Intro to Urban Architecture Series

by Jennifer Wang


Welcome to the Urban Architecture Series


Just over half of the global population currently lives in cities, and the number is only set to rise over the upcoming decades. Population booms and urbanization trends, especially in Asian and African countries, set urban development in the forefront of governmental and societal interests. As a result, the architecture of urban spaces is becoming increasingly relevant. Actors ranging from governments and corporations to universities and urban populations are all poised to take a role in the emergence of new city systems built with sustainable development in mind. In this series, we will focus on the most fundamental and intimate components of a city – living spaces. We will explore the architecture of residential and corporate buildings, museums and recreational buildings, as well as parks and monuments. Through the process, we will explore the questions of how architecture interacts with society, and how architecture evolves. I hope that throughout the series you will take away an understanding of how architecture shapes our everyday lives, and if not, at least enjoy the beauty of the architecture surrounding us.


Notes on Getting Started


In the field of information architecture (information architecture: the responsive and deliberate design of living spaces based on mass data), living spaces are divided on three scales: the small: building architecture, the medium: urban design, and the large: territorial planning. Just as the environment of a territory affects the layout of a city, which determines the types of buildings, which determine the resource demands needed from the territory, all three scales are interdependent. This series will focus on the small scale of architecture, but will touch on how specific buildings and cities are affected by their larger scale territories. Through this series, we will look at the artistic and cultural as well as engineering and functional designs of buildings.


This series will present architecture through articles from three angles: the architecture of specific cities, specific styles of architecture, and noteworthy historic and modern architects. Across the three categories, we will explore how societal and economic factors influence architectural design, and how they evolve over time. The series will end with a review of interdisciplinary architecture that blurs the borders of architecture. We will look at buildings designed to tackle poverty, unsustainability, pollution, and war. We will also look at buildings that are created with materials ranging from plastic bottles, to bamboo, to biosynthetic protocells. Finally, we will look at dynamic buildings that collect mass data and respond in real-time to changes in the environment or people.


So get ready for the Urban Architecture Series! I hope that by the end, you will understand how architecture interacts with society and how architecture evolves. Along the way, enjoy the hidden artistry and engineering present around us every day. The next time you are in a city, I hope that when you look around, you can see how architecture shapes our everyday lives.




Next Time on the Urban Architecture Series… Seattle


No, the Seahawks are not the only things that make Seattle special. In our opening article in the Urban Architecture Series, we will feature one of the US’s most vibrant cities. Between its mountainous backdrop and iconic Space Needle, discover the modern high rises and historical buildings of Seattle.