3.1 City as Architecture and Form

“The subject is always the urban effect: there is no architecture without the city, no city without architecture.” (Tschumi 1994; p.12)

Cities are primarily defined by their urban structure, the form that their streets take, the style of individual buildings that line them. The sloping radiating streets of Sienna are different to those of Rome or Paris, the thread of the Thames defines London, the outline of the harbour, Sydney. 

But what specifically is a city? According to Spiro Kostof a city is defined by certain criteria; the city is a place where there is a certain density of people and a diversity of different occupations, social hierarchies, ethnic groups, races and religions. It also acts as a central point, geographically and economically for a network of communities. The city is distinguished by a form of monumental definition and degree of public buildings that give the city scale and act as landmarks of a common identity. Finally, a city is not a city without people to occupy its spaces (Kostof 1991; p.37-40).

Kostof’s interpretation of the city acts as a background to the structure of the city, the bones of how it is formed. The city always has an initial pattern by which it is designed, a planned structure from which it develops as each generation through time scratches their own mark upon that surface altering it continually.9

9. “A city however perfect its initial shape, is never complete, never at rest. Thousands of witting and unwitting acts every day alter its lines in ways that are perceptible only over a certain stretch of time.”  Kostof, S. (1991). The City Shaped - Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History.  p.13

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