Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Infrastructure: Its meanings and methodologies

Stan Allen's Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City is my crucial reading for getting this project off the ground. Actually it has been my reading for a while now.

The book chronicles his work through the 1990's in the development of a number of essential theoretical positions from which his work is framed. Of particular interest to me in light of recent competition call is the notion of infrastructural urbanism. This can be understood in a way as a precursor or perhaps correlary to landscape urbanism, especially considering that Allen was for a time James Corner's partner in Field Operations. Certainly this can be observed in comparing Allen's layered diagrams for the Reconstruction of the Souks of Beirut project to that of FO's diagrammatic language.

His writing and drawings begin to form an understanding of infrastructure that is crucial to the formation of a successful project that engages urbanism by means of "laying the ground".

In his project for Barcelona, Logistical Activities Zone is particularly helpful in that it the project, though developed through traditional representational strategies (plan, sections, models) is represented finally as a manual, in the form of a matrix of interconnected topics (surface, service, organization, structure, repetition, anticipation). Primary to this mode of representation is the understanding of notation and scoring as a necessary means of representing the potentials of the infrastructural field.

Kahn's flow diagram for his traffic plan for Philadelphia, a particularly amazing project which is far understudied, is an early example of what notational representation may accomplish. Further afield one may look toward the notion of scoring, as in music or dance, particularly the non-traditional scoring methods of Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Of course for urban landscape architecture this is old hat, see Lawrence Halprin's tome RSVP. Notations use in urban design allows for the production of "directed indeterminancy" wherein robust and specific proposals sustain overtime yet are open to supporting multiple interpretations.

Since this is an informal thing I'm going to jot my notes on what I meant to write about: which is the specific meaning and intention of infrastructure as an architectural method. I'll flush it out later and fix this post rather than saving it an forgetting about it.

Infrastructure:
-establish realistic framework for future collective contribution
-constructing the site itself, preparing the ground for future building, conditions for future events.
via: surface, service, networks
Infrastructures medium is geography [it's method is choreography?]

"Traditional represenation presumes stable objects & fixed subjects."
The contemporary city is not an artifact.

Infrastructure - collective nature not the establishment of rules but the fixing of points of service, access & structure.

Infrastructure works strategically, but encourages tactical improvisation.

Infrastructure accomodates local contigencies while maintaining overall continuity.

catastrophe point - threshold at which continuitie's structure and function of a system is easily altered or broken.

Proposed Projects:
Parque De Lago - Paisajes Emergentes
Hydro Park - Tania Delage
The Peoples Public Works - ReBar

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