This studio aims to conceptualize and articulate the adaptive city, the city in a state of flux as it responds to changing environmental, programmatic, market, and sociocultural conditions and circumstances. The studio places emphasis on the contingent, the provisional, and the conditional, and asks students to amplify productive instabilities while inventing new types of urban and landscape form.
Landscape offers a distinct starting point for the project of city making. On the one hand, landscape has the ability to address and integrate the multiple environmental, infrastructural, social, and scalar challenges at play in urban design. Furthermore, it can also uniquely absorb and hybridize these multiple functions and initiatives in ways that architecture or planning alone cannot. On the other hand, landscape offers operational frameworks and modes of working that emphasize dynamics, change, and improvisation/adaptation—mechanisms that are as much in play in ecosystems as they are in cities.
Consequently, this studio will use landscape both as medium and as mechanism for testing and prototyping ideas on city making. Rather than understanding them as opposites, it will emphasize connections and hybridizations of urban systems and environmental dynamics. And it will utilize working methodologies that privilege experimentation and iterative modeling—playful and critical prototyping—that could suggest pathways toward new landscape-based approaches to urban form.
The first part of the studio will be organized as a series of prototyping workshops to generate landform organizations, landscape systems, and urban forms. These workshops are deliberately experimental: they are intended to develop multiple (rather than singular) starting points (rather than finished forms) for the building blocks of landscapes and cities; they are meant to encourage experimentation, testing, and free play in multiple locations and temporalities rather than a single inflexible master plan. During the second part of the semester students will be asked to synthesize the prototypes developed during the first part of the semester in the pursuit of new types of city districts.