Architectural discourse lacks a language with which to speak about the urban. It lacks a history through which to illuminate this category. Despite the copious historical narratives produced over the past 150 years, each obsessed with defining ‘modernism’, the urban has never been seriou
sly considered as a category with any historical and spatial specificity. Instead, it appears as a given—a generalized context of human co-habitation in which architecture takes on its unique significance. If, within these narratives, there is a history of the urban, it is a history of movement. It is a history of infrastructure: for every new ‘urbanism’ invented, the means of its innovation is undoubtedly infrastructural. There is seemingly endless faith that urbanists continue to place in circulation, materializing social value in the infinite networks and corridors of human connectivity. As much as the world has become a domain ordered by circulation—as much as the world has become urban—the relation between these two categories has never been sufficiently examined.
By adopting a conceptual-historical approach, this course will articulate a theory of the urban around the notion of circulation. In doing so, we will cut across the typical art-historical framework in which architecture, the city and the urban float as neutral categories. Instead we will place these categories in direct contact with a set of politicized constructs, encountering what have been silent interlocutors in the formation of the urban all along. As such, each session will explore a specific concept around which to bring together political theory with architectural and urban history.
Through this expanded history, the course aims to ultimately bring attention to contemporary problems of architectural design in an urbanized world while exploring ways in which architecture can reassert itself beyond the effects of the urban.