Stuckeman School professor and research director co-edits book on urban design


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — José Duarte, Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation and director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School at Penn State, co-edited “Emerging Perspectives on Teaching Architecture and Urbanism,” which was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in November 2023.

Duarte also co-authored chapter eight in the publication, titled “Teaching Shape Grammars and Parametric Urban Design in the Context of Informal Settlements: The World Studio Project,” with Fernando Lima, assistant professor of architecture at Belmont University.

According to the publication’s description, “[The book] argues that the teaching of architecture and urbanism is in a state of crisis; architecture seems unable to respond to current problems, and urbanism seems incapable of fulfilling the needs of a more balanced society and its built environment, including the human right to housing.”

The book’s 15 chapters describe new technologies for teaching architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. Each chapter details a case study where the author(s) describe an application of technology, the theoretical framework, the specifics of the case and the study’s results.

Duarte and Lima’s chapter describes the teaching and design methodology used in a Stuckeman School design research studio series called “World Studio,” which addresses informal settlements. Each year students travel to a location around the world to participate in a research studio, and the chapter focuses on the process and results of the studio Duarte instructed in Ahmedabad, India, in 2020. Informal settlements are areas where people cannot afford to buy a house, and the studio explores how the use of technology can make housing more affordable, safe and accessible.

Students in the course studied the settlement to understand its genesis and create a competition model to replicate the growth process. Then, the researchers “hack the process,” which Duarte describes as using the desirable qualities of the settlement’s growth while amending its flaws.

Duarte explained that informal settlements grow when people build their own houses following implicit rules that make the houses easy to build and affordable. Using the guidelines already created by the settlement, Duarte can plan settlements that keep the desirable qualities while making them more affordable and providing infrastructure.

“The idea was to design the new settlements in a way that follows the sample principles of making houses easier and cheaper, but then we introduce infrastructure,” Duarte said.

Duarte co-edited the book with architecture professors and researchers David Leite Viana, Emílio da Cruz Brandão, Franklim Morais, Isabel Cristina Carvalho and Nicolau Brandão.

“It’s a collection of innovative ways of using technology for designing architecture and urban sites, and I hope people enjoy it,” Duarte said.