Conférence / 17th IPHS Conference History Urbanisme Resilience

Du 17 au 21 juillet 2016 a eu lieu le Colloque  : “17th IPHS Conference History Urbanisme Resilience” à TU Delft.

Catherine Maumi et Armelle Le Mouëllic y ont présenté leur travail.

  • Dans le panel Postwar Portrait Gallery
    Catherine Maumi a donné la communication intitulée:
    Victor Gruen: a paradoxical round trip between Europe and the United States

History urbanisme résilience_Ideas on the move and modernization vol1

Résumé :

Fifty years ago, Victor Gruen (1903-1980) – now usually relegated as a footnote in most of the histories of architecture of the Twentieth Century, was one of the most influential architects in the occidental part of the world. Two reasons, at least, could explain the oblivion regarding his work: First, his aim was to design the architecture of everyday life, mainly intended for the middle class caught in the Post World War II euphoria of mass consumption. Second, his architecture and planning refer mainly today to a double failure: the shopping centre failed to be the new urban centre he had imagined for the suburb; the shopping mall (or pedestrian mall) failed to save the city centre from the decline – and sometime the ruin – speeded up by the development of the shopping centre. Actually, his thought seems to most of the critics at least paradoxical. Recognized as the “father” of the shopping centre, Victor Gruen Associates was acclaimed for building new regional shopping centres all over the United-States. On the other side, as early as the mid-fifties, he alerted his contemporaries to the dangerous phenomenon that was hitting most of the American cities, changing them into “doughnuts”: the depopulation of the cores and the increase and development of the suburbs. To fight against chaotic suburban sprawl and the death of the downtown, he urgently called for comprehensive planning at the metropolitan scale, as the only means of preventing simultaneous expansion of the “dough” and irremediable ruin of the “hole”. The pedestrian shopping mall designed for the downtown area as part of a revitalization plan integrating – with the help of the three-dimensional planning – all the essential functions of the city – traffic, business, shopping, housing – was thus imagined as the counterpart of the regional shopping centre. Born in Vienna, Victor Gruen never forgot his European background and always kept in mind an idealized image of the European City. His architecture and planning are a transposition, in the second half the Twentieth Century, of this idealized image, with the hope that it would built a better urban environment. Back in Europe, mid-sixties, he urged his contemporaries not to reproduce the mistakes made in the United-States, and to focus

their attention on the city centres of the old as well as of the new towns being designed. This is another paradox of Gruen’s career: once back in Europe – retired from Victor Gruen Associates –, he started a new activity in Vienna (Victor Gruen International) and created a new foundation (Victor Gruen Association for Environmental Planning), working fervently to brink back life in the city centres while Europeans were dreaming about the American

shopping centre. This paper will focused on this second part of his career during which Gruen worked in France, Belgium, Italy, Swiss, Austria with the aim to understand Gruen’s major influence on so many projects for new towns or city centres revitalization plans.

  • Dans le panel Mapping the Neighbourhood: Ideologies and Tools shaping 20th-century Urban Visions
    Armelle Le Mouëllic a donné la communication intitulée:
    The fisheye map as a way to solve the “discontinuous continuity” of urban project :its use for Sendai project by Yoshizaka Takamasa

History urbanisme résilience_The urban fabric vol2

Résumé :

One of the lesson of the Great East Japan Earthquake was for architects the necessity to think at the same time the small and the bigger scale, and relations between communities and national state. Sendai was the foreground’s capital region during this disaster. The city since a long time thought about such kind of correlations.

In the 1970s, a committee called “Sendai Developper Committee” was created where local administration, central government, financial sector and academics were reunited. This committee decided to map-out a big concept for Sendai, called “The Ideal Form of Sendai, The City of trees : a proposal for Its Future”. In order to do that Yoshihiko Sasaki (professor of architecture in Tohoku University) and Yoshizaka Takamasa (professor of architecture in Waseda University, Tokyo) collaborated together to create this common image. They started to compiled some data coming from local government but also locals. In final report, they made guidelines for the entire regional area for promoting the image of “the city of tree”.

This project and process has been widely documented and commented. The focus of the study is on the kind of representation used for the final document. This project also records the change of scale in Yoshizaka Takamasa’s thinking. After being educated by Kon Wajirô in Waseda University, he went to work with Le Corbusier in France. He developed a production and thinking at the cross of european modernity and buddhism.  Those drawings are a part of the method and philosophy of “discontinuous continuity”. He developed the theory of DISCONT that he applied to his architectural and urban production.

How fisheye representations used in Sendai project are one response to the inherent discontinuity of urban project, especially in the context of resilience ?

 A large panel of illustrations can be find in the final report of the project from diagrams at the scale of Sendai’s region to very detailed urban situation. Those diagram and drawings reveal a very specific process and thinking in urban planning. The fisheye map are a specific distortion of the map that combined three differents maps scale : community, city and landscape. The renewal of the traditional map opens new way to a more resilient thinking, especially with connections between locals and city government.

This analysis should be related to the specificity of previous town planning in Sendai area. Thereby, its very specific situation in Miyagi prefecture, close to the sea and mountains. The various representation of the project build this image of a great connection between Sendai city and nature.

 Through the analysis of this project, the beginning of machizukuri practice (bottom-up thinking in japanese urban design who became popular in 1990s) can be noticed by the creation of some “platform”, space and time dedicated to discussions between a various type of actors. This platform is the place for collaboration between universities, locals, and local government. Such kind of “platform” allows the recognition of the local resources and the importance of the relation between cities shapes and landscapes. Fisheye maps are still used as images for reconstruction process and recovery management.

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