Civic Spaces in an Age of Hyper-Complexity: From Protest to Reverie

Civic spaces today must engage a tapestry of complex experience with designs that integrate both ecological and cultural resilience.  In the city, these communal landscapes play host to everyday amenities for respite, restoration and play, as well as temporary and pop up programming for seasonal events.  Additionally, these public spaces are powerful catalysts for democratic engagement and the individual voice.   Zocalo in Mexico City, the Berlin Wall, MacArthur Park in Los Angeles are just a few examples of the use of public space for political protest and social expression, bringing awareness to crucial environmental, political and socio-economic issues.

This studio will explore the rapid urban development in the Seaport District in Boston and develop design strategies that strengthen cultural resiliency in these new civic spaces; creating common ground in the city.   We will also be addressing issues of rising sea levels in Boston designing for storm water events while creating long term ecological resilience in the tapestry of our work. Through a series of design charrettes, student will expand their understanding of the complexity of diverse and fully utilized civic spaces, while developing a multi-scaled approach to the design of dynamic public spaces.

This fall, we will engage design paradigms for civic space that embrace hyper-complexity and responsiveness.  Students will address transforming and often conflicting civic needs with designs that create a foundation space for both the everyday and the extraordinary.  Through this urban lens, we will define new patterns of human behavior and connectivity, while defining structural and material innovations.  Using the Boston Seaport District as our site, students will design landscapes and structures that can expand and contract to accommodate both large scale political expression and dispersed individual community use.   By the final review, students will have developed their own hybridized digital and analog approach to designing that is responsive and nimble; reflecting the diverse, hyper-complex and dynamic society that we live in today: the architecture of consciousness.