We could think of cities as the territorialization of processes, interdependencies and relations within the territory, which are critically addressed and controlled at various scales by different decision-making bodies, design teams and other agents in a constant process of defining the spaces we live in. These relations have to be understood as emergent form the historical and material dialectics preset in the territory, linking human activities with its environment in a time based evolving process, connecting courses of action which may happen simultaneously locally and at global scales.
For such a definition to effectively incorporate concepts of spatial design and critical assessment, it is necessary to start from working methodologies which engage with the processual quality of territories and cities. Such is the task of a relational urban approach to the city, which departs from the idea that the reality which we experience and engage with is the result of relationships between multiple systems and agents operating at a whole range of spatial and temporal scales. It is precisely the engagement with these relationships and the understanding of the mechanism through which they become actualized that allows the designer to claim an operative position within the professional disciplines dealing with our metropolitan realities and environments.

The turf which relational urbanism claims as its own is that of envisaging new regimes of urbanism which derive their raison d’etre from a spatial design deeply rooted in the material and temporal specificities of the territory and where the metabolic nature of the environment is critically balanced with concepts of social and environmental justice, in short, a laboratory for a new critical territorialism. 

The end result is a move of the discourse from the region to the territory, landing on the material, the immanent and the tectonic, looking for the emancipator qualities of the processual and spatial qualities of the landscape, the built environment and the ground ecologies. 

The course sets up a long term agenda of breeding a new kind of professional which is capable of engaging with complex metropolitan realities using existing relational techniques to dissect the profession of urbanism, describing a new anatomy of what working in cities might be. This is meant to be achieved through the combination of teaching digital 3D techniques such as scripted and parametrically controlled software with critical theory lectures and seminars. Digital tools are explored at various levels such as reading of the territory, definition of building typologies but also in thinking about time and evolution in urban environments. The course finally explores on how the work of the students should be finally be documented, opening up ideas such as working with interfaces and cybernetically controlled models as a way of exploiting the potential that these techniques offer to the relational designer.

This studio is organized in collaboration with the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.