Savannah: Rethinking the Multi-Scalar Capacity of the City Project

James Oglethorpe’s 1733 plan for the city of Savannah is well known for its strong capacity for creating a city in the countryside, but also for integrating the open territory at different scales in the city’s logics of growth.

The main value of the plan was probably its ambitious and innovative objective: to produce a different city that responded to a utopian condition seeking social reform. Of the many projects with similar objectives, it stands out for bringing together different scales within the same project.

Oglethorpe’s proposal for Savannah is one of the projects to have been implemented that uses a regular grid system to integrate a large territory, adapting the dimension of the grid to different increasingly densified uses.

The studio’s work is situated within a line of research of the GSD, “Re-visiting Urban Grids,” and must allow discussion of the tradition of the regular city and its current potential for the design of the city today.

The studio is made up of two different parts.

Phase one consists in analysing Savannah’s original plan in relation with baroque models and contemporary city projects. This research will serve to formulate a general interpretation of process of transformation of the project, and to assess urbanistic value systems and their applicability as a basis for future experiments even in other contexts.

Phase two will take the original project and the city of Savannah as a basis for discussion of the most important challenges of present-day cities with regard to scale. The premium will be on somewhat experimental approaches to encourage different discussions about contemporary city design by contrasting with contemporary gridded cities, like Boston, New Orleans, among others.

This part of the work should cover at least two scales of design: territorial and urban.  Here, verifying the urban project instruments available to us today is of the utmost importance.

This studio will meet on an irregular schedule. Professor Busquets will lead studio sessions on the following Tuesdays and Wednesdays: January 20 (first official studio meeting), January 24, 25, 31, February 1, 14, 15, 21, 22, March 7, 8, 21, 22, April 11, 12, April 25, 26. Individual meetings with the Teaching Fellow, Dingliang Yang will take place on the weeks when Professor Busquets is not present.