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ArgumentNo. 12/2020

Urban Context, Layers of Interpretation and Poché Tactics

  • / assoc. prof. PhD. arch., „Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


The need to properly understand the city with coherent theoretical tools, within the 3rd year of study workshop activity 2019-2020, at the University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” Bucharest, inspired me to synthesize an approach to mapping and interpreting the context for a public space project. Discovering the theory of architecture operability (the theory as a provider of conceptual working tools) was also an objective, together with the ethical limitations concerning place valorization in the design activity, restoring methodological horizons fallen into oblivion, continuing and enriching a tradition that cultivates the urban form as a binder between architecture and urbanism, between the meaning of architecture for the city and the idea of the city as architecture, understood by a less rigid and more poetic rationality.

The methodological mapping “in the library” allowed the elaboration of a mental scheme concerning the discourses and theoretical concepts capable of motivating the architectural design contextualist approach. This methodology thus appears as a toolkit from a pragmatist perspective, supplemented by the hermeneutic framework capable of revealing meanings with phenomenological filters and a concrete experience of the site. The project response arises from the city's interpretation on four levels: typology, urban fragments, temporality and meaning.

In conclusion, having as context the area of Bucureștii Noi Boulevard and the theme of urban public rooms, we followed a strategy of interpreting the context inspired by the poché tactic: a graphic presentation technique of the plans and sections used in the 19th century at the École des Beaux-Arts Paris, based on the procedures developed since the Renaissance and Baroque, highlighting the main rooms as regular geometric figures against the background of the service areas, but also adapting the architectural layout to the irregularities of the urban context. The multilayered interpretation has brought to light a unique spectrum of possibilities for architectural intervention, but also its limitations, filtered by the explicit ethical attitude on a neighborhood with a remarkable identity.


contextualism, place, urban interpretation, poché