Thinking Landscape – Making Cities

Current events will change how we live in cities and how we make cities. In this seminar, students will speculate on the interrelationships between urban and landscape form and pattern and devise new concepts and strategies to achieve a just, resilient and temperate city.

This design seminar is aimed at building citymaking skills for landscape architects. For architects, it will offer urban design skills and landscape knowledge. For urban designers and planners, it will offer landscape-ecology strategies as a basis for social and spatial planning.
To imagine and strategize new urban patterns and forms, students will select a city from a diverse selection of climate zones and stages of social and economic development, and frame the historical-spatial and biogeophysical attributes of their city. They will create concepts and strategies for guiding future development, and deploy these concepts through scales and time to imagine new kinds of living and built landscapes. Student work will describe a city that is not only a place but is itself an actor: the city as a steward, as a commons, and a producer of justice for both human and natural systems. This kind of city doesn’t exist yet.

The concepts and strategies that students develop will be measured in a ‘Site Plan’, heretofore an undervalued and under-conceptualized design tool. Our ‘Site Plans’ will be developed at diverse scales from the region to the city and from the district to the neighborhood—each accompanied by critical sections and views. The plans will not be passive records of a fixed idea but rather expressive representations of space, time and action. We will not progress in a linear sequence from region to the neighborhood public space, but begin at the scale of the urban district to address the question of how we shall live, then scale up to the region and finally return to a neighborhood public space.

The goal is to demonstrate that a landscape-ecological urban plan is able to engage uncertainty, adapt to climate change and support social justice.