Evaluate the contemporary approaches to urbanism as displayed by both

James Stirling`s Roma Interrotta and OMA`S Grand Axe Le Defense in
relation to the use of history or its rejection, and how this relates to
formulating new theories for the city centers
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Aldo Rossi has defined urban artifacts in his book “The architecture of
the city”. The book focused on urban artifacts and the monuments from
the past. Rossi states that construction of a building cannot be
separated from the time value that it holds. Over the years, architects
and other artists have build monuments and buildings which have traces
of civilization in them from the surroundings and the past. These
artifacts, monuments and buildings upgrade themselves over the years,
adapting to the current theme. The value of evolution diminishes when
the urban artifact changes itself, with the course of nature. Artifacts
of a city or region is care by the urban singularity. Engineering and
massive structures of a city help study the form of the city. Structures
are by their own history if the history of the structure and the
structure itself are uncorrelated, then it means that the architect is
going to face problems in dealing with urban future. A city is to be a
collective piece made by human achievements and the art that it holds is
the major contribution in the development of the urban city. Rossi
states that urban artifacts are the primary elements and they contribute
to the culture evolution of a city. The space in a city is to be a
primary element. A city is by Rossi an element, made by the people it
accommodates. The collective memory of people is the locus, which
defines the city. That collective memory and locus also becomes the
image of the city, developing its history, as the city grow old.
Through massive structures and engineers, the forms in which cities are
can be studied. Structures, which are by history, also play a crucial
part in studying the form of a city. The auspicious character of an
urban artifact depends on the richness of its history, which makes a
city indispensable. Artifact means a piece or work of art artifact here
is to the urbanization. When a city is , it is in terms of the
achievements of human beings collectively, and the efforts they have put
in to make the city appear as it does. James Sterling is in history as a
great architect. He was born in Scotland in 1926. He started his
training for five years, at the Beaux Arts tradition at Liverpool
University. His early works were with Lyons, Israel and Ellis. He
started his partnership with James Gowen, several years after working in
Ellis. Stirling and Gowan had a fruitful partnership. They were
influenced by Le Corbusier and Smithsons and under that influence,
produced buildings. These buildings were a foundation for a trend in
concrete and brick. Famous designs of Stirling include that of Oxford
and Cambridge. Stirlings believed in the concept of aesthetic and
utilitarian needs and through buildings, made their importance
prominent. Later in his career, his work was observed to be influenced
by Post-Modern classicism. His later work became more formal because of
Post-Modern classism. Stirling, like many other architects, was not
perfect. He continuously altered his own principles which were the basis
of criticism. Stirlings approach to architect is more experimental.
Experimental design approach is the reason why Stirling is not as
beingcommitted to one style. His style varied, and so did the principles
of architect (“Great Buildings”, 2012).
Many of Stirling’s work include Engineering Building, St Andrews
Dormitory, Florey Building, Gistory Faculty Library made at Cambridge
University. Olivetti Training School, Dusseldorf Museum of Art and Neve
Staats gallery are also included in some of his famous works. In 1957,
Stirling was assigned the task of making a new housing for Preston.
