Urban Landscape:Science,Practice & Design | An evolving reader .

” For Arendt modernity is characterized by 

the loss of the world, by which she means the restriction

 or elimination of the public sphere of action and speech

 in favor of the private world of introspection 

and the private pursuit of economic interests. “

Thu Jul 27, 2006

The first days of a year serve me always to re-direct and update my ideals regarding the profession. This always requires a meticulous search for inspiration. Past projects and my “books” are always the source. I put the word books in quotation marks, because – being”digital era child” I am – I keep an immense number of on-line sources (show off!). This year coinciding with my first annual inspiration peruse, the spanish collective Paisaje Transversal shared the news that they were invited to create a bibliography on Public Space Design, and came up with the idea to turn this opportunity to beget a collaborative bibliography. I took a detour to the invitation and I couldn´t help but question EVERYTHING: from the concept of “collaborative bibliography” to the notion of what Public Space Design is, or what do we want it to mean? and so on.This infantile practice of asking and questioning everything I read here and there (curiosity!), led me to construct a parallel contribution that could respond to Paisaje´s invitation.

My probe started from the notion of what I´ve learned so far on cities and urban space concepts and theory. So many teachers, universities and cities have fabricated the following inkling : Urban Space is structured by Public Space and Private Space ( Ok, and non-places, but for practical reasons, let us save this conversation for another post). All these spaces may or may not be collective. Not all collective spaces are public; au contraire, in most cities nowadays, most collective spaces are private (think about the mall, in all its “formats”, the example par excellence). Hence we can´t talk about Public Space Design, when we clearly mean something else. My point is: when I revised the already contributed bibliography to Paisaje´s initiative , I didn´t see it as an exclusive bibliography on Public Space Design. Rather, more interestingly, I saw that what many are sharing and are interested is in the MANY aspects of the city and its urban core: Both the Public and Private, and not only via a “design” approach. After this dollop of explanation I dared to change the name of the following selected bibliography from Public Space Design to Urban Landscape: Science, Practice and Design with the aim of sharing a wider range of books and looking to a more precise name for this bibliographic appraisal. Most of the selected books, were shared with me as a student in the year of 1996 by my first Urban Landscape teacher Thomas Watkin* who introduce me back in the days to an amazing new practice (at least for me): Urbanism. The name of this stock is inspired by the title of our Urban Landscape class reader that he assembled for us that year. Other selected sources shared here have been collected by me over the years.

This garner will lead you through some answers responding to the questions: What is urbanism and Who is doing it? The bibliography presented here juxtaposes a number of ideologies and movements that started to appear in the age of industrialization of cites. These ideologies raise questions such as : What is the “nature” of our cities? The answers, in some cases palpable as urban projects ( Public and Private) and in others as a theoretical approach, are a mix between progress and nostalgia. Cities have always raised questions that create(d) the Urbanism practice. As Thomas once told us: “sometimes the practice became radical like a postulate or a type of analysis and observation on urban phenomenon- looking at the political, social, economical and physical aspects of cities and its spaces”. I hope this selection elicits and immerses you in all those aspects of the urban that, besides design, are fundamentals for the observation, questioning and depiction of this space. The resulting mixture could be called design, but not exclusively. I also hope this compendium can enrich and complement Paisaje Transversal´s recent enthusiastic endeavor.


Image: Continuous Monument by Superstudio

I. BOOKS / A while ago,  I started this virtual library. You can find here the books under the category Urban Landscape: Science,Practice and Design. This is a growing collection, so don´t forget to check it  from time to time. This tumblr theme works only with Amazon´s stock, so all books not available on it are in Other Sources.

II. OTHER SOURCES / Everything else is here: Books (as I explained before not available on Amazon), exhibition catalogues where I have found very interesting information for my own projects, documents, articles and many other sources. This compilation will be also expanding.

Enjoy and share!

Thomas Watkin has a professional and academic experience in architecture and urbanism in France, the United States and Mexico. He currently works with the office of architecture and urbanism Estudiopi in Zapopan,Jalisoc. He is professor of urban planning and projects at ITESM Guadalajara since 2006. Founding member of the Centre for Architectural and Urban Culture [CCAU] as well as Collectif OOB : an international platform across the social sciences, politics and architecture. He participated in several international conferences on urbanism and sociology and has published in several magazines. He is an architect of the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Versailles, Master in Design Studies at the Harvard Design School, Master of Urban Sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and doctoral candidate at the same school.


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