meeting with Silvan Malfroy

Meeting with Silvan Malfroy

Today we register the problem of the “surfing” or “zapping”, which is related with the tendency of the persons to reach the goals without suffering, immediately, without personal involvement.
So, it is important to describe the temporal scale of the project, defining in which point it time it locate itself, while in the data collection period or in the personal elaboration (which is usually longer). In my vision, the tool will be in between the data collection and the elaboration, as it will be a bridge between the virtuality of the map and the physicality of the actual world where people walk.

SPACE for the urban planner is like GOD for the teologist: everybody call his name but nobody can see him.
The is a difficulty of conceptualising the space and for this problem there are different school of thought:
1- the “phenomenological” school which tries to discover the city as a pure object with an actual outcome which reflect in the way people use it.
2- the “historical” school, where the city is studied in the evolution it had during different periods of life. Every element of the city, then, is described in a evolution process.
3- the “inter-rational” school, where the city design is described as an ensemble of objects that are connected by relations in a net of meanings. (this approach present the problem of the perception of relations)

The Constructed Environment is a semiotic object which is loaded with communications intentions. Sometime is difficult to decipher is there is an intention or not.

Malfroy thinks that the information you can get from the field are not enough to decipher or to give meaning to the city design. For him the city is essentially anonymous.

If we concentrate on the basic communications intent, like finding a door of a building, then is possible to envision a empirical method of deciphrate the city design. So we can envision a 4th method for the space definition: an experimental method, where a stimulus question, drives the discussion. For example we can ask ourselves what is the relationship between public/private into the city, or we can ask ourselves if the zones of mixed functionality is working in our city. Most of these questions can find an answer inside the empirical demonstration.

(my idea is to give the student the goal to demonstrate such hypothesis. The framework will ask every participants to formulate hypothesis rising virtual constructions or proposing virtual variants in the city. Then the other participants have to evaluate the hypothesis just using the implemented virtual variation in the physical space. This is a kind of ubiquitous urban simulation where I create and YOU test, but is also a reciprocal critique.)

Paola Vigano is a visiting professor here at EPFL and she particularly kind to “after sales” critique and verify of the implemented variation to an urban plan.

An interesting part of the course of architecture and interaction with the students is called “critique”, is that when people propose several variations to the same problem and the different solutions are reviewed and compared simultaneously by the participants. It is easy to differentiate between the proposed solutions using functional criteria but is not so easy to discriminate using aesthetic criteria. Sometime for 1 problem there are several solutions.

Interesting references where proposed during the meeting:
1- Gianfranco Caniggia, for example, wrote an interesting introduction to urban plan analysis: Lettura dell’edilizia di base. 1999
2- Pierre Sansot, wrote an interesting book on the functional approach with a view on the phylosophycal approach: La poetique de la Ville.
3- Umberto Galimberti: Tekne e Psiche. Feltrinelli. This book is about the fact that our society is becoming increasingly generalised and that there are less social interactions.
4- Philippe Budon: Ensigner la conception architecturale. 2001. This author is particularly interested in the Cognitive Psichology of the design processes.
5. There is an extra piece of work about “derive urbane” carried out by a group of researchers from the university of Lille.

This project can find a general implementation as a orientation / urban navigation tool. So, in this sense, companies interested in the production of turistic guides may find in this project an interesting marketing opportunity.

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