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.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The World Has Been Empty Since The Romans: Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'Ian Hamilton Finlay'

Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) was one of the most original artists of the twentieth century. Early in his career he was Britain’s foremost concrete poet and his approach to his work – whatever material he used, whether wood, stone, neon, bronze or paper – remained that of a poet giving form to ideas. This display at Tate Britain focuses on Ian Hamilton Finlay’s recourse to a neo-classical idiom and his creation of sculptures that, by their conjunction of word and image, play with an emblematic use of reference and metaphor whose adopted form is most often that of the idyll. Until 17 February 2013

Monday 26 November 2012

Where 4 are they now?

Luke Butcher graduated from MA A+U with Distinction in 2011 and completed his professional architectural education with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2012, achieving another Distinction and receiving the Hays Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Professional Studies". Luke is currently on the Graduate Management Training Programme at Mace in London. Luke says 'The Graduate Management Training Programme is an exciting opportunity that allows me to work alongside programme and project managers, specialists in construction delivery and cost consultancy, and facilities managers.'   Luke's MA A+U thesis The Architecture of the Profession is available to purchase here

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Camillo Sitte: City Planning According to Artistic Principles (1889)

Reviewed by Thomas Sydney
Despite being written over 120 years ago, Camillo Sitte’s most famous work is still seen as relevant today as it was when published in 1889. City Planning according to Artistic Principles is not purely an attack on the modern planning systems of the time, but an attempt to define a unity between modern and artistic methods through the creation of suitable public space. Upon its publication a new breed of theorists and practitioners developed who were concerned with the city and its planning.   Camillo Sitte was born in Vienna and it was here where he conducted the basis of his work. Whilst Sitte trained as an Architect, he had a strong artistic background and found prominence as an academic. He worked in a time of intense change in European cities as economic factors, sanitation and transport were becoming the most important influences on city planning - planning was becoming an exercise undertaken in plan on the drafting board, not on site in the street or the square.   He travelled extensively throughout Europe visiting cities in Italy, France and Germany as well as his native Austria. Through his travels, Sitte observed how these cities had developed and established a set of principles by which he believed cities should be planned. These ideas were based primarily on the plaza and associated public space and were presented in City Planning according to Artistic Principles. The book is mainly concerned with the increasingly technical way our cities were being designed at the expense of traditional artistic methods. Whilst Sitte laments the loss of these artistic methods and techniques witnessed during his frequent travels throughout Europe, he accepted that modern techniques were required in city planning with particular regard to increased levels of hygiene and motorised traffic.
