THE MAKING OF CITIES, SPRING 2016

INSTRUCTORS: Rafi SegalL & Lauren Jacobi

RESEARCH FELLOW: Nil Tuzcu (Workshop organizer & curriculum research)

TAs: : Sebastian Schmidt & Huma Gupta

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“The Making of Cities” examines the complex development of cities through history by tracing a diachronic accumulation of forms and spaces in specific cities, and showing how significant urban ideas were made manifest across distinct geographies and cultures. The course’s chief interest is in studying the history of how major cities are made, remade, and at points become ‘unmade’.  The premise is that a city is always shaped by and in turn influences five driving forces: geographic/ecological, economic/social, spiritual, political/military, and technological/material ones.  We view these forces as a causal superstructure and frame for considering how cities develop, and though these lenses we seek to better understand the history of urban form and urbanization.  To this end, we work to add a strong GIS component to the course. 

The lecture component of the course draws attention to the forces that have shaped urban form, providing a historical account integrated with an analysis of various physical changes that have taken place in the city. As such the lectures aid in establishing a conceptual ­analytic framework for how to approach, understand, and make use of spatial and visual historical archives that concern urban form. In the workshops, groups of students will each be assigned one city or a designated part of it, which that group will work on throughout the semester by exploring, analyzing and proposing new spatial representations for that city. Within each of these metropolises the designated group will focus on the theme of neighborhoods: examining the complex and dynamic changes in their form and character through time. MIT’s GIS Laboratory will provide assistance in familiarizing students with the necessary training in GIS software.