a Polyphonic and Polymorphous Metropolis ‘The Metropolis ceases to be a place’ (that can be drawn, designed, masterplanned) ‘to become a condition’ (that can be observed and described).1 Because the contemporary metropolis is a globalised fact, we must enlarge our vision; open our eyes and minds to other places and situations. We must abandon a purely Eurocentric representation of the city. There is no unique response to post-Kyoto issues. The 21st-century postKyoto metropolis must be an open and collective construction; otherwise it will not differ from the pre-Kyoto metropolis. In the same way, the Parisian metropolis must free itself from premetropolitan representations that keep opposing centre
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l’AUC Architects and Urbanists, Très Très Grand Louvre, Grand Paris Stimulé, Paris, 2008–09 top: The Louvre was once a palace, then it was abandoned, then it became a famous museum. Later, with IM Pei’s pyramid, it also became an underground shopping centre showcasing luxury French brands and was directly connected to the metro station that bears its name.
Next step? To turn this Parisian landmark par excellence into a ‘metropolitan meta-collector’, a transparent space right at the centre of the Parisian metropolis’ transportation networks, a gathering space to see and be seen in at the scale of metropolitan Paris’ population.
bottom: The connection between the underground world of busy mass transportation networks and the serene atmosphere of art collections, auditoriums, library floors.
opposite: Axonometric of the Louvre as a prototype for the metropolitan metacollector in Greater Paris.
l’AUC’s Grand Paris Stimulé project proposes the intensification of metropolitan situations that stimulate the possibilities of what is already there. These situations are not localised projects.
and suburbs. This opposition is particularly acute in Paris where the périphérique ring road defines an inside (Paris) and an outside (the suburbs) that is completely outdated by the realities of our territory and by the practices of its population and users. For instance, most transportation infrastructure is organised from the centre to the peripheries as a legacy of Paris’ highly centralised territorial organisation whereas an increasing (if not dominant) percentage of the greater Paris population lives, works and moves within the peripheries themselves. The matrix allows us to bypass the inability of the plan to fully grasp the contemporary metropolitan facts. It draws a multi-identity blueprint of the metropolis by assembling all sorts of materials, statistics, social data, cultural productions and narratives, drawn from a series of 19 cities, from which emerge the new themes, concepts and categories of an actualised metropolitan thinking and making: Singapore and the perpetual adjustment of its plan, Tokyo and its principle of hybridity, London and its suburban polycentricity, Toronto and its transcultural condition, and
Lagos and its extremely rapid population growth without any plan. From Plans to Situations No model, plan or image of an ideal postKyoto metropolis or of a Greater Paris of the future is proposed. Instead it is acknowledged that tomorrow’s metropolis is already with us, that the ‘metropolitan fact’ is first of all a globalised cultural issue and that it will need to rely on the affirmation of its multiple character. The recent history of large cities and metropolises in Europe and throughout the world has demonstrated the limits of planning. The plan has become incapable of dealing with more and more intricate and complex realities. Planning remains relevant only if we stop considering it as an answer to all questions, and if it is applied discontinuously to spaces and activities, as ‘discrete planning’. The Inherited Metropolis The 21st century post-Kyoto metropolis is already here. We are no longer in an urbanism of extension, but in an urbanism of recycling. We must therefore adapt our
methods. We must stop seeing things from the plan’s point of view. We must stop imposing the plan upon territories. We must start from the real and drive it towards the possible. We must reorientate our action from planning towards stimulation of metropolitan territories. Situations of Greater Paris In order to make Greater Paris a contemporary metropolis instead of a plan, l’AUC’s Grand Paris Stimulé project proposes the intensification of metropolitan situations that stimulate the possibilities of what is already there. These situations are not localised projects. They are fictional spaces, able to grasp in a same object the micro-scale and detail of everyday situations as well as a strategic territorial scale of the metropolis as a whole. One such situation, Très Très Grand Louvre, envisions a renewed perception of urban and architectural heritage by considering the capacity of large historical and emblematic buildings or structures to become containers of a condensed metropolitan life. It is a prototype for a 105
l’AUC Architects and Urbanists, Territory– Object–Density, Grand Paris Stimulé, Paris, 2008–09 opposite top: Greater Paris desperately needs housing. Is its territory full? No. There is space, lots of space, but despite its connections to metropolitan networks (railway yards, leftover and buffer spaces along heavy infrastructures) this space is not yet accessible, not yet public.
metropolitan meta-collector as well as the demonstration of its possible existence within the Parisian substance. It knows how to combine the invisible metropolis’ subterranean worlds of networks, mass transportation and shopping malls with the serenity of its public spaces, architectures and art collections. It installs a de-dramatised relationship with the notion of architectural heritage: its reappropriation as a container of events rather than ideologies indefinitely spins out its raison d’être and at the same time makes the metropolis visible and perpetually actual. Another example of the fictional spaces l’AUC imagines, Territory–Object–Density reveals how the crucial issue of housing production in large quantities could be resolved by developing those places around Paris that have until now only been considered as utilitarian territories, such as railway yards, leftover spaces or buffer zones along heavy infrastructures, postindustrial wastelands and so on. Such spaces are usually very well connected to metropolitan networks but, paradoxically, their accessibility is very poor. l’AUC proposes the Metropolitan Collector, a large connecting object, as
Density alone is not the solution. It first has to be made possible by something: a structure, a giant object that will make this space accessible, public, identified, liveable. High density will then become possible, desirable, a solution.
opposite bottom: The metropolitan collector as a condition for high-density habitability on available leftover spaces within Greater Paris.
a means to enable and stimulate dense development on these complex territories, by making them accessible and giving them a positive identity and publicness. 42° Chapelle International, Paris, 2010– Mixed-use development, Paris: 600 housing units, 40,000 m2 office space, shops and public facilities. Chapelle International is a metropolitan site in Greater Paris, located at the Porte de la Chapelle in the north (18th arrondissement). The site is currently used as a railway yard for logistics purposes. Its proprietor, the Société Nationale des Espaces Ferroviaires (SNEF), plans to reorganise these technical functions within a compact warehouse in order to free space for the development of a new mixeduse neighbourhood combining 600 housing units, 40,000 square metres (430,556 square feet) of office space, commerce and public amenities. Chapelle International is also a gateway into Paris, a site within the agglomeration’s entry sequence, which has a particular position in the metropolitan landscape: the site converses with strong elements of the
below: Detail of the metropolitan collector.
geography of northern Paris, anchoring the project within the metropolitan scale that is characterised by a 42° orientation. It is a piece of this infrastructural landscape. It is not the city that embeds Chapelle International; it is the rail. The reorganisation of the logistics functions on the site requires the construction of a very powerful technical object: a 380-metre (1,247-foot) long and 7-metre (23-foot) high logistics hall backing on to the railway tracks. The building of a 7-metre horizon allows the spatial inclusion of this hall within the project and not outside its boundaries; it becomes an object among others even if its size marks it out. The horizon allows the installation of the housing programmes within a 7- to 50-metre (23- to 164-foot) range that maximises the potential of the visual openness towards the south and the west (Montmartre). The hall’s roof becomes a vast public space opening out to the rail landscape and the vast Parisian geography. The base defined between ground level and the 7-metre horizon is occupied by active functions that equip the urban level, such as ground-floor office space, shops,
l’AUC Architects and Urbanists, 42˚ Chapelle International Masterplan, Paris, 2010– below: In this new metropolitan neighbourhood on a former logistics site, repetitive blocks are placed at a 42° angle to form an ‘upper world’ with views over Montmartre, the Sacré Cœur and the city’s infrastructural landscape, while the ‘ground world’ develops a 7-metre (23-foot) base housing active urban functions at city level.
l’AUC Architects and Urbanists, Urban Boa, MacDonald Student Residence, Paris, 2010– opposite: The constraints of a narrow and long plot on top of the MacDonald Warehouse, currently undergoing redevelopment, and the compression of the programme between the back of an office block and close-by adjacent facades deforms and diversifies the repetitiveness of the student housing units in order to capture the light and afford diagonal views out from the rooms.
