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The Environmentalist Dilemma: Reducing the economic and social costs of a low carbon city in Madrid

Jun 10, 2017 – Jul 9, 2017
Madrid, Spain
Research Question
This workshop is a continuation of the research study “The costs of urbanization” developed at Columbia GSAPP in Spring 2016 that investigates which metrics translate between environmental, social and economic costs associated with urbanization. The workshop uses these metrics to test design-policy solutions for public spaces aimed to become flagship sustainable development areas of the city of Madrid. While in Europe, students visit world renowned urban retrofitting offices and projects, and meet local representatives and urban rehabilitation experts applying solutions in Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. Based on their field work and previous findings, students create a design-policy proposal that minimizes the costs of urbanization, and present it as part of a public call for proposals made by the municipality of Madrid to renovate its public spaces.
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
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.

Other 2017 workshops

Burning man summer workshop 2017
Burning Man
Black Rock City, Nevada
Aug 7, 2017 – Sep 2, 2017
Beirut Summer Workshop 2017
Building Yacoubian, A Social Biopsy of Modernist Architecture
Beirut, Lebanon
Aug 5, 2017 – Aug 19, 2017
Hudson river workshop 3 copy
Justice in Place: Downtown Regeneration in the Shadow of Urban Renewal in Hudson River Valley, NY
Poughkeepsie, New York
Aug 1, 2017 – Aug 18, 2017
Shenzhen summer workshop 2017
Data-Mining China: Urban Village in Shenzhen
Shenzhen, China
Jul 15, 2017 – Aug 12, 2017
Tokyo Summer Workshop 2017
Aging Tokyo in Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Jul 24, 2017 – Aug 4, 2017
Harare Summer Workshop 2017
Afro-Imaginaries in Harare, Zimbabwe
Harare, Zimbabwe
Jun 26, 2017 – Jul 13, 2017
Jordan trail 4
Heritage Sites of the Jordan Trail: Documenting and Interpreting 7,000 Years of Urban Living in Jordan
Jordan Trail, Jordan
Jun 13, 2017 – Jun 26, 2017
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