The AFTER-CITY studio is a co-taught studio between Brent D. Ryan and El Hadi Jazairy at MIT. As one in a series of studios on shrinking cities, the studio addresses the question of what planners and designers can learn from the shrinking city phenomenon, and how transforming the urban condition in the area of Baltimore might reveal new urban paradigms.

The studio proposes to address the phenomenon of the shrinking city, characterized by extremes of population loss, degradation of the physical fabric, and socioeconomic problems starting with a plastic conception of scale of the city to identify the nature (subjects of negotiation of the urban condition), the extend (continuities and discontinuities), and the dynamics (development profiles of growing or shrinking spaces) of the urban condition.

The studio will address the urban through a non-conventional city-frame definition, starting by rethinking the concept of scale of the city. So, what do we mean by urbanity today? A number of scholars and practitioners such as Xaveer de Geyter, James Corner, Charles Waldheim, Alexander D’Hooghe, Alan Berger and others have proposed ways to overcome the conventional city-frame definition of urbanity. The multiple scales and urban fabrics of Baltimore, particularly that of the urban neighborhood, the industrial waterfront, and the city-region, will all serve as arenas for urban design investigations.

The studio will specifically focus on the following issues:

A.   Understanding the specific growing and shrinking dynamics– vis-à-vis questions of building typologies, type of activities, and geographical conditions;

B.    Mapping spatial implications of these continuous change processes;

C.   Formalizing possible patterns, clarifying the transformative processes;

D.   Exploring design strategies to investigate new urban models at a range of different scales;

E.    Amplifying or limiting the growth of new programs and uses able to generate urban continuities and coherence.

The studio will start by opening up a series of research directions building on a list of readings. It will then consist of mapping exercises trying to gather significant elements of the urban condition. A following step will focus on the elaboration of development strategies based on the identification of issues, the proposal of a position, and the elaboration of a material way to realize it. After that the students will propose an urban project addressing the material context with its constituencies. The final step will consist of a coordinated presentation of six visions for the future of Baltimore.

Brent D. Ryan, Assistant Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy:
El Hadi Jazairy, Lecturer in the Department of Architecture:
Teaching Assistance and web-design:
Eva Strobel, SMArchS Architecture and Urbanism:

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