A distinction between basic archetypes of urban form was made by Bruno Fortier: the accumulation city as opposed to the creation city. These archetypes derive from archaeology - being based on the Roman and the Egyptian city - but are interpreted as morphological paradigms, as a set of assumptions and underpinnings determining spatial planning and design. The creation city is described as expression of modernity - the paradigmatic origins of which can be traced back to Descartes’ ideas on the city - analysed as an ontology of destruction, among other things. A conceptual framework connecting the creation city to modernity is presented by interpreting Fortier’s archetypes through the anthropological work of W.T. Jones. Influenced by postmodern cultural analysis and architectural discourse, the paradigmatic importance of the accumulation city seems to increase. It is argued that interest in the accumulation city is related to a discord which is characteristic of modernity but which seems to be denied by the urbanistic modernism of the 20th century. Methodologically, we argue that modernism should be seen as part of a post-paradigmatic phase of modernity rather than as an expression of modernity at its zenith. It is argued that the discord of modernism should not lead to a discussion of modernism and postmodernism as contrary paradigms, but that the understanding of the city oscillates dialectically between these two paradigms.