Planning a Piece of a City, The Architectural Form of the Neighborhood

Contemporary cities generally grow in an amorphous and often mono functional way, generating peripheries that do not contribute to social life and identity. The latter is entrusted to individual buildings instated as urban acupuncture. The studio will work on a different strategy and endeavor to produce a model for an eminently urban city expansion.

Subject of the studio is the urban quarter or neighborhood. This is defined as a complex which belongs to the city as a whole, but which has a partial social and functional autonomy and its own character. It is a fragment of the city with the city’s complexity, and designing it means to design a city en miniature, dealing with all its determinants: social, ideological, political, technical, economical, and cultural. Clearly, not all these determinants will be addressed in depth in the studio work, but the students will have to be aware of this intricacy.

After a theoretical and historical introduction where possible definitions and significant examples of architectural neighborhoods will be discussed, the students will produce a short programmatic paper with their own definition of an urban quarter, contrasting the random city development and specifying the determinants they intend to privilege. Subsequently, they will produce an exemplary design of a new urban quarter on a lot of a little more of 12 Acres situated in a developing area near Bern, Switzerland. The design can be schematic, but exemplary parts of it, ideally a square or a street and two model residential building units, will be detailed. Particular attention shall be devoted to the connection of the urban spaces to the buildings and types and vice versa.

The design process will be underpinned with historical references: Rome, with its deliberately created 20. century Quartieri from Garbatella to Tiburtino, Berlin, and others, European and non-European. The students themselves will choose them, analyze them and share them with the group. The design process will also be accompanied by theoretical discussions. If the results are worth it, a small publication is planned.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule. Studio sessions will take place on Thursdays and Fridays, with a few exceptions, but will not meet every week. Vittorio will be in residence (Cambridge) during the first half of the semester (until 10/14) and will teach remotely for the second half.