Theory of Urban Planning and Design - Michael Ryckewaert

1st semester, 3 ECTS

This course deals with the recent development of the discipline of urban design. The course outlines the different schools of thought and approaches applied to deal with the 'permanent ' crisis of the 20-21st century city. This crisis is, among other things, outlined through a discussion of the current urban problems of the Brussels metropolitan area. In addition, the course deals with approaches that call for urban regeneration with a concern for tradition and context, as opposed to approaches that embrace the modern, fluid, dispersed and diffuse urban reality of the late 20th and early 21st century. In this reality nodes of infrastructure are new foci of urbanity. The wider territory and regional and landscape design start to play an important role in dealing with this urban reality.  Finally, the European practice of urban design, ' le projet urbain ' or the ' proyecto urbano ' as it is named in France and Spain respectively, is put on the map. Here, also the achievements of the current practice of urban renewal in Flanders is being treated, as it is ever more often the field of action of internationally renowned urban planners.

Case Studies in Urban Planning and Design - Michael Ryckewaert

1st semester, 3 ECTS

This course adopts a seminar format in which students analyse recent urban projects, a strategic plan or planning process. The theme varies from year to year, and is usually adapted to the content and theme of Design Studio 1 and 2 (option 2 below). The analysis is fed by texts and exemplary projects, with guest lectures, external lectures and/or exhibition visits. Students receive a reading assignment to be presented and discussed in class. Secondly, they are requested to submit a report on the guest lectures and exhibition visit. Finally, they write a critical paper on the project, plan or proces they have analysed and present this paper during the final exam to the teachers and their peers. As a result, the students are presented with a rich case base of projects and literature dealing with the selected theme.

Next to the courses above, students choose one of the two design studio options:

OPTION 1: Design Studio: Space Speculation - Nadia Casabella, Philippe De Clerck

2nd semester, 10 ECTS

Space Speculation is a research by design studio linked to the Laboratory of Urbanism, Infrastructure, and Ecologies (LoUIsE). The studio addresses the socioeconomic and ecologic transition of existing cities and their hinterland as a condition for a sustainable future, one that would link together human and non-human elements in new urban formations or assemblages.

Cities are complex and interactive ecosystems. Their transformation demands a multi-scalar reflection about the material and energy flows circulating through or into them as well as the processes contributing to articulate those flows, also known as Urban Metabolism (UM). The adjective 'urban' has major consequences on this metabolism because it addresses not just the place where metabolism takes place but also the underlying social contract that determines the form and organization of production and consumption within cities. By placing 'urban' in the first place, questions other than the quantification or the detailed inventory of flows crossing our cities gain in importance, like the one about agency: Who decides the way this social contract has been designed? How is it managed? By whom? Who (agencies, associations, individuals…) are trying to question it? And how can we as spatial designers intervene upon it? How much of our work should encompass the design of places as well as the identification, connection, and disentanglement of these diverse flows and the actors gearing them? Only by moving from ‘mapping a metabolism’, to ‘designing with and of a metabolism’ we make possible for spatial designers to move from an object-centred approach to a systemic one, engaging flows, actors and places into their proposals for urban transformation.

OPTION 2: Design Studio 1 and 2 - Fabio Vanin

1st and 2nd semester, 6 + 6 ECTS

The main goal of this course is to make students critically work on the concept and development of a design proposal (masterplan, scenarios). Through a series of exercises students will familiarise with all different aspects that the process of design includes, ranging from spatial design to socio-political and economical aspects. The general goal is to both acquire the capacity of understanding the complexity of urban design and to develop a critical point of view on that specific tool through design and urban analysis. Different methods and representation techniques - reading, interpreting, representing and designing space employed in urban-landscape design - should be used during the studios. A specific aim of DS1 is to develop both a collective work (groups work) and an individual one. Both will be equally important for the final evaluation. Since students have different backgrounds, special attention will be given to their specific skills in order to take advantage of them in the study and design process.

Design Studio 2 is dedicated to the 'understanding of the site'. The first part of the semester will focus on the physical components and traces that constitute the site (topography, geology, vegetation, architecture) while the second part will focus more on the social and immaterial traces (social, cultural, political). At the same time, while during the first part of the semester students will concentrate more on data and 'discourses', during the second part they will work more applying an ethnographic method, thus focusing on 'practices'. Moreover, particular emphasis will be given to 1) 'transformation' as the interpretative category through which students will have to study the site: the importance of the historical perspective, the relevance of different timeframes (use, functioning); 2) 'scale' as the fundamental factor to comprehend the city and its functioning form the territory to the object. Design Studio 2 will be dedicated to the development of 'design strategies' in a broad sense through a series of exercises that aims at getting familiar with its main features and different ways of representing cities and landscapes.