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Program Description

City as Lab NYC: Market Cities

Public Space and Food Networks
NINT 5361: CRN 6423, Section A
The New School
Faculty: Adriana Young

Taught in collaboration with
City as Lab Beirut - Market Housing
Affordable Housing and Food Security
American University of Beirut
ARCH 304c: Vertical Design Studio C
Faculty: J. Matthew Thomas & Bernard Mallat

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Course Themes:  Local Food Security; Urban Agriculture; Infrastructures and Networks of Food Economies; Systems of Sustainability; Food as nexus for community building, activation of public space, education, urban revitalization; Public Space (temporary interventions, designing without building); Mapping Urban Networks; Play as an urban design, research, educational and community building tool

Course Description: The city is a dynamic system.  The movement of energy, food and people place similar constraints and burdens on the urban fabric. City as Lab: Market Cities is a collaborative design research seminar based simultaneously in Beirut and New York City that focuses on mapping, diagramming and improving the quality of life and civic engagement surrounding the production and consumption of local agriculture and food products.  By mapping the food networks that sustain global cities like Beirut and NYC, we will analyze the resilience and opportunities for increased sustainability around food production and distribution.  Our case studies will be the locally produced food networks in both cities, in particular the social, built and ecological networks connected to the Union Square farmers’ market in New York and the Souk El Tayeb market in Beirut.  While students in Beirut and NYC will engage in researching the food networks of both cities, after the midpoint of the semester, students will diverge to tackle two complementary design problems.

Course Structure:

Part I

AUB and TNS students will collaborate on mapping, diagramming and addressing the quality life and civic engagement surrounding the production and consumption of local agriculture and food products for New York City and Beirut. Students will uncover the urban operations of food within the region, exposing flows, metabolisms, systems and economic revenues that will feed into their future design inquiries. A preliminary look at research activities includes:  

a. Mapping local and global food networks
b. Visualizing food consumption patterns in relationship to home and school
c. Organization of a community event and interventions in public space
d.  Researching local/regional food products and their production, consumption and distribution
Part II
Students in NYC will create layered mappings and diagrams of physical and social infrastructures surrounding food networks in NYC and Beirut.  They will collaborate with their colleagues in Beirut to understand issues of food security, distribution, interface and access, and embeddedness within other cultural and civic engagement.   Students will research case studies and begin to experiment with ways to alter the built environment, including creating virtual infrastructures, temporary programs, and installations that layer new opportunities for criticality, activity, connectivity and transparency onto existing sites.

Beirut:  Students will design a temporary live/grow pod for farmers operating at Union Square’s NYC Green Market. This exploration will require partnering with a colleague at Parsons as they envision temporary, mobile, affordable living opportunities to facilitate local farmers and their lifestyle. Expected output includes a scaled model, drawings and operational mappings

Part III
Students will expand and apply their spatial research from Parts I and II towards designing new site programming including temporary installations, public events and virtual layers (e.g. mobile games or apps) that can be implemented in both NYC and Beirut.  Students will  work in small interdisciplinary teams to select a specific site challenge within the local food economy of NYC and design and prototype an intervention in the form of an event, temporary installation, or a game.  Students are encouraged to create new opportunities for the public to render transparent the local and global food networks that shape their city, and introduce new resources for people to understand and support the local food economy. 

Beirut: The final exploration for this studio will bring the students back to Beirut in designing housing and food facilities at BIEL. Working in collaboration with Souk el Tayeb, the students will envision this downtown urban site as an opportunity for affordable housing in close proximity to food production, consumption and distribution. This is on the heels of Souk el Tayeb’s relocation of their Saturday morning market and the launch of their “EcoMarket” project at BIEL, in the spring 2011.

The students from Parsons will go to Beirut in early June for a joint symposium, research exchange and public exhibit.