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Dwelling in the periphery in the 20th century. From dispersion to massing.

Part 2 Dissertation 2003
Oana Bogdan
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism | Romania
'We couldn’t take the freeways, because of the car’s slow speed. So we followed the little country roads at twenty-five miles an hour, to the point where I was able to get an exhaustive impression. In a flash I had this terrifying revelation: I understood that if I had to foretell the future, it wouldn’t be New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, or even Rio de Janeiro. The future would be the outskirts of Düsseldorf, ultramodern, with BMW’s and boats parked behind each gate, with each house and garden in perfect conformity to the middle-class ideal … From the outside, it’s exactly what every human being in a suburb would like to own, from Nairobi to Kyoto or Bangkok.'
James G. Ballard, 1982

This dissertation is an attempt at creating an overall image of the periphery issues within city’s evolution, focusing on the residential periphery. It argues that periphery requires a new type of reflection on society, both on its transformations and our capacity to represent, understand, and anticipate them. Moreover, it is a support and a manifesto at the same time. It is a support on which a residential area can be developed in the periphery (the topic of the diploma project), that tries to go beyond the simplistic implementation of a habitat and tests the potential of the edge of the city. It is a manifesto for a thorough approach of the periphery in Romania, a country which is facing a difference of development as compared to the international uncontrolled urban sprawl and housing development, a situation that can be considered an advantage, an opportunity to avoid the errors of those countries that underwent vast and bitter experiences in this respect; it addresses that Romania with its legislation and lack of authority.

Oana Bogdan

This dissertation investigates the urban sprawl in exactly that area where the core-process takes place: in the periphery. The approach is rigorous and precise. It starts from an elaborate taxonomy of the periphery and continues with an analysis of the residential periphery through time and space. The knowledge derived from this research is then confronted with a number of crucial and urgent questions: how to deal with growth, how to put an end to uncontrolled expansion, how to re-define the edge of the city, how to find new and right ways of housing? At the end, in a thorough reality-check the theoretical viewpoints are applied to the diploma project, located in a small town in "Flanders fields", in the nebula city of West Flanders (an area of historical and structural fragmentation of both housing and landscape).

Very well documented and carefully structured, this study goes beyond a strictly academic interest and proves a personal concern. Moreover, this concern converges with the very actual debate on “limits of growth”.

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