When Urbanization Comes to Ground

Authors: Carlos Arnaiz and Peter G. Rowe.

ORO, 2019

This book is a loose gathering of essays that reflect an aggregation of encounters with urban circumstances and city making. Overall, it is a collaborative exercise drawing upon projects in the Brooklyn-based New York architecture studio and think tank that is CAZA (Carlos Arnaiz Architects) and SURBA (Studio for Urban Analyses). The illustrative examples and engagements within urban realms draw upon case studies including projects primarily in China, Colombia, Peru, The Philippines and the United States. Moreover, each is an allegorical journey into an urban experience in search of meanings materialized through constructed forms and urban substance. In this manner the book does not draw upon all projects nor represent every encounter. Those that made it into the book did so because they seemed to be interesting. As the title suggests, the book deals with the ebbs and flows of urbanization in a variety of forms and as they meet tangible situations of places, programs, people and technologies that came into play. Another sub-title might also be ‘Not Solely But in Addition To’ suggesting that there is often more than one way to view the urban world requiring different media and formalism. Rather than shying away from empirically-based approaches, they are embraced and pushed into service if it makes sense to do so. Conversely, too much reliance on so-called factual forms of truth seeking are certainly scrutinized and only really regarded as useful guides for moving ahead. Through collective research and design CAZA and SURBA frame, abstract, poeticize and render the city as a historical process, a future destination, a productive cycle and a layered landscape of overlapping phenomena.

The books seven substantive chapters begin with ‘From Market to Mall and Back Again’ encountering the shifts in consumption desires and habits that have lead people to consider ideas of markets, streets and industrial spaces for merchandizing and related play. ‘Community and Variety’ follows in a meditation on the reflexivity involved in neighborhood and district making. ‘A Third Way Toward Metropolitanism’ advocates for broader regional communities to be comprised of settlements at different scales and functions, ranging from large through mid-sized cities down to smaller towns and villages, particularly in China the main area under discussion. ‘Moving Backward to go Forward in Time’ argues for support of the resistance to global flattening through conservation practices specific to a place. ‘Robots, Utilidors and a Brave New World’ observes that increased levels of automation linked to changes in production cross into new realms of infrastructure that affect how cities and work environments are organized. ‘Tagging Thingness and Scale’ is how one goes about finding particular scales of urban intervention and for finding names, like urban design, for some of the games we play. The following chapter takes up several interconnected concepts of risk management particularly with regard to urban interventions. ‘Getting There From Here’ begins with the entanglement of architecture and urbanization in a circulatory relationship in which they are shaped by each other but also in a manner that shapes the surrounding context. Finally, ‘One Man’s Waste is Another’s Wealth’ takes up with the themes of recycling and functional integration with its virtuous benefits, especially in industrial settings, for reducing negative environmental impacts, improving community relations and increasing productivity. Each chapter follows a fictional or quasi-fictional narrative but is heavily illustrated by actual project proposals.

Topics: Marketing, Metropolitanism, Conservation, Scaling, Accessibility, Recycling, Anthroposphere