Elements of the Urban Stack

The Urban Stack is a pedagogical framework for understanding the infrastructures of power that operate in relationship to practice. These elements shape the design and production of the built environment in our time of increasing uncertainty, project complexity, and risk. The course is designed to explore, translate and generate alternative readings of our built context; to imagine how design and planning practice can shape the environmental, social, cultural, and experiential qualities of urban form within our emerging 21st century context. A primary objective of the course is to identify gaps and opportunities in the urban stack to enable culturally and socially transformative development. We will seek space for design impact and agency through established and emerging modes of practice and project that operate on, within, or against the systemic constructs.

Our task is to collectively answer the following questions: Where does our agency as designers of the built environment lie in current practice? As urban projects grow in complexity, swelling and speeding up to attain maximum impact, is our work inevitably defined and shaped by the pressures of finance, automation, and regulation? What is the role and responsibility of design practice to confront profound systemic inequality amid these increasing external pressures?