GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2010 - STU-01504-00

COURSE DETAILS


01504: Urban Social Design (STU 0150400)

Urban Planning and Design
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Tuesday Thursday 2:00 - 6:00  

Instructor(s)

Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato

Course Description

Cities
The city is a complex organism composed of a multitude of interwoven layers, links and interactions between all the elements that it comprises. The increased sophistication of an urban environment multiplies exponentially the number of synergies and the likelihood of contact between all elements, creating healthier and creative urban environments.
By contrast, the impoverishment of urban complexity quickly results in an approximation to the limit of viability of the whole system. This concept is applicable to, and affects all strata that form the urban tissue: economy, social cohesion, mobility, culture...

Public space
Public space is the part of the city where most links and intersections take place, being responsible for the majority of interactions and random phenomena. A public space should be a medium open to the public, a meeting place, for everyone, in which the participation of each individual who occupies it, would define it and characterize it. Its development and maintenance are part of an ongoing search for a fairer and more pleasant social life, with a responsibility shared by all. It also involves the ability of citizens to influence decisions regarding public affairs of their interest. When public participation is on track, it contributes positively to the development of policies, programs and projects, both public and private. In addition, it strengthens and enhances the social heritage and democratic life. Public space's design is responsible for enhancing or impeding its development.

Contemporary public space
Today, Internet is the "space" where the most successful models of collective creation and self-organization are undoubtedly being tested. The Network has boosted social identities and collective interests of the people, turning them into a force with considerable influence in urban areas. Internet is the most democratic space, the platform where every citizen can express himself freely and horizontally, the space where ideas flow in every direction.
By contrast, urban space is increasingly more controlled and restrictive by excessive rules, becoming progressively less spontaneous and creative. Internet allows and promotes the interaction between people, while the design of many physical spaces cancels it.

Urban centers of contemporary cities tend to become homogenized, subtracting character and identity of the city and eliminating the possibility to have unique experiences linked to them. Meanwhile, on the web, all kind of emerging and innovative dynamics of interaction and exchange happen. The network, as a piece of infrastructure, allows these kind of initiatives to multiply, a process that was unviable before.

Can a physical space emulate the conditions that foster the exchange and interaction that occur among users of the web?

Urban design

Over decades cities have been conceived and mainly built from a physical point of view (infrastructure, buildings, technologies, materials, geometry...), completely forgetting about the citizens.
In each of these areas the dominant perspective has tended to see or understand the processes as if they were completed or isolated situations, with no relationship between them. Also from this kind of perception the values, and the social dimension have been expelled. This dominant perception has led us to end up believing that reality and processes are constituted by definitive and closed situations, rather than processes, relationships, patterns, and significant networks.

How can we - using design, participation, regeneration and communication improve/enhance/multiply/ promote the interaction, creativity and auto organization dynamics between people?

How can we create the conditions for citizens to play an active role in the creation of cities and decision making processes?

Can we explore technology in order to

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