The Fourth Typology: Dominant Type and the Idea of the City

Open to all students, the seminars in this course will compliment Option Studio 1503: The Countryside as a City. It will provide the theoretical and historical basis, and serve as a platform for a three year theoretical research on 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’sagonistic pluralism, Rossi’s ‘collective memory’, Agamben’s‘dispositif’ and Koolhaas’ ‘heterogeneous containments’.

The second half of the seminar will be theoretically projective and involves the historical research on the cultural and political basis for the emerging model of rural urbanization in China. As a continuation of the \’Building a New Socialist Countryside\’ programme of 2006, developed against the backdrop of rural unrest and the urgent need to secure food production, China’s rural urbanization should not be mistaken with the process of suburbanization of the United States or the creation of low density picturesque garden cities in Britain. This investigation will be underpinned by the theories offered in the first half of the seminar and further complimented by guest seminars. These will include, firstly, the framing of the various understanding of the term ‘rural urbanization’, secondly, the history of urban form in the PRC through its conception as a socialist project, and thirdly, the relation between the idea of the developmental city and Chinese thoughts on the conception of state and society.

Seminars will take place every other Wednesday, 13.30 – 18.00:
September 10
October 1, 15
November 12, 24