Session 22: Systems, Territory, Design

Guest Speaker:  Ali Fard (Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Virginia)

June 4th, 2023 


This presentation will explore the intertwined and complex relationship between urban systems, the notion of territory, and the agency of design. Through design proposals and research projects, I will explore how a sociotechnical reading of territory, and its temporal construction through urban systems, opens new avenues of investigation for architecture and design. 

Suggested reading before the meeting

Speaker’s Biography

Ali Fard is a researcher, designer, and educator, currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Fard's work operates at the intersection of design and global urban processes. He is particularly interested in the spatial imprints of technology and the urban disposition of infrastructure, and how design research can help ground the operational complexity, spatial hybridity, and territorial scales of large technical systems. Through his design research practice AF/DR, he has been involved in a range of award-winning projects globally that reinforce design's critical and multiscalar role within the territorial dynamics of contemporary urbanization. His writing, research, and design work have been published in journals, including MONU, MAS Context, Bracket, Telematics and Informatics, and Harvard Design Magazine, among others, and he has lectured and presented widely at universities and other institutions.

Fard is the co-editor of NG7: Geographies of Information (Harvard University Press, 2015), an edited volume that investigates the geographic and spatial footprints of data and realigns design’s relationship to information and communication technologies by expounding on their multiscalar complexities and contextual intricacies. His current book project, tentatively titled Grounding the Cloud: Decoding the Sociotechnical Design of Planetary Platforms, further elaborates on the relationship between technology platforms and global processes of urbanization. The book argues that the takeover of urbanization by technology platforms entails a set of specific ideologies and socio-spatial strategies which position technology corporations as powerful actors in bringing about a particular vision of our collective urban future.

Before joining UVA, Fard held teaching positions at the Harvard GSD and the University of Waterloo. He was a research associate at the Urban Theory Lab at the GSD and served on the editorial board of New Geographies (2013-2018). Fard received his Doctor of Design (DDes) in architecture and urbanism from Harvard University, and his Master of Architecture (M.Arch) from University of Toronto.