Stirling was able to accomplish this task in 1962, which was five years
since it started. It was counted as one of his earliest independent
projects and a project, for which he is . The scheme was portrayed with
L.S. Lowry Painting. The scheme appeared in the Complete Works of
1050-1974. The scheme was referred as the horizontal approach of
housing. The map comparison in appendix 1 shows that the scheme was
build to eliminate slums. These slums were parallel to four newly built
towers. The scheme was in the form of thin blocks, which surrounded a
communal garden. The cubic forms made in the scheme were housing for old
people. During the construction of the housing scheme, Stirlings
architectural principle of utility was prominent. The utility structure
of the building was for individual dwelling. Individual dwelling means,
one or more than one family can live in a quarter. Single dwelling is a
house that stands alone and is by no other building or house (Roberts,
Appendix 2 further shows the Roma Interrolta in detail. According to the
article written Return When an architect questions his own previous
work, it raises questions about his own rules of precedent. An example
of an architect questioning his own work can be better understood by the
Cannaregio Project, which was built by Peter Eisenman. House 11a was not
yet built, and it was then referred to as reformulated function and
inserted in Venice. Another self-referencing is of Casa da Musica, built
by Rem Koolhaas. Rem’s Y2K House design was and reprogrammed and was
changed into a concert hall. Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhass
self-referencing was a one-played game. When it comes to James Sterling,
self-referencing defines his whole career. He was known for changing his
mind and principles related to architect. When James Stirling and Gowan
were partners, they were referred to as the teddy boys of English
architecture. Ernesto Rogers, another architect called them by this
phrase. They were an example of young architects, willing to change the
course of English architecture. Most of their work contained the study
of housing type. Stirling’s input proved to be a great help in Isle of
Wight house, which was originally designed by Gowan. One of their famous
works, together, is Ham Common project, which shows that the two had
many qualities, when they worked together. The house is a single storey
and situated on a rectangular plot which faces the golf course. The
territory of the house is by the Northwood House which is along the west
boundary. The house is by simple brick and has high windows. The area
that the house takes is to be 1600 sq feet which is 149 square kilo
meter. The figure is, however, said to be inaccurate, as it also
includes the two courtyards.
The house was also viewed by Richards in the year 1958. J.M. Richards
viewed it as a work of criticism. The article stated that the design
deserved to be praised, as there were many advantages of using a modular
system and the way the courtyard was positioned, was a simple but
impressive idea. However, he questioned the idea of using bricks to make
floor and ceiling. Stirling and Gowan responded to the criticism by
stating that the house was based on the modular system, as described by
J.M. Richards. The house was made through a simple structure technique,
to repeat the elements in windows and doors (Light, 2011).
To prove the point that James Stirling did doubted his early work, there
is an example of the red tile-clad stair. The red tile-clad stair was
found in many buildings. Some of the buildings are Leicester Engineering
Building, which was build in 1963, Cambridge History Faculty, which was
build in 1967, Florey Building Oxford, which was build in 1971. The red
tile-clad was also found in Churchill College Cambridge which was build
in 1961. The earth berm which surrounds Churchill College Cambridge is
in the Primary School at Camber well, that Stirling builds in 1961.
Primary School at Camber well is also said to be a miniature version of
the four-square plan which is at Churchill. The breakfast room at
Florey, which is diamond shaped is similar to the theater plan that
Stirling made for the Olivetti Training Centre. The theater plan was
made in the year 1972. When James Stirling eliminates an element from
one place, that element reappears somewhere else, in another building
designed by him, with a new contextual meaning. Even though, the element
is, it is still recognizable as to where it came from. The height of
James Striling questioning his own past projects reached its peak, when
he self-referenced on his famous project “Roma Interrotta”. Roma
Interrotta was exhibited in the year 1978. Stirling was invited to Rome,
along with 11 other architects, by Carlo Argan, who was the mayor of the
city. The mayor had the proposal of redesigning 1748`s plan, by Nolli,
of Rome. Stirling, on that occasion, proposed Sector IV. The proposal
was about the Aurelian wall, Pope Urban VIII`s wall, which was built in
the 17th century, the Gianicolo Hill and some other architectural
monuments which were significant in nature. The main reason of this
project was to change the urban fabric of Rome and to eliminate the
slums of the city. The slums were in need of being cured for eliminating
ills of the city, as believed by the mayor.
The mayor of the city was worried about the figure of the city.
According to the mayor, the city was disfigured because of ill
speculations and development. The architects were given the opportunity
to give 200 years old city, a new look. The mayor further added that the
Roma Interrotta exhibition is not just for urban planning, but it is
also an opportunity for architects to exercise their mind, run their
imaginations and produce creative ideas to build a better Rome.
Architects can contribute to the exhibition by researching on the
urbanization potential of Rome. The entries in the exhibition were said
to be fantastic and creative. The poor quality of Nolli`s map and poorer
documentation did not help the architects much. Architects gave the
challenge their best shot and some of them came up with brilliant ideas,
keeping the past and present situation of the city in mind. One example
of a brilliant idea is of Aldo Rossi. Aldo Rossi proposed a plan to
update the Baths of Caracalla. The proposal carried the idea that the
updating can happen if the Baths of Caracalla are with cooling and
heating systems, which are modern in nature. The result of this idea was
something similar to the Modena Cemetery, which Aldo Rossi builds later
in his career. Another example is the comprehensive design of Colin
Rowe. Colin Rowe redesigned the Sector VIII, which is the Palatine Hill
of Rome. Another imaginative and creative suggestion, of monumental
sheltered piazzas throughout the city, was made by Leon Krier. James
Stirling, however, used his method of contextual-associational, to
process the map of Niolli. His method appreciated the places, which
existed and was described as a confirmation and a complement to places
like Selwyn College (made in 1959), Government Center (made in 1976).
These places were related to the Aurelian Wall, which James suggested
redesigning. The St Andrews dormitory that Stirling designed in 1968
presented a view of the Eternal City. Stirlings Olivetti was an
extension to the existing Villa Farnesina.
James Stirling also build the St. Andrews Art Centre in 1971, which is
opposite Villa Lante in Rome. Stirling`s works in Rime were extensions
to the existing buildings and monuments in Rime, but Stirlings also
build some new neighborhoods, from scratch. Such neighborhoods included
a residential area and a university district parallel to a lake. The
method adopted by Sterling, contextual-associational method, is an
overreaching idea of his. This fact is in the text of Stirling. He
described his method as being compatible with the history and one which
evolved the density of the environment of Rome with its history process.
Stirlings also states that Rome has evolved over time, which means it
has changed. Stirling proved this with the help of a present and past
map. The map showed an alternative city which had places, like
residential areas, educational institutions, government institutions and
public spaces like libraries. The vision that Stirling had of the city
was utopian in nature. He used his own work as the work of history. His
work lacked utopian aspiration and destroyed the theme of the
exhibition, which was imagination and creativity. Stirling disrupted the
theme and purpose of the exhibition because every new work of Stirling,
is and holds nothing new. One project of Stirling is somehow to another
project. The ideas are not refreshing they are similar in nature at some
point. Roma Interrotta is as an extension of the work that Stirling has
accomplished throughout his career. The difference in his work is to be
the scale of reference. Roma Interrotta, as compared to other recycled
projects, uses entire projects of Stirlings career. However, it is not
necessary that whatever element Stirling recycles, remains recognizable
when viewed by critics or admirers of Stirling`s work. Some elements
re-used may be well-disguised by the architect. The red tiles, however,
had the same material in scalar, when it wasused in Leicester, Florey
and other buildings. The stair towers edges are to be chamfered in the
mentioned buildings. They are windowless and a little changed. He was
consistent in what he did not changing the elements much or recycling.
Stirling adopted this attitude so that his work would stay recognizable.
Stirling has also produced ideas, through his inspiration from famous
artifacts. One example is of Ham Common which Stirling builds, in 1958.
Ham Common was build by Stirling under the inspiration of Le Corbusier`s
Maison Jaoul. Inspired by Le Corbusier`s Maisons Jaoul, Stirlings also
build Oxbridge, Leicester and Melnikov`s Rusakov Workers` Club. As he
used the reference of his past projects, to establish himself in Roma
Interrotta, he destabilized the stable references. James Stirling used
his projects to employ new and brilliant ideas (Lawrence, 2012).
Stirling was known to have a vision, and he was considered as a gifted
architect. He was also referred to as a gifted architect for the
generation that came after him. He was simple when it came to buildings
and preferred the concept of utility. When he builds a house, along with
Gowan, he kept in mind how that house was going to benefit the society
and economy as a whole. The house was simple and thus many could make
it. He practiced what he preached and is today among architects and
architecture students. He won the Pritzker Prize and wasknighted, after
which he passed away at the age of 68. It was a premature and surprising
death. He was a thoughtful person, who examined possibilities of
architect and the way in which he can evolve ideas and bring something
new to the table.
