2017 Summer Workshop: Madrid

The Environmentalist Dilemma: Reducing the economic and social costs of a low carbon city in Madrid, Spain
Berlin: June 10-12
Rotterdam: June 12-14
Paris: June 14-16
Barcelona: June 16-19
Madrid: June 19-22
Granada: June 22-23
Málaga: June 23-24
New York: June 24-July 9
Research Question
This workshop, titled “The Environmentalist Dilemma,” is conceived as a continuation of the research study “The Costs of Urbanization” developed at GSAPP in Spring 2017 that investigated the quantitative translation between environmental, social and economic costs associated with urbanization. The workshop used these metrics to test design-policy solutions for public spaces aimed to become flagship sustainable development areas.
Methodology and Process

The premise of the workshop is that the classical “greening” of urban areas often enters into social, economic, and environmental contradictions: they require producing a great amount of demolition and waste, the disruption of residents’ life for a long time period, and huge economic costs for the city. The workshop, in this context, served for students to learn about different models away that are practiced in several cities Europe, and which use design and policy urban interventions to minimize their environmental costs and maximize their social benefits. While in Europe, students visited world renowned urban retrofitting offices and projects, and met local representatives and urban rehabilitation experts applying solutions in Berlin, Rotterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada and Málaga.

The workshop intertwined several daily activities:
- Discussion during breakfast time, based on mandatory readings related to projects or topics discussed during the day. Click here to access the workshop reader.
- Visit to projects where to record environmental, social and economic attributes
- Discussions with practitioners in charge of projects
- Visit to key public spaces in cities

Output and Findings

Based on their field work and previous findings, students created a design-policy proposal that minimizes the costs of urbanization for a case study belonging to an international urban design competition. The competition work occurred only in train transit between cities; in a day workshop in Barcelona; and in the two weeks following the European trip. The decision will be public on December 2017.

From a pedagogical side, the workshop integrated students and methodologies from Urban Planning, Architecture, Historic Preservation, and Public Health. In this sense, it also provided room for students to learn from other disciplines and work synergistically with each other.