Open to all students, the seminars of this course will compliment Studio option 1602: Common Frameworks. It will provide the theoretical and historical basis, and serves as a platform for a three-year theoretical research on the developmental cities in China. Taking Anthony Vidler’s Third Typology as a starting point, the seminar proposes the fourth typology as a common framework for the production of an architecture of the city in today’s globalized context. Unlike the first three typologies that found their justification for sociality from nature, the machine and the historical city respectively; the fourth typology is rooted in the developmental city.
The first half of the seminar will begin with the understanding of type from Quatremère de Quincy and J.N.L Durand through the dialectics of idea and model. This renewed understanding of type and typology will offer an alternative reading of the writings and projects of Aldo Rossi and Rem Koolhaas as attempts to revalidate architecture’s societal and political role through the redefinition of the idea of the city. This idea of the city will be discussed through Aristotle’s polis, Schmitt’s homogenous demos, Mouffe’s agonistic pluralism, Rossi’s ‘collective memory’, Agamben’s ‘dispositif’ and Koolhaas’ ‘heterogeneous containments’.
The second half of the seminar will be theoretically projective. It will begin with an attempt to trace the emergence of the developmental city in China and its apparatus, the mega-plot. This will be underpinned by the theories offered in the first half of the seminar and further complimented by guest seminars. These will include, 1. the history of urban governance in China through its danwei system, 2. a brief history of the mega-plot, 3. the history of Chinese urban tradition and the theoretical basis for city making in China, 4. the possibility to formulate a different understanding of ‘criticality’ from a Chinese philosophical tradition that favours efficacious propensities, and 5. the economic basis for the conception, construction and sustenance of the public sphere in cities.