Energetics of Urbanization

Two significant discourses on energy and urbanization are converging, with increasingly parallel questions and concerns.  First, a discourse on extended urbanization and global capitalism has begun to stage energy as a central parameter through which to understand historical and contemporary relations regarding territory, accumulation and urbanization.  As a response to the externalizations of capital, energy has emerged in this discourse as a less equivocal basis for construing and the variegated geographies and scales of capitalist industrial urbanization than traditional, city-centric epistemologies.  Second, questions concerning energy in architecture are rapidly cycling up to the scale of urbanization and longue durée historical periodizations.  Recent, empirically grounded approaches to ecological accounting of the built environment (at the scale of buildings and cities) emphatically suggest that larger and longer cycles of energy and material use are more appropriate indicators for pursuing programs of environmental “sustainability.”  Taken together, these reorientations open up the prospect for a fruitful exploration of the energetics of urbanization in which (a) urbanization processes and their geographies are understood to be constituted through energy regimes, across diverse territories, scales and ecologies; and (b) energy regimes are finally understood in their actual spatial and temporal system boundaries as well as their proper energetic hierarchies, thus providing an entirely new basis for more ecologically, architecturally and politically cogent approaches to urbanization.

Course size:  limited to 20 students total; one 3-hour weekly meeting (W, 3-6pm). 

Student workload:  heavy reading requirements in early part of the semester coupled with regular writing assignments; independent research projects in second half of the semester that will require historical analysis, reviews of scholarly literatures and creative approaches to data collection and visualization.  We strongly discourage students enrolled in a Studio course from taking this course, as the workload and end-of-term deliverables will likely approximate those of an Options Studio. 

Prerequisites: priority enrollment is granted to students who have previously taken a course with either or both instructors, including GSD6122, GSD6430, GSD 4115.  Any Ph.D. students who wish to enroll should contact the instructors directly well in advance of the course lottery.