April 2014 / Feature: Abstract 2012-2013

Dongsei Kim co-instructed with Mojdeh Baratloo (coordinator), Lee Altman, Jerome Chou, Christopher Kroner, Sandro Marpillero and Justin G. Moore in Fall 2012 Columbia University GSAPP's Urban Design Sudio "Learning Cities+Smarter Regions: How do Cities Learn?" that was featured in Abstract 2012-2013 (ISBN-13: 978-1883584917).

Studio Description

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Alvin Toffler (paraphrasing H. Gerjuoy)

From agrarian to industrial, post-industrial and now global-technological societies, the city and its greater region have always been reflexive physical manifestations of society. In a recent lecture at the London School of Economics, Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Joseph Stiglitz articulated a single critical factor that influences societies’ ability to adapt to changes in the global environment. He poses “learning societies” as a critical model that helps develop effective positive change in social, economic and political dynamics and thus impact the urban environment.


The studio addressed the question: if a society can and does learn, then what can a city/region learn? Does a region learn to better manage its resources? Can a city learn how and where to grow? What are the ways in which a city or region can acquire learning skills, as opposed to reaching a static condition of being ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’? The studio practiced “learning by designing” to explore how cities learn in the shorter term, and how regions can become smarter in the long run.

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