Year 1 is organised as a taught programme consisting of three terms of 10 weeks each, beginning in autumn of the academic year and following the trimester structure of the AA. Design studios, seminar courses, writing courses, and workshops introduce students to the pedagogy of the programme and provide knowledge of the histories, practices, and theories through which we can analyse the formation of the city. Students are introduced to the interrelationships of the commonly separated practices architecture, urban design, and urban planning.
The studios and seminars support a multi-scalar analysis of the city and study the changing requirements, constituencies, stakeholders, parameters, and structural organisations emerging at different scales. Biased towards design problems of the built environment, the programme emphasises the efficacy of built form and architecture to the socio-political formation of the city. While broadly the focus of Term 1 is on architecture, Term 2 on urban plans, and Term 3 on the relationships between built forms and the city, the studies are closely related.
Studio 1: Analysis of Architecture
The field of interest of Projective Cities is the contemporary city and design-research questions emerging from the continued growth or shrinkage of existing cities and territories. This interest includes the specific contexts that shape them politically, culturally, socially, and economically as interrelated sets of problems.
Through the studios and seminars, a number of concepts and propositions key to the pedagogy and methodology of the programme are explored: Architecture’s modern disciplinary knowledge principally originates from the abstractions afforded by typal reasoning, a primarily conceptual and systematic thinking, and typological reasoning, the diagrammatic and analytical resolution of formal models. They together constitute the collective knowledge and forms that underlie the discipline of architecture. Essential to making this typo–diagrammatic knowledge available to the multi–scalar city is the premise that architecture does not only exist as a specific object at one scale, but as a generic possibility at many scales. If urbanity then can be said to emerge from the synthesis of fundamental types – buildings and urban armatures critical to a city’s formation – type can be defined as a specific spatial, socio–cultural and political product that as much derives from the city as it organises its abstract idea, whereas typology enables the translation of generic into specific practice–driven and structural solutions. Therefore, both type and typology are complementary and necessary to conceptualise, design, and manage an urban plan – suggesting the importance of a concurrent reading of the city at different scales. With this, an analysis of the common organisational and structural diagrams of type, its formative diagrams, becomes critical to make typology translatable and operative to design. The methodology of typal and typological reasoning, once extended to the scales of the city, can be termed architectural urbanism. Its pursuit is the definition of diagrams that are both social and spatial.
During Studio 1, students define their preliminary field of interest and enquiry. The studio is further dedicated to the studies of architecture’s formative diagrams, their comparative, historical, and structural analysis, as well as a design exercise based on the conclusions.
Seminar 1: Architectural Theories and Design Methods
The seminar discusses different theories of architecture and their importance to the systematic understanding of disciplinary knowledge and methodical design. It examines how the modern reasoning of form emerges from or is reliant on concepts of type and typology, which establish architectural histories and theories as a discursive field of knowledge and provide a framework for architectural and design speculation. Type connotes a conceptual thinking that both anticipates and precedes problems of architectural formations by negotiating the possibilities of the generic, the typical, and the specific.
- Archival Research
- What is (Design) Research?
- History v Theory of Architecture
- Origins of Type and Typology in Architecture
- Genre and Design Method
- Case-study Method and the Architectural Diagram
- The Inhabitant as a Subject: Plan
- Oikonomia as a Subject: Rule
- The Architect as a Subject: Orthogonal Projection
- Collective Forms: The Diagrams of Housing
Studio 2: Architectural Urbanism
The basic assumption of architectural urbanism is an interdisciplinary relation between architecture, urban design, and urban planning that can be understood through multi-scalar typal and typological reasoning. The analysis of architecture’s formative diagrams in Studio 1 is therefore a prerequisite to an operative understanding of built forms within the city. The questions emerging from the Architecture of Education and Knowledge and the Privatisation of the Public, provide a typological and intellectual framework to study this relationship in Term 2.
Studio 2 focuses on studies of urban plans relevant to the types analysed in Studio 1. It builds on the previously defined concepts of deep structure and fundamental type and analyses built form within the context and scales of the city. Hereby Studio 2 will introduce students to the conventions of urban design and planning—its parameters, processes, and limits.
Seminar 2: Theories of the Contemporary City
The phenomena of the contemporary city has been theorised in the recent past by a number of critical writings and projects that reformulate, and object to, the traditional history of urban planning. A history that emerged with scientific urbanism in the late nineteenth century and became formalised by the efforts of the Modern Movement. The course positions the modernist theories of a new contemporary city, which developed with an increased fascination with the city, and discusses twentieth-century theories that largely define themselves in opposition to modernist doctrines. The course proposes that the city has increasingly become a critical field of theory driven by practitioners in an attempt to reconnect architecture with the challenges and questions raised by the contemporary city and prolific urbanisation.
- Nineteenth-Century Concepts of City Planning
- Urban Design: The Emergence of a New Discipline
- Architectural Urbanism
- Rational Typologies and Symbolism
- The Citizen as a Subject: Perspective
- The Machine as a Subject: Parallel Projection
- The Territory as a Subject: Map
- From Landscape Urbanism to Ecological Urbanism
- Forms of Abstraction: Money / Property / Territory
Thesis-Studio: Typological and Social Diagrams of the City
The Thesis-Studio is a combined design studio and seminar course in which students develop their Dissertation Proposal. The premise of the programme and the Thesis-Studio is that critical and speculative projects on the city, whether practice and/or theory oriented, manifest an underlying ‘idea of the city’ that can be understood through typological and social diagrams.
Some of these ideas and different historical, theoretical, and epistemological perspectives of the city will be discussed in seminars through critical projects of the recent past: exemplary proposals, representations, theories, and reflections of and on the city. The seminar examines how diverse readings of the city promulgate specific ideas and define aspects of the city that are formative and fundamental. Most of these readings share a medium specificity and have a clear methodological approach through which a critical urban thesis is related to its processes of conceptualisation and representation. Often speculative—un-built or unbuildable—many critical urban projects have remained in the realm of projection but with an enduring effect on our (disciplinary) understanding and knowledge of the city. The ideas of the city in that sense are diagrammatic and open-ended in their possibilities but consistent in their construction.
In the course of the Thesis-Studio students will identify their research interest within a clearly defined theoretical and physical context. They will then develop their initial research interests into a proposal for a Dissertation by locating a design-related research question and finalising their site(s) and area of research. Students are asked to formulate a research problem with relevance to a larger disciplinary discourse, and research questions that are on the one hand design specific and on the other examine a distinct urban problem.
Seminar 3: Research Methodology and Ideas of the City
- Research Methodologies
- On Methodology: Athens as a Case Study
- On Methodology: Projects of Crisis
- The City as Project
- The City as Political Form
- The Program as a Subject: Diagram
- The Audience as a Subject: Manifesto
- Architecture as a Subject: ‘Analogous’ Images