Global Urbanism Studio

The 21st century is an urban century, one in which the human condition has become an urban condition. The Global Urbanism Studio, an immersive 12-week summer experience, responds to this challenge and provides students the opportunity to study and experience significant global cities in comparative perspective. These cities are marked by an active culture and lively arts and design scene; their urban fabric is challenged by rapid growth, environmental stress, social complexity, and the need for a new approach to urbanism.

Each year the studio selects a fast-growing city in Asia, Africa, or South America to compare and contrast with an American city. Over the past five years various themes of urban intensification have been explored, with particular focus on sustainability, vertical urbanism, hydro-urbanism, emergent urbanism, and the creation of everyday lively, livable, and socially transformational urban interventions. Sites have included Johannesburg, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mexico City, San Francisco, and Chicago.

The studio begins with research and study in St. Louis, followed by immersion in the selected cities, where students live, research, observe, and work on the design project. Field trips to other significant cities and contemporary icons of architecture, landscapes, and urbanism occur throughout the duration of the studio. Work culminates back in St. Louis with the development of a detailed design project that offers a distinctive, place-specific urban response.

The studio is supported by a seminar on the history, theory, and methods of global urbanism, and a robust visiting international guest lecturer program that provides valuable local insight into the cultural, artistic, and social conditions of the city. The studio is open to all architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design students.

Summer 2016: Accra + Johannesburg

The 21st and 22nd centuries will be a time of urban growth with unprecedented bounds and needs. Many of the projected mega-cities (10 million people or more) are sprouting up in cities of the "Global South" and especially Africa. By 2050 Africa's population will double to 2.3 billion; 60 percent of those people will live in cities.

This summer, MUD students will take part in a full-immersion, 12-week global studio that focuses on the remaking of post-apartheid Johannesburg, South Africa, while learning from the informality of Accra, Ghana. Students will have an opportunity to study, experience, and develop complex urban future proposals for Johannesburg, which has aspirations of becoming a "World-Class City." One of the most divided cities in the world today, Johannesburg contains a multiplicity of urban complexities: rapid growth, water scarcity, environmental justice, social-economic spatial fractures, and the dichotomy between formal and informal city life and economies. The studio will also directly observe an alternative model of African emergent global urbanism by traveling to Accra, one of the largest and fastest-growing African cities.

Summer 2015: Johannesburg + Dubai

The 2015 Global Urbanism Studio began in St. Louis with a three-week research and visioning process, followed by a four-week study abroad portion through Johannesburg and Dubai, ending in St. Louis for the final four weeks. Students were fully immersed in the culture and vibrancy of Johannesburg, where they lived, researched, observed, and worked on their urban design proposal. The studio investigated the multiplicity of urban forms, social juxtapositions, and spatial apartheid that exist within Johannesburg through the examination of Corridors of Freedom, a government-sponsored proposal.

View photos from the 2015 Global Urbanism Studio>>