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Prisoners of the Wall - reading, analysing, classifying and categorising the 21st Century City

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Charlotte Torck
University of Dundee | UK
“… a city … never stops growing” (Hugo, 1831)

The relentless scale and speed of urbanisation today, demands a rethink in how we deal with our cities: their historic centres and their sprawling suburbs. Without change cities will stagnate but with ill-considered change, urban character will be depleted and eventually diminished.

Whether we are tourists, politicians or simple ‘flâneurs’, we all actors of the city - we all leave traces.
We are actors in the sequences that create collective artefacts - our streets and our squares.
We contribute to the distinct life and character of a place and take part in its urban spectacle.

Through the study of Paris, a framework for the complex city which encapsulates the qualities of culture, physicality, typology… is established, in a way to anticipate new ideas and propose appropriate interventions.

This thesis seeks to find a way of reading and mapping the city, as an architect, one that gathers all its subtleties and nuances, physicality and sentimentality, by reconciling the contribution of the ‘flâneur’ with an objective way of recording and transcribing ideas about the city.

The city is an assembled collage of typological elements of urban legibility such as boundaries, edges and pathways. Through the analysis of their embodied past and urban representations manifested in the culture of literature and visual arts the city can be [re]-defined - urban character and scenarios uncovered.

Can the patterns of legibility and the identified typological Parisian elements, once uncovered and valued, be used to reinforce the existing character and assemble future urban forms with the so often forgotten influences of culture?

The proposition for an URBAN PARK on a disused railway track ‘La Petite Ceinture’, is derived from the study of Paris. It seeks to propose a way to redeem the role of typical elements of Parisian urban organisation – the infrastructural rings, often viewed as blemishes and barriers in the city’s landscape. Reclaiming urban potential and the proliferation of urban encounters, events and occasions could then become a method in the incremental transmutation of the city - a means for continuing the city.

Charlotte Torck

David Sutherland
Mr Neil Verow
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