Volumetric City

Professor Justyna Karakiewicz and Onur Tumturk


This studio investigates hidden rules within grid cities that could be applied to volumetric urbanism of the 21st century.

The studio starts with examining grid cities. The grid city is a very common form of cities in various periods of time and culture. Subdivision of land into urban blocks surrounded by roads as circulation patterns has dominated our assumption what city is. The grid allows us to achieve some order, by accepting certain rules and conventions and in the same time allowing for transformation and adaptations. But have we managed to take a full advantage of the grid cities and the hidden rules that exist within them?

We ask two main questions:

1. How does urban design practice accommodate multiplicity of our expectations? In Local Code by Michael Sorkin we read that well design city requires a theory of what is desirable. But what is desirable for one might not be desirable for another. If we really want to accommodate multiplicity of desires and choices, our current practices are in trouble. Therefore, we need to develop different methods and different forms of the city that could accommodate variety of expectations: from low to high density, from concrete to green jungle, from noise to silence, from confined to expanse places. And this leads us to another question.

2. If the 20th century was all about mobility, will 21st century will be all about accessibility, and if yes how could we change the way we move and access things which we need and desire, can we re-think the infrastructure for the 21st century?

This studio examines how we can develop ideas about not as much vertical but truly volumetric cities, where lift shafts and tunnels are replaced with rich urban experience; where the quality of experience from streets, alleys and piazzas remains as we move up and down through new forms of urban high rise; where the movement is not only limited to ground level but happens at all different levels, allowing for extensive views of the city and surrounding country side; where anyone is able to escape from overcrowding, pollution and noise, into open space, with long vistas, and even isolation. Our aim is to learn how to design truly volumetric city.


Volumetric City – Tokyo

Nan Li
Lingas Tran
Grant Li

Tokyo geographically is made up of plateaus, hills and mountains. Along its eastern border runs the Edo River, the Arakawa River and Sumida River downtown divides Tokyo from Chiba Prefecture, to the south of Tokyo. The Sakai River and the lower stream of the Tama River separates Tokyo from Kanagawa Prefecture with many of its tributaries running through Tokyo.

Tokyo was once a city of water, and it was an integral part of the city. Life was orientated around the water systems of canals and rivers - it connected people to their place and environment. The disappearance of the waterways began during the Showa-Era and the Second World War when ‘rubble of the bombed buildings was used to fill in small waters in the city’.

The proposition for this design, is to relieve Tokyo from the pressure of urban sprawl, to regain and preserve its existing rivers and environs. It attempts to reconnect the relationship of water to its community and city.

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