MIT 4.241J Theory of City Form, Spring 2013

This course covers theories about the form that settlements should take and attempts a distinction between descriptive and normative theory by examining examples of various theories of city form over time. Created by MIT OpenCourseWare.

Average Course Length

45 hours

Skill Level


Pick a lesson

1: Introduction
2: Normative Theory I: The City as Supernatural
3: Normative Theory II: The City as Machine
4: Normative Theory III: The City as Organism
5: Descriptive and Functional Theory
6: Dimensions, Patterns, Agreements, Structure, and Syntax
7: The Early Cities of Capitalism
8: Transformations I: London
9: Transformations II: Paris
10: Transformations III: Vienna and Barcelona
11: Transformations IV: Chicago
12: Transformations V: Panopticism, St. Petersburg and Berlin
13: Utopianism as Social Reform and Built Form
14: 20th Century Realizations: Russia and Great Britain
15: City Form and Process
16: Spatial & Social Structure I: Theory
17: Spatial & Social Structure II: Bipolarity
18: Spatial & Social Structure III: Colony & Post-colony
19: Form Models I: Modern and Post-modern Urbanism
20: Form Models II: Open-endedness and Prophecy
21: Form Models III and IV: Rationality and Memory
22: Cases I: Public and Private Domains
23: Cases II: Suburbs and Periphery
24: Cases III: Post-urbanism and Resource Conservation
25: Cases IV: Hyper and Mega-urbanism
26: Conclusion: Towards a Theory of City Form
27: Teaching 4.241J/11.330J: Embracing Complexities of Urbanism