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Presenting the ‘Networked Urbanism’ Book | Available Online for Free!

Category: network design+networkedurbanism+urban social design+⚐ EN

Book Cover Book Cover

After several months of work here in Madrid, collaborating with our associate editors at the GSD in Boston, we are happy to announce that the Networked Urbanism book has finally been published online and is making its way through the printing process!

We have been presenting the work of the “Networked Urbanism” students in a series of posts on the blog and they have been publishing many of their ideas and the results of their efforts on networkedurbanism.com, but having the book finally printed on paper is an important milestone considering that the book also contains 4 unpublished essays and an exclusive interview. For those of you that haven’t been following our updates during these years at the GSD, here comes the short story of the book and its contents.

The book is the product of three different studios taught by Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, in Boston, during Fall Term of 2010, 2012, and 2013. The three courses shared the same approach while focusing on slightly different topics; this approach, what we call network-design thinking, is an alternative to the traditional way of designing cities from a bird’s eye view, and a single designer’s perspective.

What is Networked Urbanism?

In today’s connected world, urban design can no longer be addressed from a singular perspective, but should result from an open and collaborative network of creative professionals, technical experts, citizens, and other stakeholder, we need to explore the new role of the designer as an activator, mediator and curator of social processes in a networked reality, but above all, we must develop and test tools that allow citizens to be active participants at all stages: before, during, and after the design process.

Networked Urbanism promotes the exploration of new tools that can become the catalyst to spark creativity and multiply the possibilities of interaction and connection among individuals in the search for more healthy and sustainable communities. The studio challenges future designers to develop initiatives that reconcile existing physical conditions with the emerging needs of citizens through network-design thinking, and promotes active participation in the redefinition of the contemporary city.

The pedagogical approach: the toolbox

The Networked Urbanism studio adopts a framework of experiential education that promotes learning through direct action on the ground and reflection in a continuous feedback loop. With this approach, students actively engaged in posing questions, assuming responsibilities, being curious and creative, investigating, experimenting, and constructing meaning. They became intellectually, emotionally, and socially engaged. This involvement produced a perception that the learning process is authentic, necessary, and real, as a starting point, the Networked Urbanism toolbox provided a set of guidelines that could be applied sequentially throughout the design process:

1. EXPLORE: Choose a topic at the intersection between your personal interests and societal needs.
2. RESEARCH: Become an expert on the topic.
3. NETWORK: Create a network—from citizens to experts—and explore connections at both the official and grassroots level.
4. SHARE: Confront and experience ideas outside your own desk: feedback is a treasure.
5. BE OPEN: Start with a detailed plan but be prepared to disrupt it, responding to its natural development.
6. THINK BIG: Focus on a small-scale design that has the potential of the larger scale, and design a strategic overall vision.
7. START SMALL: Any aspect can be the starting point; the concept will grow as your project develops.
8. ACT NOW!: Prototype and implement in real life at least a small but significant part of the design.
9. COMMUNICATE: Take your initiative to a broader audience.
10. MOVE BEYOND: How can you develop your project beyond the limits of the studio?

The book contents

GIF animation of the contents of the book

The book dives deep into the exploration of these principles, first through four essays: “Digitas Meets Humanitas” written by Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune; “A Different Design Education” by Lulu Li, a former student and creator of bikenapped.com; “Out of the Studio onto the Streets” by Scott Liang, Thomas McCourt, and Benjamin Scheerbarth, also former students and now entrepreneurs with their project Place Pixel; and “Reflection in Action” by Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo containing the famous 10 points of the Networked Urbanism Toolbox; and then with an interview on the importance of design thinking with Paul Bottino, the co-founder and executive director of TECH at Harvard.

The second part of the book contains 19 selected projects organized by their main area of intervention. Even if, obviously, they all can not be easily categorized under a single topic, the first projects are more focused on Environmental issues followed by the ones centered on Social interventions and finally by projects considering more the Digital realm, which are reconnected to the Environmental ones closing the conceptual circle of topics.

Until the printed version is released, you can read the book online and download it in digital format:

Enjoy!

If you want to explore the projects briefly, you can have a look at the list of posts with the projects organized by different thematic categories:

1- Bicycle Culture

2- Turning waste into resources

3- Active awareness

4- Better communities better places

5- Your digital opinion is importat to us

6- Physital social networks

7- Time, space, and memories

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Norway: Next Version | Lecture in Bergen by Ecosistema Urbano

Category: events+news+urbanism+⚐ EN

Belinda Tato will be lecturing next Thursday,  September 11 at the USF Verftet cultural centre in Bergen, Norway, together with 8 other speakers.

