May 03, 2013
Our first research studio on the urbanization of the world’s most “remote” places concluded with a day-long symposium and workshop in which student researchers reported on and discussed their work from the past semester. The presentations were attended by a large number of students and colleagues from the GSD and beyond, and generated a fascinating series of conversations and debates about urban theory, geopolitical economy, landscape restructuring and socio-environmental transformations around the world. The symposium concluded with a wide-ranging roundtable discussion of our work thus far, with incisive reflections from UTL Advisory Board members Stuart Schrader (American Studies, NYU) and David Wachsmuth (Sociology, NYU). Our work this semester also benefited immensely from the contributions of UTL Advisory Board members, visiting professor Alvaro Sevilla Buitrago (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain) and Ann Yoachim (GSD Loeb Fellow, 2012-13). Our work will continue in future semesters.
Jan 23, 2014
We are delighted to announce the continuation of our work on the urbanization of the world’s most remote places and regions in the context of a GSD project-based research class for Spring 2014, “Extreme territories of urbanization: regulatory restructuring.” This class will meet every Friday, 8 to 11am during the GSD Spring 2014 semester. Interested students should attend the first session for a detailed explanation of our agenda.
Students interested in learning about our work via the literatures in urban theory should consider enrolling for “Urban theory after 1968,” also taught by Neil Brenner in Spring 2014, Fridays, 2-5pm. This reading- and writing-intensive class will survey some of the major traditions of post-1968 radical urban theory, with specific reference to some of the key issues and debates with which the Urban Theory Lab is most directly concerned. Key texts include classic works by Henri Lefebvre, Manuel Castells, David Harvey and Neil Smith, among other theorists; more recent work on globalized urbanization, worlding cities and postcolonial urbanism; and the UTL’s newly published book, Implosions/Explosions.
May 04, 2014
Congratulations to UTL researcher and MDesS '15 candidate Ana Maria Quirós for receiving GIS Prize for Excellence in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, presented by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Annual Conference of the Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University. 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, Ana Maria's maps depict the increasing redirection of Siberian gas pipeline infrastructures towards the East Asian urban system and the Pacific rim. Nice work, Ana Maria!
May 12, 2014
This Spring, our work on the urbanization of the world’s most “remote” places continued with a wonderful and dedicated group of student researchers, most of whom are enrolled in the GSD's Master of Design Studies (MDesS) program, Class of 2015. Last year's research laid the intellectual and cartographic groundwork for the study of urbanization processes in the extreme territories--the Arctic, the Amazon, the Gobi desert steppe, the Himalayas, the Sahara, Siberia, the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere. This year's research team built upon those foundations and focused more systematically on the neoliberalizing regulatory transformations, policy regimes and political strategies that have facilitated these emergent, if deeply uneven, urbanization processes.
As with last year's final presentations, our symposium this year was attended by a large number of students and colleagues from the GSD and beyond, and generated productive and provocative discussions about many of the key methodological, cartographic and political issues we are exploring in the Lab. The symposium concluded with comments and reflections from UTL Advisory Board member and visiting professor Alvaro Sevilla Buitrago (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain). It was followed by our annual "urbanization in Somerville" gathering at Neil Brenner's home. Our work will continue ....
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