F：Gabriel Feld 教授
B：What's a city like? Would you use a metaphorical phrase to describe a city? Please explain a little bit.
F：For me the key notion to think about the city is difference. Cities are places where different people--with different interests, ambitions and agendas--come together. Places
of conflicts, encounters and everything in between. Of course, there are also similarities,
but those are often unexpected and full of possibilities. I very much like to understand and
explain things through metaphors and analogies, but here I'm a little stumped, probably
because I use the city as a metaphor for so many other things, from education to food,
that I can't think of a metaphor for the city.
B：What are the most impressive cities you have been? What attract you most in those
F：To tell you the truth, I'm always impressed by cities. Any city. But not to avoid your
question, I remember my first visit to Lisbon with particular joy. I don't know what I was
expecting, probably nothing much, after all one doesn't think of Lisbon the way one thinks
of Paris or Rome, but I was blown away by the richness, physical, geographical, cultural of
Lisbon, so much packed in a relatively small place. Also Istanbul, at the intersection of so
many currents. And most recently Mumbai, for its sheer size, particularly its enormous
population, and also because it's so different from anything I knew and experienced
B：What's your impression of Beijing? What do you think are the key words of Beijing City?
F：I don't know. I don't really know Beijing. I was here five years ago and my first reaction was
"Wow, this city has changed a lot in five years!" I was particularly impressed by the
improvements in public transportation.Also by the relation between old and new--I visited
some Hutong neighborhoods--that seems a little superficial but a positive trend.
B：Which city in Asia you'd like to live in? Will you list several reasons?
F：Right now I'm teaching for a few weeks at the CAA in Hangzhou and I feel that I could
happily live here. First is the scale, although I grew up in Buenos Aires that is a very large
city I feel more comfortable in a smaller place. Also not so much at the center of things
but with a good sense of itself. I often make the comparison with Boston, where I've lived
now for almost thirty years, that is also a city with a good scale and sense of itself.
Sometimes when I have to explain Hangzhou, I say that it is to Shanghai what Boston is to
New York. I also like very much the relation between Hangzhou and its geography, very
tight, the West Lake (that for me is the perfect example of an urban lake) and the hills.
B：Will you describe the neighborhood you grew up? What do you get from your
F：I grew up in a Buenos Aires neighborhood, something like 35 blocks (a 20-minute
subway ride) away from the center of the city. The neighborhood was defined by the
street, with buildings making a compact and consistent line at the edge of the sidewalk.
When I was a kid, many neighborhoods like mine were going through a transition from an
earlier construction of low houses (most one-story, a few two or three stories high) to
taller apartment buildings (about twelve stories) and there was a progressive abandonment
of the life in the street. As I got older, the relation to the center, with its cafes, bookstores,
cinemas, theaters and museums, became increasingly important.
I may invented a theory: that we all know one city (or town, etc,) the place where we grew up, and then extrapolate that experience to make sense of all other places that we get to know afterward. OK, it's not a theory, more like an oversimplification, but some of it may be true. At least for me. Whether I like it or not, my reference is Buenos Aires, a very large city defined by the square grid of the Spanish colonization of the American continent and a very diverse immigrant population. Maybe I should add, a population, or at least a large portion of the population with... how should I say this? a population with European fantasies and a fascination with modernity.
B： What are the differences between Argentina and U.S. in terms of urban-rural
relationship? What do they have in common?
F：Growing up in Buenos Aires and the living in Boston, my own experience has always
been decidedly urban. Also in my practice as an architect and in my teaching. So I haven't
thought very much about the countryside. But this is a very important question from a
Chinese perspective, right? Here the relation between the city and the countryside is, or
should be, at the center of the discussion. Right now at the CAA, my workshop is looking
at a series of rural villages something like a three-hour drive to the southwest of
Hangzhou. We visited them with the students, I think they are very interesting places and
full of possibilities.
B：What's your favorite movie setting in a city?
F：Great question! Without thinking too much, I'd say "The Third Man", set in Vienna just
at the end of World War II. But others come to mind very quickly, the Havana of "Memories
of Underdevelopment", the Paris of the early movies of Rene Clair ("Paris Asleep" and
"Entr'acte",) the movie about Valparaiso by Joris Ivens and Chris Marker, the New York of
some of the Woody Allen movies...