Within the contemporary metropolis each situation is unique, yet non-specific, because it always arises from the integrality of the metropolitan substance as much as from hyperlocal conditions.
nurseries and ‘small office/home office’ programmes (SoHos) with various typologies. The city level thus becomes an urban and architectural condition for mixed practice in which a wide variety of uses and programmes is developed from a repetitive architecture. MacDonald Student Residence, Paris, 2010– 150 student residences, part of the MacDonald warehouse redevelopment in Paris. The student residence is part of the redevelopment of the MacDonald Warehouse, a 600-metre (1,968-foot) long and 80-metre (262-foot) wide structure, which is being undertaken by developer ICADE on behalf of the City of Paris and the Paris Nord Est urban redevelopment project. The masterplan by OMA (Rem Koolhaas and Floris Alkemade) with FAA+XDGA (Floris Alkemade/Xaveer de Geyter) defines a narrow 8.6-metre (28.2foot) wide and 82-metre (269-foot) long plot for a student housing programme on top of the roof of the warehouse, backing on to an office programme on its east side and compressed by other residential programmes on the west. Such constraints required the adoption of a preconceived spatial
organisation for the student accommodation: 6.5 x 2.9-metre (21.3 x 9.5-foot) rooms facing west and a 70 x 1.25-metre (229.6 x 4.1-foot) corridor. The project absorbs all the internal and external parameters within a simple form: an ‘urbanistic boa constrictor’, the whole length of which is deformed to maximise the number of rooms fronting the facade. The form generates a wide variety of spatial configurations and a long, winding and bright internal corridor. In order to escape the proximity of the building on the south side, a jigsaw facade opens long diagonal views from the interiors of the rooms. The cantilevered ‘head’ provides a vast collective space, a panorama of Greater Paris. The harmonious spatiality of each student unit is achieved by splitting each space in two, with an ‘open’ space at the facade and a ‘blue’ space deeper into the building. The open space is bright and light and free of all constraints. The blue space is technical, functional and hygienic, and houses the bathroom, kitchen and dressing room. A double door system allows separation of, or opening up, the ‘open’ space on to the ‘blue’ space, making the bathroom, kitchen and
dressing room part of the social space of the unit, a space where one can spend time. An Urbanism of Substance The task of designing the next metropolis and its architectures cannot be reduced to that of setting big plans. It is not about ‘an endless repetition of the same structural module’.2 Nor is it about faking the blend of localised contexts’ diversity by means of twisted and compromised urban rules and design guidelines. Within the contemporary metropolis each situation is unique, yet non-specific, because it always arises from the integrality of the metropolitan substance as much as from hyperlocal conditions. It is charged with a potential that can only reveal and realise itself through architectures that simultaneously address the whole and the parts, the network and the detail, the extended continuum and the spot. 1 Notes 1. Andrea Branzi, ‘No Stop City, Residential Parkings, Climatic Universal System’, in Domus 496, March 1971, pp 48–54. 2. Rem Koolhaas, ‘The Generic City’, SMLXL, 010 Publishers (Rotterdam), 1995, p 1,251. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 102-07 © lAUC 2009; pp 108-09 © l’AUC 2010
Pier Vittorio Aureli Martino Tattara
A SIMPLE HEART: ARCHITECTURE ON DOGMA (PIER VITTORIO AURELI AND MARTINO TATTARA)
DOGMA (Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara with Alice Bulla), A Simple Heart: Architecture on Ruins of the Post-Fordist City, European North Western Metropolitan Area, 2002–09 above: The North-Western Metropolitan Area as one city. Each unit acts as a learning centre in proximity with the most important cities of the area. The project proposes a sequence of new artefacts that enclose existing areas of the city.
opposite: ‘She arose at daybreak, in order to attend mass, and she worked without interruption until night; then, when dinner was over, the dishes cleared away and the door securely locked, she would bury the log under the ashes and fall asleep in front of the hearth with a rosary in her hand’.3
THE RUINS OF THE POST-FORDIST CITY
In A Simple Heart, DOGMA (Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara) develops an archetype for the contemporary European city. An ‘Edufactory’ of 22 residential units, it has its direct antecedent in Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt (1964–6) project that proposed transforming a redundant railway network in North Staffordshire into a university campus. 111
below: ‘She was most economical, and when she ate she would gather up crumbs with the tip of her finger, so that nothing should be wasted of the loaf of bread weighing twelve pounds which was baked especially for her and lasted three weeks.’
opposite: ‘Her face was thin and her voice shrill. When she was twenty-five, she looked forty. After she had passed fifty, nobody could tell her age; erect and silent always, she resembled a wooden figure working automatically.’
The following proposes an idea of the city based on architecture. It is a well-known fact that, unlike the ancient city that was primarily made with architecture, the modern city is characterised by a great divergence between the scale of architectural form and the urban dimension. While the modern city is made of urbanisation, the extensive apparatus of governance and inhabitation, architectural form always addresses the possibility of a singular and finite form within the space of urbanisation. In order to make the city, architecture must be conceived as an example that is a form potentially repeatable without presuming that these repetitions are exactly the same. The example functions as an archetype: a singular form that due to the clear exhibition of its generative principle is able to define a milieu of possible forms. While a type is never reducible to a singular form and it can only emerge from a variety of forms, the archetype is always put forward by the individualisation of a precise and recognisable form. For this reason, while the type indicates a model of design based on the concept of
evolution, the project of an example is always based on the idea of decision. The exemplary form has the authoritativeness of a decided form, yet it is not based upon the normative character typical of planning. Whether it is a question of the distribution of different typologies, of different heights of the buildings, of the design of the green areas or of the circulation, the exemplary form elaborates archetypical actions. These actions are capable of blossoming into new combinations of the artificial and the natural, the technical and the formal, the structural and the accidental. It is, in short, a form that consists of one sole individual: the exemplary unit. For this reason, the example may be reproduced, but never proliferated into an omnivorous ‘general planning’ for the entire city.1 A Simple Heart is a project for the European city. It consists of 22 inhabitable units, each located close to the railway network that serves the European North Western Metropolitan Area (NWMA). Each unit is established by enclosing an area of 800 x 800 metres (2,624 x 2,624 feet) of an existing tertiary district by means of an inhabitable wall. The section of the enclosing wall is 25 metres (82 feet) thick and 20 storeys high and contains 860 hotel rooms, each measuring 19.20 x 2.60 metres (62.9 x 8.5 feet) to accommodate one or two people each. Once the enclosure of an area is completed, a transparent roof supported by a 10 x 10-metre (32.8 x 32.8-foot) grid of columns 10 metres high is built in order to cover the space in between the buildings within the enclosure. In this way the entire enclosed area is transformed into a continuous interior made of multiple spaces such as streets, squares, doorways, galleries, corridors and rooms. Inside the new structure these spaces are relics and as such they will be used, transformed, reused and, eventually, destroyed by their inhabitants. The interior space is intended as a vast open ‘living room’, a contemporary production space where living, social exchange and work take place within the same space. The rooms located in the walls are intended as a space of rest, solitude and seclusion. The 22 units are placed in proximity to the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Liège, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Aachen and Utrecht. The units are conceived as ‘learning centres’ located along the railway circuit that links 113
below: ‘When the heat was too oppressive, they remained in their rooms. The dazzling sunlight cast bars of light between the shutters. Not a sound in the village, not a soul on the sidewalk. This silence intensified the tranquillity of everything. In the distance, the hammers of some calkers pounded the hull of a ship, and the sultry breeze brought them an odour of tar.’
