INTRODUCTION

By Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby

TYPOLOGICAL URBANISM AND THE IDEA OF THE CITY

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2008 Urban plan of airport.Yifan Liu. The Great Flight Forward. China. 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. Chengdu. London. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby). 15 . Architectural Association.

opposite: Urban plan of Multiplex City. hyperdense high-rises) in Seoul and converts them into vertical public spaces. Seoul. Architectural Association. 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.A warehouse can be turned into apartments. The reconfigured high-rise is spliced with vertical public spaces and functions as an urban punctuator. and a Georgian terrace into a school. historical and sociocultural aspects. The project aims to exploit the defunct middle floors of multiplexes (multifunctional. 16 . Bolam Lee. London. Multiplex City. South Korea. 2007 above: Model. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby).

a thing that embodies the idea. 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. 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. To achieve the stated meta-critical aim. and so on. Latin America and the Caribbean. an object. It outlines the terms on which the discussion of type and typology can unfold today in a more precise and considered manner. as buildings are independent from their function and evolve over time. Type 17 . with the current level of around 50 per cent increasing to approximately 69 per cent by 2050. which means ‘a discourse. theorise and ultimately project any new ideas of architecture in relationship to the city must be confronted and rethought. prisons. The suffix ‘-ology’ comes from the Greek logia.3 A warehouse can be turned into apartments. Dubai or Shanghai. the architecture of this new urbanisation. Thus typology is the discourse. the relentless speed and colossal scale of urbanisation. whether in Macau. Finally. proposing that the reconsideration of these projects renews and enriches the understanding of working typologically. fuelled by the market economy. has resulted in the profession merely responding to these rapid changes and challenges in retrospect. 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. has departed from the Western models of centralised organisation and planning. conceptualise.’4 Type consequently is an element. is predominantly driven by the regime of difference in search of novelty. Secondly. the discipline’s inability to confidently and comprehensively describe. however. It re-argues for the instrumentality of type and typology in the field of urbanism and the city.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. treatise (method) or science of type. hospitals. Macau built the world’s biggest casino and Dubai the tallest skyscraper. Firstly.2 ‘Type’. 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. With this increasing stultification. Similarly. and features four projects that are conventionally not seen as fitting within the framework of typology. Its reduction to categories of use is limiting. should not be confused with ‘typology’. 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.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. historical and sociocultural aspects. recent projects by young practices further illustrate the possibility of utilising the notion of type in informing the ‘idea of the city’. the form of urbanisation in emerging cities in the developing countries. with its Burj Khalifa beating the recently completed Shanghai World Finance Center of 2008 to this superlative. theory. treatise. 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. Africa. Type and Typology In common usage the words ‘type’ and ‘typology’ have become interchangeable and understood as buildings grouped by their use: schools. and in particular in Asia. as Aldo Rossi and Neo-Rationalism have already argued. theory or science’. 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.

Architectural Association. the gateway airports are opportunistically combined with mosque-based Islamic universities: airportmosques. Once a year. In response to the pilgrim surge in Makkah. London. Makkah. Saudi Arabia. demanding unparalleled infrastructural miracles.Deena Fakhro. the Holy City of Makkah is flooded by a surge of three million pilgrims. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). 2008 above and centre: Typical plans. sections and views of airport. switching between pilgrim surges and student populations. top and opposite: An airport. To counter the financial burden of the redundant hajj infrastructure. a mosque: a city gateway. the project strategically proposes polynodal gateway airports that disperse congestion multidirectionally within Makkah’s valleys. every year. 18 . The Holy City and its Discontent.

