Listening to the City

This workshop course will address one of the central contradictions currently facing architects, planners, landscape architects and urban designers who want to practice in the city. On the one hand, it has been widely acknowledged that the city is unknowable. Its multiplicity of actors and perspectives, historical layers and accretion of visible and invisible actions defy singular modes of interpretation. On the other hand, it often becomes necessary to intervene in this complex and contested environment, engaging with a city\’s social, physical, or cultural dimensions. In order to deal with this challenging situation, students will adopt a series of different roles, attitudes, and methods to investigate widely divergent aspects of a single city. The goal is twofold: first, to learn a generally useful methodology and, second, to accumulate enough located knowledge to reach a provisional understanding of a particular place. Achieving this will involve theoretical readings, empirical research and fieldwork. The workshop will focus its attention on Chelsea, Massachusetts. It is open to all students interested in cities. It would be desirable to have some Spanish-speaking students in the class.