MASTER OF URBAN DESIGN
How do we know cities? What is a city as an object of knowledge? What intellectual constructs, media formats, and technologies allow us to make cities “knowable”? How do these constructs, formats, and technologies influence and intertwine with our expectations of urbanism and urban life? How do our ways of observing cities enable methods of design, and how can we think critically about that effect?
This first studio in the Taubman College Master of Urban Design sequence focused on techniques of understanding cities – through empirical observation, mapping, data, imaging, and mediation – and how these techniques of observation are instrumentalized within urban design. Working through a series of media, technologies, and information formats, we leveraged contemporary ways of understanding cities to develop design proposals of possible urban realities, while cultivating a critical consciousness of the limitations, and ideological proclivities embedded in our tools and techniques. The studio was divided into a series of exercises, each asking students to think critically about the unique opportunities afforded by different technologies and methods for making urbanism knowable. Following these exercises, our work culminated in urban design proposals for our site in Detroit, on the site of the former Uniroyal Tire Factory.
Art has always been one of the vanguard of urban regeneration. The booming industrial activity of a century ago has given Detroit a profound industrial identity. However today, many of these former manufacturing areas sit vacant which has allowed local artists to reclaim these spaces as studios and collaborative work spaces. This project's concept is to carry out an urban experiment, to gather art activities in the city in one venue through an eclectic assemblage of functions. This will strengthen the emerging art identity of the city and give the artist a platform to produce and advance cultural creations.