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City Catalyst: Architecture in the Age of Extreme Urbanisation

City Catalyst: Architecture in the Age of Extreme Urbanisation

Alexander Eisenschmidt

ISBN: 978-1-119-97266-2

Oct 2012

144 pages

Select type: Paperback

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The city has become an important new starting point in the quest for architecture. At a time of extreme urbanisation, unharnessed urban growth has led many architects to rethink the way that buildings are designed for the global metropolis. It is no longer practical or desirable to impose the standardised, idealized planning of the 20th century. Rather than viewing the city as a fixed entity, architects are now seeking direct inspiration from the existing urban environment and learning from its ever-changing state that resists predetermination. The city, in all its complexity, has become a realm of invention and a space for possibilities where new designs can be tested. This is as apparent in the work that architects are undertaking in the informal settlements, or favelas, of Latin America, as in the more regulated spaces of Chicago, London or Tokyo. Favouring an inclusive way of viewing the city, no aspect of the urban world is any longer rejected outright, and architects and urban designers instead find potential and learn from the underlying dynamics of the contemporary city. This attitude highlights the generative capacities of the city and finds new ways of engaging it. At the very least, it advances an architectural thinking that engages the city on its own ground, abets its potential and seeks opportunities in the existing condition.

 • Featured architects: Kunlé Adeyemi/NLE, Atelier Bow-Wow, Jürgen Mayer H, Normal Architecture Office (NAO), Adriaan Geuze/West 8, Ron Witte/WW, UrbanLab, Sean Lally/Weathers, and OMA.

 • Key contributors: Keller Easterling, Jiang Jun, Albert Pope, Michelle Provoost/Crimson, Robert Somol, Kyong Park, Jesse LeCavalier, Daniela Fabricius and Bernard Tschumi (interview).

EditorIal 5
Helen Castle

About the GUEST-EDITOR 6
Alexander Eisenschmidt

Visual highlights of the issue

Introduction 14
Stranger Than Fiction: A Mission Statement
Alexander Eisenschmidt

The City’s Architectural Project: From Formless City to Forms of Architecture 18
Alexander Eisenschmidt

Patrons & Prototypes: Walmart’s Catalytic Urbanism 26
Jesse LeCavalier

Localising the Global 36
Kyong Park

Revolution of the Ordinary 42
Daniela Fabricius

China’s Macro-Planning Policies: Architectural Catalyst or Constraint? 50
Edward Denison

We Will Be Making Active Form 58
Keller Easterling

Counterpoints With Crisis 64
Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss

Metropol Parasol, Seville 70
Jürgen Mayer H

The Perfect Storm: Urbanism and Architecture 74
Ron Witte

The Unified Project 80
Albert Pope

Void Metabolism 88
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto

Urban Wash 94
Sean Lally

African Water Cities 98
Kunlé Adeyemi

Make No Big Plans 102
Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout

Shape and the City 108
RE Somol

Too Big To Fail 114
Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen

Parc Des Expositions (PEX), Toulouse: A Condenser for Diversity 120
Clément Blanchet

Dancing with Entropy 124
Adriaan Geuze and Matthew Skjonsberg

Importing the City into Architecture: An Interview with Bernard Tschumi 130
Alexander Eisenschmidt

Counterpoint 136
Hello Stranger: Phenomenology and Topography of the Megacity
Caroline Bos

Contributors 142