appropriating the urban via the natural; or visa versa: part 1

"What is most striking in conceptions of nature, even mythological ones, is the yearning for purpose and order; perhaps these notions of order are, basically, analogies derived from orderliness and purposiveness in many outward manifestations of human activity: order and purpose in the roads, in the grid of the village streets and even winding lanes, in garden or a pasture, in the plan of a dwelling and its relation to another."

To appropriate something is to make it ones own. The urban environment — space accommodating a density of human activity — has been appropriated in many ways. It has been planned, documented, represented, inhabited, left vacant, and destroyed, all depending on what that city is thought could, should, or seems to be.

For this series, a discussion on the topic will be maintained by looking at certain canonical texts:

Collin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage City
Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City
Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, S,M,L,XL
While there are many other texts that could be analyzed, I see the distinctness of these three revealing a range of understanding through comparison.

As a means of maintaining clarity and direction, each text will be treated as an appropriated city itself - it setting the limits for the discussion. As indicated by the opening quote, specific interest will be paid to how ‘nature’ is understood in each text, with ‘nature’ being treated as highly a subjective concept. I find this significant to keep in mind when looking at texts such as these; the core arguments are based on differing understandings of how the world 'naturally' works, ideas of human 'nature', 'nature' of time and space, 'natural' progression, 'natural' reactions, and countless other assumptions used as tools to assert a certain 'truth'.

Our yearning for purpose and truth creates an ordering of 'nature', an ordering of the 'city', and an ordering of the 'text' - a constant effort to make all things belong and relate to us - to appropriate.

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