Design Brief >> cyber-GARDENing the city

The teaching model of this Summer School is grounded on the experimental tradition of the Architectural Association and on the design philosophy of ecoLogicStudio, that will curate the event and co-run the design workshop. After setting up our Urban LAB in the SPAZIOFMGperl'architettura gallery [sponsored by  Active], we will embark in a series of exploration trips and “gardening” experiments around the emergent bio-farming network of Milano Parco Sud, site to 2015World Expo; inspired by the achievements of the Slow Food movement, we will radicalize their efforts through the deliberate contamination of the traditional and the futuristic, the natural and the bioengineered. Our ambition with AA Italy ‘cyber-GARDENing the city’ is to enjoy 10 intense days within the country with the highest concentration of culinary traditions and learn new cutting edge design techniques to manifest the possibilities of a radical interpretation of such traditions as new global bio-lifestyles. The aspiring cyber-gardeners will be able to explore and invent new hybrid design practices by combining Applets design with distributed urban sensing and mapping, computational parametric design with hydroponic cultivation, and cutting edge digital animation with journalistic and critical narrative.  These tree design clusters will be interfaced and interrelated during the workshop giving to all participants the opportunity to experiment with multiple techniques and challenge different aspects of the brief. This final outcome will be a single 1:1 prototypical space to be set up within the lobby of our urban LAB; a space embedded with biological life, sensing potential, ecosystem narrative and real-time social networking interface; a space for the discussion and re-definition of urban agricultural services and supply chain. .


Design clusters >> Critical thinking, Design computing and Prototyping

The 10 days workshop will be supported by a series of seminars, field trips and special design sessions with invited specialists and dedicated algorithmic modelling and prototyping tutorials. The field trips, led by Slow Food experts, will explore the subject of the urban food supply chain within Milan and the area Parco Sud, with visits to ancient farms as well as peculiar farming landscapes like the so called “marcite”. The seminars will be held in the evening and will feature guests from the world of digital design and prototyping, agronomy and food science, landscape design and computational design, journalism and curatorial practices. The workshop is organized in 3 special design clusters: 1.the eco-systemic narrative and critical thinking design cluster led by Lucy Bullivant and Luca Molinari focussing on critical journalism , curatorial practices and digital animations. 2.the computational design cluster led by Marco Poletto, Immanuel Koh and Simona Galateo, focussing on coding as an urban design techniques and the design of dedicated Apps. 3.the material systems and prototyping cluster led by Claudia Pasquero and Andrea Bugli and focussed on the 1:1 prototyping of adaptive farming systems for the urban environment.  


Schedule >> 11 intense days of design and seminars


Design cluster 1 >> eco-systemic narratives

This cluster focuses on critical journalism, curatorial practices and   digital animations. Videos and diagrams will create a fertile ground for speculations, discussions and confrontations on the themes of hybridization and contamination of traditional agricultural pratices with cutting edge technologies and innovative processes.


Design cluster 2 >> deCODE/enCODE

This cluster is concerned with the design of a digital interface which is capable of facilitating a more intuitive and creative understanding of current emergent bio-farming network on the outskirts of Milan (i.e. Milano Parco Sud). By mining and working with a variety of datasets, such as online social networks and Slow Food’s existing large data repository, we would attempt to strategically map multiple nodes of food production/consumption within and around Milan.  Subsequently, we would critically speculate and generate a real-time 3D interactive network of self-organisational connections/spaces/flows, serving as experimental urban proposals in reconfiguring this spatial network with our time-based prototypes. Various algorithmic urban design techniques would be explored as we attempt to make these spatial and programmatic networks meaningful and legible in the form of dedicated Apps. Participants will learn how to handle/automate large datasets and implement them with their urban/architectural/gardening intentions using advanced computational techniques with Processing (a popular open source programming language and environment used by a range of creative professionals/academics including artists, architects, designers, research scientists...etc). Our data-driven and design-oriented Apps will form part of the larger cyber-gardening agenda, closely integrated with both the narrative and material systems explored in the other 2 design clusters.  


Design cluster 3 >> collaborative prototyping

This cluster aims to the design of a machinic protocol for the synthesis of a 1:1 prototypical space whose geometry coagulate from raw materials, agricultural principles, individual experience as well as group coordination. Cycles of algorithmic diagramming, manufacturing, layering and testing will breed an underdesigned space embedded with biological life and sensing potential that will emerge in the lobby of our urban LAB.