UD 514 Spring’08 IYTE
3rd Week Summary Submission
THEORIES OF URBAN SPATIAL DESIGN
This article examine three significantly different theories of urban spatial design on the basis of research into the evolution of modern space; figure-ground theory, linkage theory and place theory.
Figure-ground theory is founded on consideration of land coverage buildings as solid mass to open voids. Naturally each environment has an existence of “solids” and “voids”; in spatial design, figure-ground theory is to manipulate these relationship by “adding” or “substracting”. Figure-ground studies reveal the collectivety of patterns and classify them;
The first important type of urban solid can be characterized as public manuments or institutions which express political and social signifincance. Following these, predominant field of urban blocks define urban solids, since field is organized by repetition of parcels determined by use; residential, office, retail or industrial. Size, pattern and orientation of urban blocks are also considerably important. Another category of solids is formed by directional or edge-defining buildings that are generally nonrepetitive, specialized form, often linear in configuration; such as buildings adjusted to face a boulvard, circle or square, or to establish the edge of a district.
Five types of urban voids play a part in exterior city; entry foyer street that establish security-eye on the street, inner block voids-semiprivate residential space, network of street and squares that contains active public life, public park and gardens that contrast to architectural urban forms and lastly linear open space system related to waterfront features.
Linkage theory was highly popular in 1960’s. This theory involves the organization of lines connects the parts of the city and indicates flow of movement, axis and buildng adge. According to Maki, urban space is defined by three different types; “compositional form” consists of buildings in abstract patterns that are composed of two-dimensional plan, “megaform” where structures are connected to a linear framework in a hierarchial, open-ended system in that linkage is physically imposed and “group form” that results from communal open space which historic towns and villages have tended to develop. Leading figure was generated by Kenzo in Expo’70 where futuristic forms connected by circulation systems. Another example of this theory is Urban Design Manhattan that emphasize scheme for horizantal linkages between high-rise elements. A further illustration is Peter Cook’s Plug-in City of 1964 where interchangable parts are lined by transportation systems. In these experiments, relating to this theory, dominates machine aesthetic and technology.
Place theory begins with understanding the cultural and human characteristics of physcal space. Following this one should be aware of that “space” is purposeful void or bounded with potential of physical linking things, it only becomes “place” when it is given contextual meaning derived from cultural and regional context.
For designers to create truely unique contextual places, they must more than superficially explore the local history, the feelings and the needs of the inhabitans, the traditions and political and economic realities of the community. “You must just listen carefully.”
The most important question is how designers respond to time and place in these too much zoning and too much planning perpective. According to Kevin Lynch; to establish or to maintain nodes, paths, edges, landmarks and to connect and to define districts, manument that give “imaginability” to a city. There are some more major approaches to the place theory like Lynch’s “mental map that consists of legibility, imaginability, structure and identity,”. While Stanford studies the ecology, Lucien Kroll allows clients to create their own designs. Besides, Erskine is one of the famous contextualist whose designs blend proposed and existing structures in an informal organic arrangements. Another member of reaction against functionalists; French contextualists are occupied with adding richness by imposing completely different and contradictory geometries that penetrate the existings. They see the city as a complex system of confrontataions that enrich the meaning of district.
To sum up, one failure that designer could do is to be obsessed with one of these three, since living city consists of a layering of elements in each theory. For instance, if the place theory is applied without regarding to linkage and figure-background, important connections outside the design area or new opportunities may be lost. Taking together all theories can provide us potential strategies, since each of them has own value. According to article, the key is to apply these conviently and collectively to each urban design project.