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Fall 2017 Option Studio (LAN3016Y): Coding Flux: In pursuit of resilient urbanism in South Florida

With nearly 20 million residents, Florida is one of North America’s fastest growing regions. Its extensive suburban landscape is enabled by the continued manipulation of a dynamic estuarine environment and a pervasive real-estate-driven housing pattern. Thirty-five miles of levees and 2,000 hydraulic pumping stations drain a metropolitan area of 15,890 km2 every day; resulting in the ‘world’s largest wet subdivision’ with an anticipated $101 billion worth of property projected to be below sea level by 2030.

The overall structure that defines Florida’s metropolitan areas results from the combination of hard infrastructural lines, developer-driven master plans, reductive normative zoning, and prescriptive form-based codes. These conventional tools have proven marginally effective in dealing with the increased flooding vulnerability on its urban fabric; thus, further rendering traditional static “object-based codification,” which has defined much of contemporary urban design, inadequate and in urgent need of innovation.

To that end, this studio implores urbanism and design’s standards and codes in enabling the ubiquity of the status quo. The studio asks why does land use zoning code continue to remain static when we know that landscapes are dynamic?

We will question why powerful legislative spatial planning tools, such as land use zoning plans, remain inherently planometric, fixed, and reductive? Instead of diminishing the complexity of our cities and their landscapes into a universal set of primary colours predetermined by the American Planning Association’s Land-Based Classification Standards, can we imagine these powerful land use zoning categories to be more heterogeneous, dynamic, and contextual?

By recognizing that it is exactly in the process of design and physical planning that we may be the most operative and strategic agents, this studio puts front and center the agency and efficacy of urban codes as they deal with issues of 21st-century urbanism. It starts by rendering the exclusivity of building cities on dry ground insufficient and accepts a state of constant hydrological flux - that is neither wet nor dry but always shifting - as the starting point of a novel “process-based” language for the future of Floridian urbanism.

Studio Structure
The studio is broken into three main phases. First, a mapping exercise (Animated Analytics), followed by code research and dynamic multi-scalar adaptation design strategies (Codification Workshop), concluding with an urban catalyst affected by the shifting terrain (Responsive Propositions). Students in the studio will have exclusive access to an interactive mapping web-platform (Flux.Land) currently under development by Daniels and MIT. The platform will be used to better understand the potential adaptability of the urban fabric’s ability to manage the dynamic hydrological condition of Broward County, especially in the face of increased vulnerability due to climate change. An optional studio trip to South Florida to visit studio sites and meet with officials in Broward County and Miami is planned for November 3rd-7th.