Visiting Scholar Seminar: Jean Attali

"L’élargissement de notre connaissance des villes"
Seminar, 1 June 2006

Visiting Scholar Jean Attali presents his research.

Broadening our vision of cities to ‘world-space’ dimensions and keeping its theoretical implications in mind. My research seminar will unpack a working method whose main steps could lead the way to an urban philosophy:

To rely our understanding of cities on data, among which urban demography.

To situate cities : many of them, some the most important, are almost unknown to us ; to give meaning to this key geographical imperative (localization) ; to show how maps and plans reveal urban growth’s moving fronts and ‘invading waves’.

To select themes that can sustain the interpretation of the city-maps. Maps of cities in Asia, America or Europe elicit different readings. Just like cities, maps are constructed works: but how exactly? We must ask lest we should surrender to the confusing idea of the uniformization of the global urban landscape.

To renew concepts, at the risk of bracketing or neutralizing critical categories inherited from modern history. The urban lexicons and glossaries, which structure these concepts, are good indices of the cultural situation in and through which one measures urban mutations.

And finally to tackle the question of city forms, which is crucial for anyone considering cities from the point of view of architecture, if not urbanism. At the same time, to accept that nothing new can be conceived about cities without taking their ‘broaden space’ into consideration. For not only urban forms capture the identity of cities that a moment of their history made possible, but also they evolve with time to project a vision of what is possible which, in turn, determines the relationships of one city to all others.

Jean Attali, is agrégé de philosophie. He received a Ph.D . in philosophy from the Université Paris I and a M.Arch. from the University of East London. He is a professor at the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais. He has collaborated to some projects with Rem Koolhaas, such as the 2000 exhibition Mutations. Jean Attali is the author of Le plan et le détail. Une philosophie de l’architecture et de la ville (Nîmes, J. Chambon, 2001). He is currently completing a new book entitled L’avant-pays. Essai sur la forme et l’horizon des villes (Presses Universitaires de Vincennes). He is also at work on a study on the figures of enunciation of architectural thought, from the works of Aldo Rossi, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas.

Jean Attali was a Visiting Scholar at the CCA in 2006.


Sign up to get news from us

Email address
First name
Last name
By signing up you agree to receive our newsletter and communications about CCA activities. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, consult our privacy policy or contact us.

Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.

We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.

You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.

This email was permanently deleted from our database. If you’d like to resubscribe with this email, please contact us

Please complete the form below to buy:
[Title of the book, authors]
ISBN: [ISBN of the book]
Price [Price of book]

First name
Last name
Address (line 1)
Address (line 2) (optional)
Postal code
Email address
Phone (day) (optional)

Thank you for placing an order. We will contact you shortly.

We’re not able to process your request at the moment. Please try again later.

Folder ()

Your folder is empty.

Please complete this form to make a request for consultation. A copy of this list will also be forwarded to you.

Your contact information
First name:
Last name:
Phone number:
Notes (optional):
We will contact you to set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that your consultation date will be based on the type of material you wish to study. To prepare your visit, we'll need:
  • — At least 2 weeks for primary sources (prints and drawings, photographs, archival documents, etc.)
  • — At least 48 hours for secondary sources (books, periodicals, vertical files, etc.)