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25 JUNE 2010

The Open City: The Closed System and The Brittle City

"The idea of an open city is not my own: credit for it belongs to the great urbanist Jane Jacobs in the course of arguing against the urban vision of Le Corbusier. She tried to understand what results when places become both dense and diverse, as in packed streets or squares, their functions both public and private; out of such conditions comes the unexpected encounter, the chance discovery, the innovation. Her view, reflected in the bon mot of William Empson, was that 'the arts result from over–crowding'. Jacobs sought to define particular strategies for urban development, once a city is freed of the constraints of either equilibrium or integration. These include encouraging quirky, jerry–built adaptations or additions to existing buildings; encouraging uses of public spaces which don't fit neatly together, such as putting an AIDS hospice square in the middle of a shopping street. In her view, big capitalism and powerful developers tend to favour homogeneity: determinate, predictable, and balanced in form. The role of the radical planner therefore is to champion dissonance. In her famous declaration: 'if density and diversity give life, the life they breed is disorderly'. The open city feels like Naples, the closed city feels like Frankfurt."

(Richard Sennett, 2006)

Fig.1 Busy street in Naples, marlenworld.com
Fig.2 Paris, Les Olympiades, 1969–1974, Thierry Bézecourt in 2005
[3] Sennett, R. (2006). The Open City: The Closed System and The Brittle City. Urban Age.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 APRIL 2004

Minimal Structuring Design Philosophy

"minimal structuring design philosophy gives room to improvising and to making sense of the incoming events and the development of ad hoc solutions––Minimal Structures In organisational adaptive processes. of which the implementation of a new technology constitutes an example. there is a constant and pervasive need for dynamically integrate structure and flexibility. Several authors have noticed the potential relevance of this type of structure. Kamoche and Cunha (2001), building upon the Jazz metaphor, introduced the concept of 'minimal structures'. Still on the basis of jazz, Kanter (2001) referred to them as the 'theme' that prevents improvised action from degenerating into chaos. Brown and Eisenhardt (1997) described them as 'semi–structures'. Minimal structures are a set of consensual guidelines and agreements, co–ordination devices that attempt to focus the activities of people around a common set of goals and deadlines without limiting their discretion to best decide how to reach these goals. Weick (1989, p.244) suggests that the value of a minimal structure is that 'small structures such as simple melody ..., general assumptions. and incomplete expectations can all lead to large outcomes and effective action'.As structuration theory (Giddens. 1984) applied to organisations might suggest. communities–of–practice (Lave and Wenger. 1991) will become ubiquitous sources of knowledge driving change (Brown and Duguid, 2001 ). These communities may make use of an improvisational model that is change–driven. unconstrained by the imperatives of function or sets of activities and lays more emphasis on combining the need of structure with that of dynamic flexibility. This is facilitated by the minimal structure. where appropriate levels of or sets of activities and lays more emphasis on combining the need of structure with that of dynamic flexibility. This is facilitated by the minimal structure. where appropriate levels of responsibilities, priorities and procedures are clearly defined and combined with wide zones of manoeuvre (Kamoche and Cunha, 1999). The minimal structure serves as a platform upon which learning and improvisation can take place and allow communities–of–practice to develop within these zones of manoeuvre. The sense of community structures discourses. learning and, coordinated actions through identity. Practice creates epistemic differences between communities within organisations and it is inside these communities that knowledge is created. The improvisation is characterised by an unrelenting quest for discovery and innovation along the social and technical dimensions. Kamoche and Cunha (2001) see minimal structures as comprising of two dimensions: social structures and technical structures. The application of social and technical structures reverberate socio–technical systems tradition (STS; e.g., Emery and Trist, 1960). STS ostensibly recognizes the importance of social forces in work organisations. This recognition frequently creates a shift from individual to group–or team– methods of performance. Positive variance within the work system is viewed favourably as a sign that teams are adapting to their unique environment conditions. In what follows we will describe each of the constitutive parts of the minimal structure and how they might help to develop a dynamic understanding of IT implementation."

(Manuela Faia–Correia & Miguel Pina E Cunha)

Manuela Faia-Correia and Miguel Pina E Cunha. 'Can Less Be More? Minimal Structuring, Identity And Learning Around It'

TAGS

ad-hocad-hoc design • change-driven • Cunha • design philosophy • dynamic • Faia-Correia • flexibilityimprovisationjazz • Manuela • Minimal Structures • minimal structuring
03 JANUARY 2004

Ad-Hoc Design: Frank Gehry's Familian Residence

"Adhering to the spirit of ad–hocism... Frank Gehry's own [Familian Residence] house in Los Angeles is rather a collision of parts, built to stay but with a deliberately unfinished, ordinary builderlike sensibility of parts. An existing and very pedestrian two–story gambrel–roofed clapboard residence had much of its interior removed and walls stripped back to their original two–by– four stud frame, beams, and rafters. It was then expanded by wrapping the old house with a metal slipcover creating a new set of spaces around its perimeter. The antirefinement type enclosure is built of the most mundane materials, corrugated aluminum metal siding, plywood, glass and chain–link fencing, and deliberately has randomly slanted lines and angled protrusions. Although the house retains a certain minimalist sense, the effort here is cluttered expressionistic and the sensibility is freely intended as artistically intuitive, of accident not resolved. The palette is anti–high–tech in preference for a visual presence that is off–the–shelf and ordinary 'cheap tech.' Gehry considers buildings as sculpture with the freedom from restraint that this might imply, hence it is not surprising that his work has an affinity to the collages of Robert Rauschenberg, especially in the artist's ripped cardboard assemblage period of the 1970s. (Gehry himself designed a line of corrugated cardboard furniture.)"With the original house almost intact formwise, Gehry, in effect, lifted back the skin to reveal the building as layers, with new forms breaking out and tilting away from the original, to create a forerunner of the Deconstructionist spirit of the eighties. It is almost an idea of 'wrapping' à la Christo, but where Christo seeks through a veil to transform the original to a new sense of being and meaning, Gehry rather produces a discontinuous juxtaposition where one system collides with another resulting in, to quote Bernard Tschumi, a 'super position or disjunctive disassociation.' Where Johansen assembles technological–like elements freely seeding dialogue through the combination, Gehry, through collaging, also basically (but with a different aesthetic) derives an approach to design from the methodology and respect for construction and its architectonic potential as a form maker and space generator."
(Paul Heyer, p.228–230)

Paul Heyer (1993). 'American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century'. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0–442–01328–0. LC 92–18415. NA2750.H48 1993. discussion p228–230. exterior photo, p229.

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TAGS

1978accidentad-hoc designarchitectonicBernard Tschumi • Christo • collage • collide • collisionconstructiondialogue • discontinuous • disjunctive disassociation • Familian Residence • Frank Gehryhaphazard • Heyer • houseimprovised methodjerry-built • Johansen • juxtapositionlayerminimalism • off-the-shelf • randomRobert Rauschenbergspace
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