Cities are enduring and remarkable human artifacts that have been shaped in response to climate, geography, culture, commerce, aesthetics and technology. In the present era, changing modes of communication, energy utilization and transportation require new design responses based on historical precedents and humanistic considerations. This course will examine the rich physical complexity of the cities that we will encounter on our voyage, including numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. Each city visited will be analyzed as a specific material and spatial manifestation of intertwined past and present forces, including the social, economic, political, religious and environmental conditions of each distinct location. The future of these cities in the age of globalization will be considered.
Field WorkCountry: Argentina
Day: 1 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday, 12 November
Buenos Aires, a vibrant city of elegant civic spaces and beautiful buildings is an excellent place to experience and analyze course concepts. Beginning at the MV Explorer in Puerto Nuevo, we will walk through the Retiro district to examine the infrastructural nexus of rail, river and roadway and public space at Plaza San Martin. We will walk with hundreds of Porteños on pedestrianized Florida Street. We will enter the Metropolitan Cathedral (ideally to attend the 12:30 mass) and Cabildo at Plaza de Mayor, where several major avenues radiate from this urban node. We will study diverse types of streets, buildings and public spaces throughout the downtown. For instance, the Art Nouveau and Neoclassical buildings along Avenida de Mayo are reminiscent of Paris or Barcelona. We will encounter the Obelisk at the crossing of Avenida Corrientes and Avenida 9 de Julio and will explore the upscale Recoleta district with its grand hotels, mansions and embassies along Avenida Alvear. Avenida del Libertador connects downtown to districts in the northwest, passing by museums, gardens and the historic Recoleta Cemetery. We will meet with Professor of Architecture & Urbanism Daniel Becker from the University of Buenos Aires and B4FS Architects to learn about ongoing design efforts in the city. We will return to the Port via the Underground (subte) to experience the public transit system. Along the route students will compare and contrast the features of these different districts, noting the relevant and enduring qualities that define the city. The final Field Report (#3) must be written using materials gathered during the Buenos Aires Field Lab. Academic Objectives: 1. Teach students to experientially investigate the perceptual relationship between forms, spaces, light, building materials and other characteristics in cities and their components elements of infrastructure, architecture and public space. 2. Encourage students to experience and understand the urban form of cities as a built expression of a human culture and physical place over time. 3. Demonstrate how to analyze and understand urban form using experiential field methods, including maps, photography, sketches and diagrams.