Paradoxes of Density


If seen in small images, what sets Jodhpur, the blue oasis in the Indian Rajasthan desert, apart from the famous 1:500 model of the future Shanghai? One could say that color is more important than density in differentiating these two Asian cities, located however at opposite ends of the urban hierarchy. The continuity of the fabric and the homogeneity of the construction provide an even texture that makes them similar, and the same grain of aggregation allows to establish links between cities of different densities, such as the African Rhéris, the American Mexico City and the European Benidorm. The Dutch team MVRDV imagined the latter hyperbolically increasing its size with cross-shaped towers – vaguely evocative of the withered science fiction of Kenzo Tange at Tokyo’s Fuji TV –, without understanding that such typological mutation not only changes density. Unlike conventional urban tissues, the predominance of the built figure shapes a fragmented city, one made of voids and objects whose geometric boldness recalls the colonizer’s primitive gesture: the contrast between the convulse beauty of the metropolis and the bucolic calm of the countryside still arouses the metaphorical imagination in a urbanized world...[+]

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