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By Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby
TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM AND THE IDEA OF THE CITY
2008 Urban plan of airport. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby). 15 . The Great Flight Forward. Architectural Association. London. Chengdu. China.Yifan Liu. What deﬁnes China’s public image of monumentality and iconicity? The project subverts the idea of the People’s Square and turns its heroic ﬁgure into an airport.
hyperdense high-rises) in Seoul and converts them into vertical public spaces. 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. and a Georgian terrace into a school. 16 . Seoul. opposite: Urban plan of Multiplex City. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby). The project aims to exploit the defunct middle ﬂoors of multiplexes (multifunctional.A warehouse can be turned into apartments. 2007 above: Model. Architectural Association. historical and sociocultural aspects. The reconﬁgured high-rise is spliced with vertical public spaces and functions as an urban punctuator. London. South Korea. Multiplex City. Bolam Lee.
proposing that the reconsideration of these projects renews and enriches the understanding of working typologically. Dubai or Shanghai. has resulted in the profession merely responding to these rapid changes and challenges in retrospect. should not be confused with ‘typology’. which means ‘a discourse. with the current level of around 50 per cent increasing to approximately 69 per cent by 2050. Similarly.3 A warehouse can be turned into apartments. an object. 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. is predominantly driven by the regime of difference in search of novelty. fuelled by the market economy. the discipline’s inability to conﬁdently and comprehensively describe. with its Burj Khalifa beating the recently completed Shanghai World Finance Center of 2008 to this superlative.’4 Type consequently is an element. To achieve the stated meta-critical aim. whether in Macau. It re-argues for the instrumentality of type and typology in the ﬁeld of urbanism and the city. Firstly. the form of urbanisation in emerging cities in the developing countries. treatise (method) or science of type. and in particular in Asia. treatise. theory or science’. a thing that embodies the idea. Type 17 . Type and Typology In common usage the words ‘type’ and ‘typology’ have become interchangeable and understood as buildings grouped by their use: schools. theory.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.2 ‘Type’. The sufﬁx ‘-ology’ comes from the Greek logia. recent projects by young practices further illustrate the possibility of utilising the notion of type in informing the ‘idea of the city’. Latin America and the Caribbean. With this increasing stultiﬁcation. the relentless speed and colossal scale of urbanisation. 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. and a Georgian terrace into a school. It outlines the terms on which the discussion of type and typology can unfold today in a more precise and considered manner. Its reduction to categories of use is limiting. and features four projects that are conventionally not seen as ﬁtting within the framework of typology. historical and sociocultural aspects. as buildings are independent from their function and evolve over time. 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. Africa. Finally. hospitals. Macau built the world’s biggest casino and Dubai the tallest skyscraper. Secondly. has departed from the Western models of centralised organisation and planning. 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. and so on. the architecture of this new urbanisation. 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. theorise and ultimately project any new ideas of architecture in relationship to the city must be confronted and rethought. prisons. Thus typology is the discourse. 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.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. 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. as Aldo Rossi and Neo-Rationalism have already argued. conceptualise. however.
Once a year. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). a mosque: a city gateway. switching between pilgrim surges and student populations. 2008 above and centre: Typical plans. the gateway airports are opportunistically combined with mosque-based Islamic universities: airportmosques. demanding unparalleled infrastructural miracles. sections and views of airport. every year. the project strategically proposes polynodal gateway airports that disperse congestion multidirectionally within Makkah’s valleys. Saudi Arabia.Deena Fakhro. 18 . The Holy City and its Discontent. the Holy City of Makkah is ﬂooded by a surge of three million pilgrims. To counter the ﬁnancial burden of the redundant hajj infrastructure. top and opposite: An airport. London. In response to the pilgrim surge in Makkah. Makkah. Architectural Association.
