Urban Archipelago

Assuming change is the norm, this studio takes a different approach to city-making or, in this case, to urban renovation. It builds on ecologists’ reconceptualizations of their field over the past quarter- century, in which classical Newtonian concerns with stability, certainty, and order have given way to more contemporary understandings of dynamic, systemic change. With this reconceptualization comes the related phenomena of adaptability, resilience, and flexibility – phenomena applicable not only to ecological systems (whether native or adapted) but also applicable to the city: its systems, infrastructures, and urbanism writ large. The students’ projects, then, were conceptualizing the adaptive city, constantly in a state of flux, adapting itself to changing conditions and circumstances over time. The emphasis was on the contingent, the provisional, and the conditional, amplifying productive instabilities. Students were not imagining singular solutions to, or master plans for, the project site. Rather, they delineated alternate assemblies and deployments of the strategies, each according to a discrete set of terms or conditions, and in relationship to how they might change over time. Most broadly, they addressed fundamental questions of what it means to be urban, what urbanism is, and how ideas of city and city life can be informed by, and actively engaged with, dynamic change.