The professor at Yale University, Professor Vilder, is going to display
400 items, after he went through 40,000 documents. The documents go back
to the days when James Stirling was a student, then when he was in
partnership with Gowan and when he started his independent work. In his
later years of career, James Stirling worked with Michael Wilford, in
partnership, until Wilford died. Stirling’s trademark color was green.
The work of Stirlings is complex in nature and holds lesson s and ideas
for the new generation. The new generation, can learn from the work of
James Stirlings, with respect to their own interests and needs.
Sometimes, architectural scholars prefer their own views and principles
over the facts of the past, but professors like Professor Vidler, know
the period of contemporary architect well and hold it as a lesson for
himself and his students.
The quality of James Stirling’s work is to be unique, something which
not many people possess. This is because of Stirling’s ability to
visualize buildings before they come into existence. The most important
part of an architect’s final product is the surprise that it brings
for people who view it.
OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) is an existing and leading
partnership in teh areas of architecture, culture analysis and
urbanization. the main purpose of OMA’s existence is to encourage new
and bright ideas relating to inventive ways or architect. There are
seven partners of OMA, which are Rem Koolhaas, Ellen Van Loon, Reiner de
Graaf, Shohei Shigematsu, lyad Alaska and David Gianotter. The seventh
and managing partner of OMA is Victor van der Chijs. The offices of OMA
are in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong and Doha. The aim of OMA
is to come up with ways which can be used in everyday life, which are
easier and creative. The current deconstruction works of OMA is Taipei
Performing Arts Centre, China Central Television headquarters, tower in
Beijing, Television Cultural Centre in Beijing, Shenzhen Stock Exchange,
buildings in Doha, Qatar, De Rotterdam and a step towards making the
largest building in Netherlands. Some of the recent projects that OMA
has successfully accomplished include New Court, Rothschild Bank
headquarters which are in London. OMA has also successfully accomplished
an extension of Architecture, Art and Planning School at Cornell the
extension is as Milstein Hall. OMA has also completed a cancer care
centre which is as Maggie`s centre, and it is in Glasgow. Other
completed works included Wyly Theatre, situated in Dallas Prada
Transformer, a pavilion in Seoul Casa da Musica situated in Porto and
build in 2005 the Seattle Central Library, build in 2004 Netherlands
Embassy in Berlin, build in 2003, IT Campus Centre, situated in Chicago
and build in 2003 and the last is Epicenter, situated at New York in
2001. OMA has won several awards for its outstanding and creative work.
It has achieved Pritzker Architecture Prize in the year, 2000 the
Praemium Imperiale in the 2003, the RIBA Gold Medal in the United
Kingdom, in the year 2004. Other awards include the Mies van der Rohe
and Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in the year 2010, at Venice
Biennale (“OMA”, 2012).
One of the greatest accomplishments of OMA is the Mission Grand Axe, La
Defense, situated in France, Paris. The Mission Grand Axe was building
in 1991, and it is to transform the existing urban fabric. It is to be a
strategic reserve in Paris, which has kept Paris intact and has given
the country the opportunity to grow and modernize itself. Mission Grand
Axe has also given Paris the potential to compete with the capitals of
the world, by making necessary adjustments to the country.
Paris has, as the Mission Grand Axe prevented any invasion. The first
portion/sector of the building is, and the question has arisen of an
extension. Since Europe is for its history and old monuments, the main
problem here is, whether Europe would like to change or would stay that
way, for eternal life. It is an unspoken thin in Europe, that whatever
is old should stay that way an s to protect its history. To make or
build something new in Europe is an unthinkable process. It is as a
nightmare or a dead thought process. The modern buildings in Europe have
the life span of approximately 20 to 25 years, and are to expire or
deteriorate after these years.
The contemporary buildings in Europe are to be precarious. Their
existence represents the contemporary side of a city, thus, pointing
towards the temporary occupation in the city. Europe has suspended the
idea of constructing building, destructing them when they get old and
reconstructing them again. Europe ha sticks to the idea of old
buildings. La Defense` was constructed as part of a competition, to
revive the urbanization in Europe. The urbanization was related to the
utopian strategy and was expected to transform the general idea of
sticking to old buildings. The construction of La Defense was also done
for the purpose of applying the utilitarian principle. It is also for
the transformation purpose of urbanization, and it has the maximum life
of 25 years.