Kollasj_620

The conference, organized by the National Association of Norwegian Architects, will explore the relations between the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas, trying to gather insights on how to make them more productive, locally driven and sustainable while preserving Norway’s own character and exploring new lifestyles.

More info (in Norwegian): www.arkitektur.no/kurs6

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Ecosistema Urbano Wins the Master Plan Competition for the Historic Downtown of Asunción

Category: sustainability+urban social design+urbanism+⚐ EN

We are very pleased to announce that our Master Plan proposal for the revitalization of the Historic Downtown District of Asunción, Paraguay (Plan Maestro del Centro Histórico de Asunción), has been selected as the winner in an international open competition held in the past months. We are surprised and thrilled with the great reception that the project has had, and eager to continue its development side by side with the people, the organizations and the institutions in the city.

The proposal aims to address the integrated regeneration of the city center in an inclusive way and turn the process into a reference, in a time when many cities are looking into other ways to approach their future.

Designing a process of change01-DIAGRAMAS_620

The city is a complex, always mutating organism made of many layers and links between them. Any action modifies the predefined conditions and can generate new processes which were not defined or even contemplated. Therefore we think that it is unwise, and even not entirely feasible, to analyze or design guidelines for many decades at a single time.

To bring this planning process closer to the ever changing reality of the city and its inhabitants, here at Ecosistema Urbano we propose the design of a “master process” which incorporates in its own functioning the tools to deal with complexity, conflicts and changes, and that will be supported by the diagnosys, plans, and projects already realized in the city during the last decades.

Just as cities like Medellìn, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba have become references, not only in Latin America but also worldwide, thanks to their commitment to innovative models of management and development, we believe that Asunción can become a world pioneer in promoting a sustainable, intelligent, and open urban development towards a direction that other cities are looking at.

Based on hundreds of real experiences

If the implementation of a process-based action plan is a novel approach for most cities in the world, it is also true that there are many examples and a wide background from which we can learn and through which we can confirm their enormous potential.

Diagram of the different topics or areas of intervention for the regeneration of the historic downtown district of Asunción.

Diagram of the different topics or areas of intervention for the regeneration of the historic downtown district of Asunción

For this reason we have conducted an extensive research on institutional (top-down) and citizen (bottom-up) initiatives that, according to a different way of understanding the city, have already successfully led to a new concept of life quality for its inhabitants. In this research we have included international experiences as well as local initiatives that are currently being carried on in the city of Asunción.

A preliminary selection of international and local top-down experiences.

A preliminary selection of international and local top-down experiences – click to view full size

The global vision provides us with knowledge, experience, and an input channel of creative and innovative dynamics that can overcome some limitations of the local context. The local gives us a closer point of view, more related to the specific needs of the city and its inhabitants and connected with their initiatives and most genuine impulses.

A preliminary selection of international and local bottom-up experiences.

A preliminary selection of international and local bottom-up experiences – click to view full size

From a space to work with the city

A traditional Master Plan is a fixed, static, document, but the “Master Process” that Ecosistema Urbano is proposing for Asunción is something dynamic that needs a place to reside, activate itself and be developed. Therefore the first action will be to launch a space from which we can drive the project together with the city.

INSTITUTIONS < ? > CITIZENS

INSTITUTIONS < ASU-LAB > CITIZENS

Diagram of the proposal, the ASU-LAB being the main conector between institutions and citiens, and the driver for the implementation of actions.

Diagram of the proposal, the ASU-LAB being the main conector between institutions and citiens, and the driver for the implementation of actions – click to see full size

The Asunción Open Lab (Asunción Laboratorio Abierto, ASU-LAB) space will function as a coordination node for the development of Asunción’s Historic Downtown district, providing information about it, hosting and programming educational and creative activities, and promoting citizen actions within the parameters defined by the 10 institutional actions described below. ASU-LAB will be the main and most visible node of the process, an “office for the change” where many activities essential for the success of the plan will take place:

Communication: Provide visibility, meet the key players and stakeholders, include them in the process and keep the city informed.
Mediation: Sit around the same table with different actors and stakeholders, resolve conflicts and join visions.
Connection: Link interests, create agreements between the parties, build networks and seek synergies towards urban regeneration.
Facilitation: Loosen bureaucratic constraints, ensuring that support, financing and government approvals reach the projects whenever needed.
Programming: Establish development times, schedule events, coordinate the efforts over time creating a common agenda for change.
Design: Co-design and launch low-budget and citizen-driven actions as quick experiments around the larger municipal projects.

