GE: Active Urbanism

Active Urbanism: Spatial Consequences of the Sharing Economy-- The sharing economy - also referred to as the peer-to-peer, or collaborative economy - is increasingly supplementing, or even replacing, older models of production and consumption that rely on the top-down provision of goods and services. Embracing mobile devices and social media, the sharing economy has redefined underused space, excess infrastructure, and underemployed talent as valuable resources made available through newly configured networks. The Bay Area, specifically, has been the epicenter of a wide variety of sharing platforms, making available anything from apartments (Airbnb), rides (Uber), financial resources (Indiegogo), to small-scale interpersonal exchange platforms for food left-overs (LeftoverSwap). This environment of sharing, bartering, and collaboration has also affected government transparency (Oakland's Open Budget Project), and the way citizens participate in the production of public space (open-source city-making through initiatives like the Parklet program). While online platforms form the basis of the the sharing economy, its fluid networks and transactions are played out against a background of rigid city infrastructures and legal frameworks. The seminar will take on examples from the local sharing economy that serve as case studies for the wide ranging implications (and friction points) the sharing economy has on the physical and social space of the city. Accompanied by pertinent readings and guest lectures, students will be challenged to uncover and visualize the hidden 'ecologies' produced by these case studies in a semester-long research project that combines writing and graphic analysis. Analysis and discussions will focus on the tension between the de-emphasis of 'actual ownership' (in favor of temporal access and borrowing), and the increased 'sense of ownership' of city space and infrastructure that many of the sharing platforms enable. As part of the final project for the studio, students will be ask to radicalize their case study, projecting forward an aspect of its inherent potential, and the possible consequences for a future city.