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B-Pro: MArch Urban Design

Overview

The MArch Urban Design (UD) is a 12-month programme that brings together a new generation of designers and thinkers from across the world in order to provide a rich and challenging space for long-term research on urbanisation and design. It is part of B-Pro, the umbrella structure for post-professional Masters programmes at The Bartlett School of Architecture, directed by Professor Frédéric Migayrou.

Studio inquiry ranges across an expansive set of scales and bodies of knowledge culminating with a design project and thesis. Environmental and ecological questions are prioritised within a critical structure that embraces the dispersed, often paradoxical nature of contemporary urbanism. The curriculum introduces students to various fields such as archaeology, anthropology, ecological history, governance, law, media, philosophy, planning and political theory. Cross-studio dialogue is emphasised, as is a collective work ethic.

B-Pro Director: Professor Frédéric Migayrou
B-Pro Deputy Director: Andrew Porter

Programme Leader: Adrian Lahoud

UDI Stream Leader: Adrian Lahoud
UDII Stream Leader: Claudia Pasquero

There are two streams within Urban Design, UDI and UDII.


MArch Urban Design - UDI: The Project for the Mediterranean

Comprising 25 nation states, 13 language groups, and almost half a billion people, the Mediterranean defines the encounter between Africa, Europe and Asia. Its shores are caught by two fundamental and ongoing transformations: the Arab Spring and the financial crisis. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea has become the most highly policed waterway on earth as the European Union attempts to insulate itself from flows of migrants from Africa and Asia. Add to this the unprecedented levels of diaspora and conflict in the Levant and there is no other space with more at stake in terms of coexistence between human beings and with their natural environment. Furthermore, in a number of different ways the Mediterranean manifests the problem of the 'weak state', whether through financial crisis, corporate dominance, institutional failure or military rule. Simultaneously then, a number of new non- and extra-governmental polities are emerging, raising important questions to do with citizenship, belonging and the idea of a public. These mutations, while placing new constraints on urban transformation, also open new spaces of financial investment evidenced by opportunistic flows of capital, especially from the Persian Gulf and resource revenues from the North of Africa.

Beginning in September 2012 and concluding in September 2015, ‘The Project for the Mediterranean’ consists of three one-year design studios with an accompanying public calendar of symposia, conferences, lectures and roundtables. The project aims to build a community of academic, professional and public interest around the agency of design and its role in transforming the future of this region.

UDI Stream Leader: Adrian Lahoud

History & Theory Coordinator: Godofredo Pereira

Research Clusters

RC11: Sam Jacoby, Adrian Lahoud

RC14: Platon Issaias, Camila Sotomayor

RC15: Godofredo Pereira, Samaneh Moafi


MArch Urban Design - UDII: Urban Morphogenesis

MArch Urban Design (UD)II engages urban design as a computational practice to prefigure alternative models of the city represented as a complex dynamic system. The ambition of the stream is to stimulate a trans-disciplinary discourse that reaches wider academic research networks as well as scientific organisations involved in the study of the city as a living system and in the development of future bio-digital technologies.

The stream adopts analogue, biological and digital computational design to draw terrains of negotiation between strategic and tactical forms of intervention. Algorithmic coding enables the study of biological models and the testing of iterative, adaptive and resilient design solutions applicable to a broader eco-social domain, generating a multiplicity of responses and effects, ranging scales and regimes, from the molecular to the territorial, from the quasi-instantaneous to the geological.

UDII is strictly studio-based and students are encouraged to work in teams and to engage with design as a form of research; current research clusters focus on the urban application of models of collective intelligence inspired by ants, corals and slime moulds, on the development of resilient and distributed bio-energy infrastructures, on the engineering of bio-digital soil remediation, urban landscapes and on the material articulation of adaptive water management territories.

