This studio claims that some kinds of knowledge still can reside in place, and that to recognize those can make the city more knowable, usable, equitable, and resilient. That seems timely to explore when so many new kinds of mediation are layering into everyday life. Not all dematerializes: sometimes mediation can recast participatory process at street level. So to qualify our claims for situated knowledge against usual objections about distractions or impositions from afar, projects in this studio have emphasized districts. They have done so not as urban designers or geographers, however, but more as interpreters of systems and infrastructures, to which they fit new kinds of apparatus, mostly at street level, culturally in the upkeep of local difference. For this aim, a district is as much a state of mind as an area, which per the aphorism of Kevin Lynch, “the observer can mentally go inside of, and which have some common character.” This seems all the more important as counterpoint to networks ever more numerous and remote. Such counterpoint invites learning to seek opportunity arising amid an ever changing “world of systems,” rather than lamenting oppression by some singular “the system.” Back in the fall semester we began by reading ecologist Dana Meadows and epistemologist Clifford Siskin on that. We assume that system is one way of knowing, that district scale matters despite smartphones and clouds, and that this not only remains, but indeed with better kinds of mediation now has ways of becoming more workable. We trust that brings new meanings to a Jane Jacobs urbanism in which “The chief function of a district is to mediate between the indispensable, but inherently powerless, street neighborhoods, and the inherently powerful city as a whole.”
Faculty Advisor:
Malcolm McCullough

Image:  Plant Service Bicycle, Paris / mmmc photo