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Social implications of the modernist urbanism: İslamabad master plan by Doxiadis

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2019
Abbasi, Maheen
The creation of Pakistan’s new capital city, Islamabad is indebted to political decisions imposed by ruling bodies of a post-colonial state, with the ambition to pursue 'modernity'. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the new ideological outlook which prevailed the functionalist concerns in urbanism and architecture is entangled with post-war development discourses. Many planned capital cities during this time reinforced the modernist notion of urbanism. Among them, Islamabad (1959-1963) is one of the prominent nation-state capitals which exposes the modernist tendencies at all levels from architecture to urban design and planning. This thesis is an interpretation and historical contextualization of Islamabad project which was designed by the Greek architect and urbanist C.A. Doxiadis (1913-1975) based on his notion of ‘a city of the future', studying it in terms of spatial assemblage and urbanistic ideas imposed by the foreign designer. The research aims to examine the legacy of Doxiadis in relationship to the urban development needs of Pakistan during that time. In Doxiadis’ theory of ‘Ekistics', 'science of human settlements' is required for developing an optimum urban settlement of the future. Planning models of ‘Dynapolis’ and ‘ecumenopolis’ are the main principles proposed and applied by Doxiadis in Islamabad project. The thesis studies the consequences of this design approach and how it is influenced by power dynamics of a society with post-colonial agendas of nation building and modernization, by analyzing the social implications of modernist urbanism. Through the urbanistic lens, it explores the translation of theory to practice by studying the relationship between space and power in Islamabad as a capital city. The implementation of the principles of modern urbanism in master planning of Islamabad resulted in strict social zoning and segregation of the city. The research evaluates the urbanistic approach of Doxiadis and provides a critical perspective on how it influenced Pakistan’s traditional society in space.