However. attacked by many for its perceived restrictions. These architectural experiments have no relevance beyond the formal and cannot be considered an invention. Its idea guides or governs over the rules of the model. 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. has resulted in the deliberate rejection of typological knowledge. He understood the word ‘urbs’ at the root of ‘urbanisation’ and. For Cerdá. in opposition to the notion of the city. urbanism was the science that manages and regulates the growth of the city through housing and economic activities. 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). following a Neoplatonic and metaphysical tradition. on the other hand. Durand attempts to establish a systematic method of classifying buildings according to genres and abstracts them into diagrams. The speciﬁc responses demonstrate that typological design models are capable of. graphically reducible to diagrams. repetition. for there would be no way to judge invention’. classiﬁcation. 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. 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). every twist and bend. their transformation and hybridisation in order to fulﬁl the ambitions and requirements of an architectural project in an urban context.7 Thus the process of urbanisation inevitably involves multiple stakeholders. This inclusive urban plan has to be differentiated from the masterplan predicated on singular authority and control. Thus Durand’s Précis outlines an important element of the didactic theory of type and constitutes what we understand by typology. and require. 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. due to the casual if not naive treatment of the type. it remains unclear what these ill properties or characteristics of type are that the novel forms want to replace and to what ends. a diversity of inhabitants. living or situated in. 19 . This idea. This is evident in the exotic formal experiments of the past 15 years: every fold. whereby the typological diagrams are adapted to the constraints of speciﬁc sites. Marina Lathouri in ‘The City as a Project: Types. The word ‘urbanism’ means ‘of. 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). ‘does not exist outside rules. proposed that its focus was not the (historical and symbolic) city centre but the suburbs. developed almost at the same time as Quatremère’s typological theory at the turn of the 19th century. The idea of the ‘model’. is by Quatremère understood as the ideal that an architect should strive for but which never fully materialises in the process of creative production. In the Précis. differentiation and reinvention. as Quatremère stated.is abstract and conceptual rather than concrete and literal. and a scale beyond that of a single building incorporated in an urban plan. The misunderstanding of type and typology. a city or town’. This notion of type as model.6 In ‘Type? What Type?’ (pages 56–65). taxonomy.5 He proposes that new types emerge in response to the requirements of a changing society and urban conditions. 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. for invention. every swoosh and whoosh is justiﬁed as being superior to the types it displaces. introduced precepts that are fundamental to working typologically: precedents.
This meaning changes over time in response to its evolving inhabitants and external circumstances. 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). Praxis’ (pages 38–45) Peter Carl clariﬁes that ‘types are isolated fragments of a deeper and richer structure of typicalities’. In Ito’s proposal. but embody the basic organisational performance. are not mere graphic representations of the urban plan. indexing the irreducible typal imprints that serve as the elemental parts to the plan. attempting to relate the architectural object to human situations. are ‘those aspects common to all’. open spaces and services into an integrated piece of architecture. the city is envisioned as aggregating into a continuous whole. From Barcelona with its Cerdá housing blocks.9 In ‘Type. Japan. Field.8 The diagrams of type. the city on the other hand is the consolidated.The instrumentality of type in the process of envisioning. communicating the idea of the city in response to speciﬁc historical and sociocultural conditions.11 This city is a historical product and centred on the civic and symbolic functions of human settlement and coexistence. In the Penang Tropical City (2004) by OMA (pages 78–89). and at the same time refers to the irreducible structure of the types in question. regulating and administering the urban plan lies in its ability to act as a pliable diagram. but its history is often formalised in the construction of civic buildings and landmarks that express a common identity. 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. says Carl. Perhaps the most unusual 20 inclusion is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa. exerting a claim on freedom. The function of the diagram hereby is both diagnostic and projective. conceptualised and theorised through their own particular dominant types.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 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). Typicalities. and are always linked to other cities by trade and resources. SANAA and l’AUC provide a second reading of how a recourse to typology is necessary when dealing with the urban context. building. we learn that a building as . museums and archives. while this freedom depends in turn on that which is common to all for its meaning. Culture. which attempts a different approach to city-making. London with its Victorian and Georgian terraces and New York with its Manhattan skyscrapers. Type and the City If urbanisation is concerned with the expansion of human settlement driven primarily by economics. A number of further projects by OMA. described. Through Rossi. they tend to specialise and form a distinct character. resulting in a stratiﬁed society that is functionally differentiated and politically divided. history and meaning of precedent types that are then developed into new design solutions. It is through this understanding that we are proposing that the idea of the city can be embodied in these dominant types. concentrated settlement that precedes the urb.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. As cities owe their main characteristic to geographical and topographical conditions. however. These ‘elements of permanence’ in the city are exempliﬁed by town halls. by SANAA (pages 94–101). Toyo Ito. cities can be understood. It is usually demarcated by a city wall and a point of concentration for people and activities. libraries. fusing infrastructure. which rethink the building as a piece of city fabric through the mat-building typology.
London. Open Source Fabric. Incorporating high-speed rail and topped with three runways. Heathrow Airport is top of the long list of London’s planning disasters.Max von Werz. The impact: regeneration without sprawl. Zorrozaurre. Martin Jameson. Resisting the tendency for singular types. Architectural Association. UK. above: Fragment model of airport. 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. 2007 opposite left: Urban plan. Architectural Association. Thames Estuary. The solution: a 12-kilometre (7. Project Runway. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). Bilbao.5-mile) inhabited bridge across the mouth of the Thames Estuary. the project introduces the heterogeneity of diverse type-speciﬁc environments capable of consolidating leisure networks to attract a lived-in population within the peninsula. infrastructure without damage to civic life. London. this new urban condition manifests a compressed and highly varied programme tightly contained within a strict envelope. Spain. 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. 2008 top: Airport visualisation. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). 21 .
