A City-Machine Design Studio Cycle: Offered at Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, 1999-2000 and TVB School of Habitat Studies, 2004-05.

— Anand Bhatt, Neelkanth Chhaya, BV Doshi and Mark Warner.

The city was seen as a me­chan­i­cal as­sem­blage, pro­duc­ing ever new for­ma­tions within it­self, con­stantly trans­form­ing and find­ing new iden­ti­ties. We thought in a sin­gle de­ter­mi­nate mo­bil­i­sa­tion rep­re­sented by the ty­po­graph­i­cal di­a­gramme above. Wherein we analysed Urban sys­tems as con­sti­tuted of var­i­ous topolo­gies, a con­se­quence of force di­a­grammes—a flex­ion—which may be termed a City-Machine.
  • … hav­ing to do with domi­cile, or do­mes­tic and no­madic topolo­gies

  • … hav­ing to do with real space, or sur­face bound­aries

  • … hav­ing to do with the pub­lic,

  • and spaces of pro­duc­tion, ex­change and con­sump­tion.

The ex­er­cise was con­structed as a sin­gle, loosely formed se­quence of ideas, fo­cus­ing on the com­plex, organic’ mul­ti­plic­i­ties that con­sti­tute South Asian cities. We were fo­cussed, on the one hand, on his­tor­i­cal processes con­stantly in­form­ing the shap­ing of the city, and on the other, on the moment’. The city was seen as a quasi-in­dus­trial sys­tem, which worked in or­der to re-pro­duce it­self and our de­sign process bor­rowed ideas from the dis­ci­plines of pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing and in­dus­trial en­gi­neer­ing.

The city was seen as a me­chan­i­cal as­sem­blage, pro­duc­ing ever new for­ma­tions within it­self, con­stantly trans­form­ing and find­ing new iden­ti­ties. We thought in a sin­gle de­ter­mi­nate mo­bil­i­sa­tion where we analysed Urban sys­tems as con­sti­tuted of var­i­ous topolo­gies, a con­se­quence of force di­a­grammes which might be stated as: a City-Machine.

A city-Ma­chine and its sub-sys­tems were syn­the­sized as 3D di­a­grammes and the di­a­grammes were treated as sites’. Architecture in this in­stance in­hab­its a syn­thetic City-Machine rather than a space plot­ting di­vi­sions and clas­si­fi­ca­tion, cor­po­re­ally rep­re­sent­ing the own­er­ship of prop­erty, or re­la­tions where a con­sump­tive Immanence of the Eater and the Eaten is es­tab­lished.

The Phenomena un­der Study

Bataille once wrote of the cathe­dral of Reims, it’s beauty and its sta­bil­ity, its ar­chi­tec­ture un­til the war, and one day the shells ar­rived. The writ­ing in a sense en­cap­su­lates the his­tory of 20th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture, and the city: a city of processes at once for­ma­tive and de­struc­tive, the processes of pro­duc­tion, the pro­duc­tion of pro­duc­tion re­la­tions, and the pro­duc­tion of de­struc­tion.

The Object un­der Study

The ur­ban arte­fact is an ob­jec­tile, a word to be placed in the same cat­e­gory as tac­tile, or pro­jec­tile — a shell. Bound to and mo­bilised by its own tra­jec­tory and not much be­sides.

The twen­ti­eth-cen­tury town was a cor­re­late of the road, it is said. The twen­ti­eth cen­tury saw a trans­for­ma­tion in the way we un­der­stand the ur­ban arte­fact, freed at last from the con­fines of phys­i­cal­ity, of the sur­face. The ur­ban arte­fact is seen out­side of the em­pir­i­cally ex­pe­ri­ence­able as our un­der­stand­ing of space and our own bod­ies trans­formed we now know space and our bod­ies with senses other then the bod­ily.

By its tra­jec­to­ries, the ob­jec­tile forms a vast force field, a math­e­mat­i­cal space, on the one hand, a space of di­a­grammes, of the decomposition of bend­ing mo­ments or of flex­ions … where nu­mer­i­cal di­vi­sion is only the con­di­tion of mor­pho­genetic move­ments’ and on the other hand, the for­ma­tion of an or­gan­ism … increasingly prob­a­ble and nat­ural when an in­fin­ity of in­ter­me­di­ate states is given’.

Objective

To en­ter the di­a­gramme com­posed, to en­ter the field and to in­spect con­di­tions pos­si­ble by which the Urban Formation comes into be­com­ing.

This de­sign stu­dio cy­cle sets out to learn to map, draw and com­pose the codes within which so­ci­eties live, and cities come into ex­is­tence. If the city is not un­der­stood as com­posed of membranes and lim­its”, then the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior mi­lieus come to­gether as cod­ings.

The agent of rep­re­sen­ta­tion will need to com­pose and con­struct the ap­pro­pri­ate mem­branes, but these will al­ways need to arise from the processes of the mi­lieux.

Footnotes

  1. Flexion/Abduction
  2. Shell: Only to­day, mu­til­i­ated, she rises in des­o­la­tion.
  3. City/State: The town is the cor­re­late of the road. The town ex­ists only as a func­tion of cir­cu­la­tion and of cir­cuits; it is a sin­gu­lar point on the cir­cuits which cre­ate it and which it cre­ates. It is de­fined by en­tries and ex­its: some­thing must en­ter it and exit from it. It im­poses a fre­quency. It ef­fects a po­lar­iza­tion of mat­ter, in­ert, liv­ing or hu­man; it causes the phy­lum, the flow, to pass through spe­cific places, along hor­i­zon­tal lines. It is a phe­nom­e­non of transcon­sis­tency, a net­work, be­cause it is fun­da­men­tally in con­tact with other towns. — Deleuze, Gilles; and Felix Guattari City-State [from Plateau 13 of Mille plateaux]”, trans­lated by Brian Massumi Zone 1-2 (1985): 194-217.
  4. Typological Instituted(s): By Typological Instituted(s) I mean things such as the in­scrip­tions, marks of the state, the internal’ reg­u­la­tory prin­ci­ples that in­di­cate the hi­ero­glyph that per­sists at the core of ar­chi­tec­ture.