The Why Factory



    New Graduation Studio

    Fall 2016 / Spring 2017

    Studio Coordinator: Javier Arpa
    Studio Instructor: Adrien Ravon


    Egocity + Porocity + Biodivercity + 4minCity + Robotic City + Healthy City + Food City + … = MAXIMUM CITY


    Why Density?
    One of the main urban challenges of the 21th century is to balance urban growth and the consumption of huge amounts of territory and resources. Cities need thus to be denser, more compact, and more intense. Density is the best ally of sustainable development. A dense city consumes less land, which optimizes the cost of infrastructure, transport and public facilities. This in turn reduces the cost of construction and maintenance. Density is the most efficient solution because any detached house in the countryside, however efficient it may be, needs a road and, most likely, a private car to reach it. For its part, the dense city also facilitates sharing and encourages interaction with others.

    We want to explore first the maximization of density in the cities we know, in the cities we live. What if Rotterdam sees a six-fold increase of its residential density? If we did that, Rotterdam´s density (3000 inhabitants per km2) would almost reach the density of Paris (20000 inhabitants per km2). How about increasing Chicago’s density five times so as to reach Paris´ density? Paris, the most densely populated capital in Europe, is a model of compact urban development, saving territory and resources. But Paris is dense, not hyper-dense.

    Why Maximum?
    The resulting density, compactness or intensity of this initial approach to higher densities in the cities we know should not forget the need of maximizing the quality of life of the city’s residents.
    On that score, we want to build a theoretical city of 1 million inhabitants and around 20000 inhabitants per km2. How would it look like? How can we design a city as compact, as dense, as diverse, as intense, as fertile, as productive, as agile, as possible?

    In the past 10 years, The Why Factory has explored a wide array of approaches to the construction of the city (Biodivercity, Porosity, 3d Nature, 4minCity, Automated City, Vertical Village, Green Dream, Anarcity, Food City, Robotic City, Barbapapa, Egocity, Adaptive City, Absolute Leisure, World Wonders…)

    Now, in the academic year 2016/2017, the Graduation Studio Maximum City is an invitation to look at the city through each of those lenses. Students are invited to choose one or some of those topics, or introduce their own agendas, and develop a project for a city based on the maximization of those issues.

    We want to focus on the conceptualization and modeling of different cities, each within its own limited set of parameters that allow for maximal exploration of a specific subject in order to envision possible futures.

    Can Maximum City satisfy the housing desires of all its residents? Can nature exist in Maximum City? Can a Maximum City feed itself? Can Maximum City be diverse while exploding a single agenda to the max.? How automated can Maximum City be? How porous, bio-diverse, healthy, accessible, entertaining, productive, automated, green or flexible can a city be while keeping a given population density?

    Why a theoretical model?
    Maximun City explores the future of urban life. Based on current and upcoming urban urgencies, students make spatial scenarios for the city of the future.

    We want to combine different fascinations into one theoretical 3D model: an interactive platform for testing scenarios, visualize design and understand the impacts their on the built environment.

    This platform acts as a collective framework for the development of individual projects.

    Can we develop a research capable of mapping the interrelations among speed, mobility, biodiversity, food production, density, automatization, porosity, while challenging its compactness? What kind of future visions and images can this model generate?

    The Maximum City Model aims to explore and measure the potentials and limitations of the maximization of several parameters in a theoretical model city of 1 Million inhabitants.
    We want to test those parameters inside a common envelop to all projects. Each proposal will be developed in this same area, based on the requirements for a city of 1 Million inhabitants. Food, vegetation, industry, leisure, energy production, biodiversity, mobility or automation will be tested, compared and interrelated in this theoretical model.

    The graduation research and design studio will be undertaken through the interactive composition of three main components: Data collection, the Maximum City Model and the Applications Program.

    What are the requirements of a city of 1 Million inhabitants? Can we quantify them?
    In this phase, we’ll collect a large amount of data and develop a collective catalog of case studies and urban requirements. We’ll look at existing examples and numbers to make up this complete database.
    With the Maximum City model, a theoretical dynamic 3d model will be elaborated on the base of a parametric modeling approach. Based on an interdisciplinary scientific database, it will map the set of interrelations involved in our collection of topics and the urban environment.

    In the applications program, the theoretical model cities are tested in real cities (Rotterdam, Chicago…).
    This part aims to elaborate specific solutions and refine scenarios proposals to a more advanced and detailed level of feasibility. It acts as a reality check process where knowledge, data, scenarios and different strategies developed in the Maximum City Model are applied and confronted with existing urban conditions involving a large range of actors.

    The Studio
    The general thematic of the graduation studio acts as a collective umbrella under which different topics will be developed and treated individually. Possible new topics will be discussed collectively at the beginning of the semester depending on your personal interest, research or fascination.

    The studio focuses on the shaping of urban futures and involving systematic processes for thinking, planning, scripting and envisioning the future. The graduation studio (MSc3 and MSc4) includes highly integrated research and design aspects facilitated by the design lab (AR3TWF030 – 15 ECTS, AR4TWF010 – 30 ECTS), and complementary theory, programming and representation courses. In combination with The Why Factory: Future Views (AR3TWF020 – 3 ECTS) and The Why Factory: Future Models II (AR3TWF010 – 6 ECTS).

    The results of both studios will be part of a larger body of work to be disseminated through a publication, part of The Why Factory’s Future Cities Series. Additionally, the results of the studio will be curated towards the organization of an exhibition.

    For more information, please contact us:



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