The City as an Object: Thoughts on The Form of the City – Peter Trummer

Peter Trummer discusses the form of the city in the article named as ‘The City as an Object.’ While reading the article, the main objective is somehow a summary of previous approaches to the city. Definition of aggregation of city that is discussed through pages is coming from Alberti’s approach on city.  Alberti stated that city is a large house and the house is a small city. Since the building or houses are aggregated objects and since Alberti says that city as a large house that’s why city is also an aggregated object.

After saying ‘object’ to the city, there are 2 subtitles by undermining and overmining the city as an object. The first one explains that when we undermine the objects, their atoms and molecules give us a deeper understanding of that object. Le Corbusier dedicated the city by reducing its elements and representing it as biological cells. Second one is explaining it can be seen as phenomenological approach to city. Aldo Rossi’s approach were given as an example to this approach since he defines the city as artifacts and beyond it such as the memory and so on.

The city as an object can be examined 5 different ways. The city as a circle, a grid, archipelago, a solid and an aggregated object. As I understand, each of the 4 ways are coming together at the part of the city as an aggregated object. City as a circle was the basic model of the city. It is said in the article as an aggregate consist of many buildings. Also, the pictures below can be helpful in order to understand how those for approach can be defined as aggregation.


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.

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.

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.

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.

The City as the Object of Architecture – Maria Gandelsonas

Urban design is a related discipline with architecture in many years and for many cities, we are observing that they were designed by an architect mostly, since there is no term for city planners and so on. In the article that named ‘The City as the Object of Architecture’, we can get clues about the architects’ desire, ideas and approaches to the city. In this post, I will try to explain my observations and understandings from the article.

The main relation between these two disciplines was established on a shared object, the building as the object of both practices.  It is an important point for both disciplines because shaping a building has an impact on the city and changing a city has an impact on the building as well.

For the titles the object and the subject of the urban fantasies, we can observe different scenes for the relation of architecture and urban. Radical changes for urban fantasies such the American city and its gridded plan and the approach to it by European architects, causes for traumatic effects on architecture. In article it is mentioned as ‘urban gaze’ Since there are different gazes for America and European it is not an unexpected event to have trauma on architecture.

Another thing that I would like to mention is clarity, legibility and illegibility of the cities. While reading a city we have a subject that is defied for the city. For Lynch, it is clarity and legibility of the cityscapes. As, we have an idea about Lynch’s approach for the city, I can say that the city has an idea for you to point toward a destination.

According to Rossi, the architects should have a place of viewer for the city if the city and the architectural buildings are seen in terms of production, one is the product of public the other one is for the public. This difference leads us to think about again the relation of the city and architecture, I think. He suggested that reading a city an important subject for the city.

Lastly, I will mention about Venturi and Scott Brown’s approach. Rossi had an idea about switching the city to traditional in order to have a displacement, and Venturi and Scott Brown has the same idea of displacements in another perspective. They impressed by the vanguard culture of 1950-60s. As I understood, Rossi’s approach provides a structural resistance for urban amnesia, Venturi/Scott Brown has an understand for the new observer that in an observation in a motion.  

So, we can say that those three ideas are based on the observation and the legibility of the city in different manners.

I think, it was hard to understand this article, so I tried to reflect what I understood from it.

Jansen and Ankara

Before it finished, I had a chance to go Jansen and Ankara exhibition. The exhibition was about the the old and the new city, before and after Jansen made plans to organize the city’s regulation. There are many drawings, sketches and so on in the exhibition.

So, let’s begin with the explanation about Hermann Jansen. He was a German architect and urban planner who lived between the years 1869-1945. He won the competition for urban design of Madrid and Ankara as well.

I took some photos during the exhibition. The most interesting part for me the original sketches of Jansen. The exhibition has them and it was somehow a good experience to see them.

Also, as a foreigner to Ankara, (I was born in Konya, and come here for university) it was a worthy time to see them. Even though I don’t know many of the designed areas, the one that I know such as Gençlik Parkı, Atatüürk Bulvarı I saw them and impressed by them. I am planning to share a post about urban design of Ankara for years, that’s why I skipped to the photos now.

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Designing the Modern City: Urban Design, Team 10 and Metabolism After 1953 – Eric Mumford

Urban Design

The first reading of this week is about urban design. The reading generally explained different approaches for urban design, and I would like to mention about those design approaches in a brief manner that I understood.

