37: Urbanism’s Core? W 2014


The purpose of Harvard Design Magazine, no. 37 is to foreground these urgent issues of epistemology and praxis; to explore new directions for research and theoretical formation emerging from these conditions; and to highlight strategies, processes, and practices of intervention that are being proposed in response to emerging environments. The issue is organized around these overlapping and interrelated lines of inquiry. It includes essays that address contemporary conditions of the urban and propose frameworks for understanding processes of urbanization across a broad geography; that engage issues of scale, publics, governance, poverty, social inequality, violence, extreme differentiation, abandonment, risk and resilience, informality, temporality, hybridity, media,and network cultures. Other contributions propose strategies for intervening at multiple scales; they show the diversity of critical approaches and practices emerging in response to contemporary states of urbanization in different parts of the world.

Together, the contributions to “Urbanism’s Core” make an argument for bringing theory into closer dialogue with practice, design into collaboration with planning. Most of all, they argue for the importance of conceptual frameworks for understanding conditions that are dynamic, synchronous, and multiply contingent on factors at divergent scales; that foreground questions of social justice, poverty, citizenship, and sustainability; that deal both with “big numbers” and the specificity of complex differentials—concepts, in other words, that enable us to intervene with legitimacy, intelligibility, and efficacy in the multiple conditions of the contemporary urban.

—Eve Blau (excerpted from the introduction)

Table of Contents


A Cosmopolitan Urban Meadow for the Northeast

Michael Luegering, Peter del Tredici

Accessibility Wars

Interboro Partners

Adaptive Urbanism: Sensing the Interstices of African Cities

Edgar Pieterse

As if Alteration

Thordis Arrhenius

Beyond the Smart City: Everyday Entanglements of Technology and Urban Life

Mark Shepard

Cities and Villages: Finding Common Ground through Architecture

Momoyo Kaijima

Dark Matter, Ditch Urbanism Revisited

Wouter Vanstiphout

Detroit Future City

Chris Reed, Toni L. Griffin

Education Superinfrastructure: Education + Urbanization in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christopher Roach

Geo-Architecture: A Prehistory for an Emerging Aesthetic

Hashim Sarkis

Incremental Urbanism from Montreal

Peter Rose, Rahul Mehrotra

Introduction: The Common Ground of Urban Praxis

Eve Blau

It Is a Fundamental Right to Have a Place to Live in Well: 2Up2Down / Homebaked

Jeanne van Heeswijk

Kumbh Mela

Iwan Baan

Living the Security City: Karachi’s Archipelago of Enclaves

Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Stephen Graham

Lluis Ortega: F451, Spain

F451, Lluis Ortega

Network Design: Dream Your City

Ecosistema Urbano

Political and Epistemological Scales in Chinese Urbanism

Jianfei Zhu

Pre- and Post-Architecture

Philipp Oswalt

R-Urban: Resilient Agencies, Short Circuits, and Civic Practices in Metropolitan Suburbs

atelier d’architecture autogérée (aaa)

Reversible Infrastructure

Federico Parolotto

Revisiting the Urban Grid: Applied Research

Joan Busquets

South America Project: A Synthesis of Scales

Felipe Correa

Superstorm Sandy and the Age of Preparedness

Joyce Klein Rosenthal

The Grand Projèt: Creating Urban Centralities in Distinct Contexts

Kees Christiaanse

The Haunting Presence of Urban Vampires

Miguel Robles-Duran

The Kind of Problem an Urban Region Is, Early in the 21st Century

Alex Krieger

The Other Brooklyn

Camilo José Vergara

The Violence of Sustainable Urbanity

Erik Swyngedouw

Urban Informality: Remnant of the Past or Wave of the Future?

Diane E. Davis

Urban Theory Without an Outside

Neil Brenner

Why Implementation Matters

Jerold S. Kayden