Current Issues on Urban Metabolism & Harvard University Graduate School of Design Lectures, Part 3 of 3.

Source: Youtube. This video is not owned by Earthniversity but by Harvard University Graduate School of Design in connection with their lectures on Projective Views on Urban Metabolism which they uploaded and published on youtube on February 14, 2014. Thank you HUGSD for sharing this video/lectures with all interested people on planet Earth.


Urban Metabolism has always fascinated me. I came to know about this in 2000 when I was attending a short course on Designing Sustainable Development under the Master in Urban Management Program in the University of Canberra in Australia. Since then, I got hooked by it because of its relevance to urban planning and design. Its idea of treating urban area or as I would like to use it – human settlement – like a human body that metabolizes, is really relevant in the development, planning and designing of cities and urban areas. But what is Urban Metabolism?

The word urban refers to or pertains to a city, or belonging to a city. (Wikipedia)


“Metabolism (from Greek: μεταβολή metabolē, “change”) is the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. These enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. The word metabolism can also refer to all chemical reactions that occur in living organisms, including digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells, in which case the set of reactions within the cells is called intermediary metabolism or intermediate metabolism.” (Wikipedia)

WHAT IS URBAN METABOLISM? The Wikipedia has a nice explanation on this:

“Urban metabolism is a model to facilitate the description and analysis of the flows of the materials and energy within cities, such as undertaken in a Material flow analysis of a city. It provides researchers with a metaphorical framework to study the interactions of natural and human systems in specific regions.[1] From the beginning, researchers have tweaked and altered the parameters of the urban metabolism model. C. Kennedy and fellow researchers have produced a clear definition in the 2007 paper ‘’The Changing Metabolism of Cities’’ claiming that urban metabolism is “the sum total of the technical and socio-economic process that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy and elimination of waste.” [2] With the growing concern of climate change and atmospheric degradation, the use of the urban metabolism model has become a key element in determining and maintaining levels of sustainability and health in cities around the world. Urban metabolism provides a unified or holistic viewpoint to encompass all of the activities of a city in a single model.”


In my research about Urban Metabolism, I encountered this video on youtube about “Projective Views on Urban Metabolism” presented by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. It caught my attention very greatly that I wish to share this to our readers. I do not claim to be an expert on this topic because I am also a “student”, a searcher just like the rest of us.

This is the explanation of HUGSD on this video which focuses on the main topic entitled: The Agency of Design.

“DDes Conference: Projective Views on Urban Metabolism (Part 3)In the last two decades, the concept of urban metabolism, aiming to grasp the continuous processes of energy, material and population exchange within and between cities and their extensive hinterlands, has been subject of both extensive empirical research and, increasingly, critical discussion within the social and natural sciences. However, these interdisciplinary challenges have not yet been met with a synthetic response from the design disciplines. The goals of this one-day conference are, through the lens of urban metabolism, to: generally reassess the planetary rescaling of contemporary urbanization processes; unpack the transformation of spatial forms and structures and subsequently, the emergence of new operative territories for design; explore the agency of design in confronting these challenges.”

This is the last part (Part 3 of 3) of the lectures conducted by HUGSD on Projective Views on Urban Metabolism. This portion is about The Agency of Design. The speakers are the following:

1. Dr. Mitchell Joachim. He is Co-Founder of TerreForm One. He is also an Associate Professor at New York University. He will talk about their research on TerreForm One.

2. Chris Reed is an Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at HUGSD. His research interest includes The Impact of Ecological Science on Design Thinking and City Making Strategies in Form by Landscape Systems and Dynamics.

3. Ila Berman is connected with the University of Waterloo College of Architecture. She is a Doctor of Design Graduate from HUGSD. Her research topic is: Investigate the Relationship Between Culture and Evolution of Contemporary Materials and Spatial Practices.

Moderator: Hashim Sarkis

Toastmasters are: Daniel, Nickos and Pablo.


Earthniversity would like to thank the Harvard University Graduate School of Design for uploading this video on youtube. We hope our followers and team members have gained so much knowledge from this sharing on the topic about Projective Views on Urban Metabolism. Again thank you HUGSD and youtube. These videos, Part I, II, and III are available here at Earthniversity blogsite and these are also available on youtube. Thank you everyone….