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 misunderstanding of type and typology. graphically reducible to diagrams. ‘does not exist outside rules. has resulted in the deliberate rejection of typological knowledge. their transformation and hybridisation in order to fulfil the ambitions and requirements of an architectural project in an urban context. Its idea guides or governs over the rules of the model. 19 . The idea of the ‘model’. introduced precepts that are fundamental to working typologically: precedents. proposed that its focus was not the (historical and symbolic) city centre but the suburbs. urbanism was the science that manages and regulates the growth of the city through housing and economic activities. In the Précis. differentiation and reinvention. These architectural experiments have no relevance beyond the formal and cannot be considered an invention. Thus Durand’s Précis outlines an important element of the didactic theory of type and constitutes what we understand by typology. developed almost at the same time as Quatremère’s typological theory at the turn of the 19th century. This is evident in the exotic formal experiments of the past 15 years: every fold. This inclusive urban plan has to be differentiated from the masterplan predicated on singular authority and control. For Cerdá. attacked by many for its perceived restrictions. a diversity of inhabitants. Durand attempts to establish a systematic method of classifying buildings according to genres and abstracts them into diagrams. following a Neoplatonic and metaphysical tradition. The word ‘urbanism’ means ‘of. living or situated in.5 He proposes that new types emerge in response to the requirements of a changing society and urban conditions. on the other hand. 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). every swoosh and whoosh is justified as being superior to the types it displaces.6 In ‘Type? What Type?’ (pages 56–65). The specific responses demonstrate that typological design models are capable of. whereby the typological diagrams are adapted to the constraints of specific sites. due to the casual if not naive treatment of the type. This notion of type as 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. for there would be no way to judge invention’. every twist and bend. it remains unclear what these ill properties or characteristics of type are that the novel forms want to replace and to what ends.7 Thus the process of urbanisation inevitably involves multiple stakeholders. He understood the word ‘urbs’ at the root of ‘urbanisation’ and. in opposition to the notion of the city. 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). is by Quatremère understood as the ideal that an architect should strive for but which never fully materialises in the process of creative production. and require. a city or town’. for invention. taxonomy. as Quatremère stated.is abstract and conceptual rather than concrete and literal. This idea. 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). Marina Lathouri in ‘The City as a Project: Types. However. 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. and a scale beyond that of a single building incorporated in an urban plan. classification. repetition.

Culture. we learn that a building as . Toyo Ito. A number of further projects by OMA. by SANAA (pages 94–101).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. indexing the irreducible typal imprints that serve as the elemental parts to the plan.8 The diagrams of type. Typicalities. 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. conceptualised and theorised through their own particular dominant types. concentrated settlement that precedes the urb. and at the same time refers to the irreducible structure of the types in question. Praxis’ (pages 38–45) Peter Carl clarifies that ‘types are isolated fragments of a deeper and richer structure of typicalities’. London with its Victorian and Georgian terraces and New York with its Manhattan skyscrapers. As cities owe their main characteristic to geographical and topographical conditions.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. history and meaning of precedent types that are then developed into new design solutions. fusing infrastructure. These ‘elements of permanence’ in the city are exemplified by town halls. In the Penang Tropical City (2004) by OMA (pages 78–89). Field. This meaning changes over time in response to its evolving inhabitants and external circumstances. which attempts a different approach to city-making. and are always linked to other cities by trade and resources. attempting to relate the architectural object to human situations.The instrumentality of type in the process of envisioning. 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). Type and the City If urbanisation is concerned with the expansion of human settlement driven primarily by economics. exerting a claim on freedom. while this freedom depends in turn on that which is common to all for its meaning. It is through this understanding that we are proposing that the idea of the city can be embodied in these dominant types. resulting in a stratified society that is functionally differentiated and politically divided. described. In Ito’s proposal. open spaces and services into an integrated piece of architecture. 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). museums and archives. says Carl. It is usually demarcated by a city wall and a point of concentration for people and activities. libraries. are ‘those aspects common to all’. regulating and administering the urban plan lies in its ability to act as a pliable diagram. communicating the idea of the city in response to specific historical and sociocultural conditions. Through Rossi. but embody the basic organisational performance. however. Japan. which rethink the building as a piece of city fabric through the mat-building typology. Perhaps the most unusual 20 inclusion is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa. are not mere graphic representations of the urban plan. building. From Barcelona with its Cerdá housing blocks. the city is envisioned as aggregating into a continuous whole. SANAA and l’AUC provide a second reading of how a recourse to typology is necessary when dealing with the urban context.9 In ‘Type. cities can be understood.11 This city is a historical product and centred on the civic and symbolic functions of human settlement and coexistence. The function of the diagram hereby is both diagnostic and projective. the city on the other hand is the consolidated. but its history is often formalised in the construction of civic buildings and landmarks that express a common identity. they tend to specialise and form a distinct character.

21 . 2008 top: Airport visualisation. Open Source Fabric. UK. above: Fragment model of airport. Thames Estuary. Architectural Association.5-mile) inhabited bridge across the mouth of the Thames Estuary. The solution: a 12-kilometre (7. London. Incorporating high-speed rail and topped with three runways. opposite right: Urban plan fragment. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). the project introduces the heterogeneity of diverse type-specific environments capable of consolidating leisure networks to attract a lived-in population within the peninsula. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby). Architectural Association. 2007 opposite left: Urban plan. Zorrozaurre. Heathrow Airport is top of the long list of London’s planning disasters. 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 impact: regeneration without sprawl. Spain. infrastructure without damage to civic life. Project Runway. London. Resisting the tendency for singular types. Martin Jameson. this new urban condition manifests a compressed and highly varied programme tightly contained within a strict envelope.Max von Werz. 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. Bilbao.

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 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. Resisting the Generic Empire. its edge the terminals and aerotropolis. Its void becomes the runway. 2006 top: Masterplan model. new intimate scales of public spaces derived from the traditional Chinese courtyard-house typology are released and become prominent. China. By enforcing the edge and limiting its growth. in conclusion. The project explores the issues of control and difference. 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. Yifan Liu.Typological Urbanism. above: Urban plan. The Great Flight Forward. Chengdu. The People’s Square has become the airport. London. London. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby). Architectural Association. the project inverts its massing through the cultivation of multiple urban plans within the skyscraper type. Singapore. 22 . Yi Cheng Pan. 2008 opposite: Masterplan model of airport. To wrest control of the ground plane from the proliferating skyscrapers. and challenges Singapore’s addiction to the ubiquitous high-rise type. Architectural Association. Diploma Unit 6 (tutors: Christopher CM Lee and Sam Jacoby).

large-scale design and political economy. Rem Koolhaas. Oswald Matthias Ungers. New York. 1977. Two projects by DOGMA and Serie offer a possible demonstration of the manifestation of the idea of the city as an architectural project. Quatremere De Quincy’s Historical Dictionary of Architecture: The True. The city wall as a dominant type is utilised as the deep structure that sets out a typological grammar for the city. trans David Britt. Architectural Association School of Architecture.Scotland. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 Revision. Quatremère de Quincy. has been expanded and is now published by Yale University Press as Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England. Durand’s diagrams primarily capture the structural elements of various building types. Précis of the Lectures on Architecture. 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. the Fictive and the Real. For a more elaborate description of the evolution of cities and its definition. construction and form. 8. Africa. 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. The Architecture of the City. 3. Typological Urbanism. Most of the population growth will take place in urban areas in Asia. Text © 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Traditional cities are defined by their relationships to river banks. Compare with Aldo Rossi. ‘Cities Within the City: Proposal by the Sommerakademie Berlin’. op cit. Papadakis Publisher (London). 2007. 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?’. 9. comprising a layer of grids that denote both structure and geometric composition. Today we see cities that position themselves as knowledge cities. 2000. Vol 3. and from 45 per cent to 66 per cent in less developed regions. China. In the Xi’an Horticultural Masterplan project by Serie Architects (pages 120–7). its realisation can only happen within a political ‘state of exception’. this tendency to classify group buildings according to use can be attributed to Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of England (1951–75). medical cities. 4. This understanding of the diagram is fundamentally different from interpreting diagrams of flows and pseudoscientific indexes as novel tectonics. see Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby (eds). sport cities and so on. The United Nations expects that the population increase of 2. prescriptions or rules.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. Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City. MIT Press (Cambridge. ‘Type’. 1982. trans Diane Ghirardo and Joan Ockman. 2008. The original series by Pevsner. This is rendered less as a ‘working’ proposition and more as an idea of the city brought to its (extreme) logical conclusions. Wales and Ireland. 2010. Similarly. see Spiro Kostof. London 23 . City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History. Peter Riemann. In part. AA Publications (London). The difference between ‘urb’ and ‘city’ and its implication are developed by Pier Vittorio Aureli in ‘Toward the Archipelago’. in Encyclopédie Méthodique. Population Division. 1999. 11. financial cities. DOGMA. See United Nations. Getty Trust Publications (Los Angeles). 12. This ultimately constitutes a new disciplinary operativity by considering the prototype as a ‘seed’ for the idea of the city. MA). trans Samir Younés. in Encyclopédie Méthodique. sea ports. It is a re-engagement with architecture’s exteriority and architectural experimentation governed by reason and (re)inventions underpinned by typological reasoning. type is independent of function and therefore pliable.an element of ‘permanence’ is able to act as the typological repository of a city’s history. 6. highlands (hill towns) and so on. Hans Kollhoff and Peter Ovaska. Thames & Hudson (London). 5. ‘Rule’. 2. 10. but through the authoritativeness of the prototype itself. for Penguin. railways. brings together arguments and projects that demonstrate a commitment to the empowerment of the architect to once again utilise his or her disciplinary knowledge. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand. 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. To understand these types is to understand the city itself. and Latin America and the Caribbean. in Log 11. 2000. in conclusion. Quatremère de Quincy. For Rossi. For a more detailed account. Images © Diploma Unit 6. 1 Notes 1. in Lotus International 19. Vol 3. 1825. achieving an average of 69 per cent. 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.

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