Thinking Landscape – Making Cities: Designing Regenerative Futures

This design seminar challenges the notion of a gradual adaptation to the climate crisis with proactive regenerative design. Students will create a new settlement pattern for a city of your choice, based on three propositions that will be part of research, class discussion, and presentations.

First, regenerative design and development builds resource capacities, adds social coherence to human communities, and enriches the soils and waters that support the living world. Why regenerative design and development? Given the degenerating conditions of the biosphere, both sustainable development, which seeks merely to maintain resources for future generations, and resilience, which promises to adapt from extreme events, are inadequate.

The second proposition is that urban development and local and regional ecosystems will co-evolve as a single complex system reflecting the equal value given to the needs both realms. The third proposition is a commitment to justice for both human and non-human communities. New community-led commons resource institutions will ensure space for all living things to flourish, reproduce, and migrate.

The class will be a forum for both challenging these propositions and developing regenerative concepts and strategies for your chosen city. This can be your home city, a city which you are curious about, or a city you are working on in another context.

This is not a design studio. The goal is to support your thesis for your city with selected visual material. Students will produce an abstract, conceptual diagrams, and the comparative maps and plans to advance their concept including new models of urban and rural life and an aspect of daily life. Who are we designing for, and who has agency to realize your goals.

The seminar is open to all students at the GSD. It offers urban design skills for landscape architects, and urban and landscape design thinking and skills for architects. For urban designers, it will offer landscape ecology strategies, and for city planners it will offer an opportunity to invent policy and future forms of representation.

Besides instructor inputs, readings, and internal student presentations, we will have invited guests from GSD faculty, Loeb Fellows, and abroad. They will give presentations of their work relative to the aims of the course, lead discussions that engage your questions, or join us at our mid-term and final presentations. Bruce Boucek, Pamela Conrad, Rebecca McMackin, Claudia Dobles, Alberto Kritzler, and Derwent Sisnett provide inputs on data research, landscape concepts at regional to local scales, inclusive governance concepts, and real estate development strategies.

Grades are based on attendance and engagement in class discussion, and the concepts and questions put forward the abstract, diagrams, and drawings that support your presentation.