opposite: ‘As for the dogma, she could not understand it and did not even try. The priest discoursed, the children recited, and she went to sleep, only to awaken with a start when they were leaving the church and their wooden shoes clattered on the stone pavement.’
these cities. They are the places where the productive side of knowledge and social exchange becomes explicit. As such, the entire system is conceived as an ‘Edufactory’, a new contemporary production plant in which the Fordist machines are replaced by what constitutes the core of production today: immaterial work and its manifestation as the possibility of encounter and exchange. Mobility within this system is increased by the units’ proximity to the railway network. The system is a university campus whose form is enlarged to the scale of an urban region such as that of the European North Western Metropolitan Area. Named after Gustave Flaubert’s short novel Un coeur simple (1877), in which the French writer celebrated the ardent integrity and naivety of a humble servant against self-referential sophistications of bourgeois mentality, the project ultimately celebrates the power of form in framing and defining the space of existence against the fragmentation perpetrated by contemporary urbanisation.2 In the 1960s, Cedric Price proposed converting the rusting railway network
that served the industrial area of north Staffordshire in the UK into an educational campus. Price proposed the educational learning apparatus as mobile, flexible and constantly subjected to being adapted to the demands of technological development with its offspring of labour skills. Ironically, within the post-Fordist scenario of today’s capitalism, Price’s vision for the Potteries Thinkbelt (1964–6) is no longer a visionary project for the future but a description of the reality of today. Price attempted to counter the decline of an industrial site by transforming it into an educational campus; in so doing he (unconsciously) anticipated the passage from a Fordist mode of production to a post-Fordist one. If Fordism was based on the manufacturing of material goods, post-Fordism is based on the productive performance of language and communication. In post-Fordism, production of material goods remains in general a salient part of production, but ‘immaterial’ production (ideas, images, affects, social exchange) is decisive in leading the trends of production. Within the political economy of post-Fordism, the production of knowledge is far more important than its (eventual) application to the production of material goods. For this reason, within post-Fordism, the institution of the university has become a fundamental productive unit. If once the ivory tower of knowledge was completely separated from the city, and especially from the city’s centres of production such as the factory, today the complex social and physical fabric of the university often coincides with the one of the city, to the point that the city itself has become a vast campus. Price’s proposal for the Potteries Thinkbelt can be understood as the map of this transformation. By relying on the existing rail network, he proposed to go beyond the traditional campus typology, by assuming the territory and its transport connections as the new scale of the learning process. Moreover, his proposal questioned the strict separation of disciplines, and proposed instead the development of interchangeable units that would allow the learning process to be constantly re-formable according to the demands posed by the current economic developments. With the Potteries Thinkbelt project, Price proposed articulating knowledge, flexibility and territory into one system, not as a new typology for learning, but as a new urban model, as an archetype for the city. Yet readings of his 115
below: ‘The narrow circle of her ideas grew more restricted than it already was; the bellowing of the oxen, the chime of the bells no longer reached her intelligence. All things moved silently, like ghosts.’
opposite: ‘People thought that she was younger, because her hair, which she wore in bands framing her pale face, was brown. Few friends regretted her loss, for her manner was so haughty that she did not attract them. Félicité mourned for her as servants seldom mourn for their masters.’
In the post-Fordist factory, where productive labour invests all aspects of human relationships and takes the form of language and communication, machines are replaced by living labour – the workers themselves and their possible cooperation. Within this condition, architecture is completely liberated from any functionalist or programmatic duty, and it serves production only by means of being there as a framework, as place.
Potteries Thinkbelt project have focused on the utopian side of his progressive plea for flexibility, multidisciplinary and dispersion of knowledge into the networked territory, and have overlooked how this has anticipated the way post-Fordist capitalism has completely subsumed the university (and the city itself) within its diffuse mode of production. If Price proposed converting an industrial site into a postindustrial space for learning, DOGMA’s A Simple Heart assumes the postindustrial city is a potential space for the contemporary expanded university by making explicit the city as a ‘social factory’. As Price proposed the groundwork for the post-Fordist city on the ruins of the Fordist one, A Simple Heart proposes building the new city on the ruins of the post-Fordist city. These ruins are the stations, metro lines, chain shops, office blocks and meeting places that form the background to our ‘productive’ lives in the city. Instead of undoing Price’s proposal, A Simple Heart aims at revealing its fundamental political potential by radicalising it. This consists in increasing the openness and flexibility of the spaces of learning in order to reveal the common and generic attributes of knowledge. In the Fordist city the ‘machines’ were the assembly line, the processes of assembling material goods. In that factory, most of the workers were supposed to be silent controllers of the assembly line. In the post-Fordist factory, where productive labour invests all aspects of human relationships and takes the form of language and communication, machines are replaced by living labour – the workers themselves and their possible cooperation. Within this condition, architecture is completely liberated from any functionalist or programmatic duty, and it serves production only by means of being there as a framework, as place. However, we do not need to understand this liberation of architecture from programme as a plea for a generic ‘free space’. The liberation of architecture from a programmatic definition signals the opposite: that space has been completely subsumed by production. For this reason the traditional partitions of the city such as those between public and private space, or those between different activities such as work and living, culture and market are no longer relevant. If these partitions still exist, they simply act as ideological projection, as a mask that covers the ‘generic field’ that supports the reproduction of 117
below: ‘The singers, the canopy-bearers and the children lined up against the sides of the yard. Slowly the priest ascended the steps and placed his shining sun on the lace cloth. Everybody knelt. There was deep silence; and the censers slipping on their chains were swung high in the air.’
opposite: ‘Her lips smiled. The beats of her heart grew fainter and fainter, and vaguer, like a fountain giving out, like an echo dying away; and when she exhaled her last breath, she thought she saw in the halfopened heavens a gigantic parrot hovering above her head.’
The aim of the project is not to eliminate the ethos of the social factory, but to make it explicit. In political terms this is a realist strategy: institutions have to maintain the forces against them and not eliminate them in order to keep their political validity.