Typological Urbanism. new intimate scales of public spaces derived from the traditional Chinese courtyard-house typology are released and become prominent. 2006 top: Masterplan model. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby). Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). its edge the terminals and aerotropolis. 22 . London. London. China. Architectural Association. The People’s Square has become the airport. Chengdu. in conclusion. To wrest control of the ground plane from the proliferating skyscrapers. Its void becomes the runway. Resisting the Generic Empire. above: Urban plan. 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. The Great Flight Forward. 2008 opposite: Masterplan model of airport. By enforcing the edge and limiting its growth. 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. 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. The project explores the issues of control and difference. Yifan Liu. the project inverts its massing through the cultivation of multiple urban plans within the skyscraper type. and challenges Singapore’s addiction to the ubiquitous high-rise type. Architectural Association. Singapore.
‘Rule’. DOGMA. AA Publications (London). 12. Hans Kollhoff and Peter Ovaska. Two projects by DOGMA and Serie offer a possible demonstration of the manifestation of the idea of the city as an architectural project. 2000. This ultimately constitutes a new disciplinary operativity by considering the prototype as a ‘seed’ for the idea of the city. This is rendered less as a ‘working’ proposition and more as an idea of the city brought to its (extreme) logical conclusions. Quatremère de Quincy. op cit. Rem Koolhaas. MIT Press (Cambridge. construction and form. Durand’s diagrams primarily capture the structural elements of various building types. In the Xi’an Horticultural Masterplan project by Serie Architects (pages 120–7). Précis of the Lectures on Architecture. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 1 Notes 1. London 23 . in Log 11. trans David Britt. 10. Most of the population growth will take place in urban areas in Asia. Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City. prescriptions or rules. 11. type is independent of function and therefore pliable. in Encyclopédie Méthodique. and Latin America and the Caribbean. China. 8. For a more detailed account. For a more elaborate description of the evolution of cities and its deﬁnition. medical cities.an element of ‘permanence’ is able to act as the typological repository of a city’s history. in Encyclopédie Méthodique. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. this tendency to classify group buildings according to use can be attributed to Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of England (1951–75). sport cities and so on. Quatremere De Quincy’s Historical Dictionary of Architecture: The True. see Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby (eds). trans Samir Younés. Compare with Aldo Rossi. 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. ‘Cities Within the City: Proposal by the Sommerakademie Berlin’. but through the authoritativeness of the prototype itself. 1982. 1977. Africa. railways. Peter Riemann. ﬁnancial cities. see Spiro Kostof. Vol 3. its realisation can only happen within a political ‘state of exception’. The United Nations expects that the population increase of 2. Typological Urbanism. See United Nations. Similarly. This understanding of the diagram is fundamentally different from interpreting diagrams of ﬂows and pseudoscientiﬁc indexes as novel tectonics. Population Division. 2007. achieving an average of 69 per cent. for Penguin. It is a re-engagement with architecture’s exteriority and architectural experimentation governed by reason and (re)inventions underpinned by typological reasoning. Vol 3. trans Diane Ghirardo and Joan Ockman. in conclusion. 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. 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. Wales and Ireland. City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History. in Lotus International 19. Architectural Association School of Architecture. Traditional cities are deﬁned by their relationships to river banks. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand. Today we see cities that position themselves as knowledge cities.Scotland. 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. 2000. The city wall as a dominant type is utilised as the deep structure that sets out a typological grammar for the city. To understand these types is to understand the city itself. Papadakis Publisher (London). New York. Oswald Matthias Ungers. 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?’. For Rossi. In part. 5. 1999. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 Revision. and from 45 per cent to 66 per cent in less developed regions. 1825. Images © Diploma Unit 6. 2010. 7. 6. sea ports. Thames & Hudson (London). brings together arguments and projects that demonstrate a commitment to the empowerment of the architect to once again utilise his or her disciplinary knowledge. The Architecture of the City. MA). 2. large-scale design and political economy. The difference between ‘urb’ and ‘city’ and its implication are developed by Pier Vittorio Aureli in ‘Toward the Archipelago’. comprising a layer of grids that denote both structure and geometric composition.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. 3. 2008. highlands (hill towns) and so on. the Fictive and the Real. 9. has been expanded and is now published by Yale University Press as Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England. 4. The original series by Pevsner. ‘Type’. Quatremère de Quincy. Getty Trust Publications (Los Angeles).
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