Joining institutions and citizens

“Think globally and act locally” says one of the mottos of sustainable development. But this approach could be enriched by another couple of concepts: institutional management and citizen impulse.

Respecting and incorporating the corresponding roles and capabilities, ASU-LAB will be an interface between citizens and institutions, a place where the Municipality implements its plans, but also an open place where any person or group can propose a new regeneration initiative or join an ongoing one. It will also serve as a node for connection with private agents capable of giving economic support, with their investment and the development of projects, to the regeneration of the center.

Timetable for the coordination of big, structural interventions and small, dynamic urban actions. This will be an open document, still to be further defined.

Timetable for the coordination of big, structural interventions and small, dynamic urban actions – click so see full size

Institutional Initiatives

From the institutional side there is the opportunity to improve the city by developing large scale projects, equipping the city with new infrastructures, implementing the development plans and creating comprehensive urban policies to guide the city towards another future.
In order to provide a necessary infrastructure for downtown development, we propose a strategic plan with 10 actions that will help connecting the different areas, giving visibility to the process and ensuring the development of spaces with a distinct character that can act as vectors of change and as reference points in the city.

Estrategias de intervención a gran escala para articular el desarrollo del Centro Histórico y la relación de la ciudad con el río.

Large-scale strategies to connect the development of the Historic Downtown district and the riverfront – click to see full size

The 10 proposed institutional actions:

01. Asunción Biodiversity Reserve: Support the institutional initiatives to consolidate the San Miguel Bank as a Nature Reserve, this process is organized in different phases: environmental restoration, enhancement of biodiversity and creation of lightweight infrastructure for research, education, and responsible leisure activities.

02. Asunción Riverfront: Creation of an urban front that defines the edge and the facade of the city towards the bay, considering three different scales: the scale of the river, the scale of the infrastructures (the new waterfront road) and the human scale desirable for the future of Asunción. The designed density and the urban diversity considered in the proposal will encourage the spontaneous emergence of new kinds of creative economies.

03. Bicentenario Park: Integration and improvement of the existing project to increase its environmental qualities and the connections with the most representative buildings of the city and the country. Generation of a representative and open civic axis in the section of the waterfront facing the park.

04. Green Active Coast: Landscape and ecological regeneration of this area and creation of a large green lung in continuity with the Bicentenario park. The existing topography will be respected, the presence of water and the natural and artificial processes of water purification, as well as periods of flooding caused by the Paraguay river will be considered part of its identity. Active plans to support families living in informal housing in this area will be made, helping them become a part of the urban diversity of the new urban developments in the area.

05. Revitalization of the Chacarita Alta: Regeneration and participatory consolidation of this district using the experience and the know-how gained from the similar process in the San Jeronimo neighborhood, promoting microeconomics, education and neighborhood identity.

06. Ecological Corridors: Implementation of new longitudinal green infrastructures on sections of specific existing streets. They will connect the new riverfront through the large floodable park, attracting biodiversity towards the existing city center, embracing and reviving its most representative green spaces.

07. Civic Corridors: Civic corridors are a new network of public spaces in the streets, connecting the most prominent historic and governmental buildings. They will be created through interventions on these streets’ section, giving them a more institutional and cultural character. Signaling, beautification of the facades, street art, …

08. Urban Catalysts: New hybrid buildings that will be designed considering a high density and variety of uses and housing programs. They are tall buildings that take advantage of vacant lots or areas with degraded buildings that require a reactivation process. In the lower floors they will host commercial areas and equipments, functions capable of “making” the city. Their general function is to enable flexible scenarios and enhance urban diversity.

09. Dynamic Corridors: A network of public spaces mainly oriented at the creation of active urban settings and the generation of economic and cultural activity. They encompass current trade areas (Calle de la Palma, …), characterize other nearby streets, revitalize disused buildings and connect the new network of hybrid buildings or “catalysts”.

10. Live Harbour: Following the plan already started by the “PIA Cultural Citadel”, the port of Asunción will be reconfigured as a new cultural engine for the city, nurturing social interactions and economical activities. Representative buildings, such as the Customs and other adjacent construction, are integrated in the proposed civic and dynamic corridors.

General plan of the proposed urban structure (2025 - 2037), showing the dynamic, green and civic corridors, the catalysts, etc.

General plan of the proposed urban structure (2025 – 2037), showing the dynamic, green and civic corridors, the catalysts, etc.

General view of the proposal for 2025 and 2037.

General view of the proposal for 2025 and 2037.

