Keynote, with Thom Mayne and Jeanne Gang, for “heliomorphism,” the Inaugural Conference of the Harvard GSD Office for Urbanization

The topic of solar orientation and urban form is perennial and, once again, timely. “Ecological urbanism” turned attention to the terrestrial topics of hydrological connectivity and ecological function; “heliomorphism” proposes to revise and extend this agenda by returning to solar performance. The implications of solar orientation for social order, public health, and political economy were fundamental questions for many proponents and projects of modern planning. In the wake of the collapse of modern planning, while singular models of social urban order based on latitude and solar equity have given way to neoliberal models of market-driven urbanization, new forms of urban order through solar orientation are suggested by recent projects by leading architects and urbanists, correlating the shape of the city to a complex and contradictory economy of solar performance. In the opening keynote, Thom Mayne, MArch ’78 (Morphosis) and Jeanne Gang, MArch ’93 (Studio Gang) will present work from their respective practices and discuss their relationship to the ideas of architect Ralph Knowles, the pioneering theorist of the “solar envelope.” The program will continue on 9/16 with project presentations by Preston Scott Cohen MArch ’85, Mariana Ibañez, and Eric Höweler, and will conclude with a keynote by Iñaki Ábalos. “Heliomorphism” is convened by Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and director of the Office for Urbanization, with Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, lecturer in landscape architecture, and Daniel Ibañez, MDes ‘12, DDes candidate.

Full description and program.

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