productive labour. This generic field is the life of the social factory made by continuous mobility, and thus uprootedness, poverty of specialised instincts, common places, precariousness of life. A Simple Heart is the utmost embodiment of this condition, and at the same time the frame holding it. The aim of the project is not to eliminate the ethos of the social factory, but to make it explicit. In political terms this is a realist strategy: institutions have to maintain the forces against them and not eliminate them in order to keep their political validity. A building is thus the best analogy in order to understand the biblical concept of the Katechon; like in the Katechon, a building has to hold the forces that might want to transgress its order and should accommodate them through the management of the spaces so that at the same time, the same forces are restrained. The concept of the Katechon does not imply the negation of the forces of mobility, genericity and precariousness; it implies a form that resists these forces by adhering to them, just as the concave adheres (and thus defines) the convex. As a consequence, architectural form is reduced to its essential nature in order to stage and make visible not itself, but the life that happens within its limits. 1 Notes 1. These notes are a re-elaboration and adaptation of Paolo Virno’s text ‘Virtuosity and Revolution: The Political Theory of Exodus’, in Michael Hardt and Paolo Virno (eds), Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1996, pp 189–212. The discussion on example and archetype is a re-elaboration of the theories of Paolo Virno and Giorgio Agamben on the essence of political action. The discussion on example, and exemplarity as the core of political action, emerged in the early 1990s in the political journal Luogo Comune: see Luogo Comune, No 1, November 1990. See also: Paolo Virno, Mondanità, L’idea di ‘mondo’ tra esperienza sensibile e sfera pubblica, Manifestolibri (Rome), 1994, p 106; Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of all Things: On Method, trans Luca di Santo, Zone Books (Cambridge, MA), 2009. 2. Flaubert presents the main character of A Simple Heart as an archetype. Instead of criticising society by means of a sociological critique, he chose the archetype of the most simple, humble form of life to reveal per via negativa the limits of rational thinking that characterised the self-assurance of the bourgeoisie. The short novel is thus a sequence of ‘simple forms’, archetypes that by means of their monumental epiphany and stubborn simplicity reveal the social and cultural impasse of the writer’s social class. Yet the archetype of Felicitè, the main character of the novel, is not presented by Flaubert as satirical commentary, as a parody, but as a celebration of a radical different conception of life. See Gustave Flaubert, A Simple Heart in Three Tales, trans Robert Baldick, Penguin Books (London), 1961. 3. All extracts in the captions here are taken from Flaubert’s A Simple Heart. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © FRAC Centre Collection, Orléans, France
XI’AN HORTICULTURAL MASTERPLAN, XI’AN, CHINA SERIE ARCHITECTS
In this masterplan for a horticultural expo, a single architectural structure was used by Serie Architects to address the issue of centrality on a site at the city’s edge. The city wall is revived as a typological device to both mark the centre of the park and connect it the main entrance of the park.
Serie Architects, Xi’an Horticultural Masterplan, Xi’an, China, 2009 The idea of the city wall recuperated to define and delineate the horticultural park.
Despite the Serie Architects’ design team’s strong desire to win this competition for masterplanning an ecological district in X’ian in central China, the opportunities that the site presented led to an entire rethink of the treatment of the historic centre of the city. This required a reconsideration of the total design brief – an intellectual adventure, but also a substantial commercial gamble. The proposal addresses two questions that face the expansion of the historic city of Xi’an: how does the city expand beyond its historic centre without totally dislocating itself into a peripheral condition, and how can the historic elements of the city be relevant in regulating this expansion? The project
rethinks the horticultural masterplan, not as a landscape design or architecture that looks like landscape, but as a large architectural artefact, continuing the tradition of citymaking in Xi’an. Although the competition brief called for the design of a greenhouse and associated facilities, Serie’s proposal reimagines the role that a horticultural expo can play in seeding and regulating the growth of the city. The main concept behind the design lies in the possibility of using a single architectural artefact to create a new centrality on the periphery of the city, reconsolidating its peripheral splinters and bridging the existing city and its future growth.
Learning from Xi’an It is often assumed that the idea of the city is contradictory to the idea of landscape and nature. Thus more often than not, for landscape architecture projects worldwide today, we witness the endless proliferation of architecture that literally looks like landscape. This proposal challenges these two tendencies. The history of the city of Xi’an, in particular its city walls, is the starting point for the project. Through this, three strategic ideas are derived as principles that govern the masterplan. The first advocates the revalidation of the tradition of city-making in Xi’an, to show that elements of the historic city can be relevant and compatible with a horticultural expo park.
below left: The city wall as five episodes of climate zones experienced in sequence.
A strong, simple and clear architectural artefact is the main organising element for the masterplan. The starting point for this is the ubiquitous closed city wall that is reconceived as an unfolded wall, turning into a linear structure that delineates the centre of the site.
below right: An idea of centrality for the periphery of the city.
bottom: Five Climates Crossing.
The second principle rests on the insistence on clarity, where a simple, clear and legible architectural structure can act as a powerful organisational element for an expanded territory many times its scale. The third is contrast, where architectureâ€™s pure form and geometry are utilised to stand in contrast to landscape and nature. Without altering the latter, the contrasting beauty between the two is mutually reinforced. Five Climates Crossing A strong, simple and clear architectural artefact is the main organising element for the masterplan. The starting point for this is the ubiquitous closed city wall that is
reconceived as an unfolded wall, turning into a linear structure that delineates the centre of the site. This 1-kilometre (0.6-mile) linear structure is made up of five greenhouses, each housing the different climate zones. Like the Xiâ€™an city wall, this new structure, the Five Climates Crossing, will mark the centre of the park and simultaneously act as a connector, linking the entrance square on the north, Changâ€™an Park in the middle and the viewing tower on the south. Within the crossing, the greenhouse is arranged linearly as five different episodes of climate zones, allowing visitors to move sequentially from one greenhouse to another while maintaining visual connection to the outside.
Entrance Square The northern tip of the Five Climates Crossing marks the centre of the entrance square: measuring 210 x 210 metres (689 x 689 feet). The square is planned to be a flexible open space for both horticultural exhibitions and opening ceremonies. Its centre is marked by a flight of steps leading up to the Five Climates Crossing and is the lowest point in the square, creating a gentle amphitheatre configuration. Radiating pavement lines focus the circulation and attention to the entrance steps and centre of the square. At the same time, these radiating lines slice up the square into pie-chart-like horticultural plots, creating a fan-like configuration for exhibitions.
below: Plan and section of the greenhouses as sequentially arranged climate zones.
bottom: A tropical forest as a climatic episode captured in the city wall.
opposite: Deep structure: vaults as programmatic captures.
below left: Type change: from a closed city wall to an open wall.
below centre: Type change: from a city wall that excludes to a wall that includes.
below right: Xiâ€™anâ€™s wall, measuring 25.7 kilometres (15.9 miles), encircles the historic city.
bottom: The city wall as a crossing.
Chang’an Park Chang’an Park is conceived as a square that frames three small peaks and part of the lake at its centre. The three green peaks framed by the perimeter block house the Chang’an Concert Hall and two large exhibition halls. VIP lounges, restaurants, shops, ticketing and reception foyers are housed along the perimeter block. The foyer and concert hall face the lake and become an important principal facade for lake views from the southeast.
