Feb 07, 2014
The Doctor of Design program at the GSD, with the support of the Urban Theory Lab, the Energy and Environment Lab, New Geographies Lab, the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the Urban Metabolism group at the GSD, are hosting a one-day conference entitled "Projective Views on Urban Metabolism". The concept of urban metabolism, aiming to grasp the continuous processes of energy, material and population exchange within and between cities and their extensive hinterlands, has been the subject of both extensive empirical research and, increasingly, critical discussion within the social and natural sciences. However, these interdisciplinary challenges have not yet been met with a synthetic response from the design disciplines. Through the lens of urban metabolism, the goals of this one-day conference are: to reassess the planetary rescaling of contemporary urbanization processes; to unpack the transformation of spatial forms and structures, and on this basis, to track the emergence of new operative territories for design; and finally, to explore the agency of design in confronting these challenges. This event, has been organized by UTL members Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, with the support of UTL member Ali Fard and other doctoral students at the GSD. It will take place in Piper auditorium at the GSD on Friday February 7th from 10am to 6pm.
The conference is also connected to the forthcoming issue of New Geographies, ‘Grounding Metabolism’, edited by Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, scheduled for publication in May 2014.
Feb 27, 2014
Last week, Urban Theory Lab researchers Neil Brenner and Daniel Ibañez contributed to an interdisciplinary conference on visualization, "Thinking with your eyes," held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The presentation focused on the Lab's use of visualization strategies as a tool of theory building in relation to urban questions, with specific reference to our ongoing project, "Extreme Territories of Urbanization." It was a pleasure to contribute to this event and to dialogue with other scholars in the social sciences, the humanities and the design disciplines about the role of visualization in contemporary research--and practice.
Diagram by Kelvy Bird of Dpict
Daniel Ibañez co-organizes GSD Conference and Colloquium, “Wood Urbanism: from the Molecular to the Territorial”
Sep 25, 2014
The research agendas and theoretical perspectives of the Urban Theory Lab continue to resonate with and animate many other projects and exchanges at the GSD and beyond. Thus, amidst a busy early semester schedule, UTL Research Manager Daniel Ibañez recently co-organized a conference with our friends and colleagues Kiel Moe (Associate Professor of Architecture and Energy, Harvard GSD) and Jane Hutton (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD) on the topic of Wood Urbanism: from the Molecular to the Territorial. Building in part upon the metabolic perspectives on urbanization being developed by UTL researchers, the conference brought into conversation scholars and practitioners concerned with wood at a range of scales, from that of the molecule and the working forest to that of the mid-rise building, the urban-regional landscape and the forested territory. Specifically, the conference examined the implications and potentials of wood urbanism, understood as a nexus of relationships between land-use, wood production and wood construction. While relying on the inherent intelligence and depth of multiple disciplines, it was argued that a more encompassing socio-metabolic perspective on the role of wood in contemporary buildings, urbanization, and territories is needed. This event marked the initiation of a research collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), our friends and colleagues in the Energy, Environments, and Design Lab (EED), and the Centro de Innovación y Desarrollo de la Madera (CIDM), Universidad Católica de Chile.
Sep 09, 2014
Daniel Ibañez, UTL research manager, recently contributed to a conference on "Nuevo Urbanismo, Nuevas Ciudades" (New Urbanism, New Cities) in Santander, Spain, which was hosted by the Universidad Internacional Menedez Pelayo (UIMP) and directed by the award-winning Spanish urbanist Jose Maria Ezquiaga and the Spanish curator Ariadna Cantis. The seminar program included contributions by young and established urbanists who are concerned to decipher contemporary patterns of urbanization moment in Spain. Equally, the conference aimed to provide a forum for generating and discussing new conceptualizations, ideas, projects and strategies that might inform more nuanced urban interventions in the future. In his lecture, Daniel Ibañez reported on the need to create new conceptualizations of the urban that supersede historically inherited binarisms and reconnect geography and ecology. He proposed that contemporary theories of socio-environmental metabolism could be helpful not only for understanding the interdependencies between agglomerations and broader operational landscapes, but as a basis for repositioning the agency of design in relation to contemporary urbanization patterns.
Apr 11, 2015
Daniel Ibañez and Nikos Katsikis, UTL Doctoral Researchers, presented their book, New Geographies 6: Grounding Metabolism, at the SPUR Urban Center in San Francisco. During their visit to the West Coast, they also contributed to a “flash symposium” on urban metabolism which was co-organized by the Urban Works Agency and the California College of the Arts (CCA) as part of the San Francisco Market Street Prototyping Festival. This event took place on San Francisco’s Market Street and included short talks by Christopher Roach and Neeraj Bathia (Urban Works Agency/CCA), Irene Cheng (CCA) and David Fletcher (CCA).
Apr 18, 2015
UTL researchers Daniel Ibanez and Grga Basic recently contributed to a symposium on "Arctic States" which was hosted by the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (UVA). The event was organized by UVA professors, Matthew Jull and Leena Cho, directors of the Arctic Design Group and recent graduates of the Harvard GSD. The symposium included contributions by a wide range of scholars, architects and designers who are concerned to understand and shape extreme, remote and contested territories such as the Arctic. The symposium provided a forum for generating and discussing ideas, conceptualizations and projects in and around the Arctic region.
