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Thread: Critical thinking - how to argue for good urbanism? (thesis prep.)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Critical thinking - how to argue for good urbanism? (thesis prep.)

    I will be writing my thesis in the upcoming semester, and so I've begun re-reading much of the material I've acquired in the past few years.

    The books I'm looking to read/re-read include: "The Death & Life of Great American Cities", "The Smart Growth Manual", "The Image of the City", "The Four Books of Architecture", "On Architecture" (aka, Ten Books) and "Sun, Wind & Light".
    I also will be listening to more lectures from Notre Dame School of Architecture, and various lectures by traditionalists.
    In addition, I will try to "study" the work of architects such as Allan Greenberg, Andrea Palladio, Demetri Porphyrios, Edwin Lutyens, Frank Lloyd Wright (his early works), George Saumarez Smith, Joze Plecnik, Nigel Anderson, Otto Wagner and Quinlan Terry.

    While I'm at school I'm going to try to read "The Long Emergency".

    I have been challenged by my teacher to begin critically thinking about my position.
    Some of the questions posed by my teacher that I should consider and think about are:

    Style/Nostalgia can be anachronistic and superficial, how can I avoid that?
    What does traditional architecture mean in a post-modern age. (not Post-Modern in style)
    How can it address, or help conditions in the contemporary world?
    What makes "classical" or "traditional" architects "better" than others? Are they better?
    How can traditional architecture transcend style, what are aspects of it that can be basic principles?

    As I consider myself a "traditionalist", I believe that our architecture belongs to a community rather than an individual, and we place ourselves immediately to be judged by all that comes before us. We have a "code" to live by, and to design by. How can we argue strongest for that "code"? How does that "code" address contemporary issues?

    I'm interested to see how everyone else would respond and the perspectives of everyone else on here.
    As mentioned above, this is all in relation to a thesis I will be writing in the upcoming semester...

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    My suggestion would be to look at the works of new urbanists. The questions you're asking are something a lot of new urbanists grapple with when trying to sell their ideas. Their goal is to move back to more traditional urban development compared to what we have in our automobile dependent cities. I think a lot of planners also subscribe to their ideas, at least in theory.
    Last edited by Blide; 12 May 2011 at 4:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I would suggest looking at it philosophically. Many of your questions and initial observations have at heart a philosophical foundation, and I know there has been a lot of recent discussion on the philosophical merits of traditional and new urban design in the urbanists blogosphere, but very little in concrete academia arguing for it from such a context.

    Example: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/04/2151

  4. #4
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TradArch12 View post
    As I consider myself a "traditionalist", I believe that our architecture belongs to a community rather than an individual, and we place ourselves immediately to be judged by all that comes before us.
    I think this speaks to function over form. That argument is something you could include.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Thank you all for your advice!

    I think one of my big problems is that I have a really tough time thinking philosophically and even understanding philosophical/theoretical concepts. I think the only class in Architecture School I've received a C in is Theories. I usually don't give too much importance to people that think about architecture theoretically. I'm a very practical person and I prefer that things be very practical and logical, which is probably one of the reasons I am so attracted to traditional architecture. We don't have to dance around with theory to justify our architecture.

    I've heard that the Planning Community is way ahead of the architecture community in adopting traditional methods, is this true? I know the architecture community (save for Notre Dame) is still thinking of things in a very post-modern fashion. IE: you make your own style, and focus on magazine-style architecture. I was looking for opportunities to go to grad school and get a minor in Urban Planning (while I wait for the economy to improve) and it seemed the schools I looked at were all teaching Smart Growth/New Urbanism. (though they didn't call it that)

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