Idea and Model The typological transformation of the dominant type of the city wall into a linear greenhouse and bridge is governed by both an idea and a model. The idea here can be seen as the strategic reasoning for recentring the site within the context of the city as outlined above. The model, however, points to a set of structural and formal principles that gives rise to a specific organisation. Parabolic vaults are used here to create a differentiated structure that captures varying and rhythmic volumetric conditions and sizes, thus allowing the
sequential programming of the structure. The synthesis of idea and model as the overarching notion of thinking typologically dates back to Quatremère de Quincy and JNL Durand in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This synthesis could also be seen as the utilisation of a disciplinary knowledge (a knowledge of the intrinsic structural, geometric form of the model) to pursue and enact the larger strategic role that architecture can play in the making of the city. 1 Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Serie Architects
COUNTERPOINT David Grahame Shane
TRANSCENDING TYPE: DESIGNING FOR URBAN COMPLEXITY CO
The city has always posed a problem for architects because of its multiple actors, scales and complexity. Typology offers designers the advantage of a speedy response and a standardised product, but its disadvantages are its inflexibility, lack of control by the user, the elimination of variety and choice. Authoritarian regimes or other governments threatened by sudden change have often used the typological approach as a reductive instrument to try to quickly create cities. The Venezuelan
David Grahame Shane, the author of a major new study Urban Design Since 1945: A Global Perspective, looks at type with the benefit of historical hindsight. Warning against its potential inflexibility and its use over the centuries as a reductive instrument in city creation, he is insistent that type should only be applied if deformed to respond to the informal patchwork of hybrid urban conditions. Modernist architect Carlos Villaneuva, for instance, designed massive housing blocks at the 29 Enero Estate in Caracas in the 1950s to house new rural immigrants, only to have the intended parks between the blocks invaded by later squatters who built themselves a series of impromptu urban villages up the vacant hillside.1 Now designers need to work out how to use open systems and generative
typologies in the face of the increasingly rapid urbanisation that is taking place in non-industrialised, poor and middle-income countries around the world. They need to invent new, more flexible, hybrid, urban morphologies to deal with slow, potentially enormous climate changes, massive population migrations, and the depletion of modern energy resources like oil. Evolving City Types: Beyond the Agricultural and the Industrial Revolutions Many authors have described the typological shift from the primarily agricultural city anchored to the land and climate in a specific place to the more abstract and extended industrial city. Both involved a specific set of architectural and urban elements. Kevin Lynch, in Good City Form (1981), for instance, described the shift from the ‘City of Faith’ to the ‘City Machine’.2 In ancient Egypt (c 3000–332 BC), the Nile Valley offered a variety of agrarian city types tied to the flood plain of the river, extending from the temple cities of the dead pharaohs in the north to the port city of Alexandria in the delta to the south. This same combination – temples, agrarian cities and port city – can be found in the roughly contemporary city-state empires of the Euphrates and Tigris river valleys in the Middle East (c 3200–1600 BC), along the Indus and Ganges (c 3000–1500 BC) rivers of the Indian subcontinent, in the Yangtze and Yellow river valleys in China (c 2200 –256 BC). Within mountain-top to river-valley cultures, urban actors developed differentiated functions housed in different building types that evolved over time within vernacular architectures based on local resources and climate, as Patrick Geddes pointed out in his Valley Section diagram in Cities In Evolution (1915).3 These feudal urban typologies were incredibly successful and stable. Beijing, with a population of two million, was the largest city in the world for many centuries. The result was that by 1953 it ruled a population of 580 million people, with 480
Megalopolis and Suburban House and Equipment, c 1947 below: Potential homebuyers admire the winners of a free television in a showhouse floor layout that demonstrates all the electrical home appliances of the new suburban living experience, with the necessary automobiles parked on the unbuilt street in the background.
million agricultural serfs, many living in abject poverty cultivating the river valleys.4 In some designers’ nostalgic typological scenarios, urbanism becomes a simple formula involving a static social hierarchy of building typologies: the priest’s temple, the warlord’s fort, the merchant’s market with a supposedly simple communal life in a public square, as ex-serf families sought to develop merchants’ shop houses and residential courtyard typologies within protective city walls. The disappearance of city walls in the 19th-century European industrial revolution spelt the end of the closed, agricultural world of urban types and opened opportunities for new global imperial systems. New urban actors such as industrialists, railway companies, shipping merchants, mining companies, commodity traders, insurance brokers and bankers, not to mention new administrative clerks and immigrant workers, brought new instruments of modernity associated with capitalism, trade and flow. At first these new typologies involved improving public hygiene, bath houses, pump houses, treatment plants and interceptor sewers, followed by hospitals, clinics and asylums to improve public health. Next came public education facilities, schools, polytechnics, universities and libraries, and then courthouses and prisons, then cultural facilities for the emerging bourgeoisie: museums, art galleries, theatres and casinos. City walls were replaced by ring roads with railway stations leading out to new suburbs. Specialised office blocks contained state and commercial administrators. Docks connected to global empires made accessible by coal-fired steamships based on heavy industry, steel works, coal mines and factories. New department stores, shopping arcades and world fairs displayed the goods for new consumers, while printing presses in newspaper buildings supported the advertising of the latest fashions.5 Architects dreamt of rationalising these new industrial developments into an efficient system of standardised typological
Nowa Huta New Town, Poland, 1956 bottom: The Polish Communist Party built the Nowa Huta steel mill, which became the largest in Europe (now owned by an Indian conglomerate), to rapidly transform agricultural peasants into modern industrial workers housed along Stalinist boulevards and in housing superblocks, later arranged as prefabricated slab blocks at a right angle to the street.
components, like workers’ housing and factories, linked by new flow systems, like railways, making the city into a machine that was infinitely extendible, as in Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse of 1932. After the Second World War a weakened Europe was trapped between the emerging superpowers of the Soviet Union and the US who introduced new dispersed morphologies extending new urban typologies across vast territories. In the Soviet system, this involved planned microdistricts (of 10 to 60 hectares/ 25 to 148 acres) attached to factories for work brigades, the provision of housing, schooling, hospitals, libraries, parks in superblocks in new towns, and neighbourhood districts with industrialised, panel-built housing, served by public transport, water supplies, wastedisposal systems and electricity.6 The American megalopolis system involved subsidies to private builders through loans to build single-family housing units on vast
estates like Levittown, New York (1,700 hectares/4,200 acres) laid out according to typological codes established in the 1930s, accessible by automobile. Separate shopping malls, educational campuses, industrial parks, office parks and cultural facilities, including theme parks and Las Vegas, were located in specialised typologies elsewhere in the extended city.7 New Megacity Typologies: Learning from Latin America and Shenzhen In retrospect it is easy to see that the modern system of industrial types enriched Europe, America and Japan, but impoverished the earlier imperial systems that became colonial possessions for the extraction of raw materials and wealth. As the European empires fade, many ex-colonial cities, like Mumbai, feature as the UN’s megacities of 20 million that will house 8 per cent of the global urban population. These megacities are poorer than
their European predecessors, three times their size and often have no industrialised housing base. The other 92 per cent of the global urban population predicted for 2020 will be housed in smaller cities of one to two million, with many building their own housing, as in the favelas of Rio, where the term ‘megacity’ originated in the 1970s.8 In Latin America, urban village typologies grew to enormous size covering the countryside, hillside and swamps around older colonial cities. Planners turned a blind eye to these illegal, urban ‘slum’ extensions until the UN Habitat I in Vancouver in 1976. There, the British architect John F Turner, author of Housing by the People (1976), argued that the self-built, bottom-up morphology of the Latin American favelas with their smallscale flexibility offered a better solution in the long run for poor countries. Turner’s teacher at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, Otto Koenigsburger, had earlier convinced India’s Prime Minister Nehru in 1949 to accept the self-built shanties of the seven million refugees made homeless as a result of the British partition of India.
