The recent redevelopment of Barcelona in the last twenty-five years saw a gigantic effort to rehabilitate the existing town and create new economic conditions for the city of today—and probably the city of the future. This effort in Barcelona, a well-known gridded city, coincided with my research on the revisiting of the urban grids to try and see if the example of Barcelona has corresponded to the situation of other cities also organized by grids. In looking at newly founded expansions of the city, perhaps we could understand whether these cities had very much accepted the tool of the grid, the mechanism of it as a main pattern. There are multiple variations, but whether they are simply a banal reproduction of the history of the city must be explored. Why are some gridded cities nicer than others? This lecture presents some of hypotheses, mixing the experience of Barcelona, which is a quite well-appreciated gated city today, with ongoing the research on gridded cities.
Open plan is a term from modern architecture that has achieved a wide currency. We talk of open plan apartments and kitchens, and many of us may work, perhaps to our regret, in open plan offices. What is usually understood by this term is a floor that has been cleared as far as possible of walls and columns. We may ask why those walls have been banished and what is implied by the wide open spaces so revealed. We may further ask what might follow if the walls surrounding that floor were also removed or perforated. Just such a prospect was open by certain utopian projects in the twentieth century, projects which implied a subject not settled, but wandering. That subject is my topic here.
The CCA Mellon Foundation Senior Fellowship Program was established in 2001 to encourage advanced research in architectural history and thought. With the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CCA has welcomed distinguished scholars for residencies of one to eight months, culminating in a public lecture.