Designing Cities for Change | Robert Ouellette | March 7, 2013 |

Information-driven change in cities, says @MESHCities, needs new skills, institutions and companies to empower people to design smart, responsive cities.  Designing for change is different challenge from designing for a static environment.

Most designers, unfortunately as yet, do not have the breadth of experience not to mention the inclination to deal with the new complexity the densely populated, information-driven city creates.

There are, however, firms who understand that they are designing for complex change they can’t fully predict but they can try to reasonably accommodate.

Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is one firm that consistently deals with the issues of massively changing cities. One of their projects is Beijing’s China Central Television headquarters. [….]

Beijing’s CCTV building is to 21st C. Beijing what the Rockefeller was to 20th C. New York: A symbol of a dynamic, upstart society intent on defining the future of civilization. Needless to say, Koolhaas’s post skyscraper un-tower was designed around the latest intelligent building systems. If this building is an example, the cities of tomorrow will be smarter, more sustainable, and different looking than the legacy cities we are leaving behind.

While Beijing’s blinding growth spurt is dazzling the international stage, what Canadian design firms take on the challenge of redesigning North America’s aging cities?

One firm is Toronto’s Brown and Storey Architects.

Like Koolhaas, Brown and Storey look beyond obvious stylistic interpretations of design. To them design as a process is not, metaphorically speaking, about making a static photograph it is about editing an interactive movie—an approach well suited to designing for change.

Take as an example the Garrison Creek project. 19th century civil engineering practices buried most of the ravines and creeks that give Toronto is unique character. Brown and Storey revived the covered Garrison Creek by making its figural presence once again part of the city experience. Hydrologic systems that shaped the city’s landscape are made visible.

It is this “embracing of systems” approach to design that gives Brown and Storey’s work its relevance in the smart, process city.  [….]

Designing for information-driven change is a demanding art and science still in its infancy. In fact, one of the challenges of creating the smart, responsive cities of the future is empowering the people who will design them. What skills will they need? What social institutions will be there to support them? What companies will help them benefit from the opportunities change creates?

From Designing Cities for Change | Robert Ouellette | March 7, 2013 | at
MESH Cities technologies shape design of responsive, sustainable cities. M=Mobile E=Efficient S=Subtle H=Heuristics


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