[2010] Urbanism by Françoise Choay

Today I heard a lecture by Françoise Choay (* 1925), a French architecture historian. She had a quite profound knowledge, presented stunning insights with an overall pessimistic view on the present day city. I learned that the Catalan Cerdà, originally a trained civil engineer, coined the term 'urbanization' in his 1867 Teoría General de la Urbanización. He borrowed many ideas from Baron Haussmann's renovation of Paris. Ms Choay's impression of Baron Haussmann was opposite of what I learned so far. In her opinion he was respecting as much as possible the memory and traces of the past. That Marshall McLuhan is regarded as the one who coined the term 'globalization', that I was aware of. Back to Ms Choay herself, her background is philosophy but her 'career' as an architecture historian started, when she met Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) in the fifties and wrote an article for a newspaper about one of his houses. As the newspaper agent was impressed with her work she could sent from then on whatever she wrote, which was about a paper a week. Her view on urbanism is pessimistic as she sees the human race being more and more disconnected from time and concrete space, the environment being replaced with technical objects. Even constructions, we still call buildings, are merely technical objects in her words, 'homo sapiens sapiens' turning into 'homo proteticus'.

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  • #1

    Robert Baum (Thursday, 28 October 2010)

    I realised that Ms Choay was also in close contact with Kurokawa Kisho, as can be read in his book "Each One a Hero - The Philosophy of Symbiosis", p.30, http://www.scribd.com/doc/9531158/Philosophy-of-Symbiosis-Kisho-Kurokawa