Typologies of Liberation

Building codes and policies have always been a civil rights issue. Essential forms of land use control, zoning, federal and municipal codes, as well as environmental restrictions, have been weaponized throughout history, facilitating racial discrimination and the policing of residential, commercial as well as public spaces. These systems’ devastating effectiveness in the destruction of entire communities has been further revealed by the recent health and climate emergencies, which exacerbated the already acute American housing crisis, disproportionately affecting people of color.

In this seminar we will explore the impact of specific policies on neighborhood cohesion in different cities in the US, by working with local planners, community leaders and activists. In creating an autopsy report for neighborhoods, building codes and regulations are challenged for their direct effect. This in turn allows to counter such policies with new typologies of liberation.

The seminar is taught in collaboration with the Stanford Legal Design Lab.


Up to five seats will be held for MDes students, with priority given to Publics Domain students.

This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.