Turner went on to build on his early work in the barriadas of Lima, Peru, during the late 1960s, organising an international competition for slum upgrading with solutions offered by such architects as Jim Stirling and Christopher Alexander, part of which was built as the city’s Previ district, mixing housing types from various schemes (published by Monica Pidgeon in 2 in 1970 with a follow-up article in 1974).9 Urban villages had formed a blind spot in the typological thinking of Modernist architects. In the early 1950s, Le Corbusier did not draw the existing urban villages in his plan of Chandigarh, leaving it to his successor architects to create special diamonds around their perimeter. Lucio de Costa’s plan for Brasilia (1957) did not foresee the survival of the shanty towns of the construction workers as lively alternatives to his modern superquadras, his superblock residential neighbourhoods that rivalled the Soviet typologies. Inside Milton Keynes New Town in the UK (planned 1967–71), Richard LlewellynDavies and Weeks and Partners placed historic preservation orders on the existing
villages, never expecting them to become desirable historic relics with a large Web presence and popular pubs.10 The same British planners in conjunction with the Shenzhen Institute of Urban Design and Research consulted on the creation of the first Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Hong Kong in 1980. They never foresaw the emergence of the urban village there as a high-rise, miniskyscraper phenomenon. By the early 2000s these villages housed 60 per cent of the ‘floating’, illegal workers attracted to the factories. The Shenzhen City authorities have documented over 200 of these villages and are developing a variety of case-by-case strategies from demolition to upgrading. The Shenzhen-based Urbanus architectural group has proposed an innovative top-down approach of public facilities, including schools, bath houses and gardens, stretching over the roof tops of the hyperdense urban villages. Urbanus proposes that the villages would not then need to be demolished, a scheme reminiscent of El Lissitzsky’s Skyhooks workers’ clubs project for Moscow in the 1920s.11
Urbanus, Village Research Programme for Gangxia Urban Village, Shenzhen, China, 2005 below: Gangxia village, located right beside the newly constructed civic centre at the heart of Shenzhen, is scheduled for demolition. The model of a new urban typology involves the insertion of roof-top public space and amenities with the minimal disruption of the existing urban village below.
Le Corbusier, Masterplan for Chandigarh, Punjab, India, 1950s bottom: The masterplan, redrawn by the author in 2010 to show the pre-existing villages lodged inside the superblock neighbourhood units, each block contains social facilities such as schools, shops, parks and clinics.
Reiser + Umemoto, Business Bay Three project, Dubai, 2007 below: Developing the Foshan Sansui section, the undulating roof park conceals large car parks serving the housing and office slabs above. At the water’s edge, the three-dimensional spatial matrix opens up to form small coves, with shops, offices and apartments above.
Teddy Cruz, Regional Border Drawing, US–Mexico border, 2008 opposite: The drawing contrasts urban settlement patterns north and south of the US–Mexico border checkpoint and suggests the possibility of hybridisation between the American suburban and Mexican self-built urban patterns.
Here there is a clear theoretical understanding that types emerge from a flow of energy and pressure, engineered by particular urban actors at specific times to deal with particular situations.
Pioneering Pragmatism: Urban Futures and Generative Urban Typologies Such pragmatic and engaged experimentation is a long way from much European research that addresses the theoretical instability of the type, as the linear dynamic of industrialisation breaks down and a chaotic disequilibrium invades urban morphologies. Here there is a clear theoretical understanding that types emerge from a flow of energy and pressure, engineered by particular urban actors at specific times to deal with particular situations. Types lie inside a population (of actors, buildings, flows and programmes) that can be scanned for patterns and identified in families, allowing for hydridisation and selection by urban designers. Foreign Office Architects (FOA) demonstrated this approach in their Phylogenesis: FOAâ€™s Ark (2003) with its fold-out classifications of building morphologies and scripts, giving each buildingâ€™s DNA and code. Designers like Reiser + Umemoto showed how these emergent systems could be captured to generate creative new sections in the city,
using undulating ground planes and sloping parks to give more choice to individuals in how they wove together and combined their activities in the city (mixing traditional souk with big-box retail in a section that included a park on the roof, with office towers and residential slabs perched above light wells penetrating the podium base).12 The problem is how to link these sophisticated, flexible and emergent design systems to the urban village systems and massive shanty town extensions that are built by inhabitants using scraps and improved over time. Latin American favela builders might well start out with temporary material for their shacks, but often engage in a long process of upgrading, sometimes incorporating building parts from industrial buildings being demolished elsewhere in the city, sometimes new building parts that fell off trucks on the way to the building site. The work of Teddy Cruz in Tijuana has played on this hybridity of type without industry, suggesting that American singlefamily suburban housing types might benefit from Mexican favela improvisation, and that improvised shelters could use
some standardised parts from American suburbia to advantage.13 A further complication is that much of this self-built urban growth will be in valley systems and river deltas that will be adversely affected by climate change, either through flooding and sea-level rise, or through temperature rise, desertification and loss of drinking water. Shrinking cities and urban migration will be one result: maps showing the impact of a 3-metre (9.8-foot) water rise on the coastal plain of China involve hundreds of millions of people. Vietnam and the Mekong delta are especially vulnerable, and designers are planning for new, raised, urban islands and new urban archipelagos around Cantho where people can move to safety. The same UN-ASRO Group from Leuven also prepared earlier plans for Vinh, respecting the Asian tradition of the desa-kota (village-city), where agriculture and irrigation systems are integrated into the city. In this case the ASRO and Hanoi University team invented a new typology of riverâ€™s edge, where flood water could penetrate but housing blocks stood safely above the predicted water-level rise.14
UN-HABITAT, Hanoi University and ASRO team (University of Leuven, Belgium), Proposal for Vinh-Lam Waterfront Project, Vietnam, 2000 The terraced waterfront development proposed allows for monsoon flooding, while still accommodating market and riverboat transfers. The raising of the new waterfront development on pilotis protects from flooding while creating a three-dimensional urban space.
Designing for Hybridity The theoretical and computational innovations allowing the type to become a dynamic set of relationships that can vary with pressure, situation, actor and time has rarely connected with the reality of the self-built favela urbanism that will house about a billion people by 2020. Designers should apply their sophisticated analytical frameworks to type and city assembly, recognising the power of the individual builders to create a vast collective form. The individual and group differentiation within this collective form is essential to the city’s dynamic. Designers need to recognise the patchwork nature of the city, its hybridity and diversity, deforming types to meet new situations when required. With new computeraided scripts and complex programming there is a potential to include chaotic variables and value complex urban ecologies, to work in diverse, unstable situations and respond in indirect and non-linear ways to urban problems. The key to this new opportunity is that the type is unstable, mutating and changing. It is precisely this instability that makes morphogenesis and hybridised typologies so valuable in the current age of massive urbanisation on an unprecedented global scale. 1 Urban Design Since 1945: A Global Perspective (2010) and Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modelling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory (2005) by Grahame Shane are published by John Wiley & Sons. They are available from Amazon and other good architectural bookshops.
