Feb 07, 2014
The Doctor of Design program at the GSD, with the support of the Urban Theory Lab, the Energy and Environment Lab, New Geographies Lab, the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the Urban Metabolism group at the GSD, are hosting a one-day conference entitled "Projective Views on Urban Metabolism". The concept of urban metabolism, aiming to grasp the continuous processes of energy, material and population exchange within and between cities and their extensive hinterlands, has been the subject of both extensive empirical research and, increasingly, critical discussion within the social and natural sciences. However, these interdisciplinary challenges have not yet been met with a synthetic response from the design disciplines. Through the lens of urban metabolism, the goals of this one-day conference are: to reassess the planetary rescaling of contemporary urbanization processes; to unpack the transformation of spatial forms and structures, and on this basis, to track the emergence of new operative territories for design; and finally, to explore the agency of design in confronting these challenges. This event, has been organized by UTL members Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, with the support of UTL member Ali Fard and other doctoral students at the GSD. It will take place in Piper auditorium at the GSD on Friday February 7th from 10am to 6pm.
The conference is also connected to the forthcoming issue of New Geographies, ‘Grounding Metabolism’, edited by Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, scheduled for publication in May 2014.
Apr 11, 2015
Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, UTL Doctoral Researchers, presented their book, New Geographies 6: Grounding Metabolism, at the SPUR Urban Center in San Francisco. During their visit to the West Coast, they also contributed to a “flash symposium” on urban metabolism which was co-organized by the Urban Works Agency and the California College of the Arts (CCA) as part of the San Francisco Market Street Prototyping Festival. This event took place on San Francisco’s Market Street and included short talks by Christopher Roach and Neeraj Bathia (Urban Works Agency/CCA), Irene Cheng (CCA) and David Fletcher (CCA).
Oct 29, 2015
In collaboration with Elisa Cattaneo (Milano Politecnico), UTL researcher Nikos Katsikis recently organized a one-day symposium on ‘Geo-graphical Urbanism’ within the context of the Milan Expo Belle Arti, in the Perelli Tower, Milan. Playing upon the literal meaning of the word ‘geo-graphy’—the writing on the earth—the symposium aimed to unpack the relationship between urbanization and geography, both as a discipline and as an understanding of context. The symposium built upon ongoing work in the UTL on planetary urbanization, as well as the continuing elaboration of a geographic paradigm for design within the GSD’s New Geographies journal. It brought together an interdisciplinary selection of seminal scholars and practitioners in order to examine and discuss both the agency of geographical factors in shaping patterns of human occupation of the earth, as well as the role of design decisions and projects as geo-structures inscribed on the earth’s surface. In this way, the symposium aspired to explore the potentials of a geo-graphic paradigm to design research and practices. It also addressed the rich and long, but rather under-examined, intellectual exchange between geography and various design disciplines. Partipants included Franco Farinelli (Bologna), Milica Topalovic (ETH), Paola Viganò (EPFL/IUAV), Alex Wall (Virginia) Adrian Lahoud (Royal College of Arts, London)
Oct 27, 2015
UTL researcher Nikos Katsikis recently presented our ongoing research on visualizing planetary urbanization to a workshop of Italian researchers with similar interests in the Milano Politecnico Department of Architecture and Urban Studies. The session was organized by our colleagues, Professor Paolo Perulli and Professor Valeria Fedeli, and was meant to facilitate an exchange of ideas between the UTL and varous researchers engaged in a project on ‘Postmetropolitan Territories and emergent urban forms’, a collaboration between eight Italian universities (Politecnico di Milano, IUAV di Venezia, Politecnico di Torino, Università di Firenze, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Università di Palermo, Università di Napoli Federico II, Università del Piemonte Orientale). Nikos’ presentation addressed the metageographical frameworks behind the construction of geospatial data, their limitations and their potentials. The Italian team presented their ongoing research for an online ‘Postmetropolitan Atlas’ of Italy that compiles and maps numerous indicators of urbanization.
Oct 12, 2015
UTL researcher Nikos Katsikis recently presented some of the core arguments of his doctoral research at a conference on “The Horizontal Metropolis: A Radical Project,” organized by our colleague Paola Vigano at the EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. His paper developed his key distinction between “agglomeration landscapes” and “operational landscapes” with reference to a variety of spatial data visualizations of historical and contemporary land uses. His core thesis was that global system of agglomerations, although occupying no more than 5% of the planetary terrain, is actually responsible for the (re)organization of most of the 70% of the earth’s surface currently used. The conference agenda follows:
“Horizontal Metropolis is both an image and a concept, it is a lens through which to view the form of the contemporary city, conceptualizing it and constructing it as a project. It refers to a specific spatial condition characterized by a horizontality of infrastructure, urbanity, relationships, and by closely interlinked, co-penetrating rural/urban realms, communication, transport and economic systems. Contemporary urban figures such as città diffusa in Northern Italy, desakota in Asia or ville horizontale in Africa, fine-grained settlement dispersion in Flanders, or Zwischenstadt in Germany are just some of the examples able to effectively describe this emergent urban condition, increasingly related to the dispersion of the urban fabric within the agricultural landscape.”
May 16, 2016
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has awarded a grant to Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis for their book project "Is the world urban? Towards a critique of geospatial ideology." This book builds upon theories of planetary urbanization to evaluate the limits and potentials of remotely sensed data and other forms of geospatial information as a basis for mapping urbanization processes. Against the prevalent trend towards cartographic positivism, in which such data are presented as neutral, photographic "captures" of ground conditions, our analysis reveals the hidden, pre-empirical interpretive assumptions that mediate the construction of geospatial maps. The book offers, first, an accessible overview of the main sources of geospatial data on urbanization, the technical procedures through which they are constructed, and the underlying metageographical assumptions upon which they are based. Second, on this basis, a theory-driven approach is proposed to interpret the effects of geospatial data on urbanization. Building upon this ongoing work on planetary urbanization, the project presents new metageographical frameworks for visualizing the worldwide urban fabric, including through the theoretically reflexive application of geospatial data.