Research Study
Analogous City: Interpretations and Memories

Fall 2019 
Professor: Hilary Bryon
Individual Work 

Analogous City, aims to capture the scope of research and study in support and related to personal experiences. Through a variety of analogous studies, such as diagrams illustrating urban conditions, collages demonstrating two distinctive city histories, and simple design schemes informed by basic urban features, my appreciation of a city’s underlying structures was deepened in the aspect of order, diversity, and history. 

The study collects and applies architectural design as research, and thus fosters a recognition in who, where, and how one can relate to a given the context.

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The diversity of urban streets were studied through three essential features: the boundary that marks a street’s limits; the vista of a distant view along a path; and the network composed by multi-purpose streets under specific needs. Streets, such as alleys, standard streets, and boulevards, create different scalar paths for a diversity of orchestrated movement as well as adaptation.

 The Basics of Street Typology

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The Space-time of the City

The diversity of urban streets were studied through three essential features: the boundary that marks a street’s limits; the vista of a distant view along a path; and the network composed by multi-purpose streets under specific needs. Streets, such as alleys, standard streets, and boulevards, create different scalar paths for a diversity of orchestrated movement as well as adaptation.

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The series of diagrams is listing a variety of urban conditions of streets, corners, intersections, and network, such as : a street bordered with lines of deciduous trees, an avenue constructed with diversified building facades, a dead-end alley terminated with a wall with a half-hidden object behind it, or an intersection marked with a central monument. The collection of urban conditions, as they differed with geographical location and social conditions, are contributing to the uniqueness of a city.

The Diversity of Urban Conditions

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The series of diagrammatic space investigates how a city is structured for the occurrence of a variety of activities. Each diagram started with the establishment of an orthogonal grid, which is interpreted with basic architectural elements. By intervening in the neutral conditions of the order, a set of hierarchical, dynamic, temporary, and phenomenal urbanistic spaces is suggestive for people to interpret through their experience. Gradually, a systematic collection is established with the relationship between architecture and people, underpinning the order that sets forth possibilities.

The Possibilities of Urban Grids

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The history of New York City starts with the structure of grids. The collage shows five layered maps of NYC at different times and suggests strength, power,and ambition through a grid’s use to conquer the untamed nature of extensive, unbounded land. Over time, the restricted size of each urban grid-plot prompts architectural spaces to be stacked vertically and so lead to taller and taller buildings. On the other hand, the buildings, portrayed as monumental objects on postcards, reinforce the notion of autonomous block and promote a vision of NYC as a an aggregation of isolated islands of buildings.

NYC - the Grid and Monumentality

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In Rome, maps are a symbolic art representing human awareness of space. They reflect physical space through the positioning of objects, but also socio-cultural spaces. The collage emphasizes the idea of "Insturatio Urbis" meaning literally the installments of the city, but referring to the combined presence of artifacts and experiences. Unlike the scientific method and figure-ground technique used in Nolli’s map, this collage reveals Rome as a collection of individual architectural structures juxtaposed with the surrounding pictorial renderings. "Insturatio Urbis" tries to suggest a scenic experience as we meander through the city.

Rome - “Insturatio Urbis” - the Installments of the City

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We are city strollers. The route we take is consciously informed by underlying structures which holds the integrity of a city. A city that narrates its past and foretells its future through layers of structuring lines. When we are experiencing the order of interactive lines, planes, arrows, and waves, our senses are stimulated by information from all directions. We walk, pulse, wonder, and talk, thus forming the orchestra of active lines which reinforce the order of a city.

 “ Take a Line for a Walk " in the City - Inspired by Paul Klee

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The rhythmic movements are prevalent in artworks. The Chinese painting of a Thousand Lis of Rivers and Mountains, a hand-scroll of 39 feet, suggests a reading of landscape either as compositional scenes or a continuous panorama. As well, the masterpiece of Wagner’s music composed of rhythmic movements reveals scenographic stories, as the essential piano score is strengthened through the repetitions and iterations. 

Rhythmic Movements in Artworks

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The diagram suggests an approach in examining the city through a systematic approach, which refers to the six lessons taught by Igor Stravinsky's Poetics of Music: the phenomenon, the structure, the example, the typology, and the activity. This synthesis logic can be applied to study a city, which Stravinsky explains as "to explain .. to unfold, to develop - is to describe something, to discover its genesis, to note the relationship of things to each other, to seek to throw light upon them."

The Synthesis of a City 

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Urban theory evolves with technical inventions and social revolutionaries. From ancient civilizations relying on geographical location till today's digital age representing the city with a mega database, we examine, shape, question, and reform the place we are inhabiting as the city reciprocally influences us. As the inconsistency between visions and realities always exists in these studies, none of the theories can provide an optimum structure for us to live within.

The Lineage of Urban Theory 

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A city is an ever-changing, ever-growing field, of which the condition is revealed through interactions between people and space. The order of the city prescribes our activities in certain ways, while still provides opportunities for us to act upon it. The design of the field constructed with the idea of columns is trying to demonstrate this contingency across time. 

An Ever-changing Field Constructed with Column

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The idea in this study proposed a field that varies across the season, which consists of a set of pavilions anchored through columns, rows of deciduous magnolia trees, and people who would participate in the site. Over the years, the pits of rotting trees would be slowly replaced with light fixtures. In the end, the land would become a garden filled with lights on the ground. 

An Ever-changing Field Constructed with Column

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Words and Terms - Credited to OED

Notes and Sketches