This post is by John Hill from A Daily Dose of Architecture Books
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MONU #29: Narrative Urbanism
Bernd Upmeyer (Editor-in-Chief)
BOARD Publishers, October 2018
Paperback | 7-3/4 x 10-1/2 inches | 128 pages | English | ISSN: 1860-3211 | $23.99
Understanding Urban Narratives – Interview with Cassim Shepard by Bernd Upmeyer; Narrative is the New Black – On the Death of Modern Language by Omar Kassab; Hong Kong Is Land by MAP Office (Gutierrez and Portefaix); Les Grands Ensembles by Pierre Huyghe; Bangkok Domestic Tastes by INDA, Alicia Lazzaroni and Antonio Bernacchi; Talk on the Wild Side: Moving Beyond Storytelling in Cities by Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz; Narrating an Analogical Urbanism: Rooms+Cities by Cameron McEwan and Lorens Holm; Storytelling “No New York” by Lorenzo Lazzari; The Grid and the Bedrock by Tiago Torres-Campos; Geostories by Design Earth; Narrating Motherland through Migrating Architectural Objects by Seda Yildiz; Right to the Narrative – Walking Interviews by Amila Širbegovic; Wild Pigeon
Carolyn Drake; Detroit’s Nain Rouge by Kathleen Gmyrek; The Rise of the Kynics by Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski (WAI Architecture Think Tank); Voices of El Ermitaño – Narrating the Unwritten Urbanism of the Self-built City by Kathrin Golda-Pongratz; A Story of a Masterplan in China by Inge Goudsmit (OMA); Notes on the Architectural Cartoon by Amelyn Ng; The Pathways That Tell the Story of Cities by Phil Roberts; Second Thoughts in the Second City by Benjamin van Loon
Elsewhere I’ve stated that the content a book’s midsection (e.g., a project in the middle of an architectural monograph) is particularly important, providing a crescendo to a book’s narrative arc. This is not the case with magazines such as MONU, where the first article is the most important, due to it being the first piece readers confront. In turn it sets the tone for the rest of the issue, even as its contributors, in the case of MONU #29 for instance, are a diverse lot. First in this issue is MONU editor Bernd Upmeyer’s interview with Cassim Shepard, who was the founding editor of the Architectural League’s Urban Omnibus and now teaches “Narrative Urbanism: Strategic Storytelling for Designers and Planners” at Columbia GSAPP. A statement of his I find particularly insightful has to do with the goals of narrative urbanism being more about process (“the process of learning how to observe urban dynamics…how to talk to people about what is special or unique about a neighborhood”) than product (moving images and sounds, etc.). The interview frames narrative urbanism as exploration, thereby impacting one’s reading of the following contributions for the better.
The full list of contributions is above. Highlights beyond Shepard’s interview include a few illustrated pieces: MAP Office’s proposal for the addition of eight artificial islands in Hong Kong, Alicia Lazzaroni and Antonio Bernacchi’s colorful isometric of a dense Bangkok scene, and Design Earth’s illustration of “Geostories”; and essays by Phil Roberts and Benjamin van Loon that close the issue and discuss, respectively, post-High Line elevated public spaces and the role of narrative in four major developments reshaping Chicago. The form that narrative urbanism takes is quite diverse too, be it Tiago Torres-Campos’s cartographic history of Manhattan, Amila Širbegovic’s “walking interviews,” or Amelyn Ng’s use of cartoons for creating architectural narratives. Those interested in exploring cities via narratives will find plenty to chew on in the pages of the latest MONU.
Bernd Upmeyer is the founder of BOARD and editor in chief of MONU – Magazine on Urbanism. He studied architecture and urban design at the University of Kassel (Germany) and the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands).