Constructed Contradictions? Paper 1

Length: 5-7 pages

Due October 28 by 8 pm

Choose one of the following topics to think through some of the architectural concerns central to the 1960s and write a five- to seven-page essay.  The questions appended to the topics are meant to stimulate your thinking; you need not answer all (or any) of them.  Feel free to include images to illustrate your discussion.  We recommend that you use the Lefebvre “Right to the City” piece and the Venturi excerpt from “Complexity and Contradiction” as touchstones to structure your analysis.  Both prompts also require you to reference at least three of the assigned readings and should include a bibliography.

  1. The design projects of Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier, and the Metabolists were realized, in whole or part, according to the physical, economic, cultural, and political environments in which they were conceived.  Those opportunities and constraints also determined how the projects fared in the decades since.  More recent design projects in global cities such as Singapore or Dubai have faced similar constraints with similarly mixed results.  Using your knowledge of the Sixties projects, investigate a contemporary, planned urban environment (Singapore, Dubai, or elsewhere) and briefly discuss the ideological and aesthetic issues that shaped the conception and the practical realities that inflected the way it has developed (or been coopted) since its realization.  Was the urban plan organic or artificial (bottom up or top down)?  How did local ideas about, and traditions of, built space and urban community interact with imported (Modern? Postmodern?) notions of architectural design and urban planning?  Who controlled the discourse?  Who designed and built the buildings and spaces?  How are they used now?  And how does that use relate to the original intention?  You can restrict your discussion to a specific building or project or open it out to talk about a larger urban unit.
  2. Compare Niemeyer’s vision for Brasilia with Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh and/or a Metabolist project such as Kikutake Kiyonori’s Marine City or Fumihiko Maki’s Hillside Terrace.  What specifically local concerns (political, economic, aesthetic) shaped the project?  How did these interact with global movements in architecture and contemporary (1960s) political and economic concerns?  How did postcolonial politics affect the planning and/or realization of the project?  How did the particular historical experiences and contemporary situations of the nations involved drive the theoretical models of the architects and planners and shape the nature of the projects they produced?

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