Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer, “The Nature of Cities - Chicago Marquette Park”, 1955
Is utopia outdated?
A d a l b e r t o D e l B o
THE TEST OF TIME
Relating to architecture and the city, truth is expressed by means of form and history. The test of time shows how today’s Bucharest is deformed by elements that have no identifiable relationship to its roots and to an idea of continuity in space connections.
The city is the product of the life of generations over time, and time allows us to measure its conformity and adequacy in a reliable way because the space is what actually connects past and future.
Bucharest suffered a break of space continuity, canceling therefore the urban stability built over time. The Corridors are a serious urban problem, possible consequence of an insufficient knowledge or lacking awareness of reality; perhaps it’s also the symptom of a misunderstood idea of modernity and/or a misinterpretation of the Paris Boulevards, the stated example of modern Bucharest.
As for the solution of such important problems, a radical attitude is necessary, to proceed consequently in drawing all the imaginable conclusions of the case. And without mediation: the city is such an important fact that it needs not to take into account pathological conditions in its construction or reconstruction.
These conditions should be eradicated by acting without the fear of pushing to the extreme consequences, following the clear line of Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Vertical City project which, disposing activities on different levels and separating the vehicular traffic from the pedestrian, demonstrated how to solve in a single act the complex functional city’s mixture and the urban mobility problems.
The part of the Lafayette Park project built in Detroit by Hilberseimer and Mies van der Rohe, tested during almost three generations, is a real example able to indicate – also relating to methodical purposes – a significant working direction for the reconstruction of large areas of the future city.
Without running after utopias, over fifty years since its construction, Lafayette Park proposes a smart and elegant architectural solution to problems related to climate, residential typologies, density, traffic, community buildings and natural spaces which are the settlement’s leading elements.
The buildings, geometrically defined in their strict precision, are placed into the nature according to harmonic relations and the perfection pursued in artifice corresponds to that found in nature.
The students’ works of the Fake Stability project are very interesting because, digging into contradictions, they try to save a strongly compromised condition.
To this respect I believe that a radical attitude – apparently naive but not unrealistic – can also contribute to an understanding of the still hidden urban potentialities.
Graduated in Architecture in Politecnico di Milano where he is now full professor of Architectural and Urban Composition in the School of Architecture Urban planning and Construction engineering, he has taught in the Faculties of Pescara and Venice. The research activity has been documented by studies and research in the field of urban analysis and architectural design, in particular on the historical experience of the Modern Movement, on the matter of the idea of city, on the theoretical/practical aspects of design with focus on settlement and sustainability issues. Among the main works are the Cemetery Park of Novate Milanese and the University Campus of Chieti, experience collected in 'Le architetture del Campus di Chieti', Skira, Milano, 2014. The University Sports Centre of the Campus was awarded the European Prize for Architecture for sports facilities 1996.