Work from AGENCY partners Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller’s ‘Tactical Urbanisms’ seminar is now on display in Givens Hall, Washington University in St. Louis.
Over half of the world’s population is now living in cities. Another half of the world is living in poverty. Urban slums and informal developments account for a growing, but overlooked majority in this new paradigm. By learning from how these communities organize and prosper despite overwhelming disadvantage, and understanding new directions from the design community working in such environments, the seminar seeks to empower students with the ability to enable the explosive growth of the developing world on its own terms.
Part I of the course investigated communities which act and build on their own behalf, “bottom-up” urbanisms which arrive with limited input from the design community. Lectures and discussion addressed ‘low-impact’ design opportunities and models of practice, using examples of recent projects from architects and designers working in the field.
Part II investigated responses, negotiations, and proposals from the design community, and addressed issues of developmental planning, scalability, and professional responsibilities when working with or in such environments. Lectures and discussion addressed large-scale, systemic, and institutional design opportunities, using examples of recent projects from architects and designers working in the field.
The exhibit compiles 12 Case Studies, showcasing student research, analysis, and speculation concerning ‘constructive tactics’ in emerging environments and developing countries throughout the world. Students worked to position an original graphic and written argument that synthesized their learning from primary texts in social and political theory, comparative analysis of environments, tactics, and practices presented in class, and their own developing sensibilities in architecture and urbanism. The exhibit ‘tactically’ occupies an underutilized space within the Givens stairwell. Two-sided panels consisting of each students’ investigation are suspended between the handrails to engage students, faculty, and guests in a multidimensional array of information as they climb and descend.
Students were encouraged to invent an adaptive graphic layout for easy dissemination in print, and broadcast via the web. The two-sided ‘broadsheets’ suggest a new model for deployable ‘bulletins’, communicating a concise and engaging summary of individual work and collaborative research at the school.
The exhibit will be on display until mid-January.
Joshua Chi Shun Chan