LONDON: URBAN UTOPIA
Elettra Bordonaro (Faculty, RISD Architecture)
3 weeks: July 8-29, 2018
3 Studio credits (RISD Architecture)
In collaboration with research group Configuring Light at London School of Economics and Peabody. This course is aimed at urban design, planning and architecture students and designed to foster social research skills and awareness within lighting design and planning.
The course will start with the history of urban design and publicness from the urban utopia during the 60’s and the 70’s till the idea of POPS (private owned public spaces) as one of the main London reality today. The course will lead the students to a practical approach to social research in design, exploring actual urban sites, in order to help them develop a more structured understanding of the social spaces they intervene in, through their design work. The class lasts three weeks and encompasses visits to main public spaces in London (South Bank, Granary Square, Elephant Park), night walks, social research seminars, social research activities on site, lighting design seminars and design exercise. Students will develop both social understanding and lighting strategies which they will present, at the end of the class, to residents, local authorities and other invited stakeholders. The program focuses students on urban lighting as a crucial yet under-explored feature of social space, and as a powerful vehicle for deeper social understanding of urban life. The class will have two major themes:
Social Research in Design
The goal is for students to understand the role social research can play in urban design processes, and develop skills in social research in design. Students will explore key elements of social life in the neighborhood of Thamesmead, London – different communities and stakeholders, their problems and practices, the transformations their area is undergoing – as a basis for developing lighting design interventions.
Light as Material
Students will develop an understanding of light as a fundamental and designable material of everyday life, how it interacts with and mediates between natural and urban environments, and between public and private spaces, and how, when combined with social research, it can create a sense of place and improve quality of life. This theme includes an introduction to lighting design for the public realm.
The aim is to develop a lighting design response to the social research: this may take the form of a lighting design concept or strategy, a focus on particular aspects or issues in public space design that have emerged from the research in the neighbourhood, or on how to address one or more of the identified issues.
The Location: Thamesmead. The case study of the course is of Thamesmead, a south- east London suburb. Thamesmead is the paradigm of the urban utopia from the 60’s and now in phase of complete regeneration. After the land was vacated by the military, the Greater London Council developed Thamesmead in fits and starts from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. The area was divided into sectors, of which Thamesmead South was the main housing zone, while Thamesmead East was initially designated for industry and commerce. Thamesmead Central offers the majority of the town’s retail facilities – but these are woefully inadequate for a settlement of such proportions.
Cost: $4,750 (includes tuition, accommodation, field trips, local transportation, group dinners + some meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance).