Mapping: Geographic Representation and Speculation

Maps both represent reality and create it. It is in the context of this contention that this course presents the fundamentals of mapping, spatial analysis, and visualization. In a design process, the act of mapping selectively narrates site conditions. By choosing what features, forces, and flows to highlight—and which to exclude-the designer creates the reality in which their intervention will be situated. This is only becoming more true, as urban space and populations are ever-more pervasively measured, monitored, and categorized by innumerable institutions. Such representations are often a designer's primary means of responding to a site. Designers are in the difficult position of approaching spatial datasets critically and as sites of contestation while also employing them in their work: propositionally, descriptively, and narratively.

Over the course of a semester, students will work extensively with techniques of spatial analysis. Using desktop GIS software, we will explore data sources, data models, overlays, map algebra, spatial statistics, terrain analysis, and suitability modeling, among other techniques of spatial representation. Students will learn to embed these techniques within larger design workflows.