Notes 1. Rosario Giusti de Pérez and Ramón A Pérez, Analyzing Urban Poverty: GIS for the Developing World, ESRI Press (New York), 2008, pp 4-20. 2. Kevin Lynch, Good City Form, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA and London), 1981, p 73. 3. Patrick Geddes, Cities in Evolution: An Introduction to the Town Planning Movement and to the Study of Cities, Williams & Norgate (London), 1915. For the Valley Section diagram see Volker M Welter, Biopolis: Patrick Geddes and the City of Life, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002, pp 60–6. 4. Ping Chia Kuo, China New Age and New Outlook, Harmondsworth (Middlesex), 1960, pp 20–3, and Leo A Orleans, ‘The 1953 Chinese Census in Perspective’, Journal of Asian Studies , Vol 16, No 4, August 1957, pp 565–73. 5. Guido Zucconi, La Citta dell’Ottocento, Editori Laterza (Roma-Bari), 2001. 6. Marco de Michelis, ‘Ville Functionelle, Ville Sovietique: Une impossible rencontre’, in JL Cohen, M. de Michelis and M Tafuri, URSS 1917–1978: La Ville, L’Architecture, Officina Editizioni (Rome), 1979, pp 93–139. See also MHH van Dijk, ‘Planning and politics’, 39th IsoCaRP Congress 2003, at http://www.isocarp.net/ Data/case_studies/313.pdf. 7. Jean Gottmann, Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1961. 8. Megacities Institute: http://www.megacitiesproject.org/ default.asp, accessed 12 March 2010. See also David Satterthwaite, The Transition to a Predominantly Urban World and its Underpinnings, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) (London), 2007, and ‘Outside the Large Cities: The Demographic Importance of Small Urban Centres and Large Villages in Africa, Asia and Latin America’, http://www.iied.org/pubs/ pdfs/10537IIED.pdf, accessed 18 September 2010. 9. John F Turner, Housing by the People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments, Marion Boyars (London), 1976. For PREVI see 2, No 4, Vol 40, April 1963, pp 187–205, and follow-up 2, No 1, Vol 44, January 1974, p 53–4. 10. For Chandigarh see Vikramaditya Prakash, Chandigarh’s Le Corbusier: The Struggle for Modernity in Postcolonial India, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA and London), 2002, pp 93–5 and 152–5. For Milton Keynes see http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/tva/ index.html, accessed 16 September 2010. 11. Charlie QL Xue, Building a Revolution: Chinese Architecture Since 1980, Hong Kong University Press (Hong Kong), 2005, pp 75–6, and Him Chung, ‘The
Planning of “Villages-in-the-City” in Shenzhen, China: the Significance of the New State-Led Approach’, International Planning Studies, Vol 14, Issue 3, August 2009, pp 253–73. For Urbanus see Urbanus Selected Projects 1999–2007, China Architecture and Building Press (Shenzhen), 2007, pp 212–21. For mapping see Zhengdong Huang, ‘Mapping of Urban Villages in China’, Centre for International Earth Science Information Networks (CIESIN), http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/ confluence/download/attachments/34308102/ Huang+China+UrbanVillageMapping.pdf?version=1, accessed 17 March 2010. 12. FOA: Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi, Phylogenesis; FOA’s Ark, Actar (Barcelona), 2003, and for Reiser + Umemoto see http://www.reiser-umemoto. com/, accessed 16 September 2010. 13. See Estudio Teddy Cruz website: http://estudioteddycruz. com/, and Nicolai Ouroussoff, ‘Border-Town Muse: An Architect Finds a Model in Tijuana’, New York Times, 12 March 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/ travel/12ihtshanty.html, both accessed 24 March 2010. 14. Gordon McGranahan, Deborah Balk and Bridget Anderson, ‘The Rising Tide: Assessing the Risks of Climate Change and Human Settlements in Low Elevation Coastal Zones’, Environment & Urbanization, Vol 19 (1), 2007, pp 17–37. For the China coast see: http://www. unfpa.org/swp/2007/english/chapter_5/figure8.html, accessed 15 July 2010, and see also Philipp Oswalt and Tim Reiniets, The Atlas of Shrinking Cities, Hatje Cantz (Ostfildern), 2006. For Cantho see Kelly Shannon and Bruno de Meulder, Landscape Urbanism Cantho, OSA/ WIT/ Latitude Design Research, KULeuven (Belgium), 2009–10, pp 6–13. For Vinh see Kelly Shannon and André Loeckx, ‘Vinh – Rising from the Ashes’, Urban Trialogues: Visions, Projects, Co-Productions, UNHABITAT (Nairobi), 2004, pp 123–51, http://ww2. unhabitat.org/programmes/agenda21/urban_trialogues. asp, accessed 22 March 2010. For the desa-kota hypothesis see Terry G McGee, The Urbanization Process in the Third World: Explorations in Search of a Theory, Bell (London), 1971; also Terry McGee, ‘The Emergence of Desakota Regions in Asia: expanding a hypothesis’, in Norton Ginsburg, Bruce Koppel and TG McGee (eds), The Extended Metropolis: Settlement Transition in Asia, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu), 1991, pp 3–26. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: p 128 © David Grahame Shane; p 129(t) © Thomas D McAvoy/Time & Life Pictures/Getty; p 129(b) © Adam Golec/Agencja Gazeta; pp 130, 131t) © Urbanus; p 131(b) © David Grahame Shane and Uri Wegman; p 132 © © Reiser + Umemoto, RUR Architecture, PC; p 133 © Estudio Teddy Cruz; p 134 © KU Leuven, Dept ASRO
l’AUC is a Paris-based architecture and urbanism practice led since its creation in 1996 by its three founding partners: François Decoster, Djamel Klouche and Caroline Poulin. The firm develops multidisciplinary/multiscale projects and research related to the metropolis, urban territories, public space and architecture. In 2008 it was selected among the 10 international teams to enter the Greater Paris international R&D consultation launched by the French government on the post-Kyoto metropolis and on the future of metropolitan Paris. l’AUC is currently involved in various prospective and operational projects including: Atelier International du Grand Paris ongoing research and development workshop and the Paris La Défense strategy for an integrated dynamic and intensification of the northern part of the existing CBD. Pier Vittorio Aureli is an architect and educator. Together with Martino Tattara he is the co-founder of DOGMA. He teaches at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, and at the Architectural Association in London. He is the author of The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture Within and Against Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) and The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (forthcoming 2011). Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos founded UNStudio in 1998. Previous to this, in 1988, they set up the Van Berkel & Bos Architectuurbureau in Amsterdam. UNStudio presents itself as a network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure. Van Berkel and Bos have lectured and taught at many architectural schools around the world. Central to their teaching is the inclusive approach of architectural works integrating virtual and material organisation and engineering constructions.
Michael Hensel is an architect, researcher, educator and writer. He is a founding member of OCEAN (1994) and served as founding chairman of the OCEAN Design Research Association (2008). He is also board member of BIONIS – The Biomimetics Network for Industrial Sustainability, and Professor for Research by Design at AHO – the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway. He taught for 16 years at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, and has held visiting professorships and taught and lectured in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. His research interests and efforts include formulating the theoretical and methodological framework for performance-oriented architecture and developing a biological paradigm for design and sustainability of the built environment. He has written extensively on this and other topics in architecture and urban design. Toyo Ito graduated from the University of Tokyo, Department of Architecture, in 1965. In 1971 he established his own office, Urban Robot (URBOT), which was renamed Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, in 1979. His main works include the Sendai Mediatheque, TOD’S Omotesando Building, Tama Art University Library (Hachioji campus), and the main stadium for the World Games 2009 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Currently under development are the Toyo Ito Architecture Museum in Imabari, the extension for ’The Fair of Barcelona Gran Via Venue’ (Spain), and the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taiwan. Awards and prizes include the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the 8th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2002 Venice Biennale, and the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2006.
Peter Carl trained at Princeton, followed by Prix de Rome, and taught at the University of Kentucky for two years. He then taught design and the graduate programme in the History and Philosophy of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. Since 2009 he has been running the PhD programme at London Metropolitan University Faculty of Architecture and Spatial Design. His research interests gravitate around the manner in which architecture and urban topography embody cultural possibilities.
Marina Lathouri directs the MA History and Critical Thinking programme at the Architectural Association in London and also teaches at the University of Cambridge. She has previously taught theory and design at the University of Pennsylvania where she also completed her PhD on the multiple forms of engagement of modern architecture with the city focusing on the conceptual and design tools developed in the 1940s and 1950s. She is co-author of Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City (Routledge, 2008). Her current research concerns contemporary forms of architectural research and emerging urban practices.
João Bravo da Costa is an architect. He graduated from UT Lisbon in 1998 and worked at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), where he contributed to numerous architectural projects, urban plans and exhibition designs. Since graduating from the Architectural Association’s Design Research Laboratory in 2008, he has been researching contemporary design, teaching at the Architectural Association, and directing BCSM Architecture and Urbanism.
