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    End of semester, (last semester) ... (part 1)

    By Arjun Bhat
    Feb 5, '07 4:02 PM EST

    So its been a while since I updated this thing. A real long while. I guess i kept telling myself that i needed time to "reflect over how the semester concluded" before i could get to updating, but the fact of the matter is, I'm just a lazy bastard. Oh well.

    So i guess this will be a two parter: 1) how last semester ended and 2) how this semester looks to begin. here goes.


    So the final presentation in studio went pretty alright. I use the term "pretty alright" because I can't say definitively that I was enthused with how the final jury turned out. Not to say that the projects weren't all top notch -- I thought they were excellent, in fact, and our profs told us so -- but the route the final jury took was less about individual critique and more a general discussion of the studio and interesting topics that the studio brought up.

    Now don't get me wrong, that kind of round table discussion about architectural ideas, concepts, politics, urban trends, etc (especially when discussed as it relates to a hot-spot for urban development such as Shenzhen) is great. More than great, its fantastic. But i guess there's a small part of me (actually, probably a large part of me) that requires a sense of closure at the end of a semester. Closure that comes in the form of an individual critique of performance. We got this critique, btw, but just not at the jury. Which is where I would have liked it. But oh well, thats just a personal gripe, and in the end i got my critique, and a stimulating discussion on the trajectory of urban development in china, so why am I complaining?

    A first for me, the studio's final presentation featured more critics (11) than students (7) -- the (incomplete) list:

    Franz Oswald
    Luc Bolman
    Arindam Dutta
    Juan Du
    Leann LeFavre (sp?)
    Yung Ho Chang
    Alexander D'Hooge
    Mark Jarzombeck
    Sanford Kwinter (for a short while)
    Adele Santos (for a short while as well)

    There was another critic, but I can't remember his last name ...


    Here is a brief description of everyone's project (please forgive me guys if i screw up your intentions, I'll fix them if you've felt I've paraphrased them incorrectly):

    *CK: the celebration of hyper densification as a strategy to not only preserve natural space, but as an economic marketing device that creates the "densitourist." Also, featured what i thought was a smart critique on the arbitrary nature of the extreme bureaucracy at work in parts of the Chinese government.

    *SD: creating a new form of "agro-urbansism" that casts aside the premise of centralised city in favor of an urban model that allows for the economic skill base of the region to coexist with the rapidly expanding urban carpet of Shenzhen.

    *CR: explored sustainability and economics through the practice of city destruction/construction itself. Life in one not only requires the growth of new cities, but literally provides fuel for those cities to exist. Expansion breeds re-use.

    *DC: the chinese module of construction as a grid for city organization. The city is understood as an evolving entity, and as such, is allowed to apropriate and expand organically, while controlling and managing this expansion and re-invention through a flexible rule set.

    *MT: what does it mean to brand a city? can branding be the focus of city building itself? What role has branding played in city building thus far? Confronted the difficult question of identity management as it concerns the new chinese city.

    *GH: explored the intersection of densification and isolation as it pertains to the new Chinese city. At what costs are cities built? Introduced a concept of a new urbanism of isolation.

    *AB (big guess who): Is the master plan enough? Does it take responsibility for too much? How has it failed instances of city building where the cultural backdrop is not the traditional western-centric model society? Proposes a new "mega" master plan that uses existing patterns of transport infrastructure to contain the city and simultaneously proliferate its public culture and changing self-image.


    Here are two questions posed that i could actually read from the scribbles in my notebook (i'll try to remember more later):

    -bureaucracy inherently creates new sources of inequality, but ironically can be most commonly found in socialist/communist societies.

    -How do you create an icon for a city that doesn't yet exist?


    here are some images from my final book:








    • Becker

      where is the life in your pictures? i thought urban plans involved people, not just their ego's.

      Feb 15, 07 8:51 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      my whole scheme was predicated on not making the city in and of itself, but providing a civic/economic structure for it before it becomes developed, using planned infrastructural development (which often precedes residential development).

      so, my city is not a city in the normative sense of the word, but a framework made to accommodate (and provide a legible form to) future city development.

      hence, no people (they're not there yet).

      Mar 4, 07 5:01 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      i should clarify, i mean to say "pre-existing" planned infrastructural developments

      Mar 4, 07 5:03 pm  · 

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