Welcome to “Shaping the Future of the City” course website. This is now an archive of work that was completed in this course a few years ago.

The City of the Captive Globe Project, New York, New York, Axonometric
Rem Koolhaas and Madelon Vriesendorp

Course Overview

Cities are places of contradiction — extreme affluence exists alongside severe poverty. Global cities such as New York offer the best and the worst to their citizens. Decisions are made within the context of dynamic political, social and economic forces. The past 50 years have brought unprecedented changes to our urban world; terrorism, suburban population shifts, the restructuring of urban economic bases, social fragmentation, new immigrant populations, and the complex forces of globalization. Each of these changes has a lasting impact upon the urban experience. For many of us, built form (the city skyline, for example) defines the culmination of these intersecting forces. The resultant consequences – pollution, terrorism, and natural hazards also shape city form and our experience of the city. In this course, we will use the lens of physical planning and urban design to understand the interplay between the social, political and economic forces that shape the urban environment.

Situated at the intersection of architecture and city planning, urban design is both a process and a practical approach to improve the quality of built environments. Good urban design aspires to shape city form by focusing on the complex relationships between built and unbuilt space and by facilitating the creation of built environments that are both sensitive to context and to people’s needs. As Jonathan Barnett (1982, p.55) puts it, urban design is about “designing cities without designing buildings”. Urban designers use their rich contextual knowledge about the dynamic nature of city development and their active skills in observing, interpreting, and recording transformations of the built environment in order to support good design at a variety of spatial scales.

Course Syllabus

Comments are closed.