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Human-Space Phenomena in Accordance with Urban Density // Poche

DECEMBER 9, 2015
Collage City Response
    Beginning to read and interpret Colin Rowe’s essay on Crisis of the Object: The Predicament of Texture, we can begin to pinpoint and isolate certain enigmas that begin to surface from his analysis of what a city is truly contrived of. By eliminating all senses of the way solid and void is conceived in today’s society, we can then begin to interpret what is foreground and what is background from an urban sphere. Thus, this transcendence between two-dimensional and three-dimensional representation of categorical space can begin to reveal deeper effects from the affect of demarcating public and private space, as well as labeling these contexts in urbanism with specific function and form. One of the effects that arise from this space is an urban density, along with the psychological affect which arises from the enclosure of walls which are supposed to humanize us.
    Beginning to understand urban poche within Rowe’s argument, we can conduce that he sees a consciousness of the field behind the poche, thus a consciousness of the figure. The “solid,” as we see it within the context of a city is in dire need of a juxtaposing void in order to create emphatic isolation from the other scattered solids which uphold the idea and representation of a typical city model. To suggest the hypothesis that the frequency of these voids within the foreground field are the conception of the urban density within a site or plan is bolstered by the amount of urban poche and that creates this density and how far urban density can be broken down into. We can then begin to show and interpret the amount of urban poche from site plans such as Corbusier’s Paris plan of Voisin (Figure 1). Here we can clearly see the amount of urban solid in such a large volume that we almost find it overwhelming; psychologically our brains begin to sort out the positive and the negative areas and tag them as public, private, or conjoined spaces. Because these spaces have so much density and business entwined within them, these spaces each hold their own agendas and connotations according to what the masses of society label them as. The representation of this density can also contribute to the way in which it is perceived (Figure 2). Represented in figure 2 is a possible rendition of a density grid from the urban poche. If the outline of the urban poche is taken and reinterpreted, put back into itself and reinvented, the outline creates a figural density which if extruded three-dimensionally, could also begin to show interpretative lines that begin to really question; what is a figure? What happens if we overlap a figure over and over and over? (Figure 4). We can also further break this poche down to further dissect the density of the urban sphere by remembering that a density of a city is created by parts to whole relationships; thus the density is not made by just solid and void from buildings but from the positive and negative spaces that are trees, houses, plants within houses, and specks within the plant. Much like Shigeru Ban furniture house, the beauty of the density is that the part to whole relationship of the entire grid works together to succumb to the foreground it is placed upon (Figure 5).
Continuing onto the psychological and sociological aspect of the urban density contribution and effect on the human world and what it means for the society as a whole, we can begin to further dissect the urban he and its limitations, boundaries, and scales. Rowe begins the chapter with a quote from Jose Ortega Y Gasset, “Man frees himself from the community of the plant and the animal…and creates an enclosure apart which is purely human, a civil space…” However just the quote may be, I believe that there is a thought that resides in between these lines; being enclosed in a wall can dehumanizes us and begins to beg the question: what dictates an enclosed space? What effects physically and psychologically does an enclosed space create? The irony in the statement proposed is that a civil space wishes to be created, however to enclose ourselves away would be to act like cattle or livestock without a certain amount of free will if we were unable to venture outside these walls. Shingeki No Kyojin is a Japanese anime series that proposes and explores these exact phenomena within humans. In defense of human-hungry monsters, all of humanity retreated to a civilization contained within three concentric 50-meter walls. Because these walls are inescapable, free will is taken from the metaphysics of the time, and the inhabitants are detrimental to one another, and to themselves. They begin to find that sharing a tight urban density of homes, shops, and river systems begins to drive them to the point of insanity, digression, and senselessness (Figure 6). Taking this extremely concentrated urban density and looking at the edges of the regulating lines and their demarcation of the space, we can see that because there is such a small spatial frame, the inhabitants are not pleased with the architectural oppression delineated from the large amount of solid stacked onto each other over and over and over (Figure 7). Again, as emphasized by Rowe, the space is psychologically needed, created and wanted in order to remain a human society with humane responses.
    This human-space phenomenon is directly correlated to the density of an urban poche, which also works hand in hand with the void foreground of the field that is acting as a backdrop for these parts to whole. By analyzing both psychological and physiological aspects of each piece, we begin to see the beginning of a figural corset which upholds the dogmatic city void of technics.
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