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Urban Planning-Architectural

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The Urban Utopia in France, 1960–1970

Amid the cultural and political ferment of 1960s France, a group of avant-garde architects, artists, writers, theorists, and critics known as "spatial urbanists" envisioned a series of urban utopias, phantom cities of a possible future. The utopian "spatial" city most often took the form of a massive grid or mesh suspended above the ground, all of its parts (and inhabitants) circulating in a smooth, synchronous rhythm, its streets and buildings constituting a gigantic work of plastic art or interactive machine. In this new urban world, technology and automation were positive forces, providing for material needs as well as time and space for leisure.

In this first study of the French avant-garde tendency known as spatial urbanism, Larry Busbea analyzes projects by artists and architects (including the most famous spatial practitioner, Yona Friedman) and explores texts (many of which have never before been translated from the French) by Michel Ragon, the influential founder of the Groupe International d'Architecture Prospective (GIAP), Victor Vasarely, and others.

The projects of the spatial urbanists were in large part a response to the government’s planning policies, its Kafka-esque bureaucracy, and its outdated institutions, which they considered the first obstacles to the implementation of their radical urban designs. But even though the spatial city was conceived as progressive, by the end of the 1960s some critics had begun to question its ideological foundations.

Topologies maps the literal and metaphorical topologies of spatial urbanism, describing and documenting its projects and locating it within an international network of experimental architectural practice that also included the Situationist International, Archigram, the Metabolists, Architecture Principe, Superstudio, and others.

Even at its most fanciful, Busbea argues, the French urban utopia provided an image for social transformations that were only beginning to be described by cultural theorists and sociologists. The designs of spatial urbanism anticipated the ambivalence that would greet the arrival in France of capitalist modernity and globalization, marking both the apex and the end of the technological optimism of the postwar years.

Collected Essays on Architecture and the City

Born in Tokyo, educated in Japan and the United States, and principal of an internationally acclaimed architectural practice, celebrated architect Fumihiko Maki brings to his writings on architecture a perspective that is both global and uniquely Japanese. Influenced by post-Bauhaus internationalism, sympathetic to the radical urban architectural vision of Team X, and a participant in the avant-garde movement Metabolism, Maki has been at the forefront of his profession for decades. This collection of essays documents the evolution of architectural modernism and Maki’s own fifty-year intellectual journey during a critical period of architectural and urban history.

Maki’s treatment of his two overarching themes--the contemporary city and modernist architecture--demonstrates strong (and sometimes unexpected) linkages between urban theory and architectural practice. Images and commentary on three of Maki’s own works demonstrate the connection between his writing and his designs. Moving through the successive waves of modernism, postmodernism, neomodernism, and other isms, these essays reflect how several generations of architectural thought and expression have been resolved within one career.

100 Lessons for Understanding the City

Cities speak, and this little book helps us understand their language. Considering the urban landscape not from the abstract perspective of an urban planner but from the viewpoint of an attentive observer, Urban Code offers 100 "lessons”--maxims, observations, and bite-size truths, followed by short essays--that teach us how to read the city. This is a user’s guide to the city, a primer of urban literacy, at the pedestrian level. The reader (like the observant city stroller) can move from “People walk in the sunshine” (lesson 1) to “Street vendors are positioned according to the path of the sun” (lesson 2); consider possible connections between the fact that "Locals and tourists use the streets at different times" (lesson 41) and "Tourists stand still when they’re looking at something” (lesson 68); and weigh the apparent contradiction of lesson 73, "Nightlife hotspots increase pedestrian traffic" and lesson 74, "People are afraid of the dark."

A lesson may seem self-evident (“Grocery stores are important local destinations”--of course they are!) but considered in the context of other lessons, it becomes part of a natural logic. With Urban Code, we learn what to notice if we want to understand the city. We learn to detect patterns in the relationships between people and the urban environment. Each lesson is accompanied by an icon-like image; in addition to these 100 drawings, thirty photographs of street scenes illustrate the text. The photographs are stills from films shot in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo; the lessons are inspired by the authors’ observations of SoHo, but hold true for any cityscape.

Texts and Projects, 1967–1978

The short-lived grouping of architects, sociologists, and urbanists known as Utopie, active in Paris from 1967 to 1978, was the product of several factors: the student protests for the reform of architectural education, the unprecedented expansion and replanning of the Parisian urban fabric carried out by the government of Charles de Gaulle, and the domestication of military and industrial technologies by an emerging consumer society. The group’s collaborative publications included the work of Jean Aubert, Isabelle Auricoste, Jean Baudrillard, Catherine Cot, Charles Goldblum, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Henri Lefebvre, Rene Lourau, Antoine Stinco, and Hubert Tonka. Offering a militant alternative to professional urban planning journals, these writers not only formulated a critique of the technocratic and administrative rule over a disabled and alienated urban society but also projected an ephemeral urban poetics.

