cataloguing the city: in between manifesto and diary


The catalogue as a form of architectural research on the city operates between inventory (of existing conditions) and active tool (for framing new design proposals). The catalogue utilizes a comparative method based on a given set of criteria, and as such must discard context and rely on consistency to make its argument. Naturally, anomalies seem problematic. 

However, the importance of works like Learning from Las Vegas and Made in Tokyo within architectural discourse show how the confrontation of authorship can activate the catalogue if the authors are explicit about their use of the comparative method. Similarly, Delirious New York’s explicit manipulation of the manifesto allows it to use an objective tone while recognizing the voice of the author. Though Hong Kong Typology takes on the tone of the manifesto, the role of the author becomes severly diminished.  

Given both the increasing interest in researching cities and the facility with which data can be collected, it is unproductive to adopt a mask of neutrality. Instead, the catalogue should be manipulated. 

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MIT fall 2011