Exploring the symbiotic relationship between cities and their regional and global hinterlands as integrated metabolic systems through demographics, ecology, economy, logistics, and governance, and live built projects
The symbiotic relationship between the urban and rural holds a significant place in the historic role of cities as engines of change. This relationship underpins a process whereby stocks and flows of resources are transformed to maintain human settlement. Natural resources are converted into food through agriculture, for example, rainwater is harvested to supply drinking water, or waste is used to generate energy. The ties between the urban and rural are also evident in diverse patterns of human migration. As a result, processes of urbanisation cannot be understood without considering the relationship of cities to their hinterlands. Today, however, hinterlands are comprised not only of those rural zones adjacent to the city, but also includes territories that are regional and, potentially, global in scope.
This module takes this wider territory as its focus. It examines the question of urban sustainability in the context of the various metabolic systems that structure this territory. It does through two complementary projects. The first, theoretically framed, project examines spatial organisation in terms of demographics, ecology, economy, logistics, and governance. The research will evolve from the analysis of existing urban trends and conditions to the production of theoretical models as a basis for design strategies. The second, practice-based, project takes place in the context of a real-life experiment involving the construction of a new town near the city of Bahir Dar in Ethiopia. This will involve designing and testing urban proposals, and deducing key guidelines for self-sustaining urban environments more generally. Whereas the former project offers a general discourse on the political economy of territory within a global context, the latter offers specific strategies on how to build a city within a specified geographical context.