The summer assignments itself basically stands as previously, that is to study the historic situations of the Melun- Sénart competition in three ways: to understand the status quo of the initial brief (its encryption of the desires and economics of 80’s development); to situate the state of urbanism at this historical juncture (via the description of the other competition projects), and a posit a genealogy of elements from the OMA and COOP schedule (demonstrating how aspects of the schemes appear in preceding and subsequent work, and how the operation of the element either remains consistent or transforms). The intention of these assignments to establish context for your future efforts, a bench mark to establish the difference from which we will measure how to what has indeed changed from 1987 to now. The plan again is for you each to complete these assignments over the summer (details and approximate deadlines below) and for us to meet in September to cover this material in review and seminar as well as to conduct some workshops (and perhaps a charette) on these matters. Over the fall the topics will cover the contemporary scene, looking at other cities, situations, and technologies that have been influential in the development of urban strategies over the last 20 year. The efforts in these months will be split between research activities and design propositions (perhaps revising other design competitions over the 1987-2007 period). By December we will shift into explicitly the idea of a Neue Melum 2009 with your own competition schemes.
Regarding the summer assignments:
1) REDESCRIBE THE BRIEF
The task here is to diagram of the original 1987 brief for the Melun- Sénart competition. The point of this re-description is to explicate the needs, desires, ideologies and assumptions contained within the brief as well as expose its operative assumptions. The original brief is already expressed in the form of plans and paragraphs so you will need to invent other means of description in order to liberate the brief from the limitations of the presumptively obvious. The re-descriptions could be in any number of forms: bar graphs, pie charts, story boards, narratives, images, etc…be inventive.
Due: first 5 sheets posted to blog by 15 August, total of 10 sheets total for September session (including revisions of first 5).
2) ANALYZE THE COMPETITORS
The task is to understand not only what it is the other entries to Melun- Sénart competition are doing (that is, the what, where, and how much of what they proposing), but also speculate as to why they are doing it (that is, some imagination / classification on your part as to what tradition of urbanism the entry belongs…late-modern, neo-rational, field theory, etc). Your information is admittedly partial. My understanding is that in some cases you only have a copy of the competition boards, in others only copies of an image of the overall plan. In all cases it is incumbent on you to posit / create / invent the necessary documentation to generate the fiction of a complete entry. This is also true in terms of figuring out its type of urbanism. Here you can avail yourself of visual similarity and random sleuthing in books and magazines for comparable examples. This should give you a general idea; we will ignore the possibility of pseduomorphism for the moment. The assignment of specific projects was made in a previous e-mail from Timea. Please contact her directly if you do not have a copy to be sure you are working on the right projects. My understanding is that you each of two projects.
Due: 5 sheets on the first project posted to blog by 1 September, 5 sheets on the second project due at September session
3) TRACE THE TROPES
The task is to construct a genealogy of the elements contained in the Coop and Oma schemes. This would include considerations such as: where do the elements come from – as in other occurrences of the element outside the work of these practices? In what other projects did they occur before in the work of these firms before Melun- Sénart? In what projects did they appear after Melun- Sénart? Do the elements remain consistent in appearance or do they transform? Do the elements remain consistent in their use or do they transform? These elements (motifs in Reiner’s terminology) could be any number of things both specific and / or general (the grid, angularity, segregation, striation, and others). Each of you are to select one such element from one of the projects / practices and construct the genealogy. The selection is up to you, it can be from either project, but it can be only one such element from one practice.
Due: 5 sheets total due at September session (no preparatory blog posting for these).
A few notes on the assignment: So far the diagramming efforts seem to have been focused on the vectoral (how far, how fast, in what direction). Please add to your considerations for these new studies a consideration of the quantitative (how big, how many, totals overall). In terms of more prosaic contest, for these assignments please do constrict them in horizontal format on A3 sheets. Use one font, Helvetica or the like. Each sheet should have a title (which tells what the page is), a definitive sentence (which gives the “meaning” of the sheet, the point one should understand from it), also all diagrams on the sheet should be labeled. If there is a lot of text, then highlight the most important part. If it too difficult to write a title which defines the sheet, or a sentence which explains the sheet, then you have too much information and need to expand it to more pages. The sequence of the pages should represent a narrative, arranging the pages in your specific order should allow for the reader to get your meaning (hopefully all) w/o further explications (the orders should work in both final submission, and in the abbreviated blog submission). The sheets should be more similar than different, that is things like the title, sentence and other information should occupy the same position on each page. Make the pages as self-suffice as possible, everything you need to know should appear on the page, in a way that has both hierarchy and legibility. I will attach some examples of the kinds of sheets I have in mind to the blog. These are examples from student work at OSU, not exactly applicable to your urban studies, but they do give you a general indication of the graphic effect of these research sheets. Also don’t be after to go back and revisit your earlier diagramming exercises and bring the same intensity and energy into these efforts, the grays of urbanism (and 80s Xerox technology), seem to have colored recent efforts.