  Sitte was concerned that impressive modern buildings were increasingly being seen against a backdrop of poor public space as all resources were poured into the architecture of a building, not its surroundings. From his travels, he saw the work of the Renaissance and Baroque periods as exemplar in their use and manipulation of public space and as such he wanted to achieve a unity between modern methods and the artistic techniques of the past.   City Planning according to Artistic Principles maintains that the key element of successful city planning is the plaza or public square. There exists a context and history of use in these public spaces which make them vital to cities. When created and utilised correctly they create a backdrop to everyday life within the city, animating their surrounding buildings as well as providing a space to observe powerful buildings and monuments as they were intended to be seen.   Sitte observed many plazas during his travels and defined three types of public plaza based upon their intended use; the palace plaza, the cathedral plaza and the town hall plaza. These public spaces concentrated all the prominent buildings of their type in one pure space within the city where all distraction and unnecessary elements could be excluded. Sitte cites the Palazzo Del Duomo in Pisa as an exemplar religious plaza where the placement of the cathedral, baptistry, crypt and religious quarters within one unified space creates a ‘pure chord’ rarely seen in today’s cities.   One of the key characteristics of successful public plazas is their enclosed nature, restricting views out of the space and limiting endless perspectives. Aligned with this idea is that of buildings being built into the walls of the plaza. Sitte states that the centre of plazas are not suitable positions for buildings, the best location being tied in to the plaza walls to ensure the enclosure of the public space. He backs this stance up with his observations of churches in Rome where only 6 of the 255 churches are not attached to another building.
  Sitte is also concerned with the position of monuments within public spaces. As with the siting of buildings, he believes that the centres of plazas should be kept free to allow essential lines of communication and sight to be maintained. He observes that modern plazas are often blocked by the installation of a statue on the central axis. A more suitable approach is the placement of items around the edge of a plaza which allows for more decorations as well as developing more dramatic environments for statues. The history of Michelangelo’s David is cited as an example of how modern thought has spoilt the appreciation of the famous statue. Michelangelo created the marble statue to sit in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence. Its position here contrasted with the surroundings, emphasising the scale of the work; upon its relocation within an art gallery after over 350 years this contrast was lost.   Through all this, Sitte’s main concern is that of space. He states that the plaza should define an area of suitable proportions that people could comprehend and understand the extent of the space. Sitte mentions that the increasingly large proportions of modern plazas is linked to the newly diagnosed condition of agoraphobia.   City Planning according to Artistic Principles is also concerned about the increasing use of grid layouts for streets in the development of cities. Sitte uses similar principles to those of plazas to define how streets should work within the city; notably the definition of suitable space, the reduction of endless perspectives and the bending or re-routing of streets to avoid the creation of awkward junctions and plazas.   Camillo Sitte accepts that modern systems of city planning cannot be avoided and can be of benefit if developed with artistic methods in mind. He draws attention to several examples of modern development from Germany and Austria which he sees as more suitable as well as highlighting several of his own exemplar projects which try to unite artistic methods into a modern city planning system.   He concludes by presenting a series of proposals for Vienna’s Western Ringstrasse where he suggests several interventions to adapt the current city layout to create more suitable public spaces for the existing prominent and powerful buildings.   These proposals ultimately fell on deaf ears as none were implemented. However, the ideas put forward by Camillo Sitte in City Planning according to Artistic Principles have persisted and found favour particularily with the Townscape movement of the 1950s.  

