School of Art, Media, and Technology

Independent Study – Beijing Design Lab

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Independent Study

Transforming Urban Experiences: Urban Media Solutions for Sustainable Cities

A collaboration between Parsons The New School for Design with Tsinghua University and the DESIS Network
Christopher Kirwan, Faculty

Overview Design Beijing Lab

Design Beijing is a new R&D lab promoting the advancement of Beijing as a leading metropolis and a new center of innovation, design and growth. The lab, in partnership with Tsinghua University, DESIS Network and the local Beijing government, will have the opportunity to present research projects in the upcoming Beijing Design Week, a new annual citywide forum held in October. Additionally the lab will be actively seeking funding from multinational corporations now actively involved in the commercial and technological advancement of Beijing as the new center of global economic growth. The lab will concentrate on the city of Beijing as the platform for experimental research, planning, design and testing. A key part of this experimentation will be focused on the interaction of the citizens of Beijing and will provide opportunities for the public to participate through the development of urban media applications.

Areas of Research & Development

The goal of Design Beijing Lab is to create an interdisciplinary collaborative framework balanced between research, planning, design and technology applications. The four prime areas are:

1. Urban OS & Interface

In order to manage the city as a vast multi-dimensional organism, the city must be understood as an operating system that simultaneously allows a centralized and decentralized framework to manage the inherent complexities of a modern metropolis.

  • Urban systems theory and applications design
  • Information architecture and typologies
  • Cybernetic layers

2. Urban Sensing & Visualization

The city infrastructure is a living system that needs to be constantly upgraded to meets the demands of public use, requiring a response mechanism to process consumption information and adaptable in real-time as the demand requires.

  • Behavioral trends analysis and dynamic strategies
  • Urban systems as active media utilities and spaces
  • Infrastructure providing pertinent live data and feedback

3. Urban Mobility & Social Networking

A key to understanding how the city functions is the way people are connected to the system and how the system absorbs their interaction both within the city and from outside as the city is simultaneously a finite physical space and a limitless interconnected virtual network linking people from all over the world.

  • The city as adaptable framework
  • Connecting citizens with the urban infrastructure
  • Linking global communities with city operations

4. Urban Public Service Design

As an emerging field of the study of human interaction based on functional requirements of urban living, urban public service design will investigate a range of physical hardware and virtual software solutions to provide a better environment for people to live, work and play in the city.

  • Cultural values and social engagement
  • Navigating urban experiences
  • Urban touch points

Independent Study Format

  • Students will work on individual research and development projects related to the four areas of the lab’s concentrations.
  • Students will initially meet with faculty Christopher Kirwan in person in New York to discuss and determine the scope and requirements of their research projects and will maintain regular virtual meetings and reviews throughout the semester.
  • Each project will be required to address Beijing as the urban context but can have global connectivity relevant to the project sphere.
  • Students will be encouraged to work in collaboration with other Parsons students, Tsinghua students and researchers and faculty from other departments and institutions including the DESIS Network.
  • This research projects will be encouraged to continue in the summer with new students from Parsons and Tsinghua and other partnering institutions joining on specific projects.
  • The project research will form a collective research framework focused on Beijing Urban Media / OS and will be compiled in a series of presentations and exhibition as part of the Beijing Design Week workshop hosted at Tsinghua in early October. Additionally, this compilation will provide the basis of a high-level series of presentations for targeted funding partners.

Christopher Kirwan

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