Rhetorics of the Plan
(Supervisors: Marina Lathouri, Pier Vittorio Aureli)
The thesis critically examines the relationship between architecture and the modern city. It does this by interrogating certain systems of representation, and in which ways these become registers and agents of a changing sensibility towards the city. In particular, the thesis looks at the rhetorical and narrative strategies that connect architecture and the urban through the study of the modern Plan, as the latter is claimed to be both the central mode of architectural representation in modernity, and a strategy of modernisation and organisation in itself. The assumption being that the primacy of the classical mimetic verticality of the orders shifts along modernity to the syntactic horizontality of the plan. In these terms, the plan becomes the site where the composition –the dispositio- of both the building and the city are performed. It becomes a technique to register an expanded understanding of architectural practice in which the city is to be organised through a reconfiguration of the singular artefact, the collective to be managed through the individual, locating the urban as an expanded field of the discipline. The notions of ‘composition’ and ‘utility’, particularly as developed in the context of the École de Beaux Arts in the nineteenth century, conveys a reorganisation of architectural knowledge which constitutes the bases of what will be known as modern functional planning. Following on this, the thesis sets forth the argument that we can read in this shift from the geometrical and analogical notion of order to the procedural and syntactic idea of ordering the transformations in the relationship between the scale of the building and the scale of the urban. From metaphor to metonym, from synecdoche, to ekphrasis, decorum, and eventually irony, a rhetorical drift is discussed through a critical revision of the plan, taken not only as system of representation but as a conceptual category in itself, and as the place for the production of knowledge about building and the city.
Alejandra is an architect from Universidad de Chile (2002), selected by the RIBA President's Medals Students Award. She holds a Master from the Bartlett (2007) where she worked as Research Assistant at UCL Space Group. She has divided her education and work experience between the scale of architectural design (Sabbagh, Santiago. 2003-06) and the urban (Farrells, London. 2007-09), and taught and participated academically in several universities in Chile and the UK including the AA, where she is currently pursuing her PhD on the rhetorical tactics that connect architecture and the city through a study of architectural systems of representation, particularly the Plan. She is recipient of ‘Becas-Chile’ Scholarship (2009–13) and the AA-CCA Canadian Centre of Architecture Research Grant (2011).