In recent years, GSAPP has used the label “Studio-X” to refer to its most advanced laboratories for exploring the future of cities. The label conveys the sense that a whole new platform for research and debate is needed to face the array of urgent questions that will face the next generation of designers.
Studio-X is a place for new forms of creativity in the face of the most pressing problems. A place to invent, test and celebrate new ideas. A lively hub of the most exciting discussions. An incubator of energetic thinking in the heart of the city. An interface for direct exchanges between colleagues from around the world. A dynamic space that evolves at the same speed as the urban environment itself.
The global network of Studio-X spaces are a new kind of international workshop in which the best minds from Columbia University can think together with the best minds in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Each Studio-X is located in the liveliest part of the historic downtown of a leadership city at the heart of a major region of the world. The first Studio-X was set up as a pilot project in downtown Manhattan in 2008. It established a decisive reputation for innovation through its dense program of research projects, exhibitions, competitions, workshops, publications, performances, and debates attracting exciting minds from all fields. Equally dynamic Studio-X spaces in downtown Beijing, Amman, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro followed. Plans for Istanbul, Johannesburg, and Moscow are being completed. Studio-X is not a typical university branch aiming to export leadership education and research around the globe. On the opposite, our colleagues around the world are the leaders in a cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary, and cross-continental exchange within and between diverse regions. Those regions undergoing the most radical transformation have the most to teach us about the future of cities. The continuous flow of exciting ideas and people between these sister Studio-X spaces turns the simple idea of an open collaborative studio into an unprecedented global network aimed at the brightest possible future.
Each Studio-X is organized around the traditional setting of the design studio found in architecture schools all over the world: a simple open loft-like space that fosters collaborative exploration, an empty room that welcomes new people and new ideas.
The organization of the open space keeps changing as an array of tables, chairs, computers, and screens is rearranged depending on which teams are using it and which events are taking place.
This central workspace is supplemented by: a book gallery and reading room that displays unique research publications from around the different Studio-X locations not found in a typical bookstore; an interactive video interface showing what is happening in the other Studio-X spaces in real time; a gallery space displaying unique exhibitions curated locally or between Studio-X spaces; a space for public lectures; a meeting room for more private discussions or video-conferencing; a kitchen/coffee shop; and offices for the staff or visiting scholars/designers.
Each Studio-X is a cultural center that supports close personal interactions between people that might not normally be together. At the same time, the space is equipped with the latest technology to take advantage of Columbia’s expertise in digital design and data visualization to draw on the widest array of global resources and communicate ideas to the widest possible audience. The local director of each Studio-X acts as the curator of a continuous array of projects, workshops, lectures, seminars, symposia, exhibitions, and performances with a small staff helping to tie the daily operations of the space to the surrounding city. In key moments, all the Studio-X spaces would be linked in a single real-time global workshop allowing unprecedented bursts of creativity.