2011 - 2012: Super-Urban-Mega-Listic
Mark Smout, Laura Allen, Kyle Buchanan
"By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by travelling; namely, the strange." - Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
In recent years Unit 11 has looked at the
responsiveness of architecture to natural landscape and how contrasting
attitudes of nostalgia and tradition, policy and progress can be the
stimulus for progressive architecture.
This year we ask students to explore and exhibit the indivisibility of architecture and the infrastructural, social and natural landscapes of the urban world. We invite a miscellany of 'urban speciation' which synthesizes myth, mystery and the profound peculiarity of reality into intriguing and richly visualized Infrastructural Architectures and MegaUrban Ecologies.
40 years ago the Italian avant-garde architectural collective, Superstudio, created the Continuous Monument, a radical and dystopian proposition in which a global extrusion of the city, fashioned as a single piece of architecture, is laid over the metropolis and beyond. Here in the New York Extrusion we see 'New New York' containing the built up form of Manhattan arranged into a 'great plain of ice, clouds or sky reflecting its surrounding and revealing little of itself' whilst forming 'a world rendered uniform by technology culture and all the other inevitable forms of imperialism'.
Many of the last century's speculative fantasies, visionary fictions and retroactive manifestos such as Buckminster Fuller's Manhattan Dome (1950), Ron Herron's Walking City (1964), the Lower Manhattan Express Way by Paul Rudolph (1967) and Rem Koolhaas' Delirious New York (1978) were sited in Manhattan. Then as now the city stood as a symbol of what is good and simultaneously what is bad about American urban culture, making the city apposite for utopian and dystopian megaschemes and super-structural projects as a response to the cultural pressures and architectural politics of the day.
The megascheme positions architecture at the convergence of urbanism, engineering and infrastructure. These conceptual speculations as well as New York's megastructural remnants such as the Washington Bridge Extension Complex and idealist visions such as the United Nations Headquarters and Rockefeller Centre, exploit the vertical and horizontal - three-dimensional - infrastructure of Manhattan's built and natural environments which overlap and entwine to form a nexus of the technological, cultural and natural world.
Manhattan's infrastructural systems of road, rail, power, water, communications, sanitation, commodity and waste are cited as the most complex and extensive of any developed city and exist in parallel with one another stretching across Manhattan to the commercial, industrial and residential boroughs that surround it. They are fused into the everyday life of the city and its inhabitants to the extent that delivering fresh coffee, activating road crossings, monitoring drinking water and cleaning the streets form part of an invisible yet intrinsic system of provision, support and control.
The Past, Present and Future of Big Ideas
Project 1 We will begin by looking at New
York from afar. Following film screenings and readings, the curious
realities of the cities support structures, political manifestos and
avant-garde attitudes will be examined through radical and lyrical
propositions. We will fuse the interface between architecture and the
city's [extra]ordinary cultural, environmental and build
Project 2 We will find stimulus and extrapolate ideas for Year 5 thesis design projects and the Year 4 design realization building on site in New York. Following the success of last years 'Los Angeles Super-Workshop' we once again collaborate with writer and blogger Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG). Our New York trip will be hosted by the GSAPP Columbia University's Manhattan based Studio-X venue, of which Manaugh is a Director. We will coincide with Geoff's Landscape Futures book launch events and influential architects, academics and theoreticians. Guided by local experts we will undertake field trips into neighbourhoods, hinterlands and hidden spaces.
Berger, A. Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, 2007
Gissen, D. Subnature: Architecture's Other Environments, 2009
Sanders, J. Celluloid Skyline, New York and the Movies, 2001
Riley, T. The Changing of the Avant-Garde. Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, 2003
Ascher, K. The Works: Anatomy of a City, 2005
Bone, K. Water-Works: The Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply, 2006
Burrows, E. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, 1999
Sanderson, E. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, 2009
Gandy, M. Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City, 2002
Glaeser, E. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter Greener, Healthier and Happier, 2011
Allen, S. Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, 2011
Coolidge, M. Up River: Man Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy, 2008
Sullivan, R. The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures on the Edge of New York City, 2006
Wolfe, T. The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1987
Fountainhead, 1949, Dir. King Vidor
French Connection, 1971, Dir. William Friedkin
Dog Day Afternoon, 1975, Dir. Sidney Lumet
Wall Street, 1987, Dir. Oliver Stone
Do The Right Thing, 1989, Dir. Spike Lee
Smoke, 1995, Dir. Wayne Wang
I Am Legend, 2007, Dir. Francis Lawrence
Citizen Architect, 2010, Dir. Sam Douglas
Laura Allen & Mark Smout: www.smoutallen.com