Experiments in Public Freedom
As places that accept and encourage multiple representations, cities need spaces to enable unregulated, temporary, and spontaneous events. Due to their role and meaning in the construction and definition of the public realm, public spaces are expected to embody a well-defined character and gravitas. Due to the multiplicity of publics, however, these spaces must engage with temporary, overlapping, and often-contradictory sensibilities and occupations. The design question that emerges is, what type of character and gravitas can be achieved with temporality and spontaneity?
This design theory seminar presents an amalgamation of views from different perspectives (architecture, art, landscape architecture, urban design) that coalesce around six spatial conditions that are useful for conceptualizing and designing spaces capable of promoting cultural diversity, social acceptance, and individual spontaneity. Through this amalgamation, this course explores containment, neutrality, blankness, normalcy, anarchy, and amnesia as conditions that can open up public space.
Despite their potential, these spatial properties are usually underestimated as they seem to lack aspects of what is generally considered essential for designing successful public spaces: site specificity, sensibility to local aesthetics, sociocultural appropriateness, permanent and fixed identity, etc. It is precisely due to these so-called deficiencies, however, that these spatial properties can be instrumental to imagine spaces that enable constant recirculation of multiple publics rather than permanent forms of regulation, identity, or appropriateness.
The course is composed of six sections, one per spatial condition. Each section comprises a lecture by the instructor around a constellation of references (projects and texts) to be discussed in class. For each section, students are asked to analyze an environment of their choice (building, landscape, open space, etc.) that demonstrates the spatial condition being discussed. At the end of the semester, students are asked to assemble these six analyses into a design primer for the enabling of public freedoms.
Course structure: The course is composed of six sections, one per spatial condition. Each section includes a lecture by the instructor to be followed by a discussion. For each section, students are asked to present an analysis of an environment of their choice (building, landscape, open space, etc.) that demonstrates the value of the spatial condition being discussed. Each section will take 2 weeks and will require 4 hours of synchronous participation in total. Lectures will be asynchronous and will be made available to the students 48 hours prior to the discussions. Discussions regarding the lectures will be synchronous (1 session of 1 hour). Student presentations will be synchronous (2 sessions of 1.5 hour each).
Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website. If you need assistance, please contact Estefanía Ibáñez.