Paper Cities

PAPER CITIES 02

In the early 1960s in the Soviet Union, when all state funds and collective energy of the nation were thrown into the Cold War competition with the US, a group of architectural students, ahead of the official Soviet authorities, had developed a proposal for the communist City of the Future, for a different, fair society. A film rediscovers the work of the unique Soviet architecture group NER (the New Element of Settlement) through a close look into the present lives of its surviving members. Focusing on each character in a unique way, the film reveals how these architects still believe in their early ideas while coping with post-socialist reality of contemporary Moscow. The trailer is available here

PAPER CITIES

Excerpt from Radical Pedagogies

The concept of NER was first developed in 1957 as a diploma project by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArkhI). As students, NER members studied the elements of the city, its quantitative and qualitative characteristics, eventually dismissing traditional planning principles in favor of a new approach to urban development as a dynamic process. Drawing on Marxism, they sought to provide a spatial agenda for the communist ideology, representing the younger generation of thinkers in the radical split of the Soviet architectural profession following de-Stalinization. They actively criticized the state of Soviet urban planning, arguing that “today, the city is not fulfilling its primary purpose to be an organic living environment.”

NER’s new city was based on creative communication in a classless society, in which the city was no longer dependent on its industrial center but instead formed around a center of communication, independent from the economic characteristics of the city. The major shift brought in by this new urban wave—later implemented by one of its members, Alexei Gutnov, within the curriculum of MArkhI—was to see the city as a living organism, in which cells would be born and eventually die. This led to a change in the status of architectural form: it was conceived as temporary and mobile—its birth implied the process of its imminent destruction. This approach anticipated the later understanding of architecture as an activity or as environment—form was no longer relevant because it hindered the organic processes within the dying city. The system emphasized the correspondence between urban structures and social relationships in communism, based on the reading of the urban plan as “simultaneously a symbol of the idea and a program for its realization.”

 

The SULP approach

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SULP: Synergetic Urban Landscape Planning

This is an integrated approach that allows us to explore, imagine and plan synergies so as to accelerate the transition to a liveable, low carbon city. During the research process, SULP has continuously been reinforced by incorporating the results of the separate studies on water, climate, energy, urban agriculture and nutrients. Synergetic urban landscape planning forms the bridge between CO2 and livability goals on the one hand, and principles for sustainable urban development on the other.

More on SULP here

Nordhavn Copenhagen

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fishers in front of the international school, architect: C.F. Moller

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silo transformation to housing units, COBE architects

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a model of the future redevelopment along with designs and models of all future projects was exhibited at the ground floor of the COBE building

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Park’n’Play by JAJA Architects

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UN city in the back, swimmers in the front

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small scale housing and re-use

Future Cities

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Which are the Future Cities of the world?

This is a five-part web documentary by Yvonne Brandwijk (photographer) and Stephanie Bakker (journalist)  that tries to answer which cities are looking to outstrip the current megacities in terms of growth, innovation and creativity.

The two creators examine 5 cities; Kinshasa, Lima, Yangon, Medellin and Addis Ababa. They look at the world behind the demographics and search what energy drives them change and innovation. All videos are incredibly interesting and refreshing to see. Check them out!

 

Image available here

‘Life Underground’ project

LIFE UNDERGROUND

Just got back from the WeMakeTheCity festival in Amsterdam and I have sooo many stories to tell! First post will be about Hervé Cohen and his “Life Underground” project.

Cohen has visited 16 cities and collected numerous stories from people who ride the subway. You can listen to their voices as they narrate and you can choose among different topics and cities worldwide. This was an extremely interesting presentation and we saw some very touching human stories. Beautiful.

New Urbanism or Neotraditionalism

NEW URBANISM

Bahrainy, Bakhtiar 2016: the philosophy and practice of recreating the best of traditional urbanism for today. This was perhaps the most significant movement in urban planning and design in recent decades, because it constitutes a clearly identifiable movement, with well-defined aims and methods, and principles set out in the Charter of the New Urbanism (see Marshall 2009).

Sternberg, 2000: Concepts of mixed use, fine grain, high density and permeability have come to be recognized as important sources of urban vitality. By contrast, streets dominated by single uses, isolated buildings, vacant areas and automobile-oriented uses serve to diminish street life. The movement known as new Urbanism takes some of Jane Jacobs ideas (the death and life of the American cities, 1961) that a bustling street life is essential to a good city toward a set of regulations that generate street vitality.

