The MA Architecture + Urbanism course is the Manchester School of Architecture's taught postgraduate course which conducts research into how global cultural and economic forces influence contemporary cities. The design, functioning and future of urban situations is explored in written, drawn and modelled work which builds on the legacy of twentieth century urban theory and is directed towards the development of sustainable cities.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Aldo Rossi (1931-97): The Architecture of the City



The architecture of the city is a significant departure from the past models of urbanism in the contemporary context of Italy . The first version of the book was published in 1966. Rossi in his writings has tried to redefine the ‘architecture of the city’ with a concentration on ‘urban artefacts’, the catalysing monuments from the past.

Daedalus, the architect of mythology, in his creation of labrynth explains the corelation of the book with its cover page; the form is interpreted in two ways, one, spiral as mausoleum, symbolically a place of death. In case of book unconsiously on his part – death of humanism and two, spiral as labrynth which is symbolic to transformation. The spiral has further message for Rossi which symbolizes his own right of passage – his role as a part of generation progressively more distanced from the positivism of modern architecture by the collapse of historical time and left drifting to an uncertain present.

Urban artifacts and Theory of the city

According to Rossi, costruction is a process that is inseparable in value to time. Ever from its evolution, mankind has built favorable surroundings with its roots in its civilization. These built forms transform themselves over the years overlapping the theme of its own development and thus there is a contrast in the existence of the structure over time. The change of nature of the ‘urban artifact’ may diminish the value of the evolution, overriding the rational design of ‘locus’. Singularity of one region of the city is what characterizes them as locus solus. Urban singularity has to take care of these artifacts. The development of the city about these artifacts or a group of them in a certain locality constitutes the nature and morphology of the city and this frame of reference helps Rossi to define ‘Urbanism’.

Individuality of urban artifacts

The form of the city can be studied with respect to the works of engineering and massive structures, and structures characterized by their own history. The mis-corelation of these two entities imples the complex reality which needs to be addressed for an urban future. Richness of the history is the characterstic of an urban artifact, its auspicious character and omnious moments of life makes it an indispensable part of the city. An urban artifact is a work of art. A city is always seen as a piece of human achievement over the years and this piece of art holds the major contribution for the collective individuality of the city.

Typological questions and critique of naive functionalism

Since architecture is distinct with reasons of its own; typology, classification and their characterstics influencing the city are important features of urban perspective. The individual classicism to lowest classifications initiates the theory of typology. The loweset featured element that is co-product in different constructions is a vital basic element of the city. Type is thus constant and manifests itself with the character of necessity. Even though it is pre-determined it reacts dialectically with technique, function and style.

The term function is not being discussed for typology considered with urban artifacts. For urban artifacts the function changes with time and its typology may become uncertain for the instance. If cities were classified on a broader perspective, it would delimit its typology to the commercial, cultural, military etc. Rossi questions the change of function for urban artifacts. The change of its naive function may obstruct the transfer of culture, of which the city is an important element. Urban artifacts are not the elements of consumption for the city, till considered in the domain of architectural and moral value. Typology and functions contradict if they are studied from the urban artifact point of view, hence the naive functionalism of the structure in time is considered.

Complexity of Urban Artifacts and the Theory of Permanence

After discussing Milizia’s work which explains the perception of building as private and public based on its streets and architecture. In other words the description of function is easy to verify which goes beyond naive functionalism. Rossi was often asked for his considerations o why only a historian can give a complete picture of city, to which Rossi replies, it is only the historians who are in totality concerned with the defining of urban artifacts and their evolution in different eras.

To think of urban science as historical science is a mistake, history contributes to urban science and hence is very important. This statement concerns the theory of permanence. The city is always considered as a man-made object and the past will always be partly experienced and gives meaning to permanence. This permanence can be experienced in terms of the existence of form and a direction that the city is directed to with ‘propelling’ elements and ‘pathological’ elements. Rossi explains that there is nothing new about these analogies but is an attempt to formulate the theory of urban artifacts.

Primary elements and dynamics of urban elements

Rossi defines urban artifacts as primary elements because their existence has contributed to the morphological and cultural evolution of the city. Any element capable of accelerating the process of urbanization in the city is a primary element, including an empty space.

