Students on their second year in architecture at the IUA just finished the course Urban Lab - Design Agency. What are the politics of your design & What is the design of your politics? Urban Lab - Design Agency is a design studio course that occupies the entire academic year: autumn and spring term. The course explores and applies the concept of cosmopolitan citizenship in architecture design. In the course several elements that create the urban environment ar discussed. Students speculate how politics, economy and finance can influence the urban environment, as well as cultural and environmental influences. Special attention is given to the Reykjavík urban environment and how it develops. Each year students focus on one specific district in Reykjavík and research all organizational and architectural conditions there. The project is to shed light on th current state of the district, and then suggest changes or additions to make it better. A part of the course is to present their projects to the Major of Reykjavík as well as a person from the Department of Environment and Planning of the city.
By the end of the course, students constructed a website where all the projects are described, we incourage those interested in taking a look at it, there you will also find a video that students did during the course. The website can be found here: https://urbanlabdesignagency.cargo.site/
Cosmopolitan Citizenship Architecture Education CCAE is the practice of architecture where the primary motivation is to care for Others, for social and ecological justice. The design process is therefore intended as a social practice used for “being together in co-creative partnership with the Earth” and ultimately shift design culture from authorship to collaborative agency. CCAE is based on the belief that we academics need to prompt critical thinking and action in our students: to educate is not only to ignite an idea but also foster the courage to pursue that idea beyond the classroom.
Becoming cosmopolitan citizen architects means learning to make ethical design decisions extending beyond the fulfilment of the assigned brief or the clients’ desires. These decisions must include Others, future generations, earthlings, un-represented and suppressed voices, architecture after all is never a private matter. A powerful architect therefore is a powerful cosmopolitan citizen, a person that is aware of the connectedness of everything and of the specificity of each location. We are all different and yet related!
Education should therefore create the condition that allows us to see, feel, understand, criticise, change, design, and be part of the world; in other words, education should empower us to be active citizens. Socially active students are the genesis to develop socially responsible designers. Education is about social and personal awareness. It is about cultivating and developing not only scientific factual knowledge, but empathy, emotional intelligence, social and design skills to face and solve global and local challenges. Education for cosmopolitan citizenship is fundamental to facing the problems of the world because citizenship is about caring for the common good. Designers are more than architects, but co-leaders, and as such we need to have the intellectual and moral ability to respond to the important issues of our time.
Massimo Santanicchia, programme director for architecture
Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics, Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist
(London: Random House, 2017), 116.