The Anonymous City. From Modern Standardisation to Generic Models

Lecomte, Jeremy. 2014. The Anonymous City. From Modern Standardisation to Generic Models. Masters thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis starts from the distinction it is possible to make between modernisation (i.e. the teleological drive towards formal and ontological purification) and what modernity has been in practice (Latour 1993, 2012). As the concept of the Anthropocene leaves geology and enters philosophy, art, architecture and human sciences, such a distinction allows to explore alternative conceptions of what modernity has been and continues to be about. This, it is argued, is especially true of architecture, where a canonical history based on movements and styles keeps masking more continuous trajectories (Koolhaas and al. 2000; Jencks 2002). Exploring different architectural models and projects that have marked the recent history of architecture in relation to the city, this thesis aims to identify in the anonymous city the main heuristic diagram according to which the discipline of architecture has understood and sought to transform urban conditions throughout modernity. Although it has been intensely invested by the Modern Movement, the anonymous city cannot be confined to modernist architecture. First conceived along the possibilities offered by industrial standardisation, the anonymous city seems to be mainly driven, today, by generic processes. The distinction between the logics of standardisation and the logics that underpin the generic is a central concern of this thesis. Emphasising this transformation, this thesis explores the normative relation that architecture entertains with the urban condition in ways that do not only index contemporary capitalist globalisation, but also potentially challenge its organisation (see Sloterdijk 2005, 2006; Laruelle 2011). Focusing on the research project that Rem Koolhaas lead on Lagos, Nigeria, this thesis postulates that the concept of the generic might not be crucial for the future of architecture, but might also open critical possibilities to respond to the challenges prompted by global urbanisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Masters)

Identification Number (DOI):


Architecture, Modernity, Urbanisation, Rem Koolhaas, Anthropocene, Standardisation, Generic

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


10 December 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2014 11:54

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:06


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