At the end of the pax romana cities had marked boundaries by erecting walls around them, at times well furnished items were abandoned and cities enclosed a smaller surface area, but the potential of the urban artifacts helped develop the new cities in their current form. For example the amphitheatre at Nimes was transformed to a fortress and became a small functional city of two thousand inhabitants. The city beyond the wall grew with the form of the amphitheatre as a major element.

Monuments, Geography and History

Rossi advancing this theory for urban artifacts and with a novel vision for urbanism says that a city is a collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places. The city is locus of collective memory. This relationship between locus and citizenry then becomes a city’s predominant image, a great shape history moulds its future to. A related example of the roman forum will explain the co-relation between the parameters talked about here.

The Latins and the Sabines lived near the forum valley. The principal city was formed by tribes which scattered throughout the hills. The fifth century forum ceased as a market place and changes its function to a place of worship. The dynamism of these urban artifacts played an important role in the development of the space.


In his attempt to evolve the city with the perspective of urban artifacts, Aldo Rossi has convincingly proposed his theory. Not only considering the hypothetical idea of developing a city in words, Rossi also tries to incorporate the facts of politics and other socio-economic issues, citing Athens and its strong theoretical base for its existence, he concludes his idea of this manmade object as an achievement to mankind and its existence. The architecture of the city is a physical sign in man’s biography, indulged beyond the meanings and feelings with which we may recognize it.

Monday 17 January 2011

Kevin Lynch: The Image of the City (1960)

Reviewed by Natalie MacBride


Born in Chicago in 1918, Kevin Lynch’s studious desire for city design commenced in 1935 at Yale University where he studied Architecture. In addition to his studies, he worked at Taliesin (1937-1939) which was the winter home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright and was the place where some of Wright’s much-published designs were conceived including Falling Water in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Subsequently, Lynch attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1939-1940) and following this, he attained a degree (1947) in City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is a world leading institute for research.

After completion of his studies, his passion and enthusiasm for urban design was richly rewarded when he was appointed Instructor of Urban Planning at MIT (1948), Assistant Professor (1949), Associate Professor (1955) and Professor (1963).

After thirty years at MIT, he left to form a joint practice with Stephen Carr and it was during this time that he was commissioned to work on various city projects across America and the world over. Some of his more notable work included Boston’s Government Centre, Waterfront Park, art institutions in Dallas plus numerous other urban design projects in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In addition to his practice, he made a huge impact on the industry and made prolific contributions to the field of city planning using experimental research which he compiled over a period of five years. His study involved understanding the perception and control of movement amongst local residents of three American cities, the conclusions of which offered urban designers a new perspective for city design.

After his death in 1984, it is highly probable that his legacy has been etched onto many urban landscapes by planners as a direct and positive result of his most recognised, credible and much-publicised piece of work ‘The Image of the City’. The book was written under the guidance of Professor Gyorgy Kepes at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at MIT and was published in 1960 by the MIT Press.

Three Cities and Imageability

The main essence of the book examines the visual quality of the environment which is observed by Lynch as he investigates the “mental images” held by its citizens. He achieves this by focusing on the most focal and central areas within three American Cities; Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles.

His objective was to expand upon, as well as assess his idea of “imageability” (defined as a “character or quality held by a physical object”) to find out what forms trigger lucid images in the observer. To accomplish this, he directed two types of analysis. The first entailed a field survey of the relevant areas of each city which was produced by an experienced observer who recorded the various elements and their visual impact of image frailty or strength. In parallel to the field survey, he also engaged in long interviews held with a small proportion of citizens to help establish their own personal images of the physical landscape.

Amongst his findings, he revealed that Boston was unique in character compared with other American cities, but on the other hand, there was no sense of direction, which meant it was full of orientation difficulties. It was noted that Jersey City was “formless” and indistinct in character whilst Los Angeles had a youthful arrangement that was expressed in its “grid iron layout”.

From his investigations, he proposed formulas that he hoped would begin to help designers visualise the forms that encompass them at an urban scale and offer them some fundamental principles for urban design.


In addition to the concept of “imageability”, another integral and critical aspect of the urban structure is “legibility” of the city. By this he means “the ease with which its parts can be recognised” and assembled into a logical and systematic setup. He suggests that this structured arrangement is one of the requisite components of the city’s landscape, especially in specific cases where environments are of immeasurable scale, not only in terms of area, but also in terms of “time and complexity”.

The many “cues” that are already utilised in structuring and identifying the environment comprise of “visual sensations of colour, shape, motion, or polarisation of light.” In addition to these, other senses like smell, sound and touch equally serve as vital aids in helping citizens to become more acquainted to their surroundings.