With ties to the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) in central Paris and to the sociology department established by Henri Lefebvre at the suburban campus of Nanterre, the group challenged postwar modernization and urban planning and questioned the roles into which architects, sociologists, and urban planners had been cast. Utopie makes the group’s diverse body of theoretical work accessible in English for the first time, offering translations of more than twenty key texts. Designed in a facsimile format that follows the innovative graphic layouts of the journals, pamphlets, posters, and articles produced by Utopie, the volume not only provides the first thorough overview of the group’s activities but also seeks to capture Utopie’s linkage of architectural and urban theory to radical publication strategies.

Designing a Campus for the Twenty-First Century

In the 1990s, MIT began a billion-dollar building program that transformed its outdated, run-down campus into an architectural showplace. Funded by the high-tech boom of the 1990s and and driven by a pent-up demand for new space, MIT’s ambitious rebuilding produced five major works of architecture: Kevin Roche’s Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, Steven Holl’s Simmons Hall, Frank Gehry’s Stata Center, Charles Correa’s Brain and Cognitive Science Complex, and Fumihiko Maki’s still-unrealized project for the Media Laboratory. In Imagining MIT, William Mitchell (who served as architectural adviser to MIT president Charles Vest) offers a critical, behind-the-scenes view of MIT’s new buildings and the complex processes that produced them. The story is not simply one of commissions, projects, CAD, and hardhats; it is about all the forces that come into play—including money, politics, institutional dynamics, and ideology–when a major university campus is imagined, designed, and built. Lavishly illustrated with architectural photographs, drawings, plans, and models, with color images throughout, Imagining MIT shows both the opportunities and the obstacles facing architectural production and city building at the dawn of a new millennium.

Mitchell challenges and subverts the standard form of architectural narrative—the mythic tale of heroic designers and enlightened patrons who overcome adversity to realize their visions. Instead, he offers a Rashomon-like construction of multiple voices and viewpoints. He sets the scene by recounting the history of MIT campus architecture, from its early synthesis of classicism and pragmatism to the daring mid-twentieth-century modernism of Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen. The descriptions and illustrations of the new projects show not only the evolution of each building, but the relationship of the techniques of architectural representation–themselves evolving, from sketching and building models to three-dimensional computer modeling and rendering—to the conception and development of architectural ideas.

Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space
Edited by Mark Shepard

Our cities are "smart" and getting smarter as information processing capability is embedded throughout more and more of our urban infrastructure. Few of us object to traffic light control systems that respond to the ebbs and flows of city traffic; but we might be taken aback when discount coupons for our favorite espresso drink are beamed to our mobile phones as we walk past a Starbucks. Sentient City explores the experience of living in a city that can remember, correlate, and anticipate. Five teams of architects, artists, and technologists imagine a variety of future interactions that take place as computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets, and public spaces of the city.

"Too Smart City" employs city furniture as enforcers: a bench ejects a sitter who sits too long, a sign displays the latest legal codes and warns passersby against transgression, and a trashcan throws back the wrong kind of trash. "Amphibious Architecture" uses underwater sensors and lights to create a human-fish-environment feedback loop; "Natural Fuse" uses a network of "electronically assisted" plants to encourage energy conservation; "Trash Track" follows smart-tagged garbage on its journey through the city’s waste-management system; and "Breakout" uses wireless technology and portable infrastructure to make the entire city a collaborative workplace.

These projects are described, documented, and illustrated by 100 images, most in color. Essays by prominent thinkers put the idea of the sentient city in theoretical context.

Copublication with the Architectural League of New York

Sentient City will also feature a special "heat sensitive" cover which will change color when exposed to sunlight or touch!

In The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture, Pier Vittorio Aureli proposes that a sharpened formal consciousness in architecture is a precondition for political, cultural, and social engagement with the city. Aureli uses the term absolute not in the conventional sense of “pure,” but to denote something that is resolutely itself after being separated from its other. In the pursuit of the possibility of an absolute architecture, the other is the space of the city, its extensive organization, and its government. Politics is agonism through separation and confrontation; the very condition of architectural form is to separate and be separated. Through its act of separation and being separated, architecture reveals at once the essence of the city and the essence of itself as political form: the city as the composition of (separate) parts. Aureli revisits the work of four architects whose projects were advanced through the making of architectural form but whose concern was the city at large: Andrea Palladio, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Étienne Louis-Boullée, and Oswald Mathias Ungers. The work of these architects, Aureli argues, addressed the transformations of the modern city and its urban implications through the elaboration of specific and strategic architectural forms. Their projects for the city do not take the form of an overall plan but are expressed as an “archipelago” of site-specific interventions.

