Course Syllabus

[ARCHA4688] Recombinant Urbanism 2022

Course Description

This seminar examines how cities grow and develop over time. It employs a theory of urban actors and conceptual models as tools for the analysis of the city, its urban systems and design ecologies. The course maps transformations in these actors and their models at various scales over time in specific locations. Urban actors use conceptual models to link to the larger forces shaping a city network. Students will construct a layered model of a city of their own choosing as a group project and employ models derived from the course to illustrate the structure and growth of that city, including its representative public spaces and urban fabrics.

Course Objectives

The course objective is to develop a visual and verbal language for the discussion of how cities develop over time. The emphasis will be on the rules and systems that generate the initial growth, creating urban elements,  and on how they are transformed in later iterations, innovations or repetitions. A major focus will be on the relations between these urban elements and public space in different growth patterns and systems in the city and the shifting/changing relations between these growth centers. The seminar will attempt to draw out how these relationships develop over time and what the impacts of these changes have on specified areas of the city, their life and its built form, public space or fabric. Various scenarios and city models will be considered from around the world. 

Method of Instruction

The first part of the course consists of 4 lectures/discussions based on the required Recombinant Urbanism(2005) course textbook followed by the students' construction of a sketch city model in groups for mid-term. The second part of the course consists of 3 further lectures/discussions concentrating on the role of urban elements:- enclaves; armatures and heterotopias in creating urban fabric, nodes, urban systems and public spaces. Students will then make "Semi Final" presentations that develop their research further in specific areas of their city model, tracking shifting centers etc. These "Semi-final" presentation sessions take the form of open tutorial sessions/ presentations towards the end of the semester and students are expected to learn from each other's presentations. Students will be expected to make a final digital presentation with visiting critics at the end of the term and to help assemble a “ book” publication based on the seminar's research. Examples will be on google drive and courseworks.

Method of working

This course employs lecture/discussions, class presentations, tutorials, lectures stored on the web and reading material based on the required class text book as part of its working method. Students are expected to work in groups. They may write with questions via email to the instructor a email on an as needed basis (or use email). The course TA will manage the final delivery and publication. The final archived materials will count for a large portion of the grade, as does full class attendance and "lively participation" in the course discussions.

The timetable for the class follows the school wide guidelines but will be adjusted for the Urban Design studio requirements for travel, juries etc with make-up classes scheduled when required. Makeup class 1 + 2 tutorials for the final presentation for the seminar are to be confirmed.

Seminar will meet on Mondays 9am-11am except as scheduled. Group Tutorials when required may be remote or in person with a schedule agreed to not conflict with studio or other classes.




Recombinant Urbanism Seminar 2022

Time & Location : Ware Lounge Avery Hall,  9am-11am.


Monday Jan 24th on line.

UD Seminar #1 - 9am to 11am.

Course outline and requirements.

Instructor bio+ pecha kucha

student introductions

Preface and Introduction (reading assignment).


Monday Jan 31st on line.

UD Seminar #2 - 9am to 11am 

Petcha Cucha class discussion. Review of previous years class presentation books. Istanbul case study city modeling.

 Guest Lecture #1 Prof. Jin Javier Tiara Alonso, {Re}Tokyo. Recombinant Codes in Tokyo.

Monday Feb 7th Room Buell 300North (Dean request).

UD Seminar #3 - 9am to 11am.

Chapter 1: City Theory (Systems) (reading assignment).

Lecture presentation; Chapter 1; What is City Theory? (Systems design)

Chapter 1: City Theory class discussion.

Thursday Feb 10th

Group Tutorials #1 - 11am to 1pm (TBC).

City selection, group formation, past examples reviewed in class and online.


Monday Feb 14th 

UD Seminar #4 - 9am to 11am

Chapter 2; Urban Design; (Systems) (reading assignment).

Lecture and class discussion.


Monday Feb 21st [ Presidents’ day]

UD Seminar #5 - 9am to 11am

Chapter 2; Urban Design (Systems) class discussion (continued). 

Midterm evaluation Chapters 1+2, Group city selection discussions.

Guest Lecture #2 Prof. Tong Ming, Tongji University, MicroUrbanism in Shanghai.


Monday Feb 28th

Class cancelled studio mid term reviews (TBC) 


Monday March 7th

Class canceled for Midterm break.


Monday March 14th

UD Seminar #6 - 9am to 11am.

Chapter 3;  Three Urban Elements (Systems) (reading assignment). 5 Ages including collage city etc.

Lecture and class discussion.


Monday March 21st

UD Seminar #7 - 9am to 11 am

Chapter 3; Three Urban Elements (Systems) class discussion (continued).

Guest Lecture 4; Prof. Paula ViganoUrban Elements (TBC).


Guest Lecture 5;  Prof. David Gouveneur, 3 Elements; Shaping the Self-Constructed City (TBC).


Monday March 28th

UD Seminar #8 - 9am to 11am. Room Buell 300N (Dean’s request).

Chapter 4; Heterotopia 1 (Systems) (reading assignment).

Lecture and class discussion.


Monday April 4th

UD Seminar #9 - 9am to 11am

Chapter 4; Heterotopia 2; (Systems) class discussion (continued).

Guest Lecture 6; Barbara Littenberg; Hybrid Elements of Urban Design (TBC).


Guest Lecture 7; Prof. Maurizio Carta; The Augmented City (TBC). 


Thursday April 7th

Group Tutorials #2 - 11am to 1pm (TBC).

City models public space tutorials.


Monday April 11th

UD Seminar #10 - 9am to 11am

Conclusion and book review (reading assignment).

Lecture and class discussion.


Monday April 18th

Class cancelled studio final reviews (TBC)


Monday April 25th 

Group Tutorials #3/4 - 11am to 1pm (TBC)

City models and public spaces. 


Monday May 2nd 

UD Seminar #11 ; FINAL SEMINAR; Guest Critics (TBC).

<Final day of classes>


Grades due - May 11th 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due