Mark Shepard: Propagative Urbanism

Propagative Urbanism is a way of thinking about shaping the architecture of urban space in terms of a bottom-up, participatory approach to the evolution of cities. In place of the grand schemes and master plans of modern urban design and planning, Propagative Urbanism explores the aggregation of locally inflected, incremental modulations that have the potential to evolve into larger urban organizations. In some respects, this simply reflects how cities evolve. In others, it extends a set of ideas introduced by architects in the 60s (Yona Friedman, Archigram, Cedric Price, the Metabolists, et. al.) that looked toward biological and cybernetic systems for a way out of the oppressive, top-down planning strategies of orthodox modernism. Yet rather than proposing material interventions that are open, extendable and adaptable to changing patterns of use and activity, Propagative Urbanism shifts the locus of practice from the architectural “hardware” of what effectively became modular space frame structures to be infilled by their inhabitants, to the immaterial architecture of “software” infrastructures and their ability to inform, perform and enact new urban organizations and experiences.