Page N1.2 . 24 August 2005                     
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  • Urban Worlds Meeting
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    Urban Worlds Meet


    These opening messages were warmly received by the 7000 ethnically and culturally diverse attendees. The importance of cities and their "many colors" were further reflected in intriguing banners and billboards throughout the city.

    Each day of the congress was marked by a wide choice of lectures, both by "star architects" and by many other practitioners and educators. Presentations ranged from theoretical discourse on the design of cities to participatory approaches to planning and design. The atmosphere was extravagant and high-tech while at the same time creating the feeling of a multicultural world gathering where newly conceived ideas and inspired directions for the future seemed possible.

    Stars and Constellations

    Professor Franco Purini, from the Faculty of Architecture of the La Sapienza University in Rome, laid out a vivid analysis of three types of cities: the city in decline, the museum city, and the emerging city. He used a series of dualities to explain the extremes of what is needed to keep cities alive. For example, he proposes the simultaneity of "memory and forgetfulness," "anonymity and recognizability," and "communication and silence."

    Purini said cities cannot be just one thing; they must honor their past but not lose sight of their present and future. He suggested that the focus of world attention is moving eastward, to Shanghai and Singapore for instance, and that "this change requires a change in values" for architects to help reshape all cities.

    Peter Eisenman identified several political and social rifts of the 20th century and suggested how they corresponded with major periods of architectural design. "Modern architecture was a critique of then existing architecture, abstraction initiated the movement of the past into the future... post-modernism was based on capital and represented change for the sake of change... not a change in social order."

    Eisenman held that today's computer-based media indicate that the visual and mental are in opposition with the body, tactility, and emotion. He therefore advocates for the new generation of students and architects to critique, have a social purpose, and to look to other structures such as geomorphology and biology, to shift the current state of design.

    In contrast, Denise Scott Brown spoke about the bazaar as a place of meeting for ideas and themes, with the street as the central unifier. To solve planning problems and make design decisions, one must, she said, "struggle with the whole social problem" and do a deep multidisciplinary analysis to deal with the "artistic conflict" that social and economic issues sometimes cloud.

    'Scott Brown traced these themes through her own experience and described how projects she and her partner Robert Venturi have designed, such as museums and campus buildings, have come about. She called for looking closely at the environments around inner cities and strips to identify patterns of pedestrian use as well as the specific use of signs on buildings as a vital part of American and foreign vernacular.

    Glenn Murcutt expressed his views on "not imposing architecture" but rather working from a strong regional vocabulary. He advocated literally learning from the land, flora, fauna, geomorphology, and climate as much as from people.

    Murcutt referred to concepts put forth by Juhani Pallasmaa related to "Ecological Functionalism" which implies more of a process than a product, and in which biology, utility, and beauty are united. He asked future designers in the audience to consider what the appropriate architecture is that speaks about culture, place, and time and how one's design can grow out of these concepts.

    City as Global Studio

    The congress also focused closer to home. A week-long "Global Studio" took place before the start of the congress and then joined "People Building Better Cities (PBBC)" conference stream for daily presentations. In the studio and PBBC presentations, the emphasis was on working with and within a community in a ground-up, participatory fashion.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    In the distance is Topkapi, a 16th-century Ottoman Palace, in Old Istanbul, across the Golden Horn from the site of the UIA XXII World Congress of Architecture.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

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    Colorful banners bedecked the city and compared today's designers to the historic architectural masters of Istanbul.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

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    Opening ceremonies took place amid high-tech staging surrounded by Yedikule, a Byzantine and Ottoman masonry structure with seven towers.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

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    At one of several keynote addresses, Peter Eisenman addressed conference attendees dressed in the colors of Galatasaray, a famous Istanbul soccer team.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

    ArchWeek Image

    The Sehzade mosque (1548), in the neighborhood of Laleli, was designed by the master architect Sinan with a square entry forecourt and central dome over the sanctuary.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

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    Most of the UIA group sessions took place in Taskisla, Istanbul Technical University's Faculty of Architecture building, originally an Ottoman barracks.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

    ArchWeek Image

    Late 19th- and 20th-century apartment buildings with typical Turkish bay windows and coloration, in the neighborhood of Cihangir in Pera, Istanbul.
    Photo: Alison Snyder

    ArchWeek Image

    The week-long "Global Studio" focused on the active neighborhood of Zeyrek with its mix of wooden and masonry houses with historic and modern qualities.
    Photo: Aydan Balamir


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