Block Mutations (2019)

ARCU4300: Histories and Theories of Urbanism //
Instructor: Ozayr Saloojee //

This Winter 2019 offering of ARCU4300 focused on Seoul, South Korea, and on a Carleton contribution to the 2019 Seoul Biennale, “Collective City,” as part of a Canada-wide initiative, by invitation of Professor Jae Sung-Chon, from the University of Manitoba’s School of Architecture.This “production seminar” examined and engaged the “Collective City” at the scale of an urban block -not only as a formal entity, but also an organic, dynamic and spatial one. For this seminar, we studied the urban DNA strands of Seoul (spatial, formal, anecdotal, programmatic, social, cinematic, infrastructural, technological… ) in order to produce and compose a hybrid/projective/fictive urban block at scale, using the DNAs explored in the seminar, and based on our own biases and understandings of contemporary urbanism. While recognizing the critical contributions of the idealized and formal blocks of modernists (Cerda or block/slabs), the trans-territorial blobs, blocks and slabs of Archigram and Team X, and the mega or super blocks of contemporary developments, the project imagined evolutive mutations/evolutions of existing narratives ( perhaps more like that of Kowloon). The production seminar attempted to generate speculative imaginations, hybrids and more through combining, recombing, hacking, splicing and aggregating combinations of new and old. The seminar aimed to 1) investigate (different) parts of the city; 2) collect spatial and architectural DNAs; 3) recompose and hybridize toward a new condition 4) nest them, or situate them in a block scale model of Seoul. Selected models – and accompanying drawings and texts – were to be refined over the early part of the summer, and shipped to Seoul for installation at the 2019 Biennale in September, as part of the Global Studio Project. (With gratitude to Professor Jae Sung-Chon and his team).  The above text was a combination of Professor Sung-Chon’s initial writings and the studio syllabus.

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