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Proceedings of the 18th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student

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Design -- Study and teaching, Architecture -- Study and teaching, Design (Philosophy), Cities and towns -- Analysis


In the fundamental design studio, I have been using two disparate cities from dramatically distinct topological and topographical situations as the protagonists in an American urban love story. Students dissect the essential structure and quality of each city into discernible layers of data, and speculate about the similarities and differences between the two. Then collaboratively, students "mate" the cities together to form an offspring city that contains the "genetic" layers of data from its parents. The teams of collaborators must critically transform both cities into one, designing the insertions and overlays from one into the other at the regional scale, precinct scale, and block scale. This project is followed by a small urban institution situated within the newly recombined city and addresses some of the new contextual inventions asserted by the students.

These projects, affectionately named by the students such titles as "Baltinix" or "Richnix", explore the boundaries of existence between two distinctly different settlements: one colonial, the other post war; one geographically formed, the other gridded; one industrial, the other a city of leisure; one a coastal city, the other a desert city. In doing so, students not only are asked to analyze different contexts and settlement patterns, but are required to apply their findings to the task of designing a new city based on those studied. The contested terrain between two such different topological existences is exploited in this project and paper; perhaps shedding light into how other conditions of contradiction can be mitigated and transformed.


Presented at the 18th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon. March 14-16, 2002.

© Portland State University, published by Portland State University, Department of Architecture

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