This research studio will focus on creating more integrated and technological, holistic planning and building strategies for existing urban environments. It will use Venice, California, as a model where these strategies can be implemented by 2020, thus the project name, VeniCA 2020.

So-called Modern Cities, like Los Angeles, which are heavily dependent on the continuation of private automobile transportation, have become now obsolete as a model for our environmental and livable future.
The studio will explore two areas of interest. On the one hand, smart city planning incentives and policy realizations that relate to the communal city. On the other hand, neighborhood sites of experience such as music halls, public bath houses and other civic structures which enhance urban life, build sustainable communities, and integrate networks of interest. 

As a precursor to this studio a planned excursion to some of the "Old Cities" of Europe in the fall quarter will investigate how older urban structures deal with new demands for an integrated, sustainable and holistic environment.

Cities such as Vienna, voted as the most livable city in the world, have embarked on various projects to implement a more democratic and environmentally-stable future. They've also established housing and open space policies serving the needs of a more leisure-oriented population. Paris is on the forefront of shareable transportation with their Velib and Autolib programs, while Copenhagen and Amsterdam have mastered public and bicycle transport. Barcelona is the first large community to feature a solar thermal ordinance for a long-term sustainable future. Venice, Italy offers street-less transportation and was also the historical model upon which Venice California is based.

In addition, we will explore public buildings that have served specific communal activities, such as concert halls, public bath-houses and other people-serving structures. These buildings will serve as case studies for the future public structures inserted into VeniCA--a new hybrid city seceded from its large mothership LACity--in order to address new types of governance, public health and artistic expression.

In the winter quarter the information gained through the initial research and excursion will be digested into a new planning code for VeniCA, which will allow this prospective city to gain independence and become ever more future-oriented. Political, social and ecological issues will be framed and formatted in favor of a technological, networked, fair, transparent, compact and transportation-friendly urban environment.

Urban design as a discipline has lost its utopian character and only sets its sights on pragmatic partnerships between public and capitalistic-oriented private entities. No significant new cities are being planned today and old urban structures are only retrofitted to meet some of the new needs of our advancing civilization.

Architects and their educational institutions are still focusing most of their attention on single episodes of the urban spectrum, perhaps creating smart and ecological buildings, while most of the urban environment stays ignorant and stupid.

Old Cities confronted with congestion, pollution, environmental issues and lack of livability have started to surpass, at least in intention, many of the newly-planned environments. They have surpassed them in terms of innovation regarding urban fitness and holistic approaches to a better and more future-oriented environment. While their approaches to creating a smart and more sustainable environment have mainly focused on individual building and structures, we are still for the most part engaged in planning strategies that were created centuries ago.

In order to create a dynamic, networked and self-regulating urban environment, one needs to revamp the process of urban planning and building integration. In addition, as manyurban communities have started to implement some of the components, like sustainability and density, into their new planning codes and mechanisms to regulate building codes, they stumble over implementation and public acceptance. In order to ensure a sustainable future, we must deploy newer, evolving technologies and strategies to create a sensitive and healthy nervous system for urban environs. These strategies will hopefully encourage environmental stability and continuation, a reliable system of governance, and citizen participation. 



Mark Mack