BA DESIGNING CITIES
Giulio Verdini Roudaina Alkhani
Our city of the future needs to be more resilient and sustainable. Climate change, economic stresses, inequalities, and public health crisis are showing their limits. Communities are making great efforts to adapt to everyday challenges and shocks, reinventing their way to use and experience the city. However, new architectural, urban design, and planning approaches are required to help cities meet current challenges and unpredictable futures capitalising on their strengths and potentials.
Designing Cities brings together knowledge about the city and its diverse communities, exploration of the richness of architecture and public spaces, housing development, mobility, green and blue networks, urban ecologies, rural-urban synergies, and much more. It does so, prompting students to design more sustainable places and futures.
The course addresses the challenge of building post-pandemic climate-resilient cities due to the unexpected outbreak of COVID that the world has faced in recent months. We have organised ‘industry projects’ with London-based practices, such as Jacobs, WSB, and INGMedia, to study various approaches to tackle the urban challenges of COVID, such as digital placemaking, forms of active travel, and tools to assess place productivity and wellbeing. We have also organised a virtual field trip in Milan and Berlin titled ‘Understanding neighbourhood in times of pandemic’ in collaboration with ILAUD, the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design, to explore how local communities have reacted to the pandemic and cities are changing.
The staff of Designing Cities have addressed such topics throughout the course, and various modules have emphasized resilience, sustainability, and climate change. The module ‘Sustainability and Environment has developed a fruitful collaboration with the London Borough of Hounslow involving students in designing future 0-Carbon Neighbourhoods. The project has taken place in the framework of Hounslow’s Green Recovery strategy and focus on the 15 min city. The Year 2 ‘Climate Urbanism Studio’ has used an assessment framework of sustainability to design a landscape strategy for the Lower Lea Valley in East London, engaging with local activists and practitioners.
A blend of on-site and online teaching has been successfully put into practice, and we experimented with a rich variety of digital knowledge and design tools. Overall, we promote a project-based and cross-disciplinary learning approach, engaging with diverse expertise from architects, planners, urban designers, economists and liaising with practitioners, policymakers, activists, and communities. The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as meeting the requirements for the spatial planning element of initial planning education.
Giulio Verdini & Roudaina Al Khani