New Geographies 06: Grounding Metabolism aims to trace alternative, synthetic routes to design through a more elaborate understanding of the relation between models and concepts of urban metabolism and the formal, physical, and material engraving of metabolic processes across scales.
The design disciplines have always recognized the potential within a critical understanding of urban metabolism to shape spatial strategies, from Patrick Geddes’s Valley Section to the megastructures of the Japanese Metabolists. Confined to the regional scale historically, today’s generalized urbanization is characterized by unprecedented complexity and planetary upscaling of metabolic relations. Most contemporary discussions of metabolism have failed to integrate formal, spatial, and material attributes. Technoscientific approaches have been limited to a performative interpretation of flows, while more theoretical attempts to interrogate the sociopolitical embeddedness of metabolic processes have largely ignored their formal spatial registration. Within this context, the design disciplines—fascinated by the fluidity of metabolic processes—have privileged notions of elasticity without regard for the often sclerotic quality of landscapes and infrastructures. The issue addresses the challenges associated with the planetary dimension of contemporary metabolic processes, offers a critical examination of the long lineage of historical discussions and schemes on urban metabolism from the design disciplines and places them in parallel with a set of contemporary projects and interventions that open up new approaches for design. The issue features contributions by: Jason W. Moore, Erle C. Ellis, Peter Baccini. Timothy W. Luke, Roi Salgueiro Barrio, Aanya Chugh & Maynard León, Sabine Barles, Matthew Gandy, Volker M. Welter, Hadas A. Steiner, Ken Tadashi Oshima, Douglas Spencer, Felipe Correa & Tomás Folch, Rahul Mehrotra & Felipe Vera, Paola Viganò, Rania Ghosn & El Hadi Jazairy, Reinier de Graaf, Vicente Guallart, Philippe Rahm, Kiel Moe, Pierre Bélanger, Daniel Daou & Pablo Pérez Ramos.