这个问题太棒了！不用多想，我觉得是“The Third Man”。这是一个关于二战结束前的维也纳的电影。
但是我也很喜欢其他的一些电影，比如“Memories of Underdevelopment”中的哈瓦那，Rene Clair拍的早期电影“Paris Asleep”或者“Entr'acte”中的巴黎，Joris Ivens和Chris Marker拍摄的瓦尔帕莱索，以及伍迪艾伦拍摄的纽约。
B：As we know, you teach a course in RISD on reading the city, what's the structure of this
course? What approaches it takes? Do we have any access to see the students' works in this
F：The structure of the course is very simple. There are twelve classes. The one at the
beginning titled "Reading the City" more or less sets the arguments, the way we're going
to look at the city. The one at the end titled "Writing the City" looks at those arguments
from the point of view of the project, the architect or designer. And in between, ten
lectures each dedicated to one city: Buenos Aires, Vienna, New York, Beijing,Istanbul,
Venice, Cairo, Havana, Mumbai and Lisbon. The lectures focus on the relation between the
physical and cultural dimensions of the city. When I explain it in simpler terms I say that
"we look at maps and tell stories." At the beginning of the course I tell the students that I'll
do half of the work and they will do the other half. So each student picks a city that he or
she will study through out the term and at some point present to the class. For the last
couple of years I've asked the students to make little movies--it's so easy these days!--and
a number of them are posted on Vimeo.
B： Will you recommend 10 books to understand urban life better? And 10 movies?
F：That's a lot! I don't know 10, but there are a few books that come to mind. Mostly
novels. In the last few years I've enjoyed very much reading the Turkish writer Orhan
Pamuk, about his city, Istanbul, my favorite among his novels is "The Black Book". I also
got a great introduction to Mumbai/Bombay through Rohinton Mistry's "Family Matters". If
I had to pick one novel about Buenos Aires would be Ernesto Sabato's "On Heroes and
Tombs". For Havana would be Alejo Carpentier, for example his "Explosion in a Cathedral",
but lately Leonardo Padura has published some exquisite novels set in Havana, I would
recommend "La novela de mi vida" ("The Novel of my Life") but I don't think it has been
translated into English yet. Jose Saramago's "The History of the Siege of Lisbon" is simply
exquisite. For non-fiction, Karl Schorske's book about Vienna Fin-de-Siecle. Then
Lewis Mumford, Edmund Bacon, Aldo Rossi, and above all, Walter Benjamin.I mentioned
some movies in an earlier answer.
这真的很多啊！我不一定知道10本，但是有几本我想说。大部分是小说。在过去的几年中，我非常喜欢读土耳其作家Orhan Pamuk（奥尔罕-帕慕克）写的关于他的城市伊斯坦布尔的书，我最喜欢的一本就是"The Black Book"（《黑书》）。我也通过Rohinton Mistry
的"Family Matters"获得了关于孟买的很好的了解。如果要我选一本关于布宜诺斯艾利斯的书的话应该是Ernesto Sabato写的"On Heroes and Tombs"。针对哈瓦那，我觉得是Alejo Carpentier写的比如"Explosion in a Cathedral"。 但是最近Leonardo Padura也出版了一些关于哈瓦那的出色小说，我会推荐"La novela de mi vida"（《关于我一生的小说》），但是我觉得他还没有被翻译成英文。Jose Saramago的"The History of the Siege of Lisbon"也是一部佳作。对于非小说类的书，Karl Schorske关于维也纳的Fin-de-Siecle，还有刘易斯-芒福德、艾德-培根、阿尔多-罗西以及以上的所有人，以及瓦尔特-本雅明等的著作。
B：After visiting Beijing, what are new in your "silly box"?
F：Funny you ask about my "silly box", that's where I put stuff that I don't think of as
"serious". Although I'm not sure it's such a good thing to distinguish between serious and
non-serious. In any case, I was in Beijing for only a couple of days, but yes, I go a "shadow
picture"--I've been making photos of shadows for quite some time--and a "mirror" self-
Ah, yes... also some "stills for a little movie about candy in Beijing" sometimes I make
some pictures that I think of as narrative series of sorts, even if rarely or ever turn into
And this brings me to the end of your questions. Hope my answers make some sense.
Gabriel Feld 教授在人民大学公共教学三楼门厅
Gabriel Feld 教授提供的“影子图片”，摄于北京