George gave a presentation Perfomative Urbanism: Mapping Urban Systems at the Failed Architecture workshop: Revising the Heart of Sharjah, Maraya Art Center, Sharjah
Failed Architecture link:
‘…We ended the day with a presentation by George Katodrytis, architect and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University Sharjah. He showed examples of cultural mapping and and other visualisations of the hidden features of an urban areas. Distinguishing formal modernist grid-cities from more informal traditional Islamic urbanism, he emphasised the importance of invisible systems in the city. He argued that understanding hidden patterns, and reading cities ‘between the lines’, allows us to find new possibilities and open up space for new ideas to materialise.
Building on the legacy of the Situationists and their notion of ‘dérive’, which could be described as an unplanned journey through an urban landscape, Katodrytis showed mapping tools and tracking devices that scan the city beyond its surface and reveal the intangible aspects of cities: the flow of people, historic layers, sensory stimuli, emotional boundaries and virtual enclosures. Among the examples he showed were NB’s typographic map of London and an incredible project by Dubai based X-Architects, showing the virtual layers in Dubai based on fluctuations in the Wifi-signal along the main thoroughfares.
Talking about Madinat Jumeirah, a luxury resort in Dubai designed to mimic a traditional Arabian town, he stressed that it is largely staged and scripted urban environment. The behaviour and movement of visitors is conditioned and patterns can almost be predicted. When asked, he argued that the development of the Heart of Sharjah resembles that of Madinat Jumeirah and would therefore allow for ‘prospective mapping’.
Whereas the current social and economical dynamics of the area are mostly informal and unpredictable, necessitating the use of non-traditional mapping techniques to understand their inner logic, the future use by tourists and other visitors will likely follow a pre-defined (and profit-oriented) pattern. In the narrow alleyways of the Heart of Sharjah the idea of ‘dérive’ will gain a new meaning: unplanned wandering as a way to prevent visitors from leaving the shopping district, instead of a way to get lost and find space for self-expression…’
above images: Workshop lecture
above images: Exhibition of Modernity – “Futurama’, New York World Fair, 1938
above: Urban systems
above: Urban patterns
above images: Bank Street, Sharjah
above: ‘Heart of Sharjah’ proposal