l|c|a:BCN is the  life | city | adaptation: Barcelona Urban Design Program.  The program is part of the Urban InterActions Lab investigating bottom-up urban design as frameworks for participation at the unit/whole scale of urban systems analysis and urban installations.  The l|c|a:BCN program is currently providing design support for the City of Barcelona’s 22@ information activities district.  The program is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the systems of systems and ways to understand connectivity at the smallest scale of human interaction.  The l|c|a:BCN program is interested to support the understanding the application of bottom up urban design and smart technologies applied between the New York Metro area and the Barcelona Metro area.


Working with and adding to Barcelona 22@ planning department guidelines, the research explored in this course will attempt to model as a system the block-by-block planning guidelines as a way to support city planning from the bottom up.  The course will allow students to look closely at methods of adaptive systems design and how they allow the values of a place to emerge from the bottom up over time by various inhabitants including workers, residents and tourists.  Work will be shared with the Ajuntament de Barcelona 22@ planning office as a way to support cultural sustainability.

The investigation will work at the scale of Barcelona Eixample blocks testing unit/whole cause and affect at the scale of the block, neighborhood and district.  The current block planning guidelines transform the unplanned post-industrial blocks of 22a to provide for the 22@ objectives to for an information activities district for workers and residents.  Block minimums require 10% of the following uses without specifying their locations:  open space, residential and 7@ institutional use.  The resulting abstract system adapts to existing conditions of protected art nouveau, Modernisme, built-fabric supporting an urbanism of agglomeration of smaller, fragmented lots and spaces for targeted small and medium sized information and design enterprises.  The strategy prescribes no further top-down relationships between symmetrical blocks yet gaming theory suggests that minimal inequities will cause asymmetrical ‘tilting.’ How will existing and predicted real-life differences affect this abstract system including existing built-fabric, social behaviors, transportation networks, edge conditions, uses, and geographic orientation?  How can this planning strategy provide a framework for participation that is evolvable?

Case studies will include urban system design by Ana Pla Catala, Michael Weinstock, Patrick Schumacker and Zaha Hadid, Stan Allen and James Corner, Vicente Guallart, MVRDV and others.  The case studies will give students an opportunity to develop techniques of parametric design at the scale of the city, testing limits, theory and context behind each designer’s work.

The second part of the course will allow students to develop an abstract bottom-up parametric system that is calibrated and applied to the real-world contextual conditions of the 22@ district and other locations including Portland and Eugene.

Student knowledge of abstract diagramming techniques, Rhinoceros and Grasshopper will he helpful.  The course will utilize theoretical readings, techniques and bottom-up urban design methods in a lecture and workshop format.


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