May 23, 2014
Congratulations to UTL researcher and MDesS '15 candidate Chris Bennett, whose animation on the extended urbanization of the atmosphere was recently featured in a news story by the Atlantic's CITYLAB. This work was produced in the context of the UTL Spring 2014 research seminar on the "extreme territories of urbanization." Consistent with our general concern to analyze the dialectics of concentrated and extended urbanization, Chris' video depicts the ways in which the occupation of the earth's atmosphere has involved the construction of highly elaborate, spatially concentrated terrestrial infrastructures to facilitate satellite launches. With a stunning series of data visualizations, the video reveals the historical geographies of launch site activity during the last four decades in relation to each key orbital zone. Nice work, Chris!
Mar 17, 2015
The Urban Theory Lab recently opened their exhibition "Operational Landscapes" at the Melbourne School of Design (MSD). The exhibition asks: In what sense do we today live in an "urban age"? Frequently invoked by scholars, policy-makers, planners, designers, and architects, usually with reference to the proposition that more than 50 percent of the world's population now lives within cities, such a question provokes further questioning: Can the nature of our urban world be understood and mapped exclusively with reference to the growth of cities and their populations?
The exhibition turns this proposition upside-down and inside-out by speculating on a radically alternative mapping of contemporary planetary urbanization. What happens to our cognitive map of the global urban condition if we focus not on the global cities or megacities of the world, but on the wide-ranging sociospatial and environmental transformations that are currently unfolding in supposedly "remote" or "wilderness" regions such as the Amazon, the Arctic, the Gobi desert steppe, the Himalayas, the Pacific Ocean, the Sahara desert, and Siberia, and even the earth's atmosphere? To what degree are such zones now being integrated within a worldwide fabric of urbanization? How are they being restructured and enclosed to support the energy, water, material, food and logistics needs of major cities?
Through speculative cartographies of these emergent "operational landscapes," the exhibition aims to illuminate the radical transformations of land-use, infrastructure, and ecology far beyond the city limits that have made the contemporary formation of planetary urbanization possible.
With support from: Office of the Dean, Melbourne School of Design; Office of the Dean, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; Milton Fund, Harvard University Medical School