Collage Cities: A Contemporary Reading
Cities since their inception are continuously being accrued by design, reconfigured by designers ,stripped of their riches by the insensitive plunderers, enriched by the builders and churned by transformative agents looking for new beginnings in old remnants and as a result have evolved as vastly different agglomerations from their predecessors. At present, various contextual changes involving functional realignment, aesthetic redefinition and emerging social, political and cultural remodifications and heterogeneity in composition and enactment have turned these cities into collages which functions as a whole through discrete patches networked by various urban connectors. Additionally, these cities are also expected to embrace the incessant demands of the new times in shining edifices but at the same time cannot forgo the lessons of past which have proved themselves invaluable for preserving their identity time and again. Under these circumstances, contemporary cities require a renewed definition which acknowledges the addition, alteration, differences and chaos they harbour and validates them as places where the old and new mingle. Motivated by this renewed insight on contemporary cities, this paper investigates the progression of cities from ‘totalitarian entities’ to ‘agglomeration of collage fragments’ where the ‘strands of memory’ embraces the ‘ideals of prophecy’. The treatise ‘Collage City’ authored by ‘Colin Rowe’ and ‘Fred Koetter’ and published by MIT Press in 1978 is zeroed on as the most worthy advocate of collage city principles after literature study and various urban constructs particularly those pertaining to the dimensions of morphology, enactment and time are derived from its reading. The paper then takes up Park Street, a street in Kolkata soaked in multiple layers of history and representing the working collage of the metropolis it is situated in. The research proceeds by grading the different segments of Park Street using urban form coding, elevation coding and interview coding to discern how in spite of differential contexts and heterogeneous agencies, the said street is unified through different modes of reconciliation scripting an existence of coherence .