CNU: New Urbanism is a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces. In other words: New Urbanism focuses on human-scaled urban design. The Charter of the New Urbanism Principles

References

Bahrainy, H., Bakhtiar, A., 2016. Toward an Integrative Theory of Urban Design. Springer International Publishing Switzerland, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-32665-8

Sternberg, E., 2000. An integrative theory of Urban Design. In APA Journal, Summer 2000, Vol. 66, No.3, pp. 265-278

For more see also: New Urbanism

Image credit: Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company via CATS

Assemblage

ASSEMBLAGE

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  • Dewsbury: the process of putting together a mix of relations
  • Phillips: agencement/ arrangement,fixing, fitting
  • Wise 1: process of arranging and organizing and claims for identity, character and territoty
  • Ballantyne: new identities are generated through connections
  • De Landa 1: assemblage as a whole cannot be reduced to the aggregate properties of its parts since it is characterized by connections and capacities rather than the properties of the parts
  • Anderson & McFarlane 1: it includes heterogeneous human/non human, organic/inorganic, and technical/natural elements
  • De Landa 2: it is an alliance of heterogeneous elements
  • Wise 2: they are dynamically made and unmade in terms of the two axes of territorialisation (stabilization)/ deterritorialisation (destabilization) and language (express)/technology (material)
  • Dovey 1: assemblages are at once express and material
  • Farias 1: assemblages focus both on actual/material and possible/emergent
  • Deleuze & Guattari: they are fundamentally territorial
  • De Landa 3: territorialization is both spatial and non-spatial
  • Dovey 2: territory is a stabilized assemblage
  • Angelo: it addresses the inseparability of sociality and spatiality and the ways in which their relations and liaisons are established in the city and urban life
  • Anderson & McFarlane 2: it is an a priori reduction of sociality/spatiality to any fixed forms/set of forms of processes or relations
  • De Landa 4: assemblage theory offers a ‘bottom-up” ontology that works with analytical techniques rather than logical reasoning (…) the theory opposes the reduction of the entities to the essences asa deficiency of the social realism
  • De Landa 5: they are continuously in the process of emerging and becoming
  • Deleuze’s becoming-in-the-world as opposed to Heidegger’s being-in-the-world
  • Farias 2: assemblage thinking tends to develop empirical knowledge rather than theoretical analysis and critique / it is about inquiry and explorative engagement

assemblage and the city

  • Farias: the city as multiplicity rather than a whole
  • McFarlane: assemblage refers to ways in which urbanism is produced not as a “resultant formation” but as an ongoing process of construction (…) it refers to city as a verb in making urbanism through historical and potential relations
  • Dovey: assemblages are the main products of the “flows of desire”

assemblage and critical urbanism 

  • McFarlane: assemblage as a concept, orientation, and imaginary/ as a relational composition process that contributes to the labour and socio-materiality of the city/ as an orientation to the potentiality of actors and sites in relation to history, required labour, and the capacity of urban process/ it offers some orientations to “critical urbanism” in terms of focusing on potentiality, agency of materials and composition of the “social imaginary”
  • Tonkiss: assemblage thinking is likely to generate a “template urbanism,” rather than a critical one
  • Brenner, Madden & Wachsmuth: they adopt the theory in relation to the political economy

implications

  • One of the critical contributions of assemblage thinking for understanding the complexity of the city problems is to encourage multiscalar thinking
  • the diagram can be understood as an “abstract machine” in Deleuzian concept of assemblage thinking. In this way, diagrammatic thinking can be used as a means to abstractly illustrate the complexities of an urban assemblage as both a product and process
  • mapping can be considered as an abstraction that has the capacity to unravel what De Landa (2005) calls “real virtuality”, which is a kind of “reality” that has not
    been “actualised” yet
  • diagrams, maps, and types have the capacity to produce a kind of “spatial knowledge” that can be effectively used as a basis to draw on the ways in which the city works in relation to spatiality and sociality. It also assists with specifying the space of possible solutions for the existing city problems and embodied capacities for transformational change
  • assemblage theory reads place as a multiplicity that is in the process of “becoming” in relation to social-spatial and material-express alignments

 

References

Kamalipour, H., Peimani, N., 2015. Assemblage Thinking and the City: Implications for Urban Studies. In Current Urban Studies, 2015, Vol.3, pp. 402-408, http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cus.2015.34031

Image: Topographie du sol, mars 1957 Assemblage d’empreintes. Signée «J. Dubuffet» et datée «57» en bas à gauche. Titrée, signée «J. Dubuffet» et datée «mars 57» au dos. 60 x 105 cm, Available here