While escaping conventional urban categorisation, the Research Clusters engage specific regions that are gaining a new centrality, as both producers of the resources absorbed by existing global cities and as receivers of the surplus to society – the human and material waste which is a necessary byproduct of the contemporary capitalist system. Current locations include the copper mining corridor in Arizona, USA, the Tar Sands region in Alberta, Canada and the water basin of Manaus, Brazil.

UDII Stream Leader: Claudia Pasquero

Coding and Media tutors: Immanuel Koh, Iker Mugarra

History and Theory tutors: Emmanouil Zaroukas, Mollie Claypool

Research Clusters

RC16: Claudia Pasquero, Maj Plemenitas

RC18: Eduardo Rico, Enriqueta Llabres, Zachary Flucker

Structure

MArch Urban Design (UD) uses a module structure based on a credit system where the total number of credits over one year is 180 credits.

Early in Term 1, once the students have been allocated into Clusters students start working, with their allocated tutors, on the four key modules of the course. The History and Theory module, BENVGD05, is taught by six tutors who work with the students in Terms 1 and 2.

Modules

BENVGD02 Strategic Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2


BENVGD03 Detailed Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2


BENVGD04 Urban Design Report
Credits: 60
Assessment: Coursework Term 3 + summer term


BENVGD05 History and Theory of Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2

Content

BENVGD05 History and Theory of Urban Design

This is a lecture-based module which provides the students with a general introduction to the history and theory of urban design. The content of the lecture series varies to some extent from year to year, to reflect the evolution of design programme topics, but it typically includes lectures on the history of urbanism (focusing on the last 100 years and particularly on contemporary developments) and on current theories related to urban design, such as space syntax, generative systems and theories related to the issue of sustainability.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to provide the students with an introduction to the history and theory of urban design, with specific emphasis on contemporary issues and on fields of knowledge that are pertinent to their design investigations.

The intended learning outcome of this module is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of urban design, as well as their application to urban design project work.

BENVGD02 Strategic Urban Design

This is a studio-based module that leads the students, by means of a series of design programmes, through the successive phases of an urban design project, from the initial research and conceptual stage down to a strategic design proposal. This research and design project includes a field trip.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to make students develop comprehensive urban design projects that are both analytically rigorous and creative in terms of design.

The intended outcome is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the range of urban design skills required for each stage of project development, from basic research to overall strategic design.

BENVGD03 Detailed Urban Design

This is a studio-based module that leads the students, by means of a series of design steps, from the strategic urban design level of module BENVGD02, to a detailed level of physical design.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to make students develop detailed urban design projects that are both analytically rigorous and creative in terms of design.

The intended outcome is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the range of skills required to develop a detailed urban design proposal.

BENVGD04 Urban Design Report

This module provides the pedagogical context for the students to prepare the final element of the coursework, the Urban Design Report, which consists partly of a design component and partly of a written component. Students are expected, with the support of their tutors, to be highly self-motivated in the course of this module, proposing their own topic of investigation and design. This topic can either be a continuation of the design work that was initiated earlier in the year within modules BENVGD02 and BENVGD03, or a completely new design project. The subject of the Urban Design Report is negotiated between the student and his or her unit tutors, in coordination with the Course Director.

Design component The design part of the Urban Design Report is to be presented in the form of a pin-up presentation during the final end of year crit as well as in the form of a hard-copy portfolio.

Written component The written part of the Urban Design Report is a 5,000-10,000 word illustrated document. It must describe the initial ideas that underpin the urban design proposal, the design investigation and associated information that has been gathered during the process and a conclusion that summarises the way in which the design work informs the initial ideas. The pedagogical aim of this module is to encourage students to engage with analytical rigour and design originality in an individual piece of research and design development.

The intended learning outcome of this module is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the research methods and design skills required to produce a major written and design thesis.

Staff

The MArch Urban Design course is run by a full-time Programme Leader, with a Stream Leader and a History and Theory Coordinator. The design ‘Cluster’ (approximately 15 students per cluster for MArch Urban Design) is the basis of design teaching and learning. Each Cluster is taught by two design staff and with whom students have regular studio contact.

