Grids, Score for Designing the City

Within a larger research scope on “Revisiting the urban grids in the XXI century”, this seminar will focus on the investigation of recent urbanistic projects which use the grid and its multiple variations as their main structural device for the construction of the city. Special orientation will be given to qualitative features to understand qualitative values.

The ultimate objective of the course is to develop new understanding of the way we are approaching the design of the City by means of “grids and networks”

1. The historic evolution of the city can be tied to regular systems that have allowed for rational forms of development. Diverse cultures have provided varied interpretations of grid systems that serve as an active underlay for multiple urban domains; street network, private parcels, public spaces, diversity of grain, etc. Some previous Seminars done along 2008-09 establish some categories and vocabulary for the current step.

2. In the last few decades, urban interventions have reached an unprecedented level of complexity and ambition, increasing the complexity level of design operations, yet the value and metrics of the grid and network are more operative than ever, and in more inventive ways than in the past.

3. New spatial demands require more flexible and open ended systems. These new forms of urbanism favor loose or “neutral” yet efficient organizational systems that can accommodate diversity and change throughout extensive city densification and expansion.

4. Study will focus on few “key-cities” that will provide basis for comparative reference.
Research Topics:
The research seminar will specifically focus on the following topics:
A. Reviewing conceptual framework: grid / block / mesh / matrix/ checkboard, etc.
B. Researching seminal Projects (city fragments) that suggest new design paradigms. Study in quantitative features to understand qualitative values,
C. Comparative studies between the various investigations in order to establish both individual research tracts and a collective agenda for the research group.

Course Format and Method:
Even though a few introductory readings will be handed out at the beginning of the course, the seminar will explore the topics primarily through the construction of analytical and operative drawings.

The seminar is open to all students in GSD. Note that a high level of graphic skills is required.

The seminar will meet regularly both as a group and in individual meetings with the instructor.

Students will work individually and in groups of 2.