Urban Glitch

Urban Glitch is a studio designed to research the pressing issue of systems-linked architecture in relation to the complex and intertwined ecological and social imperatives of our time. We will embrace architecture as anti-autonomous, as an agent of urban change that is necessarily collaborative, connected, and contingent; as a mode of engaged cultural production that requires fresh operational positions to facilitate this agency.

As a way into a more radical approach to the often-codified middle scale of urban form, the studio will collectively imagine an alternative present — an urban glitch — in which our architectural imagination is contingent upon altered and re-imagined outcomes to an event or decision in recent history that shapes the current status quo mode of operation and consumption within the built environment. The goal of this counterfactual approach to design production is to explore the spaces where current and future decisions are not fixed, where a combination of design imagination and radical pragmatism can impact the deep DNA and embedded path dependencies that shape our built world, and that generate or dissolve design's capacity to make change.

In practical terms, the studio will address the intersection of transportation infrastructure and architecture. The program is a mixed-use transit hub in Boston that accommodates public and private mobility within a paradigm of infrastructural decarbonization. We will travel to Amsterdam to learn from a system of urban infrastructure that yields dynamic forms of personal and shared mobility and a diverse range of buildings to store, charge, and host it. We will collaborate with artists, policymakers, and engineers, among others, to consider the following questions within the context of the design process:

What is the role of the middle scale of architecture in re-programming patterns of urban mobility for an era of decarbonization? Who owns, rents, and maintains our urban infrastructure, and what happens to urban form if variables of use and ownership change? What urban mechanics are contingent or changeable, and what conditions are inevitable factors in the shaping of 21st-century architectural form? What are the opportunities presented by an architecture of dependence in which form must act in concert with the larger conditions and constructs that drive urban change? What is the disposition and agency of a public architecture in an era of private capital? How and when does architecture have the power to act up and down the scales of the built environment?