March 27, 2007
by Canadian Architect
The Canadian Centre for Architecture presents the first in a new lecture and film series on cities and urban development on Thursday evenings beginning March 29, 2007. Learning From examines cities and their response to new architectural and urban conditions in a rapidly transforming global economy. Lagos, Vancouver, Astana, Toyko, and rural Chinese villages that are swiftly becoming major urban centres are selected as key cities in contemporary architectural debate for their complexity of social, ecological, economic, and political issues.
The series takes its title from Learning From Las Vegas (1972), Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenours vastly influential publication which analyzed the commercial strips and architectural symbolism of Las Vegas in order to understand urban sprawl. In this spirit, the series brings together experts to explore specific urban conditions and their relevance to the future development of cities. Lectures begin at 7:00 pm; admission is free.
The series opens on March 29 with Lagos Wide and Close, a documentary film by Bregtje van der Haak. Architect Rem Koolhaas and a team of students from The Harvard Project on the City are followed over a two-year period as they research Lagos, Nigeria. Narrated by Rem Koolhaas, the film represents a unique engagement with a hardly documented city, capturing multiple perspectives of a volatile moment in its evolution. Lagos is home to an estimated 15 million people whose very survival depends on improvisation, networking, and risk-taking. Despite extreme poverty, power shortages, and systemic water and traffic problems, the city is expected to be the third largest in the world by 2020. [Lagos Wide and Close: Netherlands, 2005, 60 minutes.]
On April 5, Trevor Boddy presents Vancouverism and its Discontents, examining Vancouvers influential model of high-density housing combined with green space almost 20 years after its radical redevelopment plan. An overemphasis on residential development at the cost of office space has led to an unprecedented suburbanization of the downtown core. Vancouver-based Trevor Boddy is a critic, curator and historian of architecture and consulting urban designer. His lecture offers a contemporary reading of the coastal citys unique urban and geographical situation and the issues at stake for shaping its future.
On April 19, Jeffrey Inabas Learning from Astana examines the urban centre of Kazakhstan the world’s 9th-largest country with a population of only 16 million people. With its rich oil and natural gas reserves and strategic geographical location, Kazakhstan is poised to experience an economic boom and has already attracted major international architectural firms. Jeffrey Inaba is a principal of the Los Angeles-based firm INABA. He is the program director of SCIFI, the postgraduate degree program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and the director of C-Lab at Columbia University.
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto presents Tokyo Nine Flux on April 26. Yoshiharu Tsukamoto is co-founder, along with Momoyo Kaijima, of the architectural studio Atelier Bow-Wow. In addition to design projects, Atelier Bow-Wow is celebrated for their research, published in the volumes Pet Architecture Guidebook and Made in Tokyo, which defines new urban and architectural typologies in Tokyo, where otherwise unrelated elements of the built environment are combined and adapted for utilitarian purposes. The lecture interprets urban space in Tokyo as a causal chain of responses to flux natural phenomena such as earthquakes and typhoons that pose a constant threat to the city, and increases in population, traffic and waste.
On May 3, Gregory Guldin, Professor of Anthropology at the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington, presents Urbanizing Southern China: Poverty, Minorities, and Development. A specialist in Chinese urbanization, ethnicity, and politics, Gregory Guldin examines the social and environmental consequences of accelerated industrialization in China, as agricultural villages become dense urban agglomerations at unprecedented rates.