Redesigning Urban Life

Event Recap of Urban Digital Humanities: Design and Sustainability, 2/27/18

“[These scholars represent] range and depth in the Digital Humanities,” introduced Marion Thain (Director, NYU Digital Humanities). On February 27, three NYU Gallatin professors shared innovative presentations about their collaborative and personal endeavors integrating urban life, sustainability, and design. Peder Anker, Louise Harpman and Mitchell Joachim were no strangers either, as they have previously published a book and worked on multiple projects together.

Peder Anker kicked off the trio of presentations, discussing the Digital Humanities’ influence on his pedagogy.

Global Design NYU professors Peder Anker, Louise Harpman, and Mitchell Joachim took over Washington Square Park to stage the Climate Change action in support of COP21. The following year, they created an electronic garden in the heart of Times Square to “re-nature” that hyper-urban space.

They also solidified their imaginations of NYU in 2061 as a completely green space through renderings. Anker and his students embody deliberate design in all of their projects, bringing the digital, the technological, and the natural into their classroom. As part of the class, the students presented an image of what life as a sustainable society would be like.

Louise Harpman, Director of ZeroMicro, discussed her work in creating zero net energy design in micro sized dwellings. She discussed the quantified self as the data that we produce in our everyday lives: the searches, the tweets, the emails, and the data that is collected by corporations and the government. She spoke about the quantified home as an approach to integrate technology and nature into a sustainable environment.

Harpman asked “How can we live better using less?” as her catalyzing question.

Harpman discussed both her private and academic explorations of this question, passing around 3-D printed models made by her students, and shared installation art embodying her philosophy.

Mitchell Joachim concluded the presentations by discussing the creations of TerreForm One, a think tank in Brooklyn. Joachim and his students design and create various technologies to integrate natural life into city life: a building built to attract and breed monarch butterflies; a structure to farm crickets for grinding into flour, which is an alternative protein source more nutritious than meat or eggs; breeding plants to grow into home-like structures; and, generally, designing city life as sustainably as possible.

It was truly a green night in the weeks before spring, as moderator Marion Thain and several audience members prompted questions for an intriguing discussion about the future of city life. They discussed their reasoning for integrating nature and human life, arguing that we have separated that which is not distinct.

Listen to the presentations below: