Design and Territory: Qualitative Tools for a New Phase of Infrastructure-Led Urbanization

Instructors: Juan Cristaldo (MAUD \'13) Director of Research, Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay; Oscar Malaspina (MAUD \'13) Adjunct Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú; James Whitten (MAUD \'13) Urban Designer, Sasaki Associates, Boston.
Max Enrollment: 15
Date/Time: Jan 6-8/9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Gund 505
Description: The rise of Asia, the consolidation and expansion of Europe, and the accelerated growth of so-called “new world” territories such as Latin America and Australia, unleashed a deluge of large infrastructure projects towards the end of the 20th century. These projects now support a contiguous social system whose scale is without historical precedent. This introduces distinct challenges for the planning and design professions as extreme levels of connectivity and urban intensity challenge the tools for contemporary research and practice.
Design & Territory: Qualitative Tools for a new phase of infrastructure-led urbanization provides participants with a conceptual framework intended to enhance their understanding of large infrastructure projects. In particular, it provides new tools for spatial planners and designers to constructively engage with the complexity of large-scale systems for urban transportation, water, and energy. The course adopts a case study approach structured around five “lenses" that focus research activities on a project’s temporal, socio-spatial, and political dimensions. By applying the lenses (below) to any large project, that project may be “reverse engineered” to reveal its role within regional-scale processes of urban transformation.
1. Scales of Time: Time narratives, time footprints, and temporalities of place
2. Spatial Differentiation: Tracing patterns of “uneven development”
3. Suggested Patterns of Urbanization: Anticipating the by-products of large infrastructure projects
4. Negotiated Visions: Mapping the socially constructed territory
5. Totalities Without Project: From an accumulation of discrete projects to the (re)projection of entire territories
The Goal – Develop a 300-word statement describing the relationship of one large infrastructure project to its context. This statement will serve as a “working hypothesis” guiding future research endeavors. (Optional: Develop one synthetic map of the selected project).
The Format – Seminars and workshops intended to maximize the sharing of skills, ideas, and experience. Days 1 and 2: Discuss and debate the lenses, and apply them to an individually selected large project. Day 3: Workshop projects with peers and develop an individual 300-word statement.
The Focus – Provide space for participants to critically reflect upon the relationship between their selected project and its context.
Requirements: (a) Basic knowledge of GIS beneficial but not required. (b) Laptops recommended. (c) Read 3-6 journal articles supplied by instructors. (d) Each participant to select one Megaproject* as case study for course. Students encouraged to find own project, however, instructors will distribute list of potential projects to assist. (e) Material on one selected project comprising official documentation, media reports, critiques, journal articles, and/or GIS data. For more information please contact
Cost/Materials: Minor printing expenses < $40
* “Megaprojects are large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost US$1 billion or more, take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, are transformational, and impact millions of people.” – Bent Flyvbjerg. “What You Should Know About Megaprojects and Why: An Overview” from Project Management Journal, Vol. 45, No. 2, 6–19. 2014