Urban Grids: Open form for City Design-2

The historic evolution of the city can be tied to “regular systems” that have allowed for rational forms of development, which can be understand as “urban grids”. Diverse cultures have provided varied interpretations of urban grid systems that serve as an active underlay for multiple urban domains: street networks, private parcels, public spaces, and a diversity of grain, responding to many different development strategies.

In the last few decades, urban interventions have reached an unprecedented level of complexity and ambition, increasing the level of design operations. In this time, the value and metrics of the grid and network have likewise become more operative than ever, and in more inventive ways than in the past. The new spatial demands of contemporary society require more flexible and open-ended systems. These new forms of urbanism favor “loose” or “neutral” yet efficient organizational systems that can accommodate diversity and change throughout extensive processes of city densification, expansion, and amelioration.

Within the scope of “exploring scores for city design”, this class will focus on the investigation of both historic and recent urbanistic projects which use the grid and its multiple variations as their main structural device for the construction of the city. The course targets understanding both the theories and “project” features that make grids—their design and/or their construction of the city—relevant and of interest to the current issues of contemporary cities. The ultimate objective of the course is to develop new understandings of the ways we are approaching the design of the city by means of “grids and networks” and confronting the new urban challenges of the 21st century.

The course is organized into four blocks, moving from theories to projects and from general introductory realities to specific approaches in architecture and urbanism, to help the students to better understand the logic and the methods of designing cities by actively engaging the spatial field of the urban grid. Both historic and projective, the urban grid is understood as a fundamental device which produces a multitude of urban processes and forms.

The class contains 11 lectures and 3 seminal research assignments -presentations. From architectural and urbanistic perspectives, the lectures intend to help the audience to build an academic understanding of the evolution of the ways in which cities have been designed, developed, and discussed across history, in order to discover potentials and represent the design components of each type of “city project” or “urban project” in any given city: overall layout, relationship with geography, block dimensions and scales, the parcelization and its subdivision or reaggregation, patterns of built form versus open space, building types, the continuity or fragmentation of the facades, etc. The study of these components builds an understanding of how urban grids can be designed as “open forms” that allow cities to incorporate changes and to be resilient to society’s demands.

By reinterpreting and redesigning the key aspects of the original project or the transformation process of selected cases through the construction of analytical and operative drawings, we can raise discoveries about what we can learn from grid cities and their design logics. The conclusions can contribute to enhance the current “grid culture” which is embedded in urban design and make its specific capacities stronger and more visible.

Course structure

– Tuesday classes will be in the synchronous meeting pattern: (8:00AM – 10:00AM)
– Wednesday might be used for flexible desk crits for assignments, which will be in the asynchronous pattern: 8:00– 10:00AM with more flexible schedule if necessary 

??Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website. If you need assistance, please contact Estefanía Ib&aac