Saturday 17 November 2012

Architecture + Urbanism recommends "Aldo Rossi's Ambivalent Theories of Analogical Imagination in Architecture"

MARC guest lecture JEAN-PIERRE CHUPIN "Aldo Rossi's Ambivalent Theories of Analogical Imagination in Architecture" 2.00pm 20 November 2012 Room C5.1 (Wing C) Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester

Monday 12 November 2012

Where are they now? 3.0

2012 MA A+U graduate Pablo Estefanell has returned home to Uruguay. Pablo had previously studied architecture at ORT Uruguay before coming to Manchester. Since his return he has participated in the architectural workshop Montevideo 2031 and is working on building projects for greening the roofs of the city's apartment blocks.
Pablo has more work here

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Ebenezer Howard: Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902)

A précis of Ebenezer Howard's pioneering book by Juan Manuel Del Castillo
"How to stop the drift from the country? The labourer may perhaps be restored to the land, but how will the country industries be restored to rural England?" These are two of the main problems of the day. In order to give a proper answer to these questions, we need to consider two vital elements of English society, whose relationships shaped the aspect of present human settlements: the Town and the Country. Both present a series of advantages, like social opportunity and high money wages in the case of the Town; and the beauty of nature and fresh air low rents in the case of the Country. In contrast, they also present a series of disadvantages, like the isolation of crowds and the army of unemployed in the case of the Town; and the lack amusement and infrastructure in the case of the country. However, there is a third magnet, wich presents all the advantages of its predecessors and none of their disadvantages. The Town-Country magnet, thus, will preserve big chances of employment and public spirit with a sense of being close to forests and meadows. Since the average size of building lot in this Garden City is 20 by 130 feet, the density achieved will be of five and a half persons per house. Due to this condition, in order to obtain a general observance of street lines, municipal control is necessary. Moreover, regarding the services of the garden city and depending on proving capability, the private sector or the municipality can provide them for the whole town or for a section of it. Charitable and philanthropic institutions can also play an important role in the construction of public buildings. The Garden City, wich is to be built in the center of an area of 6000 acres, covers an area of 1000 acres and might be of circular form, 1240 yards from centre to circumference. It is divided in six equal parts by magnificent boulevards, that intersect each other in the centre of a circular space containing about five and a half acres, where a big garden is surrounded by all larger public buildings like the town hall, concert and lecture hall, library, theatre, museum and hospital. A wide glass arcade called the "Crystal Palace", runs all around the Central Park, encircling 145 acres with ample public recreation grounds within very easy access of all the people. Passing out from the Crystal Palace, we find a ring of excellently built houses and afterwards, we find the Grand Avenue with its 420 feet wide, that forms a belt of green dividing the part of the town which lies outside Central Park into two belts. In this splendid avenue we can find six sites reserved for public schools, playgrounds and gardens. On the outer ring of the town are a wide range of factories and markets fronting the circle railway, which encompasses the whole town and connects them with the main line of railway wich passes through the estate. All machinery is driven by electric energy, keeping the smoke well within bounds in the Garden City and resulting in a reduction of costs of electricity for lighting and other purposes.
The agricultural portions of the estate, which are to be held by various individuals in large farms, small holdings, allotments, cow pastures, etc., utilize the refuse of the town and are located after the first 1240 yards. The short distances between consumers and producers reduce the costs related to transportation and establish a fruitful relationship, that can lead, also, to the possibility of raising agricultural rents. It is an important part of the project that each ward, or one sixth part of the city, should be a complete town by itself. To this end, school buildings might serve, in the earlier stages, not only as schools but as places of religious worship, for concerts, for libraries, and for meetings of various kinds, so that all outlay on expensive municipal and other buildings might be deferred until the later stages of the enterprise. Before commencing on another, work would be practically completed in one ward. Those portions of the town site on which building operations were not in progress would also be a source of revenue, either as allotments, cow pastures, or, perhaps, as brickfields. The final scheme of the town would not be the work of one mind, but of many, the minds of engineers, of architects and surveyors, of landscape gardeners and electricians. The unity of design and purpose is essential, the town should be planned as a whole and not left to grow up in a chaotic manner. Four important elements of the project: 1. No landlord rent 2. A site clear of buidings 3. Economy arising out of a definite plan 4. The possibility of introducing machinery for engineering operations Parks are a significant portion of the scheme. Much of them will be left in a state of nature, but the municipality will also encourage sport clubs like cricket, tennis or football to place their facilities there. Democracy is the system chosen to rule the Garden City. A board of management will be elected to take charge of administrative affairs and it will be formed of a central council and departments, such as Public Health, Engineering and Social Purpose departments. Moreover, the board of management will also be in charge of controlling the shops and stores, specifically: 1. Induce tenants of the shopkeeping class to come and start in business, offering to the community adequate rate-rents 2. Prevent the absurd and wasteful multiplication of shops 3. Secure low prices, a wide range of choice, fair dealing, civility, etc. 4. Avoid the evils attending monopoly Regarding workers exploitation, it could be avoided encouraging the workers to do pro-municipal work, a well paid and rewarding kind of work. Finally, the way the Garden City should grow, in order to avoid a scattered form, should be a radial development. This is specially important when thinking about its application to London's present situation. The proposed siting of eight to ten new satellite towns and reservation of country belt is part of the radial and cellular future growing intended for the capital city. The most important matter for this respects, will be the building of one small Garden City as a working model, which eventually will lead to a group of cities that can interact with each other as has been previously described.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'Disruption in Large Urban Transit Systems'

'Disruption in Large Urban Transit Systems' Professor Mike Batty CBE FBA FRS A joint Geography + Planning and cities@manchester seminar Wednesday 5 December 3.30-5.00pm Venue to be confirmed
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