In addition to these perceptible tools, he describes the employment of other “way finding” mechanisms that also help guide the way; “the presence of others”, topographical depictions, symbols and signs. He implies that these tools have essentially helped to counteract the problem of “disorientation” and the usual feelings of panic or distress that occurs with this. However, he doesn’t completely rule out the question of “disorientation” as he links it to the “value in mystification” and the feeling of wonder that this can bring. He uses the example of the House of Mirrors and the allure that may be experienced from this. However, it must be acknowledged that “mystification” can only be an enjoyable experience under the circumstances that there must be no possibility of “losing basic form” or sense of direction and a feeling of “never coming out”. Essentially, the confusion must occur only in small areas but in a “visible whole”.

However, in addition to his account of what guiding mechanisms were available during his research, other technology has evolved and other “way finding” devices now exist. For instance, mobile phones containing mapping applications such as Google Maps and satellite navigation equipment with Global Positioning System software are just a few of many, relatively recent and modern forms of technological instruments that are accessible to the majority of people. Both these technologies have consequently altered the dynamics of how citizens are able to navigate their environment.

Identity, Structure and Meaning

Lynch breaks down the “environmental image” into three separate components of “identity, structure & meaning” and verifies that “in reality they always appear together”. Firstly, he implies that image identity requires the recognition which can only be conveyed if the object has a clear distinction and difference from the presence of other elements. Secondly, the structure must express a “spatial or pattern relation of the object to the observer and to other objects” around it. Finally, the structure must have some sentimental value and “emotional” meaning to the viewer.

He also signifies that “meaning” is also a “relation” to the object, however, “spatial or pattern relation” are much different from the “relation” of “meaning”. For an example of this, he refers to “an image that is useful for making an exit must require the recognition of a door as the distinct entity, of its spatial relation to the observer and its meaning as a hole for getting out”. He suggests that these components are inseparable and that the visual recognition of the door is fused with its meaning as a door.

The City Image and its Elements

Lynch also focuses our attention on the effects of “physical” and “perceptible objects” which are fundamental forms in evoking a strong environmental image. His five years of solid research spent on this subject allowed him to acquire sufficient information in order for him to be able to offer urban designers various techniques for optimising and creating the perfect city using these specific forms. His forms are defined as physical attributes and are distinguished as “five elements”; “paths”, “edges”, “districts”, “nodes” and “landmarks”.

For example, the definition of a path is an element which acts as a channel through which an observer can move and a node is an element which may be a point of concentration where people can meet up like Piazza del Popolo or the Trevi in Fountain Rome. These are just a brief description of two of his elements, however, there are many other examples he uses for these and each of the remaining elements.

The definitions he provides for each of these five elements can perhaps be understood as a set of disconnected elementary definitions. However, what they individually and more importantly stand for is possibly disregarded and is due to the fact that citizens normally perceive these elements as interconnected parts that create a whole city form.

Lynch’s clear and apparent rationalisation of each element is explained in such a concise way that perhaps he wanted these elements to represent a set of design-like implements for urban designers to use so that the creation of harmonious environments could be accomplished and be read as legible whole forms by its inhabitants.

According to his study, these individual elements are what help to create a sense of “identity and structure” so that the observer can effortlessly navigate their environment. However, in conclusion to his proposal for creating a lucid and apprehensible environmental image of the city by using these specific elements, he also wants them to be interpreted as forms that depend upon each other; consequently they can then create a unified and complete setup so that a legible environment can be presented to the observer.

Form Qualities

With regards to providing an alternative way for understanding the roles, as well as the physical characteristic of these five components, he produced some intuitive and diagrammatic representations of them which were labelled “singularity”, “form simplicity”, “continuity”, “dominance”, “clarity of joint”, “directional differentiation”, “visual scope”, “motion awareness”, “time series” as well as “names and meanings”. These were also considered as a means to visually communicate the definitions that he proposed for creating powerful and visual experiences of the city image.


Although the majority of his study focused on the “identity and structure” of elements and their “patterning”, it was perhaps intended that these elements were to be perceived as only a guide to help structure over time the prospective city as a whole pattern so that it can a achieve a visible and all-embracing image.

He also suggests that “the spatial organisation of contemporary life, the speed of movement, and the speed and scale of new construction all make it” necessary and achievable to create “large-scale imageable environments.”