The first thing that is explained in the reading was about centralization, decentralization and the approaches for those topics. Centralization of the city has an impact on the urban design however North American cities in general were beginning to decentralize in the mid-1950s. Eliel Saarinen who use the term Urban Design occasionally had been introduced a term which is ‘organic decentralization’.  By organic decentralization, he means that the auto-scale focused cities with plazas to accommodate pedestrian movement and greenbelts that would work together with transportation.  Joseph Lluis Sert whom is a president of CIAM during the time between 1947-56, was a favor of related ideas and explained them in his essay ‘The Human Scale in City Planning.’ He developed what Saarinen had begun at Cranbrook, put a new emphasis on existing pedestrian cities, Sert aimed to retain the main values of CIAM. Another point that I would like to mention about the part that explained the idea about patios. Wiener and Sert They tried to emphasis that the enclosed courtyard which is patio can be used in various scale and form in a city planning.

Jaqueline Tyrwhitt who was an English planner and CIAM organizer is another person that is discussed through the reading. She generally focused on the idea ‘habitat for the greater number.’

One of the most influential presentations in Harvard in 1956 was Gruen’s approach. It was about pedestrianize the downtown of the Fort Worth. His plan had linked the central business a with neighboring parking areas that would link the district to highways and with underground vehicular system deliveries would have handled.

Team 10 and Its Contexts, 1954-81

A youth generation of CIAM who had opposite ideas from Walter Gropius’s prefabrication and American-based post-war ideas formed a new community which named as Team 10. This part of the book introduces the Team 10 and its aims about urban design. I try to explain their approaches briefly.

Van Eyck who is one of the members of Team 10 suggested that the core may have validity as a place where people could express “spontaneous feelings” and he questioned Sert’s efforts to fit this concept within the CIAM framework.

Another point that I would like to mention is Doorn Manifesto of Team 10 in 1954. With this manifesto, Team 10 rejected the 4 functions-based urban design of CIAM. ‘Human association’ is analyzed instead of the four functions.

One main common point for both Team 10 and CIAM was sharing the idea that urbanism was a global practice and between architecture and city planning there should be no border line.


Japanese Metabolism, Circa 1960

After World War II, Japan began to develop a link between US and East Asia. In 1960s, Japan began to establish itself as a new national identity as an international center of design and industry.

Kenzo Tange and a group of Japanese architects observed the city to be always adaptable to the change of population, a city as a living organism.  They issued a bilingual pamphlet which is called as Metabolism/1960: The Proposals for New Urbanism.

Bigness or the problem of Large – Ram Koolhaas and Brus Mau

The Bigness is a problematic side of the architecture, but architects couldn’t avoid to bigness. There are different approaches such as stretching dimensions, circulation, elevators, air conditioning and so on was applied through time. So, architects reached taller and bigger buildings. According to Delirious New York there are 5 theorems that is published under the ‘Theory of Bigness’

  1. If a building is beyond to critical mass, it becomes a Big Building, and it can’t be controlled by a single architectural gestures or combination of architectural gestures.
  2. Thanks to elevator, even though the buildings big and tall, it is not a mention about the bigness of the building.
  3. With the bigness of the building, distance between core and envelope increases to the point where façade can no longer reveal what happens inside. It is explained as ‘What you see is no longer what you get’
  4. Through size alone, such buildings enter an amoral domain, beyond good or bad.
  5. With all together, bigness is no longer a part of any urban tissue.


Even though bigness seems as problematic to architecture with the help of different movements it can be solved. Also, bigness is a new beginning in the architecture. It reassemble what it breaks.

Design Problems – Bill Erickson and Tony Lloyd-Jones

Urban design, like any other design process, involves method as well as inspiration. The text is starting with this sentence. Of course, like any other field urban design is also composed of many other features and this book is discussing the design problems with relation to urban design.

Designers firstly, identify the existing condition by asking where we are question, and evaluate if it could be improved, where we want to be. This is a general objective but as it is said it’s crucial.  The second step is to ask new questions and try new things, see if they fit or not, this process is a cyclic and open-ended process.

One thing that attract me was the part that is said, ‘because criteria are often conflicting there is no right or wrong solution but rather solutions that are more or less for the better.’ So, you should not be afraid to make mistakes.

Different from an architectural design, cities are difficult to design because there is a lot of external factors. So, it is important to consider a context and a framework.