‘Landscape Urbanism’ is, by definition, transdisciplinary. Whilst drawing upon the legacy of landscape design to address the dynamics of contemporary urbanism, it integrates knowledge and techniques from environmental engineering, urban strategy and landscape ecology, deploying the science of complexity and emergence, the tools of digital design and the thought of political ecology. All these means are combined to project new material interventions that operate within an urbanism conceived as social, material, ecological and continually modulated by the spatial and temporal forces in which it is networked.
The Landscape Urbanism MA programme is a 12-month studio-based course designed for students with prior academic and professional qualifications. It comprises a design studio, interrelated workshops and a series of lectures and seminars that form the core of project development.
Prototypical Urbanities: India’s Infrastructural Metropolitanism
‘According to forecasts by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), India will have 68 cities of more than one million inhabitants by 2030, twice as many as in Europe, and will need to invest $1.2 trillion in infrastructure.’ – The Guardian The explosion of India’s urban population over the last few years has resutled in chaotic rapid urbanisation in the subcontinent. Major civil engineering projects are required to cope with a growth which needs to be founded both on the creativity of India’s entrepreneurs and on the grounds of its spatial infrastructures. As a long-term task, Landscape Urbanism intends to engage with these conditions of urbanisation, folding its methodology, social ethos and design aspirations into the framework of the rapidly urbanising fringes of major Indian conurbations.
Whether it is newly privatised sprawl or the coexistence of huge corporateoriented campuses with subcontractor workshops, India offers the contradictions and potentials for a study that can develop new forms of metropolitanism. Fram ework ‘Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is a mega-infrastructure project… covering an overall length of 1483 km2 between the political capital and the business capital of India.’ Landscape Urbanism will engage both critically and opportunistically with the plans for Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor starting in the north close to New Delhi. We will explore the generation of proto-strategies for new largescale agglomerations as a means of critically addressing the phenomena of mass-produced cities. Students will be asked to identify the conditions for their own projects, threading spatial, social and environmental discourses into the large-scale government-led ideas and the localised responses emerging from the found territorial conditions. In their entirety student projects will conform to an alternative mode of spatial development where the character of trans-national infrastructures is used to ground a socio-technical alternative for a new urban nature.
1. Indexical Models: Mediation Between Typical Organisational Paradigms and Local Conditions
Term 1 is based on a series of intensive workshops. It aims to initiate a dialogue between the techniques being acquired and their application in the development of new organisational models. It culminates with a field trip to India, providing us with the opportunity to engage with a real large-scale urban project and to communicate with local planners and architects.
2. Sensitive Systems: Development of a PrototypeSubsequent to the field trip, the organisational models acquire a sense of local ‘urgency’ informing both topdown strategic intentions while allowing for a fluid negotiation with bottom-up local conditions. Central to this phase will be the development of a prototype, a malleable model capable of continuous transformations.
3 & 4. Network Urbanism: Global Behaviour
During Terms 3 and 4 the work will develop different logics of proliferation while mastering degrees of self differentiation, specificity and responsiveness within the field. Investigations developed during the year will be presented as a final Design Thesis in a public review at the end of September.
Eva Castro has been teaching at the AA since 2003 and studied at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and completed the AA Graduate Design programme. She is cofounder of Plasma Studio and Groundlab. She is winner of the Next Generation Architects Award, the Young Architect of the Year Award, the Contract- World Award and the HotDip Galvanising Award.
Alfredo Ramirez is an architect and director of Groundlab where he has won and developed several competitions, workshops, exhibitions and projects. He is Director of the AA Visiting School in Mexico City and has given workshops and lectured internationally on the topic of landscape urbanism and the work of Groundlab.
Eduardo Rico studied civil engineering in Spain and graduated from the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme. He has been a consultant and researcher in the fields of infrastructure and landscape in Spain and the UK. Currently he is working within the Arup engineering team as well as being part of Groundlab. He has taught at Harvard GSD and the Berlage Institute.
Clara Oloriz Sanjuan is a practising architect and received her PhD from the ETSA Universidad de Navarra. She has worked for Foreign Office Architects, Cerouno, Plasma Studio and Groundlab. She teaches at the University of Navarra and is codirector of the AA Visiting School in Bilbao. She co-directs an AA research cluster titled Urban Prototypes.
Douglas Spencer has studied design and architectural history, cultural studies, critical theory and has taught at a number of architectural schools. His research and writing has been published in journals including The Journal of Architecture, Radical Philosophy, AA Files and Culture Machine. He is currently researching for a book which formulates a Marxian critique of contemporary architecture and ‘control society’.
Tom Smith is a landscape architect and urban designer. He works at EDAW AECOM on such projects as the masterplan for Chelsea Flower Show and developments in rural communities in Portugal. He was instrumental in the design of the London 2012 Olympic and Legacy Masterplan and is currently focusing on the design of the Olympic and Legacy Parklands.
Professional degree or diploma in architecture, landscape architecture or urbanism