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Abstract

When looking at the city and the land, current architectural practices face a double limitation. On the one hand, the discipline is asked to react to its own specter: the body of authoritarian spatial devices based on a questionable tradition of which the history is well established. All the usual rules that perpetuate themselves in the name of "the good settlement, one relevant and responsive to any human context" [K. Lynch, 1981]. On the other hand, architecture, as a positive and effective strength, is called upon to demonstrate its ability to resist the most evident threat weighting on the land: can architecture - its knowledge and means - contribute to counter territorial consequences of pervasive and expansive logic of advanced capitalism? In taking up this double-task for the city, is architecture then left with only two lasting dead-ends: the dissolution of its lore within a larger ensemble of social practices or the seclusion of the last parcels of its prerogatives, those that can still be rescued? In order to trace an "other" path, our research simultaneously examines the routes taken on both sides of the Atlantic by two figures of the architecture of the second half of the 20th Century: British historian and critic Reyner Banham (1922-1988) and German architect and theoretician Oswald Mathias Ungers (1926-2007). At first sight, such a choice raises two questions: that of the dissimilitude of their respective work and that of the distance which seems to separate their positions within the intellectual field of their time. One of the goals of our research is to draw closer different modes of comprehending the city and the land. Both protagonists used a wide range of tools available - those of the architectural discipline understood as a set of practices and a collected knowledge - to render, in particular, the state of the world, of the western land, of the city and what it became. The main goal of our research is then to track a possible common ground for their positions about the city, which are contemporary to one another and regarded as being differing. Our parallel study of the works on the city of R. Banham and O. M. Ungers must lead to an actualization of our understanding of a set of trails already opened and to seize the consequences on a historiographical, theoretical and practical level. Therefore, our research tends to verify the existence of such common ground in measuring the proximity of the urban and territorial conception in their work, focusing on an interval starting at the beginning of the 1960s to the end of the 1970s. To achieve it, we formulate three hypotheses regarding the themes at the basis of their convergence: the recognition of the emergence of a new condition of the western land; the will to oppose to urbanism and planning different methods; and the definition of a critical equipment based on images.

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