Citizen Initiatives

Citizens are the very heart of the city, the only force capable of realizing any deep, long lasting change in the urban environment. In the proposal we select many local, bottom-up initiatives, undertaken with the spirit of urban involvement, participation, entrepreneurship, creative activism and care of public space by the very people who live it.

We propose to integrate the existing initiatives in the process, giving them relevance and institutional support, while at the same time incorporating lessons learned from around the world. In a process of urban-scale prototyping, we propose to start a series of temporary urban actions focused on issues such as security, urban image, comfort, environment, social interaction or the innovative economic development, keeping only the best solutions found during the process.

Iniciativas ciudadanas conectadas con el desarrollo del espacio público en el tiempo.

Citizen initiatives connected with the development of the public space – click to see full size

Some more images of the proposal:

Dynamic corridor, open to the traffic.

Dynamic corridor, open to the traffic.

Pedestrian dynamic corridor - evolution in time

Pedestrian dynamic corridor – evolution in time

We like to think of this project for the future of Asunción as a ñandutí: a symbol of knowledge and of local tradition, of diversity and color, of networking, of the encounter between tradition and creativity. A place where the city can intertwine visions and efforts to create an urban fabric more vivid than ever.

More about the call for proposals: www.asuncioncentrohistorico.com
You can also find it on Twitter and Facebook.

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#networkedurbanism: Time, space and memory

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

MyPS: see below

MyPS: see below

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this last #networkedurbanism post we present to you three projects held together by the common thread of time. The first one deals literally with our personal time organization, the second with the transmission of memories tied to a specific place, and the last with the the permanence of personal memories through time and beyond life. continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: ‘Physital’ Social Networks

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Hyper activated place of connection - Table Talk

Hyper activated place of connection – Table Talk

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this sixth #networkedurbanism post we present to you two projects that apply the concepts of a social network, like the ones that we generally use—twitter, facebook—to the physical world using digital locally-targeted apps or physical objects. continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: Your Digital Opinion is Important to us

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Place Pixel

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this fifth #networkedurbanism post we present to you two projects that share the aim to enrich the physical space with a digital layer, the connection between real and virtual worlds was one of the recurrent themes in the studio and these two projects truly create a strong link between them allowing people to express their opinion about the physical city using digital means. continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: Better Communities, Better Places

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

My Little Public - See below

My Little Public – See below

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism; now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this fourth #networkedurbanism post we present to you three projects focused on social issues and placemaking, their main goal is trying to involve the local communities in the construction process of the future of the cities. continue reading

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Ecosistema urbano selected for the second round of the Voronezh Sea Closed Competition

Category: competitions+ecosistema urbano+eu:live+news+⚐ EN

Voronezh and the reservoir - image via prorus.net - click to visit source

Voronezh—which became popular in the late 80s because of a controversial UFO incident—is a city of over 1 million inhabitants, situated 500 km south of Moscow. It is located on the banks of the Voronezh River, which in 1972 was transformed into the Voronezh Reservoir or “the Voronezh Sea” as it is called by the inhabitants —a huge lake, 30 km long and 2 km wide. You can read more about the history of the reservoir here.

During the following decades the population enjoyed the cool water during the hot Voronezh summer, but in 1992 the authorities labelled it as “not fit for swimming” as a result of the increasingly polluted water.

Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea

Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea!

The Department of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Voronezh region recently decided to organize a competition in order to develop a strategy for the future of the Voronezh Reservoir. The competition consists of two parts:

  • An Open Ideas competition meant to gather ideas that show the potential of the lake for urban and nature development.
  • A Closed Competition for teams of landscape architects, urbanists and ecologists that should combine ideas about possible future uses of the lake with technologies for cleaning it up. The strategy should include both a project and proposals for implementation.

We are glad to communicate that we have been selected among the four finalists of the closed competition. Over the following weeks we will be working hard on putting together a creative approach and a comprehensive strategy in a great presentation. More news soon!

Related link: Report of the jury

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Claire Cassanet | eu collaborators

Category: colaboradores+ecosistema urbano+⚐ EN

Today we introduce you to Claire Cassanet, a young landscape engineer who just left the office after four months of internship. We worked and learned together, we cooked together, we enjoyed every day in her cheerful company. We already miss you, Claire! Read on as she describes her experience with us…

Claire!

Claire!

continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: active awareness

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

New-Chauhaus_654

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism. Now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

Today’s three projects are focused on the knowledge—or the lack of it—that we have of our environment and the resources we use. Believing that many poblematic behaviors we have are caused by our low level of awareness, these projects try to find a way to communicate effectively their content and to initiate discussions and reflexions which may eventually lead to environmental improvements. continue reading