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have been working collaboratively under the name SANAA since 1995 and were awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2010. Sejima studied at the Japan Women’s University and worked with Toyo Ito. In 1987 she opened her own practice. She was also the director of the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010. Nishizawa studied at the Yokohama National University and has maintained an independent practice in addition to SANAA since 1997.
Serie Architects, founded in 2007 by Christopher CM Lee and Kapil Gupta, is based in London, Mumbai, Beijing and Chengdu. The practice’s theoretical interest lies in the relationship between dominant types and the city. The practice works typologically – thinking and designing in series – and is committed to the projection of the cumulative intelligence of types into architectural projects. Serie was named as one of the 10 visionary architects for the new decade by the Leading European Architects Forum. It was the BD Young Architect of the Year runner-up in 2008, and one of ICON’s 20 Essential Young International Architects. The practice’s work was exhibited as a travelling solo exhibition at Hong Kong University Shanghai Architecture Gallery in 2009, culminating in a show at the Architectural Association, London, in November 2010. The practice has completed, among others, the award-winning Blue Frog and The Tote. Current projects include Xin Tian Di Factory H in Hangzhou, China, and the Ružinov middle income housing and Bohácky residential development in Bratislava. The design team consists of Christopher CM Lee, Kapil Gupta, Bolam Lee, Martin Jameson and Stephie Sun. David Grahame Shane received his Diploma in Architecture from the Architectural Association (1969); Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Cornell University (1971); and PhD in architectural and urban history from Cornell University (1978). He has taught at the AA (1972–6) and at Columbia since 1986, where he has been participating in the Urban Design programme. He also lectures at Cooper Union, New York. He has been a visiting lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture Graduate Urban Design Programme since 2000, and participates in graduate Urban Design Master Classes at the University of Venice. He has lectured extensively in Europe, the US and Asia. He has published widely in architectural journals, and his book Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modelling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory was published by Wiley International in London in 2005. Martino Tattara is an architect. After graduating cum laude, he obtained his Master of Architecture at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and completed his PhD at the Università Iuav di Venezia with a dissertation centred on Lucio Costa’s project for Brasilia. His current research interests lie in the history and theory of the project at the large scale. He currently teaches at the Berlage Institute and is a visiting lecturer at the Università di Cagliari. Together with Pier Vittorio Aureli, he is the cofounder of DOGMA.
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1 ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 PROFILE NO 209 GUEST-EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER CM LEE & SAM JACOBY
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GUEST-EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER CM LEE & SAM JACOBY
Contributors include: Peter Carl Michael Hensel Marina Lathouri Martino Tattara Pier Vittorio Aureli Featured architects: Ben van Berkel & Caroline Bos of UNStudio DOGMA Toyo Ito & Associates l’AUC OMA SANAA Serie Architects
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM: PROJECTIVE CITIES JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 PROFILE NO 209
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM: PROJECTIVE CITIES How can architecture today be simultaneously relevant to its urban context and at the very forefront of design? For a decade or so, iconic architecture has been fuelled by the market economy and consumers’ insatiable appetite for the novel and the different. The relentless speed and scale of urbanisation, with its ruptured, decentralised and fast-changing context, though, demands a rethink of the role of the designer and the function of architecture. This title of 2 confronts and questions the profession’s and academia’s current inability to confidently and comprehensively describe, conceptualise, theorise and ultimately project new ideas for architecture in relation to the city. In so doing, it provides a potent alternative for projective cities: Typological Urbanism. This pursues and develops the strategies of typological reasoning in order to re-engage architecture with the city in both a critical and speculative manner. Architecture and urbanism are no longer seen as separate domains, or subservient to each other, but as synthesising disciplines and processes that allow an integrating and controlling effect on both the city and its built environment.
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Throughout the ages, architects have attempted to capture the essence of living systems as design inspiration. However, practitioners of the built environment have had to deal with a fundamental split between the artificial urban landscape and nature owing to a technological ‘gap’ that means architects have been unable to make effective use of biological systems in urban environments. This issue of 2 shows for the first time that contemporary architects can create and construct architectures that are bottom-up, synthetically biological, green and have no recourse to shallow biomimickry. Synthetic biology will have as much impact on architecture as cyberspace has had – and probably more. Key to these amazing architectural innovations is the protocell. • Contributors include: Martin Hanczyc, Lee Cronin and Mark Morris. • Architects include: Nic Clear, IwamotoScott, Paul Preissner, Omar Khan, Dan Slavinsky, Philip Beesley and Neri Oxman. • Topics include: new smart biological materials, surrealism, ruins, alchemy, emergence, carbon capture, urbanism and sustainability, architectural ecologies, ethics and politics. Volume 81 No 2 ISBN 978 0470 748282
MAY/JUNE 2011 — PROFILE NO 211
LATIN AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS GUEST-EDITOR MARIANA LEGUÍA
The announcement of Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Olympic host city has placed Latin America on the world’s stage. Now, for the first time since the mid-20th century when Modernist urban design was undertaken on an epic scale, Latin America is the centre of international attention and architectural pilgrimage. Though mass migrations from the countryside and the erection of informal settlements in the late 20th century left cities socially and spatially divided, Latin America is now once again set to go through major change. Since the millennium, resourceful governments and practices have developed innovative approaches to urban design and development less to do with utopian and totalitarian schemes and more to do with urban acupuncture, working within, rather than opposing, informality to stitch together disparate parts of the city. Once a blind spot in cities’ representation, informality is now considered an asset to be understood and incorporated. With more than 50 per cent of the world´s population living in cities for the first time in human history, and an increasing amount in slums, Latin America´s solutions to urban problems represent the vanguard in mitigating strong social and spatial divisions in cities across the globe. • Contributors include: Saskia Sassen, Hernando de Soto, Ricky Burdett and the former mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa. Volume 81 No 3 ISBN 978 0470 664926
• Featured architects: Teddy Cruz, Caracas Think-Tank, Jorge Jauregui, Alejandro Echeverri, MMBB and Alejandro Aravena. • Covers large-scale urban case studies, such as the revitalisation of Bogotá and Medellin.
JULY/AUGUST 2011 — PROFILE NO 212
THE MATHEMATICS OF SPACE GUEST-EDITED BY GEORGE L LEGENDRE
Over the last 15 years, contemporary architecture has been profoundly altered by the advent of computation and information technology. The ubiquitous dissemination of design software and numerical fabrication machinery have re-actualised the traditional role of geometry in architecture and opened it up to the wondrous possibilities afforded by topology, non-Euclidean geometry, parametric surface design and other areas of mathematics. From the technical aspects of scripting code to the biomorphic paradigms of form and its associations with genetics, the impact of computation on the discipline has been widely documented. What is less clear, and has largely escaped scrutiny so far, is the role mathematics itself has played in this revolution. Hence the time has come for designers, computational designers and engineers to tease the mathematics out of their respective works, not to merely show how it is done – a hard and futile challenge for the audience – but to reflect on the roots of the process and the way it shapes practices and intellectual agendas, while helping define new directions. This issue of 2 asks: Where do we stand today? What is up with mathematics in design? Who is doing the most interesting work? The impact of mathematics on contemporary creativity is effectively explored on its own terms. • Contributors include: Mark Burry, Bernard Cache, Philippe Morel, Antoine Picon, Dennis Shelden, Fabien Scheurer and Michael Weinstock. Volume 81 No 4 ISBN 978 0470 689806