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor Frédéric Migayrou
B-Pro Director
Chair of the UD Exam Board
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Andrew Porter
Deputy B-Pro Director
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UD Programme Leader

Adrian Lahoud
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UDI History & Theory Coordinator

Godofredo Pereira
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UDI Research Clusters

RC11

Sam Jacoby
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Adrian Lahoud
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RC14

Platon Issaias
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Camila Sotomayor
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RC15

Godofredo Pereira
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Samaneh Moafi
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UDII Stream Leader

Claudia Pasquero
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UDII Coding and Media tutors

Immanuel Koh
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Iker Mugarra
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UDII History and Theory tutors

Mollie Claypool
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Emmanouil Zaroukas
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UDII Research Clusters

RC16

Claudia Pasquero
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Maj Plemenitas
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RC18

Eduardo Rico
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Enriqueta Llabres

Zachary Flucker

Clusters and Showcases

The MArch Urban Design programme offers a large number of research-focused clusters, all of which allow students to pursue a rigorous approach to architecture within a highly speculative and creative context.

U11 2014 thumb MArch Urban Design Cluster 11
Adrian Lahoud, Sam Jacoby - The City, The Territory, The Planetary - Our common character: goodwill, a natural capacity for thought and an inclination for truth. The good ...
RC12 2014 MArch Urban Design Cluster 12
This cluster is not running this year
RC14 2015 MArch Urban Design Cluster 14
Platon Issaias, Camila Sotomayor - Bodies/Landscapes/Commodities: On Tourism and War - The Mediterranean. A gigantic Petrie dish of political, economic and social flux ...
RC15 2015 MArch Urban Design Cluster 15
Godofredo Pereira, Samaneh Moafi - Axiomatic Earth - The Mediterranean’s urban history runs parallel with histories of production and extraction, with histories ...
RC16 2014 MArch Urban Design Cluster 16
Claudia Pasquero, Maj Plemenitas - Bio-Urban Design: structuring bio-digital urban landscapes - The research cluster on Bio-Urban Design pursues a non anthropocentric understanding ...
RC17 2014 MArch Urban Design Cluster 17
This cluster is not running this year
RC18 2015 MArch Urban Design Cluster 18
Eduardo Rico, Enriqueta Llabres, Zachary Fluker - Synthetic Urbanism: A Relational Approach to Territorial Practice - RC18 explores forms of interaction with physical experiments and ...

Applying

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

Please visit the UCL Postgraduate Application and Entry page for information on how to apply.

Programme-specific information follows below.

Bursaries

Full fee bursaries are regularly offered for UK and EU students. Application for bursaries is during the Summer - check back here for details.

Prior qualifications

The course provides a forum for graduate students from a variety of backgrounds - architectural design, the social sciences, planning, engineering, transportation, landscaping, geography and art history are all examples. However, prospective students should be prepared to engage with a course which has a strong emphasis on the design and visual representation of urban form, and so a background in a related design or visually-orientated field will be an advantage.

Candidates applying to the programme are expected to have excellent design skills; a familiarity with historical and contemporary debates on the city, well developed analytical abilities and a serious work ethic. Entry to the programme is highly competitive, priority admission is granted to students with exceptional portfolios.

As well as this diverse disciplinary background, the student cohort of 50-60 individuals also comprises a dynamic mix of UK, EU and international participants from all parts of the world.

Contact

Should you have any query on this programme, please contact the Programme Administrator.

Opportunities

The MArch Urban Design provides the skills required in order to prepare students for further academic studies or for practice.

A student having completed the course will be equipped to undertake research in the field of urban design, and be able to evaluate or develop work in practice. Graduates of the course have gone on to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Further PhD studies and academia
  • Urban design and planning practice
  • Politics and policy
  • Film-making, photography and creative practices

Graduates of the MArch Urban Design have, for example, gone on to become eminent urban designers in their own right as well as partners and practitioners of renowned architectural and urban design practices.