Sep '06 - May '08
Or so our studio TA so eloquently stated at the end of our sessions yesterday.
So, a couple of weeks into the semester I've managed to accomplish a couple of things:
1. Finalized my schedule, which goes something like:
_Urban Design Studio—Bratislava: Design of an extension to the Capital of Slovakia (Profs. J. Beinart & J. De Monchaux)
_Ideal Forms of Contemporary Urbanism (Prof. A. D'Hooghe)
_GSD 4405 Other Modernities: Architecture and National Identity in Global Context (Prof. S. Bozdogan)
and finally my TA-ship for:
_Advanced Seminar in City Form (Prof. J. Beinart)
2. Started to get a productive swell of pre-thesis paranoia/stress
I write my thesis in the spring, which is not that far off, or so I keep telling myself. My interest is an amalgam of interelated issues that have, since my first studio here last fall, started to aggregate into (what i think) is an underlying question - a question that I foresee as becoming my thesis (or so i hope). It goes a little something like this (its still formative, so be gentle):
My interest has to do with the development of hybrid urban form in developing global cities. Specifically, how do "imported" forms of urbanism, typically thought of as symbols representing a specific type of globalized modernity, become appropriated by the cultural mass of their surroundings? Is it possible to identify a pattern of appropriation regarding these forms, and thus identify an underlying spacial mechanic? If this is indeed possible, is there a potential for deployment of these hybrid urban forms to create an enriched sense of modern identity, one that escapes the polarizations of east/west; new/old; global/local; exploiting/exploited?
My thesis will take place in Mumbai. It will be (i foresee) an infrastructural project that seeks to use the above postulates to solve a series of closely related problems:
1. Traffic Congestion: Mumbai's traffic system is greaty overstressed. While the city has an incredibly successful commuter rail system, the lack of a rapid transit system connecting nodes within the city has contributed to heavy vehicular traffic problems.
2. Rail Line Squatter Settlements: The death toll resulting from the settlements along rail lines by squatter populations has not shown any signs of abatement. While squatter populations have created markets and economies of their own, the lack of space within the city has driven people to settle in mortally hazardous environments.
3. Lack of Public Open Space: Mumbai has, per capita, the least amount of open space of any city in the world (at least, last I checked). The mechanics of Public Space in the Indian context are very different from those of other cities in the world, particularly from Europe -- creating opportunities to deploy public space in a different fashion than would normally be conceived of.
my task: use point #3 to see if i can't come up with a potential solution for points #1 and #2 --- and in the process, prove the whole paragraph above (about hybridity and all) plausible, not just as a theory, but as a direct framework for understanding built form in a specific context.
UGH. i know thats a lot of stuff, and probably by the end of it all, i'll be paring things down. But as far as where my head is, thats about the long and short of it.
3. Actually keep up with work
well, at least for now.
4. Update my blog
which hasn't happened in a while, mostly because my summer was spent in reclusion, entrenched in deep thought -- much like Kant's transformation into a hermit for 11 years before he produced Critique of Pure Reason (or at least, thats what I like to tell myself).
In truth, I spent my summer in two parts:
Going back home to St Louis, living with the 'rents, doing absolutely nothing productive, and enjoying every minute of it.
In Cambridge, collecting materials, getting a bibliography put together for my thesis, and taking a week off to help a friend with a a small design/build renovation project in Boston.
So, I'll cap this off with some photos, because its an easy way to make this post even longer (because we all know there aren't enough long blog posts on the internet.) These are from my studio's week long trip to Bratislava we took at the beginning of the fall term. I'll wax poetic about the studio in the next post. Till then, you guys play nice.