In his lecture to the opening panel of the symposium, Daniel Ibañez reported on the work that the Urban Theory Lab has been developing on the Operational Landscapes of Urbanization, with particular reference to UTL studies of the Arctic region by Grga Basic, Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari. In his contribution to the event, Grga Basic presented two posters derived from that collaborative research which synthesized our work in progress on the Arctic's thickening urban fabric.
Mar 17, 2015
The Urban Theory Lab recently opened their exhibition "Operational Landscapes" at the Melbourne School of Design (MSD). The exhibition asks: In what sense do we today live in an "urban age"? Frequently invoked by scholars, policy-makers, planners, designers, and architects, usually with reference to the proposition that more than 50 percent of the world's population now lives within cities, such a question provokes further questioning: Can the nature of our urban world be understood and mapped exclusively with reference to the growth of cities and their populations?
The exhibition turns this proposition upside-down and inside-out by speculating on a radically alternative mapping of contemporary planetary urbanization. What happens to our cognitive map of the global urban condition if we focus not on the global cities or megacities of the world, but on the wide-ranging sociospatial and environmental transformations that are currently unfolding in supposedly "remote" or "wilderness" regions such as the Amazon, the Arctic, the Gobi desert steppe, the Himalayas, the Pacific Ocean, the Sahara desert, and Siberia, and even the earth's atmosphere? To what degree are such zones now being integrated within a worldwide fabric of urbanization? How are they being restructured and enclosed to support the energy, water, material, food and logistics needs of major cities?
Through speculative cartographies of these emergent "operational landscapes," the exhibition aims to illuminate the radical transformations of land-use, infrastructure, and ecology far beyond the city limits that have made the contemporary formation of planetary urbanization possible.
With support from: Office of the Dean, Melbourne School of Design; Office of the Dean, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; Milton Fund, Harvard University Medical School
May 27, 2015
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has awarded a grant to Daniel Ibañez, UTL Research Manager, together with his co-editors, Claire Lyster (UIC), Charles Waldheim (Harvard University) and Mason White (University of Toronto) for their book project "Third Coast Atlas: Prelude to a Plan of The Great Lakes Region." Through this collaborative investigation of the Great Lakes as an large-scale, globally networked zone of urban transformation, Daniel Ibañez is developing his ongoing work on urbanization as a socio-metabolic process that transcends the boundaries of any individual city.
Envisaged as a comprehensive "atlas," this publication comprises in-depth analysis of the landscapes, hydrology, infrastructure, urban form, and ecologies of the Great Lakes (mega)region. Delivered through a series of analytical cartographies supported by scholarly and design research from internationally renowned scholars, photographers, and practitioners from the disciplines of architecture, landscape, geography, planning, and ecology. The publication captures the unique identity of the area and serves as a reference for design and planning in this distinct mega-region.
Measuring over 10,000 miles, the Great Lakes coastline is longer than the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines of the United States combined. The Great Lakes Basin holds over 20 percent of the world's total surface fresh water, and is home to twenty-six million people in the United States and nine million in Canada. It is difficult to overstate the history and future of the region as both a contested and opportunistic site for urbanism.
Nov 02, 2015
UTL research manager Daniel Ibañez has recently joined the editorial board of urbanNext, a new online platform produced by Actar Publishers. UrbanNext is designed to establish a multidisciplinary site for discussion, debate and collaboration regarding questions related to contemporary design practices. More generally, UrbanNext aspires to host contributions and exchanges that promote a rethinking of architecture through the lens of contemporary urbanization. Through his contributions, Daniel aims to develop an understanding of design that includes and explores the variegated processes, networks and geographies which support urban life. In this context, he will be reporting on a range of issues in the design disciplines connected to his own research practice and that of the Urban Theory Lab. In this first contribution to the platform, Daniel has co-curated (together with former UTL researcher Roi Salgueiro) a forum for debate around some of the major metageographical visions of the city and the urban that have animated contemporary discussions of world urbanization.
Aug 10, 2017
Ways of Wood: Expressing Material Flows is one of the four installations of the Boston Design Biennial 2017 exhibited now at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Rose Greenway in downtown Boston. This design installation has been designed and fabricated by a team lead by UTL researcher Daniel Ibañez of Margen-Lab.
Resembling images of logs floated from forests to sawmills, Ways of Wood aims to create a link with North American landscapes of industrial extraction. The nine logs gradually transform across their length into contemporary interpretations of these raw natural materials, here shaped via computer numerical control (CNC) milling. Inspired by the social sculpture of Joseph Beuys and the site-specific land art pieces of Andy Goldsworthy, Ways of Wood explicitly visualizes the connection between contemporary design concerns and the processes of material sourcing through its formal and material configuration. Avoiding the association that wood is a generic and uniform material the installation also brings together diverse regional wood species, supporting the specificities and ecological diversity each and one of them entail.
Wood is one of many material flows necessary to sustain urban life. Typically black-boxed and commodified, the material is often detached from any connection to the landscapes, processes, and people fundamental to its genesis. While the project creates a public space for sitting or socializing, it also attempts to create a territorial re-connection between the sites of material circulation and extraction and the experience of the city, and between vernacular material sources and advanced digital design.