Urban Grafting: New Dwelling Landscapes for the Extended City

The Option Studio welcomes students from Urban Planning, Urban Design, Architecture and Landscape backgrounds with at least two previous relevant design experiences. Its aim is to rehearse “in the field” the complex task of creating new lively urban environments within the extended dimension of the contemporary city, understanding the interaction between spatial configurations and social behaviour. After a brief analysis of chosen urban fabrics, public spaces and landscapes – treated as biological “samples” where anatomies/forms interact with physiologies/activities – the design assignment will focus on contemporary urban design strategies, paying particular attention to the problem of housing and its relationship with collective spaces. The students will be required to plan and design a mixed-use urban environment in an area of Milan placed on the border between urbanized areas, transport infrastructures, and agricultural land; they will define the structure of its voids, building masses, and landscape, and develop to a finer scale the architectural features of innovative housing types hosting metropolitan “dwellers” aware of sustainable lifestyles and practices.

Urban design could be seen as an act of “grafting” a new organism onto an existing one, introducing a new physiology into an existing pattern. More than reinventing housing typology itself, the Studio will focus on the design of the “interfaces” between the private dimension and the public one and on the strategies of creating successful public spaces.

The Studio will alternate individual reviews with collective ones, and will include a studio trip to Milano focusing on project site analysis, visits to post-WWII architecture and reviews of contemporary urban design experiences. The students will be evaluated on the basis of their preliminary analytical work (15%), quality and depth of their design proposal at various steps (25% interim review – 40% final review), attendance and active participation in the collective discussion (20%).

See the course iSites for a detailed schedule.