Utopias: Probes into Architectural Ambitions
• noun an imagined perfect
place or state of things.
ORIGIN the title of a book (1516) by Sir Thomas More,
from Greek ou ‘not’ + topos ‘place’.
• noun1 a strong
desire to do or achieve something. 2 desire for success, wealth, or
— ORIGIN Latin, from ambire
All modern architecture could be said as relational to
utopian thought. That is modern architecture, if we understand it to be more
than building or construction itself, is coupled with ambitions to make the
world, the city, the town, the house, the hut to be a “better” place than the
space which preceded it. To think of architecture is to think of utopian
thoughts. Fundamentally, architects imagine; they rarely if ever actually
build. And the architect’s imagination is often focused to the idea of a
perfect place or more perfect state of things; a utopian enterprise.
To understand architecture is to open a world to
utopian thinking. And to begin to understand Utopia and is various incarnations
is to open a world to architecture itself. As Giovanni BattistaPiranesi
showed us so powerfully in his 18th century etchings in the Carceri
Plates, utopia and dystopia are beautiful twins from the same mother and to approach
utopia is to have fear of a dystopia. Likewise this semester will weave in and
out of this amazingly provocative theoretical landscape.
Utopias: Probes into Architectural Ambitions will critically
examine and investigate the many ways land, space, and the city is thought,
developed, formed, and occupied. Though it will be an examination of city
idealization and the ambitions employed to manifest such ideas – the basis for architectural
transformation. The overall focus of the seminar will be the discussion and
interrogation of influential theorists, architects writings, and representative
projects in the field of utopian urban architecture. The seminar’s specific
focus will be to utilize the urban places of Singapore
and Dubai to
make apparent specific ambitions and their relationship to urban Utopias/dystopias.
The semester will be composed of two parts: Lectures
and student presentations of respective probes. Lectures will present the
theoretical concepts through case studies of both written and documented
projects. Student Probes will be base on student presentations of selected urban
“readings” and investigations specific to Singapore
and Dubai on
predetermined topics. Students are expected to develop literacy in history of
Utopian architectural aspirations as a lens to develop a series of forensic
investigations into Singapore
Student will responsible for original and challenging
readings of their specific topic through both visual and graphical materials.
Presentations will be based on critical reading of the world around and not on
specific theoretical texts alone. Yet the course reading list will be utilized
when necessary to elaborate on specific ideas or important histories required
to extend such student initiated discoveries. The course will be taught as
weaving inside and outside of urban architecture with equal focus on both the
theoretical and the physical realm.