Type and the Idea of the City

Open to all students, the seminars in this course will compliment Option Studio 1504: Type, City, Ecology. It 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 development city model – the mega-plot, cross-borders cities, and the urbanized countryside. Adding to this line of inquiry, the seminar this year will investigate the status of new townships in India. Built on virgin land at the peripheries of existing metropolises, these new towns are the manifestation of India's 'bypass' approach to urbanization: a strategy to decongest its post-colonial metropolises by building new towns to support knowledge-based economies at their peripheries. Like any developmental city aligned with the global economy, their positioning and spatialization strategies are both tied locally to its proximity to nearby metropolises, and globally to other new towns like Songdo and Masdar. This paradoxical condition, to start anew without the developmental resistance and cumbersome material economy of post-colonial cities, and yet having to depend on the very urban resources of existing metropolises, mirrors the social and economic stratification that has plagued India’s urbanization since the 1990s. This investigation will be underpinned by the theories offered in the first half of the seminar and further complimented by guest seminars.

Irregular schedule: Seminars will take place every other Thursday 11:30 – 13:00 and Friday, 09:00 – 12.30: January 26; February 2, 3, 23, 24; March 9, 10, 22, 23; and April 6, 7, 20.