Diploma 5 Photography by Cyrille Weiner, 2018


Umberto Napolitano, Andrea Guazzieri

In the spirit of Joël de Rosnay, who called for a new tool to observe and grasp the in nite complexities of space and information in 1975, we think it appropriate to develop a new tool for building cities, a tool that is at once conceptual, methodological and operational so as to better confront the current physical, social and environmental challenges facing the contemporary city.

The urban fabric of Paris and its buildings provide a powerful source of inspiration for the design of such a tool as – taking both population and employment into account – the city remains one of the top five cities in the world in terms of human density. Working within such a complex cityscape, we will ground our efforts in the thinking of urban planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who was appointed a Prefect of the Seine department, 1853–70, to engage the intricate relationship between change and consistency demanded by an architectural project. Haussmann reformed the foundations of Paris to accommodate the demands of nineteenth century modernisation. If we consider the size of the urban fabric involved (75 per cent of the built environment) and the speed of the works (less than 20 years), we can almost consider Haussmann’s Paris a planned and designed city project all of its own.

With an eye on today, one can decipher the properties of Haussmann’s urban intervention through a process of classification and comparative analysis. At each level – and according to each component – the urban fabric of Haussmann’s Paris expresses a set of characteristics that guarantee several fundamental balances: density and viability, permanence and resilience, identity and universality, exceptionalism and inclusiveness. This unit will study these features based on the experiences that students will draw from housing projects in Paris. Aiming to consider the individual architectural project as part of a larger composition, students will begin with ‘a real framework’ – looking to planning regulations, accessibility requirements and fire-safety regulations for the site – to learn how to find freedom in this very constrained system.


Umberto Napolitano initially a student of literature, studied architecture at the University of Naples Federico II and at the Ecole d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette. Umberto created The Local Architecture Network (2002), has been a professor at GSAPP, Columbia University since 2014 and joined the French Academy of Architecture in 2016.

Andrea Guazzieri works as an architect in Paris and is a partner at GFC Architecture. Following his MSc degree at TUDelft (2010), Guazzieri worked with LAN architecture, at IUAV Architecture University of Venice and at TUDelft. Working on small and large-scale projects, Guazzieri with GFC recently won the competition for the New Science Centre, Naples.

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