Urban Design Proseminar

The design practices that deal with Urbanism and Urban Architecture have always lent themselves to a constant evaluation and re-evaluation process. Such a re-examination seems particularly necessary at this point in time. First, it is evident that the paradigms that directed the actions of plans of the twentieth century are no longer relevant and/or have been played out. Second, the city and its projects have a much higher profile presence than ever before. Acknowledging the fact that current theoretical discussions of Urbanism and the city are ambiguous and wide ranging, it is more effective to frame an investigation by classifying the lines of work that are currently being explored in the built environment and focus on an urbanistic debate that departs from a project-based discussion of the city.The initial objective of this course is to emphasize the idea of the \”project\” in urbanism, this one being a fragment of a given scale or one that engages the city as a whole. The following project taxonomy of the current urban scenario does not mean that urbanism and its architectures are as a whole moving in these directions, but it is evident that certain projects with clear methodological and instrumental specificity have emerged in recent decades. The exploration of these lines of work has resulted in unprecedented but sound forms of intervention that serve as a vehicle for the improvement of the built environment at large.Below is an initial breakdown of the most salient lines of work currently being deployed:1. Key Buildings with Urban Synergies: Strategic Projects, 2. Big Urban Artifacts, 3. Minimalist Project, 4. Urban Space: Landscape Within the City, 5. Urban Project: Piecemeal Restructuring, 6. Revival Approach, 7. Large-Scale Projects: Decentralization, 8. Urban Revitalization: Historic Centers and Old Fabrics, 9. Urban Master Plan. 10. Experimental Project: New Urban Concepts.Given the need for a greater \”taxonomy\” of the current forms of intervention being deployed at present within the built environment, the purpose of this seminar will be to move beyond this initial classification of the 10 most salient lines of work or design approaches and locate them within the greater discourses of modern architecture and urbanism. Having acknowledged the 10 project lines as highly recognized forms of practice within the contemporary constructed environment, students will be asked to scrutinize two approaches within a broader contextual framework. Then construct a well-tempered ideological position that resolutely anchors the \”approach\” in question within a structurally sound professional and theoretical agenda.In the process of questioning and framing each \”line of work,\” the students will be introduced to the most significant contributors to the twentieth century city. As the semester unfolds, through student presentations followed by a discussion lead by the instructors, the student will amass the necessary background knowledge to easily navigate within the most relevant discourses of urban architecture and its impact on the city. To make this possible, a wide selection of readings will be assigned that provide the frame for the urbanistic visions that are today inspiring our current debate.