Spatial Design at AUT

School of Art + Design, AUT University, Auckland, NZ

Proximate Urbanism Research Cluster

We don’t go to cities. Cities come to us, stream towards us. To occupy a city today is to surf in a dense array of overlapping media streams (Mark Wigley). What makes urban environments so crucial to contemporary experience? More than half of the world’s population finds itself in urban settings. Globalised economics and culture are organised by networks of cities, particularly global cities. Understanding and shaping city space is key to realising fair, prosperous and creative collective life in the 21st century. With these inevitabilities and opportunities in mind, AUT’s urban research cluster sets out to explore, imagine, and design anew the experiential possibilities for this “Urban Millennium.”

Like huge memory machines, cities record and archive the best and worst of material culture and collective life. But cities are also vast engines of circulation, accelerating exchange and putting things into flight. To live in cities is to be caught within these two great characterising forces, the centrifugal and the centripetal. The question of the proximate – what is closest, impending or nearest to hand – has much to offer urban investigation, not least because it aligns with concerns of locality and the pervasive nature of infrastructure.

Urban research at AUT encourages a broad use of expressive media and methodologies in its projects on the city. An urban project here might be a built design; or it might be photographic in nature; it may entail film; or it may involve installation or performance work. Importantly urban research projects are multi-scale, being just as likely to entail small human gesture and feeling as they are region-wide organization or city-scaled interventions.

Proximate Urbanism Research Cluster Staff: Andrew Douglas