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Space Speculation is a research by design studio linked to the Laboratory of Urbanism, Infrastructure, and Ecologies (LoUIsE). The studio starts from two convictions: (I) the capacity of cities to help us understand our present state; (ii) their socio-economic and ecological transition as the premise for a sustainable future.
To be able to accompany such transition, the studio invites spatial designers to move beyond the object-centered legacy of urbanism and towards a systemic understanding of cities, seizing upon flows, actors, and places for their proposals of urban transformation.
The studio looks indeed at cities as complex and interactive ecosystems. Cities are woven into material and energy flows and stocks, and depend upon specific technical and socio-economic processes of production and consumption (1). The turbulent and unstable times we inhabit, with the Earth system being pushed into the Anthropocene, are an invitation to go beyond the inventory of those flows and stocks, and to wonder how we can partake in those processes as spatial designers: How to incorporate the unsteady assemblages they trigger (or are the result of) into the design of physical places? And how can we render them more sustainable, more resilient, eventually more 'circular' (2)? Can circularity indeed become the next normative framework for the way we systemically 'redesign' those processes happening within cities?
These and yet more questions for all those who are willing to join us at the studio to explore the operative potential of systemic urban design, contributing to make cities regenerative and facilitating their adaptation to emerging challenges.
Nadia Casabella + Philippe De Clerck
(1) This approach is known as Urban Metabolism (UM), clearly defined by Kennedy and fellow scholars as “the sum total of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy and elimination of waste.” (in Kennedy, C., Cuddihy, J., & Engel-Yan, J. (2007). “The changing metabolism of cities.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, 11(2), 43-59).
(2) A Circular Economy (CE) “is regenerative and waste-free by design, where materials are indefinitely cycled at high quality, all energy is derived from renewable or otherwise sustainable sources, and natural and human capital are structurally supported rather than degraded through economic activities” (webpage of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
Image bandeau: “Boot verlaat de haven”, https://www.beeldbankkusterfgoed.be