Understanding form beyond form-alization: problematizing the culture of teaching [urban] form in the design studio

Abu Talha Farooqi, Simran Raswant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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If we are to understand ‘urban form’, then it is paramount to first understand what is ‘form’. The word ‘form’ is invariably employed in a limited sense while making sense of a city or an urban environment, especially in the disciplines of architecture and urban design. There exists an overwhelming proclivity towards the act of ‘formalization’ – primarily the case of formalising an urban settlement or phenomenon into geometric shapes, for the purpose of analysis. The primal argument of this paper is that ‘form’ does not mean ‘formalization’. Our hunch here is not to suggest an alternate urbanform of study, but instead to deconstruct and problematise this dominant practice of ‘formalization’. The practice of formalization is a classic case where an urban phenomenon is uncritically and insufficiently studied; and instead of studying different kinds of urban ‘forms’, a particular type of ‘form’ is focussed upon and advanced. Apart from architecture and urbanism, form occupies a key importance in the history of philosophy, aesthetic theory, literary theory, as well as socio-cultural anthropology. The reality of the discipline of (architecture and) urban design superficially appropriating it, is indeed tragic and the problematization of this superficial culture is the purpose of this paper. How does the problem of form arise in the design studio? How is it intensified by the key referential texts used in architecture and urban design studios? What are the ways in which philosophy and reconceptualization of form can be figured out? These constitute the key concerns of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form
Subtitle of host publication"Urban Form and the Sustainable and Prosperous City"
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • form
  • formalization
  • design studio
  • urban settlement
  • philosophy
  • urban form


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