The book was an accomplishment at its time of release in the sense that for some urban designers it was a convenient and useful instrument for composing the ideal city. However, some of its content may be left open to some critical scrutiny and concern because he seemingly addressed city design in a rather linear way and placed little emphasis on the complexities that surround the sociological aspects of city life.

The contemplation he does give to the social aspect of design is addressed in a more abstract and subtle manner when he concludes that a vivid image is the stimulus for elevating the experience of a city to an advanced new level for the observer. In addition, he believes the city should not only be “organised,” but “it should speak of the individuals and their complex society”. And finally, it must carry some “'poetic and symbolic” meaning and be able to retain as much of its historical past.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Vidler on Stirling

Anthony Vidler, Dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York discusses his exhibition James Stirling: Notes from the Archive which will be on display at Tate Britain between 5 April and 21 August 2011.

Monday 10 January 2011

New Year Start

As one of his first engagements the new head of the manchester school of architecture Professor Tom Jefferies will be presenting a seminar entitled 3 X BEETHAM: THE BANALITY OF LUXURY for the MA A+U students at 10.30 on Thursday 13 January in 712 Chatham.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome

The Postmodern Palimpsest:

Narrating Contemporary Rome

Saturday 26th February 2011

A one-day interdisciplinary conference

University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Rome is privileged in its relationship with Western history, constructed over layer after layer, from Roman to Fascist ‘empires’: in this sense the city constitutes the urban palimpsest. In postmodernity, the sprawl, the latest metamorphosis of Rome, overlaps with historical images of the capital to form a shapeless and fragmentary identity. The aim of this conference is to probe this latest level of the city, to discern the new and the old, and the links and reflections of one onto the other

Keynote Speakers:

Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester)

Dr. John David Rhodes (Sussex)

For further information and to register:

Provisional Programme

Saturday 26th February 2011

Humanities Building, University of Warwick

09.00 – 09.20 Registration and Coffee

09.20 – 09.30 Conference Welcome and Introduction


09.30 – 10.30 Panel One: Re-Mapping the Ecclesiastical City

Chair: (tbc)

James Robertson (Manchester) – ‘Ecclesiastical Icons: Defining Rome through Architectural Exchange’

Marco Cavietti (Rome) – ‘Roma intra muros, Roma extra muros’


10.30-10.45 Tea/Coffee Break


10.45-11.45 Panel Two: Landmarks of Modernity

Chair: (tbc)

Allison Cooper (Colby College) – ‘Builiding a Symbolic Capital: The Monumental Planning of Modern Rome’

Keala Jewell (Dartmouth College) – ‘A Postmodern Gaze on the Gazometro’


11.45-12.00 Tea/Coffee Break


12.00-13.00 Keynote 1: Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester School of Architecture)


13.00 – 14.00 Lunch


14.00 – 15.30 Panel Three: Representations of Fragmented Cityscapes

Chair: (tbc)

Fabio Benincasa (Duquesne) – ‘L’odore del sangue da Parise a Martone. La mappa assente della Città Eterna’

Carmelo Princiotta (Rome) – ‘Dario Bellezza e la Roma dei poeti’

Marina Vargau (Montreal) – ‘Raccontare Roma dopo Fellini’


15.30-15.45 Tea/Coffee Break


15.45 – 16.45 Panel Four: Reinterpreting the Urban Map

Léa-Catherine Szacka (UCL) – ‘Roma Interrotta: A comparative historical analysis of the 18th century urban project on display (1978 to 2008)’

Richard Hayes (Cambridge) – ‘Las Vegas by Way of Rome: the Eternal City and American Postmodernism’


16.45-17.00 Tea/Coffee Break


17.00-18.00 Keynote 2: John David Rhodes (Sussex)

18.00-18.30 Roundtable Discussion


18.30-19.30 Wine Reception and Buffet


The conference is organised by Dominic Holdaway and Filippo Trentin

MA A+U will be contributing four short films on contemporary Rome to the conference

Saturday 1 January 2011

Larry Busbea: Topologies - The Urban Utopia in France 1960-1970 (2007)

Reviewed by Jonas Komka

During the final decade of the period of massive postwar transformation known as the trente glorieuses, an imaginary city appeared in the writings and designs of a number of French theorists, architects, and artists. In a series of critical texts, architectural drawings, models, and works of art, visions of a “spatial” city of the future emerged: “a luminous city that was to float above the ground, all of its parts (and inhabitants) circulating in a smooth, synchronous rhythm” (p. 3).
In this study, art historian Larry Busbea excavates the urban utopianism of the 1960s in France, examining its aesthetic and ideological significance and reading its prospective imaginary “more as a symptom of its historical moment than as the revolutionary force it considered itself” (p. 7).

