4.474 / 4.475
Design for Sustainable Urban Futures

4.475 - Graduate Subject
4.474 - Undergraduate Subject

Design for Sustainable Urban Futures is offered in the context of an increasing need for improved understanding of the resource intensity of cities. With more than half the global population now residing within an urban agglomeration, the bulk of material and energy flows and transformations are now convergent on the cities of the world. Architectural engagement in the 21st century is increasingly prompted by these strong demographic and resource trends. Design for Sustainable Urban Futures seeks to introduce a critical set of concepts and tools for acting in our rapidly urbanizing societies. Toward this purpose, the workshop will be organized along a tripartite structure as follows:

Urban metabolism: as a metaphor linked to material flow analysis and other methods for assessing the resource intensity of anthropogenic activities, we will introduce the concept of urban and societal metabolism in time and space,
Geographic information systems: linking data and space will be addressed as GIS tools are introduced to the class,
Design for urban resource efficiency: the coupled linkages between form, space and resource consumption will prompt focused design projects oriented toward synthesizing alternative urban form and infrastructure.

Lectures will establish key concepts in ecological economics and industrial ecology as well as urban resource and energy mapping, geographic information systems and alternative urban morphologies. Students will have the opportunity to choose the scale of urban engagement as they develop themes for urban resource efficiency and design.

This workshop is the result of several years of research sponsored by the MIT-Portugal Program, the Singapore University of Technology and Design and the NSF.