X-Closures: Design Against Extinction



ONE Lab 2013: Productive Cities

Video by Kelly Loudenberg

ONE Lab 2012: Future Cities

Video by Kelly Loudenberg

ONE Lab 2011: BioDesign

Video by Kelly Loudenberg

ONE Lab 2009 + 2010: TerreFarm

Video by Kelly Loudenberg


Whose job is it to create a city? Our intention is to jumpstart a new profession that can re-invent and negotiate the complex mix that encompasses a city. We have defined a radical new occupation to regenerate, pioneer, and sustain the future urban realm. These innovative multi-disciplinarian advocates are called Urbaneers. Their immense task is to manifest and facilitate the City 2.0 across the globe. Each Urbaneer is an individual with a different set of versatile abilities that merge previously disparate occupations. They range from combined ecological architects and engineers to action based urban planners and developers. Almost any recombined professional activities will work, so long as they meet the constantly changing needs of urbanization. Urbaneers perform in a role akin to Jane Jacobs, but at the magnitude and accomplishment of Robert Moses. An excellent historical example of an Urbaneer is Frederick Law Olmstead. For years, we have shaped a school called ONE Lab that has expanded on this very notion. ONE Lab instructs in the art of Urbaneering to people seeking to augment their sensibilities and operate within cities. We wish to further develop an Urbaneer curriculum at ONE Lab.

Action Plan

Our action plan has already taken effect. We started ONE Lab in 2009 at our nonprofit organization Terreform ONE. We’ve had over a two hundred full-time summer students attend the lectures, workshops and studio courses. The growing success of ONE Lab also points to the increasing number of people who are interested in DIY and collective modes of practice. In the Spring Term 2014 we will begin a semester-long programs in a partnership with CIEE. We are working with Macro Sea Inc. to transform the Brooklyn Navy Yard Turbine Building 128, a stunning former shipbuilding factory, into a collaborative design and technology center that encourages inventiveness. In 2013, ONE Lab was joined at the Navy Yard by other design schools and cutting edge design companies to create a hub of innovation promoted by the NYC Mayor’s Office.

Budget Review

Plans are now underway to expand ONE Lab, which has been structured as a summer program for the last three years, into a new model for education. We are working to develop a new curriculum to address the emerging interdisciplinary field of global Urbaneering. The added funds will be used to write and evaluate a new program of study. Our team at Terreform ONE will be charged with the task to generate the Urbaneer prospectus to study future cities. This includes workshops, exhibitions, and lectures to define the nascent field of Urbaneering.

Community Outreach

ONE Lab advocates urban thinking by cultivating community organizers and activists. Today, city government and grassroots movements require more demands than traditional silo encapsulated professionals can procure. We must break away from insular territories of knowledge and redefine the limits of future neighborhoods. Urbaneers have the technical knowhow combined with conceptual exuberance. In order to redefine our urban community we need to redefine the supportive disciplines that instigate it. In its simplest form, an Urbaneer is someone with an existing career track that adds a consecutive qualified activity to focus on cities. This focal point can be in concepts of waste, food, water, air quality, mobility, energy, and culture. Our educational venture, ONE Lab, is poised to cultivate this change. Our school boosts people into an advanced intellectual filter towards the recalibration of the city. As members of an urban community, Urbaneers can serve to better inform leaders or become leaders themselves.

Long-term Vision

Our Urbaneering program at ONE Lab aspires to create a vision of the next city. The mission is to form heterodox approaches urgently needed in the age of natural resource scarcity. We seek synchronized global and local solutions that can open the sociopolitical borders that all too often disconnect design from people. Our overarching aim is to develop a language of urban thinking that can create proximity between individual responsibility and the current global environmental crisis. We perceive environmental problems as an issue of human alienation from the natural world, and our initiative will explore ways in which design and science can reformat this separation. Innovation, for us, is the answer to equitable cities and eco-systems.

The City 2.0 needs a new breed of communicator. A person skilled in the art of cites beyond the typical planners, civil engineers, and architects of today. These fields need a multifaceted filter of reason to incorporate a profound comprehension of place. An Urbaneer posits the solutions to urban problems that normally take multiple disciplines to solve. Why can’t an architect design a transportation system or an ecologist design a building complex, or an automotive engineer design an urban landscape? We are looking to merge the edification and skills needed to reform the city of today.

Main Lessons

We desire to learn more about mechanisms of change that reach the public. How can city thinkers communicate and receive continuous feedback to the denizens of a place? It’s vitally important to reinvestigate theories and projects such as the Masdar City, NYC Highline, Smart Cities, and Landscape Urbanism and redistribute their cathartic elements elsewhere. Every city is different, yet successful principles and patterns of dwelling are known. These are the methods to transfer into other environs. Through innovative education, we believe this is possible.

ONE Lab develops its pedagogy based on the needs of interdisciplinary workshops and improvised studio areas. This rarefied mixture of different knowledge sets in close proximity formulated a unique alliance. Its shared values are evoked in dialogues between discipline groups in order to solve problems. At this juncture, freely organized teams produce solutions that can span multiple fields of expertise around the world. Eventually, we seek to create ONE Lab Urbaneer charters around the world.