Immigration into cities caused immediate, cheap, downgraded, squarish ensembles, fast projects and building culture. Cities required reconstruction - there was an abundance of state architectural commissions - great opportunities for architects to develop vast and new territories. Spatial urbanism emerged within the context of a crisis of modernism in France and an era of unprecedented linkages between the public (state), the private, and the avant-garde in terms of architecture and planning.

The “spatial culture” of the 1960s in France was shaped by the tremendous economic expansion and technological innovation of the postwar period. Cultural theorists and architects in France responded to these changes with projects and images of a new urban society. The social and cultural environments they perceived and imagined were spaces of movement and energy in which the relationships between nature, technology, and humanity would be redefined. Artists were convinced that radical urban infrastructure change would be needed to cope with the post-war population boom and the onset of a full-blown consumer society.

The spatial city proposed an urban “megastructure” (housing, industry, agriculture, cultural units) suspended above the ground, and displayed an interest in achieving a synthesis or integration of the arts (bringing together architecture and painting or sculpture, for example), an emphasis on movement and mobility, a faith in technology and its possibilities, and a responsiveness to the new society of leisure combined with a suspicion of mass culture. Its most famous spatialist was Yona Friedman, the Hungarian born French architect, urban planner and designer.

His space frame/city/agglomeration:
-holds several layers
-horizontal and vertical movement
• -50-60% of structure occupied my modules (25-30 sq.m.) can provide air and light circulation for lower level
• -prefabricated modules for modular voids
• -mobility and adaptation: multiple and changeable configurations for social needs.
• -accomodates increasing population, provides second layer for urban pedestrian flow, preserves heritage in lower level
• -architect acts as a from giver (a similarity to situationism)
• -ground occupying foundation is outdated
• -space as structured substance, technical formulation of ideal infrastructure. 

The proposal may span over 

• -certain unavailable sites,
• -areas where building is not possible or permitted (expanses of water, marshland),
• -areas that have already been built upon (an existing city),
• -farmland.

In 1958, Yona Friedman published his first manifesto : "Mobile architecture". It described a new kind of mobility not of the buildings, but for the inhabitants, who are given a new freedom.
Mobile architecture embodies an architecture available for a "mobile society". To deal with it, the classical architect invented "the Average Man". The projects of architects in the 1950s were undertaken, according to Friedman, to meet the needs of this make-believe entity, and not as an attempt to meet the needs of the actual members of this mobile society. The spatial city, which is a materialization of this theory, makes it possible for everyone to develop his or her own hypothesis. This is why, in the mobile city, buildings should :
1. touch the ground over a minimum area
2. be capable of being dismantled and moved
3. and be alterable as required by the individual occupant.

Friedman was a GIAP member and founder of GEAM (Groupe d'études de architecture mobile). In 1964 he designed his most developed scheme for Spatial Paris: a project for structure suspended above the Gare Saint-Lazare train station and branching over it’s tracks. In 1970 he developed the text for Spatial Paris which showed the city as a machine, flat-gridded, with directional arrows indicating the area and circulation relationship proposed by transformation of the Metro and roadways.

Paul Maymont, also a member of GIAP, developed a more systematic approach to megastructures. His most famous projects were Spatial Paris and Paris under Seine. He started his career with Tokyo Bay project(1959). The first stage of the Spatial Paris project was developed after 1960, with mushroom shaped structures, each housing 15-30k inhabitants, located in the wetlands area of Paris, regular and symmetrically shaped. In 1965 this concept got bigger- became a vast network of organically conceived cells, each made of a central round building and surrounded by mushroom towers, each cell can take 100k inhabitants. Paris under Seine consisted of an underground 14 lane highway, parking for 500k cars, public and private spaces, and a circulation route to link the city centre and west highways.

