48295 - Architectural and Urban Composition

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Stefania Rossl

  • Credits 8

  • SSD ICAR/14

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course aims at reading the city and identifying the elements that define its identity. The transmission of the specific knowledge of the architectural composition will make it possible to clarify the distinctive features of the different places belonging to the metropolitan body and later to address the project. Through a method based on a theoretical and practical reading, the student will acquire the skills to get the development of the urban and architectural design project. The focus will be on urban traces characterized by the presence of preexisting buildings with a historical and environmental value. The student will deepen the relationship between form and urban structure with special attention to the space of sustainable living.

Course contents

The Graduate Laboratory (I.C. 16 CFU) is composed, in addition to the characterizing course of Architectural and Urban Composition (CFU), with a course of Sustainable Technologies for the Built Environment (2 CFU), a course of Drawing - Representing Complexity (4 CFU) and a course of Architectural Space Theories (2 CFU).

Maximum City Minimum Dwelling deals with the theme of living by researching relationships between urban form and residence in the contemporary Asian metropolis, place where the main processes of territorial transformation and environmental modification are taking place of this century. The contemporary city is characterized by a complex system of relationships that find particular expression in the forms of living and in the configuration of residential settlements that make up the most substantial part. The massive urban growth that has affected many of the Eastern cities has paid little attention to the existing architectural heritage in favor of uncontrolled growth of settlements designed solely to support logic and global policies. The economic development that in recent years has affected much of Asia is showing critical elements even in the major metropolises of the Indian subcontinent.

Historically integrated in their respective national and regional territories, following the globalization processes many of these cities have been affected by profound transformation processes which, in most cases, have led to the loss of traditionally acknowledged aspects. The urban form and the conformation of the block, the legacy of a classical or regionalist matrix, leaves room for an vague urban landscape and difficult recognizability that only corresponds to quantitative and functional logic. Yet the urban and architectural skyline of Indian cities still shows traces of domination and external influences, a sign of cultural pluralism that is a consequence of import patterns and contamination over time.

At the expanding of the mega-Indian cities, identifiable as megalopolis, generally follows a progressive reduction in the size of the housing: if, on the one hand, cities try to exploit the surface of the ground while growing in height, on the other hand they are spreading big areas characterized by low informal dwellings.

The contrast between two opposing residential models requires to be investigated in order to find innovative solutions that can establish a dialogue between tradition and contemporaneity. Attention to the quality of living in accordance with the nature of the site, the interdependence between public and private space, the constructive and technological aspects necessary for the identification of sustainable residential models will be the goals pursued by the project.

If the process of urban densification has led to the cancellation of much of the architectural heritage, it seems still possible to find, in the traces of some urban devices, references and principles to suppose regeneration processes of some neighborhoods of the city now occupied by incongruous buildings. Recognize the forms and types of the old city, the colonial city and the settlements founded on the legacy of the Modern Movement, will lead the student to understand the characteristics of the urban structure and to design in some strategic sites.

The choice of project intervention area will result from the understanding of the value of the architectural heritage preserved on these sites. From it, in fact, a design reflection will be set up for the renewal of the identity of the place. The course will focus on the project of the residence and the relationship between collective building and public space by focusing on the regeneration of small urban sites characterized by indistinct, informal or incongruous settlements.

The sustainability will be the guiding principle of the project at various scales, from the city's reading tool to the technological choices of the building. The use of three-dimensional modeling and digital display methods and techniques will also allow for verification of the relationship between the environment, pre-existing buildings and new project.

The following topics will be investigated: place, landscape, identity; Public space, urban regeneration; Tradition, regionalism, modernity; City, community, domestic space; Type, form, composition; Form, structure, three-dimensional space; Natural system, built system; Low-rise, high-density; Traditional technologies, innovative systems; Sustainable living.




Architecture in India (catalogo della mostra Festival of India), Electa Moniteur, Paris, 1985

W. J.R. Curtis, Balkrishna Doshi. An architecture for India, Mapin, Ahmedabad, 1988.

V. Bhatt, P. Scriver, After the Masters, Mapin, Ahmedabad, 1990.

C. Correa, Housing & Urbanisation, Urban Design Research Institute, Bombay, 1999.

C. Correa, The New Landscape. Urbanisation in the third world, A Mimar Book, Butterworth architecture, Singapore, 1989.

K. Jain, Thematic space in Indian architecture, AADI Centre, India Research Press in Ahmedabad, New Delhi, 2002

H. U. Khan, Carles Correa, Mimar, Concept Media Ltd., Singapore, 1984.

H. U., Khan, Charles Correa. Architect in India, Mimar, Butterworth, London and New York, 1987.

Antonio Monroy, Gianni Berengo Gardin, L'India dei villaggi, Edizioni Fotoselex, 1980

V.S. Pramar, Social history of indian architecture, Oxford University Press, 2005.

S. Rossl, Architettura Contemporanea. India, Motta, Milano 2009.

J. Steele, The complete architecture of Balkrishna Doshi. Rethinking Modernism for the developing World,

B. B. Taylor, Raj Rewal, Concept Media Ltd, London, 1992.

Vastu-Shilpa Foundation, "Living Environments": Housing Designs by Balkrishna Doshi, Vastu-Shilpa Foundation, Ahmedabad, 1995

A. Volwahsen, Architettura Indiana, Edizione del Parnaso, Milano, 1969.


Lotus International n°34, 1982

India Today, “The Architectural Review”, Volume CL, 898, 1971.

Thirld World Housing, “The Architectural Review”, Volume CLXXVIII, 1062, 1985.

Dossier India, “Spazio e Società”, 38, 1987.


Further bibliography will be provided during the course.

Teaching methods

Scheduled lessons and seminars are the tools to pass on specific knowledge to achieve the theoretical goals set by the course. The lessons will cover the deepening of theoretical texts, the critical reading of modern and contemporary projects, the influence they have on Oriental and Indian architecture, the relationship between import patterns and regional characters. Periodic reviews of the students' skemes and drawings will be finalized to prepare the group workshops, which will check the state of progress of the work. Exercises based on thematic courses are also expected.
Starting from specific papers and books, the student will develop a study of the city to identify the principles and rules that establish complex structural and formal relations. The critical reading of some case studies, collected in a book according to the instructions provided by the teachers, will allow to highlight the relationship between project, place and sustainability in contemporary architecture.

Assessment methods

The final examination of the Graduate Laboratory (eligibility) includes the verification of the learning contents of all courses that composed the integrated Laboratory and takes place in a single exam.

The work on the City Study and Project Plans, the exercises carried out during the year, and the knowledge of the theoretical issues developed during lectures and group discussions will be evaluated. In order to be eligible, the student will be required to produce a book and a set of A0 format drawings.

Teaching tools

The course consists of a series exercises, the teacher will follow the students at various times related to the analysis and the project. Thematic, audio-visual bibliography will be provided. The use of technical and informatics equipment provided by the Department of Architecture for graphic, photographic, and modeling applications are foreseen.

Office hours

See the website of Stefania Rossl