Architecture in the Experience Economy

In the twenty-first century, we must learn to look at cities not as skylines but as brandscapes, and at buildings not as objects but as advertisements and destinations. In the experience economy, experience itself has become the product: we're no longer consuming objects but sensations, even lifestyles. In the new environment of brandscapes, buildings are not about where we work and live but who we imagine ourselves to be. In Brandscapes, Anna Klingmann looks critically at the controversial practice of branding by examining its benefits, and considering the damage it may do.

Klingmann argues that architecture can use the concepts and methods of branding—not as a quick-and-easy selling tool for architects but as a strategic tool for economic and cultural transformation. Branding in architecture means the expression of identity, whether of an enterprise or a city; New York, Bilbao, and Shanghai have used architecture to enhance their images, generate economic growth, and elevate their positions in the global village. Klingmann looks at different kinds of brandscaping today, from Disneyland, Las Vegas, and Times Square—prototypes and case studies in branding—to Prada's superstar-architect-designed shopping epicenters and the banalities of Niketown.

But beyond outlining the status quo, Klingmann also alerts us to the dangers of brandscapes. By favoring the creation of signature buildings over more comprehensive urban interventions and by severing their identity from the complexity of the social fabric, Klingmann argues, today's brandscapes have, in many cases, resulted in a culture of the copy. As experiences become more and more commodified, and the global landscape progressively more homogenized, it falls to architects to infuse an ever more aseptic landscape with meaningful transformations.

How can architects use branding as a means to differentiate places from the inside out—and not, as current development practices seem to dictate, from the outside in? When architecture brings together ecology, economics, and social well-being to help people and places regain self-sufficiency, writes Klingmann, it can be a catalyst for cultural and economic transformation.

Concept-Form

Event-Cities 4 is the latest in the Event-Cities series from Bernard Tschumi, documenting recent built and theoretical projects in the context of his evolving views on architecture, urbanism, and design. Event-Cities 4 follows directly from the work of Event-Cities 3, which examined the interaction of architectural content, concept, and context. This volume takes the interaction a step further, looking at a series of projects for which program or context are insufficient as a generative conceptual strategy, hence requiring a different approach. Tschumi has said, "Over the past years, there is one word I have almost never used, except in order to attack it: 'form.'" In Event-Cities 4, Tschumi introduces the "concept-form": a concept generating a form, or a form generating a concept, so that one reinforces the other. The concept may be programmatic, technological, or social. The form may be singular or multiple, regular or irregular. Concept-forms act as organizing devices or common denominators for the multiple dimensions of programs and their evolution over time, and drive the projects featured in this book.

Highlights include master plans for a pair of media-based work spaces and cultural campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi; a major master plan for a financial center with 40,000 projected inhabitants in the Dominican Republic; the innovative Blue Residential Tower in New York City; a group of museums and cultural buildings in France, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and South Korea; a pedestrian bridge in France; and a "multi-programmatic" furniture piece, the TypoLounger. The book contains more than twenty of the Tschumi firm's recent projects, showcasing the most current and forward-looking designs of one of the world's leading architectural practices.

Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century

This book provides a long-overdue vision for a new automobile era.

The cars we drive today follow the same underlying design principles as the Model Ts of a hundred years ago and the tail-finned sedans of fifty years ago. In the twenty-first century, cars are still made for twentieth-century purposes. They’re well suited for conveying multiple passengers over long distances at high speeds, but inefficient for providing personal mobility within cities—where most of the world’s people now live. In this pathbreaking book, William Mitchell and two industry experts reimagine the automobile, describing vehicles of the near future that are green, smart, connected, and fun to drive. They roll out four big ideas that will make this both feasible and timely.

First, we must transform the DNA of the automobile, basing it on electric-drive and wireless communication rather than on petroleum, the internal combustion engine, and stand-alone operation. This allows vehicles to become lighter, cleaner, and “smart” enough to avoid crashes and traffic jams. Second, automobiles will be linked by a Mobility Internet that allows them to collect and share data on traffic conditions, intelligently coordinates their movements, and keeps drivers connected to their social networks. Third, automobiles must be recharged through a convenient, cost-effective infrastructure that is integrated with smart electric grids and makes increasing use of renewable energy sources. Finally, dynamically priced markets for electricity, road space, parking space, and shared-use vehicles must be introduced to provide optimum management of urban mobility and energy systems.

The fundamental reinvention of the automobile won’t be easy, but it is an urgent necessity—to make urban mobility more convenient and sustainable, to make cities more livable, and to help bring the automobile industry out of crisis.

Four Big Ideas That Could Transform the Automobile• Base the underlying design principles on electric-drive and wireless communications rather than the internal combustion engine and stand-alone operation• Develop the Mobility Internet for sharing traffic and travel data• Integrate electric-drive vehicles with smart electric grids that use clean, renewable energy sources• Establish dynamically priced markets for electricity, road space, parking space, and shared-use vehicles

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