Learning Cities // Smarter Regions:
How do Cities Learn? Recent developments in architecture and urban design discourse and practice have centered on topics such as “sustainable cities” and “smart cities.” City governments, NGOs , private industries and academic institutions worldwide have engaged these issues, accepting the premise that designing for smart and sustainable cities also reflects good business practices. After all, who would choose to live in a dumb city? From agrarian to industrial, post-industrial and now global-technological societies, the city and its greater region has always been a reflexive physical manifestation of its society. In his recent lecture at the London School of Economics (*), Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz articulated a single critical factor that influences societies’ ability to adapt to changes in the global economic and political environment. He poses “learning societies” as a critical model that helps develop effective positive change in social, economic, and political dynamics in the world today and thus the betterment of their urban environment and quality of life of their citizens.
The Architecture and Urban Design Fall 2012 Studio seeks to address the question – if a society can and does learn, then what can and does a city/region learn? Does a city/region learn to better manage its resources? Can a city learn how and where to grow? What are the ways in which a city or region can acquire learning skills, as opposed to reaching a static condition of being ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’? In this studio we will “learn by designing” what cities learn in the shorter term, and how regions can become smarter in the long run.