Individual Response for the City as Archipelago by Oswald Mathias Ungers

This week, for Urban Design course we have prepared a presentation about the concept of archipelago and its application on urban design. For dictionary meaning of archipelago, it means group of islands in the sea. But for urban design it used as a metaphor. The approach of archipelago in urban design described by Ungers as city within the city. This approach means that, in a city there are separated islands that works individually. Each of them can describe as island and their integration in common ground can be seen as sea.

For main example of archipelago, we discussed Berlin. Since Berlin was divided into two after the war, and the city had problems about fragmentation. Oswald Mathias Ungers, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Riemann, Hans Kollhoff and Arthur Ovaska suggested a rescue project for Berlin. The main point of this project was seeing the problem as a solution for the same problem. Since the city fragment, they suggested this fragmentation as islands and solve the problems for this sense. We learned that for each city Ungers suggested a concept and represent those concepts with some architectural elements. So that rather than defining certain characters to city, they suggested some elements in order to represent the idea.

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Berlin: A Green Archipelago

As my own interpretation for archipelago, I linked this idea with ‘The Walking City’ by Archigram. It is because they somehow faced with the same approaches. The city divided some cities inside but the utopic approach of Archigram suggested them to walk as well.

After other presentation of this week, we saw there are many interpretations for archipelago in urban design. The one that I wanted to mention is from Rem Koolhaas. Actually, we have mentioned about his approach by mentioning the Captive Globe. So, in that project, Koolhaas described the grids as sea and the plots as islands.

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Captive Globe

Also, we didn’t mention in our presentation, but the second group mentioned that the high rise building that discussed in the Captive Globe, act as an individual archipelago. What I mean is that those high-rise buildings can be seen as vertical archipelagos. In class, there is a worthy comment on this situation by saying that, while the archipelago of Ungers we can reach each island individually, but Koolhaas situation, we can reach the upper islands by passing at least one of them. So, this was an example of what happens if we applied archipelago in a vertical manner.

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Diagram of Downtown Athletic Club

I relate his other ideas such as strips with archipelago as well. Especially, in Parc de la Vilette, with the help of diagrams that shows with strips, we can directly see the idea of city within the city in a small scale. So, those strips can be seen as islands.

Another example that we can discuss in the scope of archipelago is Exodus. Actually, it reminds me the Continuous Monument by Superstudio. But it was an actual monument that can be observed only, in the Exodus example however, we can see actual definition of city. We learned in the class that he inspired from both the wall of Berlin and the idea of archipelago and combine these two.

The Continuous Monument – Exodus 

Finally, I would like to mention about the comparison that we did at the end of the presentation. One of them is the Collage City by Colin Rowe. Actually, from our research, we learned that Rowe mentioned the archipelago has similar approach with archipelago but Ungers stated that there are no similarities. We discussed that, Collage City is a city in all, but each archipelago described as a city, and combination of them describes another city.

Berlin Archipelago – Collage City

In conclusion, after listening other groups presentation and their relations with archipelago, we observed that the approaches of urban design can be vary in the scope of different designer. So, even though we can say that the theme archipelago of Ungers is the basis of other urban designs that we discussed in this week, their interpretation of this theme made a lot of differences as well.

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