la ville spatiale

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Yona Friedman | La Ville Spatiale

Architectural Drawing [1958]

The never realised, but theoretically proposed, solution to adaptable inhabitation by Friedman in the late fifties was typically modern in its essence. It encompasses the now-typical approach to dealing with housing shortages in one region and was at the time site specified to France.

The notion of adaptable space is strived for in design to this day, allowing for functions of varying purpose to be installed within the prebuilt framework. The way this could adapt our interraction with private and public arenas throughout the cityscape would have dramatic effects on the way the city is organised. A city one year could manifest itself in different form the next year. Interchangeability to match the constantly changing world we now live in.

Why is it that such an idea could not catch on? My first notions would be firstly to do with its placement over the city. The original city exists, still, in it’s subtly changing shadow. Is it part of the city? Really? Or does it simply become a new city hovering in the airspace above our heads? My second query would stand in the way it behaves. As a spatial grid to which everything is arranged, do we not have this grid already present in our cities? The current grid to which we design is not so literal - mostly freeform and dependant on physics, law and social acceptance. Would a fixed structure simply serve us as a predefined cage?

Would such regularised guidance become a release from the stifling freedom we are currently accustomed to? Perhaps, however I can’t help but feel it may have the opposite effect.

Image credit | Y. Friedman