Academic year 2021-2022, sem 2
Visit. Prof. Anuschka Kutz
Engagement Urban Cultures
The studio will run in a hybrid mode operating 50/50 on campus / remotely, alternating between both modes.
Depending on the trajectory of the pandemic this may have to shift to more remote delivery.
Studio Urban Field Lab
(Post) Pandemic CityLand
Image credit: ‘Voice of the People’, Domestic Street Facade in a residential street in London turns into collective Outlet, Grant Rollings, London 2021.
“Parks have been a lifeline during the pandemic… The royal family hates Buckingham Palace. The Queen is rarely there.
Let’s make Buckingham Palace a public space.”
Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 25th of February 2021.
The pandemic is a trauma that we experience collectively throughout the globe, albeit not with the same force nor consequences. There is certainly an otherness in the ‘togetherness’. The pandemic has amplified many existing fragilities and inequalities, whilst adding new ones. It has impacted our lives and transformed our cities and villages in ways we are yet to fully comprehend. Some transformations are welcome, others are strongly contested. Some are brought about by governments others emerge through ad-toc tactics initiated by the people. Many of these transformations are yet to be identified, examined and worked with. Space has a big stake in these developments. The studio sees its mission to contribute to this emerging knowledge field.
“The pandemic has highlighted a host of shortcomings … that have raised fundamental questions about the justice, security and wellbeing of cities in developed and developing countries alike.”
Cities and Pandemics: Towards a More Just, Green and Healthy Future, UN Habitat, May 2021.
The pandemic has brought the precariousness of our health and care systems to our collective conscience and has shone a light on the institutionalised ways in which care now happens in many parts of the worlds. New divisions have emerged between those who can work from home and those who cannot; further divided by those who can comfortably work from home and the many who cannot. The need for accessible public places – indoor and outdoor – have become plain obvious all over the world and the scarcity of these spaces have been painfully felt. Canyons have opened up between those with gardens and outdoor spaces and those confined to the stale air of yesterday’s lunch. Places where even the most basic facilities are counted a luxury have experienced even more hardship. Density and overcrowding have made it impossible for many to live, work, play and educate in homes barely sufficient for sleeping. Some have discovered with dismay that their home will remain their place of work for good, others are welcoming the decoupling from their former ties to offices, suits, air conditioning and meeting rooms, saying goodbye to their long commutes, or even the city as such. What the comfort of home is to some, is terror to others. Domestic abuse, loneliness and mental health issues have dramatically increased, others on the other hand have welcomed spending more time together. Travel has completely transformed or stopped altogether, and we have all gotten to know our local streets a whole lot better. A new geography has turned the logic of our cities inside-out. Inner-city centres reserved for work, leisure and consumption have turned into empty shells of their former selves, taking a sway of support-industries with them. Residential areas which are often a little further out, on the other hand, seem to brim with life. The countryside has seen an influx of urbanites escaping the city, begrudged by many for inflating rents and house prices, but welcomed by others who see it as an opportunity to rejuvenate over-ageing and shrinking rural areas or revitalize abandoned sites. Those who cannot work remotely, obviously do not enjoy this level of freedom or mobility.
And yet, besides the hardships, there are new opportunities. Roads have been turned into restaurants and office canteens have provided lunches for those less fortunate. High streets are trying to reinvent themselves. Citizens had campaigned for years to open up the streets for public use, but it took a pandemic to turn the minds of local and national governments. Suddenly, things that were hard to achieve before the pandemic, are happening.
The pandemic has provided us with a unique opportunity to reconsider many so-called certainties and commonplaces, giving rise to a renewed interest in asking fundamental questions that attempt to redress certain balances we may have lost. How do we want to live? What are our values? What do we want and need in and from our cities, villages, offices, schools, hospitals, homes, streets, neighbourhoods, public spaces?
“As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on cities and communities, the world is learning new ways to meet the challenges at hand and mitigate the potential effects of pandemics in the future. Now is the time to re-examine how regions, cities, neighbourhoods and buildings are planned, designed, built and maintained.”
Cities and Pandemics: Towards a More Just, Green and Healthy Future, UN Habitat, May 2021, p. 24)
How can we harness new-found opportunities for the (Post)Pandemic City and the peri-urban and rural realm? To which rethinking and spatial editing may this lead? How can we mitigate existing spatial shortcomings? Which different modes of thinking and understanding may this require? What can we contribute from our side? How can we use the studio as a capacity-building entity to grow our collective knowledge in this area?
You are invited to set your own project focus and context within the framework of Post-pandemic CitiesLand. The Master studio with its global studentship offers a unique – but often underutilised – opportunity to collectively build capacities that outstrip our individual knowledge base, perspective and experience. By inviting you to set your own project context and focus within the set framework, we integrate your diverse backgrounds, lived experience and embodied expertise into the studio context, whether you are a local student or from far afield. This will deepen our collective understanding of the issues that unfold in a global context, and it will illuminate opportunities that arise through the pandemic. Within the studio, this will permit us to explore differences and similarities across diverse projects.
Students are invited to arrive in the studio with their proposed case at the very start of the semester.
The studio is situated in the Engagement Urban Cultures. We will also establish links to the Conference on the Post-Pandemic City initiated by the Urban Cultures engagement. The studio is thematically and methodologically connected to the Fragilities Master Thesis studio that runs in parallel.
The studio will be of a hybrid nature, operating 50/50 in-situ in Brussels / remotely, alternating between both modes. We will meet on a weekly basis using on-site as well as remote facilities. This dual mode will permit us to integrate diverse online tools, such as Miro which we will use to generate an on-going digital archive of your developing work. At the same time, we will use on-site sessions to engage in person and to produce hands-on work in situ. Invited guests will infuse our work. Please note that the intended 50/50 mode may have to shift to more remote delivery, depending on the trajectory of the pandemic. The studio language is English.
See the extended brief for more details. (pdf)
Any questions, please email: Anuschka Kutz
See previous work here https://www.blog-archkuleuven.be/urban-field-lab/