Friday, June 15, 2012

Visionary Cities

This semester, our Theory class focused on city planning.  We read all kinds of texts written by Le Corbusier and Rem Koolhaas, to name a few.  What I found really compelling, however, was the project that we did alongside this study of city planning.
            Our "Visionary Cities" project actually studied those aspects of cities (or non-urban areas) that are not necessarily planned or mapped out, but rather arise out of fulfilling a need presented by an urban situation.  Examples given to us on the first day included the rooftop seating around Wrigley Field, and towers in Los Angeles, constructed to cover unsightly oil derricks.  We each set about finding our own examples of these "strange architectures."  By the middle of the semester each student in the class had their own subject/topic of architecture.  Mine was called "in between" to start out, and was later switched to be called "void."  There were 26 students, so each of us had a letter of the alphabet (mine being V) and we defined our type of architectural solution in accordance with that letter.  I give you Void, and my 4 examples of unplanned architecture that made use of voids.
Each building/element/example was accompanied by a map, pinpointing its location in the world, a photo of the structure, and a drawing in 45 degree axonometric view done by us, as well as a write-up about the example, basically showing why it was relevant to our selected words.  

My first example was the Stone House (Casa do Penedo) near Fafe, Portugal.

My second example was Mesa Verde, in the American Southwest.
My third example was the Bridge House in Ambleside, UK
My final example was alley houses in Mumbai, India, which had been shown in an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London recently, put together by Studio Mumbai Architects.
The final result of all of our work is on view in the Ribbon Gallery, on the upper level at The UIC School of Architecture Building until August.  It has also been compiled into a book, which I and my classmates had the option of purchasing.  
            It was a really interesting project to me, mostly because the "architecture" we were studying hadn't been designed by architects, but had come out of necessity, which seems to me to be more important than most of the things that we can plan in the first place.  

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