Radio House, Bucharest, 2015. Photo credit: Cristian-Mihail Miehs
Can a city be designed? 

D a n    D i n o i u 


Successful cities are based on two opposite paradigms that act simultaneously on it: grid and emergence [1].

The grid is the result of a rigid, top-down urban planning process designed to slice the city's territory into "architectable" slices (islands, plots), to allow the introduction of the buildings within the city. Somehow, the grid is the city's installation kit in its most encoded form. Emergence, on the other hand, is the result of the free structures - and of a free space - organic space structures which are coming from the history of the city or from the irregularities - disturbances - existing in the city planned grid. Studies show that emergence is what generates, in fact, maximum (spatial) integration into the city and is ultimately responsible for its success. Structures of emergence are more suited to city dwellers and are more likely bugs in the program, disturbances that help the program - the city – to become more adaptive. Can this adaptability be designed by architects? What are the obstacles to such a project?

Going down on the scale of things, we notice that we have a problem (the same) with the architectural objects. They are drawn into a 3D, geometric and rigid world, but they are built in a dynamic world where they become material parts of a sum (a cloud) of social assemblages with their own histories, movements, evolutions, aging. In this real world, people are not spectators sitting in front of the architectural objects but actors, agents, exploring and interacting with the space and the objects within it. People form, together with the architectural objects, or with parts of them, assemblages – unstable, dynamic networks - sometimes in opposition to the intentions of the architects (the stabilizers). Moreover, the technology of information has disturbed and will disturb so much the architectural object, and will connect so much the people in the future, that the architectural objects and the city built on them will be seen as modernist fictions that have become obstacles in the path of this connection: “When electronic technology connected the world, people began to register the failure of architecture, and the failure of objects”[2].

There is today a de-objectification, a de-location that the architects of the future must take advantage of. A more unstable structure is expected to occupy the material world of the cities of the future, capable of clinging to the information-time-space equation. We cannot give up architecture altogether, people still need order and still live in a world of matter, but a new form of matter - called anti-object, by Kengo Kuma, or advanced architecture by Manuel Gausa - is expected from the project.


[1] Kinda Al Sayed, Alasdair Turner, Sean Hanna. 2009. Cities as Emergent Models: The Morphological Logic of Manhattan and Barcelona., accestat in 18 oct, 2017.

[2] Kengo Kuma. 2008. Anti-Object: The Dissolution and Disintegration of Architecture. Architectural Association, London, 2008, pag. 32.

Dan Dinoiu studied architecture at UAUIM Bucharest and has been teaching there since 2003. He worked for DSBA for a few years and is the author of a PhD study about the Bucharest Modernism. He has participated in numerous architectural competitions and is the winner of  2000 Bucharest International Student Competition, organized by UAR in 1996.