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Course Descriptions

As of 8/21/2018 5:51:58 AM

Owning It: Rio and Detroit

Owning It: Property, Agency, and the Built Environment Focusing on the subjects of ownership and exclusion that underlie measures of spatial equity in cities, this experimental travel practice simulation surveys historic and contemporary precedents where collective ownership has emerged from intended, unintended, regulatory, and activist patterns of organization. The course is conceived to simultaneously offer analytical tools, guidelines, and tactics to help lawyers work within architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, design, and humanities disciplines, and critically confront the complex legal, financial, and economic mechanisms that shape exchange and collective experience. The course objectives are threefold: first, to introduce students to new social and economic development models currently in place. Second, to establish the criteria with which to evaluate and decipher novel and tested strategies of collective ownership based on quantitative and philosophical questions around resilience, public ethics and sustainability. Finally, to develop a set of working guidelines for emergent practitioners and critical thinkers, which tested against both speculative and project-based frameworks of learning, will contribute to expanding each student's projected impact and agency in the collective environment. The course frames an understanding of important concepts related to property, ownership and the built environment by engaging students in multiple interrelated modes of research and learning. In the first phase situated in Detroit, students working in groups will produce a comparative, typological catalogue of emergent and established property ownership models that confront and challenge long accepted conventions of exchange. Traditional models of property ownership including cooperatives, eminent domain, time-shares and leases, coupled with new variations on these themes, such as land trusts, land banks, public-private partnership, sharing economies, temporary urbanisms, and autonomous entities will be considered in relation to issues of financial modeling, social governance, stakeholder financing, and ethical networks. In the process, students will question strategies around easements, covenants, licenses, permits, deeds, and squatting, among other terms of both formal and informal exchange. These broad themes, introduced critically and conceptually through a wide range of domestic and international case study examples, will translate into graphic and textual analysis. The research material compiled over the course of the semester will contribute to a publication and a tactical manual for application. In parallel, students will participate in intensive comparative fieldwork, composed of site visits, interviews, and documentation. Conversations with architects, lawyers, urban advocates, policy-makers, residents, activists, and community leaders whose work represents innovative models of ownership will offer students first hand experiences as well as a more nuanced understanding of the issues at stake. Site visits will be orchestrated in Detroit then Rio de Janeiro -- offering a rich comparative structure between urban dispersal and density. A multi-faceted and complex urban place and experience is common to both cities, providing rich material to draw connections and learn lessons in furtherance of understanding the full range of possibility of ownership through comparative issues such as density, culture, and institutions. Students are challenged to critically apply their knowledge and experiences abroad towards a radical reconceptualization of property ownership beyond currently known models.