GIAP (Groupe International d’Architecture Prospective)- short-lived (1965-1970), founded by M. Ragon, the small group never developed a coherent program or shared vision, bringing together only briefly architects and artists with differing aesthetic and ideological perspectives on the nature and future of a utopian urban landscape. The group brought together architects, artists, engineers, urbanists, photographers, sociologists, biologists, critics, theorists, and researched new urban and architectural solutions. Its members included Ionel Schein, N. Schoffer, V. Vasarely, M. Ragon, Y. Friedman, G. Patrix, Walter Jonas.

Ragon believed that utopian and visionary projects should have been adopted by the government for the replanning of Paris and other cities. He created the term “spatial urbanism”. He wanted to shape spatial culture by providing a single reference point for prospective cities that could develop and disseminate models for environment, technology, art of tomorrow. He did it through exhibitions, publications, symposiums. After some years other theorists such as Abraham Moles and H. van Lier and the critic Pierre Restany entered spatialist scene.

V. Vasarely used a “planetary folklore” system of limited selection of geometric shapes and colors, which were used for prototype developing for facades.

Walter Jonas- famous for project “Intrapolis”, inverted the form of Maymont’s mushroom cities. They were conceived in groups linked together, representing closed social and economic space, designed for maximum density and privacy and had private gardens on each others roof.

N. Schoffer- participant in both GIAP and Groupe Espace. His most famous project- “Cybernetic city”- was a gigantic computer, the main function of which was the production of ambient space for variety of functions within separately distinguished interconnected buildings for work, leisure, shopping, pleasure.

Andre Bloc- was a French architect, sculptor, editor, and founder of L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui and the Groupe Espace in 1949. In 1951, in company with several artists, Bloc formed the group Espace. Its goal was to bring the ideals of constructivism and neo-plasticism to urbanism and the social arena. Artists and urbanists such as Jean Dewasne, Etienne Bóthy, Jean Gorin, Félix Del Marle, Edgard Pillet, Victor Vasarely and Nicolas Schöffer were members of the group, which considered architecture, painting, sculpture and art in general as a social phenomenon.

Schulze-Fielitz in 1961 was a member of the Groupe d'étude d'architecture mobile (GEAM). In 1962 / 63 he collaborated with Friedman in the project of a city bridge over the English Channel, a multi-level space structure that combined train and car routes between France and England with aerial residential areas: a megastructure following-up the linear cities. 

GEAM consisted also of Friedman, W. Ruhnan, G. Gunchel, C. Friemen, D. G. Emmerich.

Why was the spatial frame such a strong motif?

From the 19th century prefabricated systems were used to eliminate distinctions between art and science in architecture, synthesizing the organic and the man-made using structural principles from microscopic images of organic materials like leaves or bones.
Architecture Principe was formed in 1963 by the architect Claude Parent and the theorist Paul Virilio. They were joined by painter Michel Carrade and sculptor Morice Lipsi. The group had a major commission - the church of Sainte Bernadette in Nevers, brutalist, rounded and opaque, was a nihilist manifesto against the lightness and mobility of spatialists. Certain floor surfaces were inclined, adopting the main AP concept “function of oblique". The oblique plane was the main device for AP in architecture and urbanism, representing a return to bodily interaction with architecture that confronts inhabitants - one would be required to combat imbalance and climb and descend the inclines, and “habitable circulation”. Man was being put in action, made kinetic by the place it contains, his comfort with orthogonal surfaces was disrupted.

Another important project was “Conical City”, 1960. This project was based on classical megastructural devices: maximum liberation of ground and total sun exposure. Stepped sloping sides of the structures formed garden decks. Resisting the spatial logic of networks and integration into the landscape, self-contained, immovable objects were common for AP.

Consumer society was never visually embraced in France unlike Archigram, Hans Hollein in Austria or Superstudio. Archigram represented the distinct Americanisation of modernist discourse and structure itself. The French however were more concerned about man himself, while structure were made to be abstract. Similar projects and concepts were developed by Frei Otto, Rudolf Dornach, which were like those of the Metabolists or Spatialists, stacking prefab pods and setting cities afloat.

As a conclusion of this period, Piano and Rogers's Pompidou Centre (1977) was built and can be seen as a memorial to these megastructural aspirations, the emblem of all the French school did not achieve. They had a profound faith in technology, a flaw that blinded them to the changes implemented by mass culture. Their modernism was slow and lacked the speed of progress compared to the social sciences, and developed into a sense of isolation from architectural developments in other countries as well as an interior isolation that defined architecture’s distance from other intellectual enterprises.

Below is a short film on the Centre Pompidou made by Year 3 msa students

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