Start-up City

This research studio will revisit—and hopefully reinvent—the tradition of imagining a city from scratch. The world’s population is projected to increase by 1.5 Billion in the next 15 years. Already more than 50% of that population lives in urbanized areas and the percentage is projected to reach 75% in coming decades. In developing countries (where the bulk of the population growth is occurring), the existing urban infrastructure is simply incapable of supporting that level of growth. Rather than accommodate that population growth in already stressed urban centers, we propose that a more viable strategy would be a series of “Start-up Cities;” small yet diverse cities characterized by innovative design at both the architectural and urban scale.

In order to develop new strategies, we will collectively analyze past examples, and produce designs valid in the present. We will review contemporary urban thought and proposals: New Urbanism, Landscape Urbanism, Infrastructural Urbanism. We will explore new conceptual frameworks opened up by complexity theory and ecological thinking. We will investigate the environmental implications of city design, and pay attention to the ecological impact of these new cities. Finally, the iterative and serial nature of urban form is well-suited to computational design and we will make full use of new design methods.

Research director: Stan Allen