As a research assistant at the Center for Advanced Urbanism, I have worked under Research Associate and Lecturer MIT Fadi Masoud on developing a new codification scheme for dynamic environmental processes. The project, which will be encapsulated in an exhibition slated for Spring 2016, is grounded in the notion that a third condition, process-based language of urbanism, can better accommodate and react to fluctuating conditions, from wet to dry, light to dark, and hot to cold. These “process” codes are designed to inspire municipal and state governments to shape land in ways that break down the rigid lines and barriers of conventional zoning practice and use classes, accentuating the malleable nature of our environmental systems over the rigidity of the standard rule book.
My research focused on tracing the historical trajectory of urban coding from the enlightenment through today. This research culled and abstracted legends from legal documents, maps, and archives from throughout this period to create a linear narrative demonstrating the ever-changing nature of how we interpret, understand, and depict the diverse components of our environment. Compiled into a timeline for a planned exhibition space, the research looked at seminal events in the history of zoning, from the 1916 New York City Zoning Resolution to the 1926 Euclid versus Ambler Realty decision; from Ian McHarg to Seaside, Florida’s form based code. This history stands in service and support of creation a novel set of codes that can meet the 21st century challenges, and in particular, that of climate change.
Work on the project will persist with an exhibition and a compilation of novel process codes to be published in Spring 2016.
As part of the Third Condition project, I have been examining how a novel code specifies how land should perform within the hydrological cycle. As a starting point, we purported that any piece of land would ultimately support one of the following services related to water: stop, store, or delay. Subsequently I worked to identify the infrastructure type that would allow for each of these three services to be performed.
Within this context, the term infrastructure refers to a diverse range of elements, from grey infrastructure such as a surge barrier, to green infrastructure such as a retention pond, to entities that are not traditionally considered infrastructure but do perform a water-related service such as a forests. After identifying the process supported by the land and the infrastructure type that would permit a given process to unfold, we considered human programs. In order to identify which programs could occur on, in or around the aforementioned infrastructures, I researched a number of exemplary projects, to distill best practices. I tested program opportunities for civic use, transportation, businesses, residential, food, and energy; and observed how most projects included programs related to civic use and recreation, and energy and food production, whereas only a few explored the opportunities for residential and businesses activities. The outcome of my research was a matrix that may be used to explore programs based off of the hydrological process that land should allow for. Funding for this research was provided by a grant from MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.