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Speaking at: After Empirical Urbanism @ U Toronto

Faculty Dietmar Offenhuber will present at a two-day symposium on data-driven urbanism at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.

A new empirical urbanism has emerged over the past two generations, drawing habits of mind and methods of observation from the natural and social sciences, and making use of emerging forms of statistical and visual analysis. Such practices take observation, systematic documentation, and artful analysis of the city, as given, as a precondition to any designed intervention. For our purposes Empirical Urbanism is a framework for revealing the sometimes hidden philosophical assumptions, and design alibis among a diverse group of urban theories and practices that, while often thought to represent opposing ideologies, share an empirical approach.

This symposium will interrogate this trend, asking how urbanism as an art and a set of practices may gain from more explicitly deciphering the relationship between the ways we characterize the past and present city, and how we go about projecting alternate futures for it. Our title notwithstanding, we do not imagine an end to empirical urban research. Rather, the discussion and debates we hope to sponsor have the aim of repositioning observation-based practice, and airing new approaches to seeing and designing the city.