Type and the Idea of the City: Architecture’s Search for what is Common

Open to all students, the seminars will equip students with the theoretical and historical understanding of type as a heuristic device in the discourse of the city as a project. 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 focused on the history and theory behind the emergence of the developmental city and its corresponding dominant types. This discussion will cover the various urban and typological outcomes instigated by the rapid transformation of cities, its peripheries and countryside, following this developmental model – examples will be drawn from China, London, and Singapore. The reading and understanding of these emerging conceptions of the city will be guided by the concepts and theories offered in the first half of the course. Finally, the seminar will speculate on the possibility of conceiving alternative ideas of the city through its dominant type in these newfound conditions.   


Up to five seats will be held for MDes students.

This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.