Urban planning has been a subject of interests for kinds and
architectures of cities, since the ancient times. The cities of the past
were planned, and they had all had a pattern. However, some cities of
the ancient times, according to the historical literature of urban
planning, are unplanned. In the modern times, new approaches have been
adopted to change the situation of urban planning. There are two
approaches which can be adopted for urban planning of cities. These two
approaches are standardization of urban forms and urban building and
spaces coordination. These both approaches cover many other perspectives
and it also allows an architect to extent the degree of his planning. As
described above, the two main historical projects of architecture,
regarding urban planning, now urban planning would be clearly defined.
Architects differ in the way they study modern planning and ancient
urban planning. This is mainly due to the difference in structure of the
ancient dynamics of cities and the modern dynamics.
In the ancient times, there were three definitions of urban planning.
The first one covers the actions of builders in the ancient times and
the other two definitions cover the layouts and the consequences or the
results of the actions. There are five steps through the new approach to
building cities can be explained. The five steps that would be discussed
are the arrangement of buildings, formality and monumentality of layout,
orthogonality, geometric order and visibility access. The
standardization part of the new approach is, in reference, to the
architectural inventories, spatial layouts, orientation and metrology.
Some cities are more planned than others, and thus, the degree of
planning differs. The planning scale is difficult to understand. More
planned or better planned can be described as higher in degree of
coordination and standardization. More planned or better planned can
also be described as the level of efforts put in the planning process.
Coordinated arrangement of buildings and spaces
The arrangement of the features of buildings and spaces should be
arranged in a way, that they appear to refer to one another. The
buildings in a neighborhood or city should share a common thing or
orientation. The common orientation was something that James Stirling
also used in his buildings. The use of the same orientation may not
imply that the same element would be used in every building,
irrespective of its geography or weather conditions. The coordination in
buildings is by Mayan town of Becan, which shares common features.
Formality and monumentality
Formality in architect means that the organizational principles present
in historical works, are clear to the participants and observers of
urban planning. Urban planning and spaces is in many cities, both
ancient and modern. The monumentality and formality was depicted in the
ancient times, by builders, as they build places or pyramids to deliver
a message or a set of messages. These buildings also include open
plazas, symmetrical arrangements of buildings and entrances.
Orthogonal layouts
Orthogonal layouts are as grid pattern. These grid patterns show the
right angles, when the layouts of buildings and cities were produced. It
is a peculiar planning and has a prominent place in literature.
Historians identify the use of planned/unplanned urban cities, through
the use of orthogonal layouts. An integrated orthogonal plan is a
reference to a more planned urban city, which does not use basic common
alignments. The integrated orthogonal plan can be recognized if
buildings are next to one another by using large-scale features. An
example of such a plan would be Teotihuacan, which is in Mexico.
Teotihuacan has two avenues, formally crossing each other, which are as
Street of the Dead and East-West Street (Smith, 2007, pg.3-47)
Appendix 1

Appendix 2
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Louise, A. (2010) Notes from the Archive: James Frazer Stirling,
Architect and Teacher, at the Yale Center for British Art |
Postmodernism`s Pivotal Figure | By Ada Louise Huxtable – WSJ.com.
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Roberts, D. (2007) CONTINUITY IN ARCHITECTURE » James Stirling.
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Smith, M. (2007) Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach
to Ancient Urban Planning.JOURNAL OF PLANNING HISTORY, 6 (1), p.3-47.
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(2010) www.quondam.com/31/3128.htm. Available at:
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(2011) James Stirling Architect, Buildings, Big Jim, Photos, Jim
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(2012) James A. Sterling, AIA » Splash Screen. Available at:
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(2012) OASE 79 The Architecture of James Stirling 1964-1992. A
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(2010) YaleNews | Exhibits pay homage to architect James Stirling.
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(2009) OMA – Office for Metropolitan Architecture – Rotterdam –
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(2009) 010 publishers. Available at:
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Evaluate the contemporary approaches