Urban Relational LAB
Concepcio Peig, Guillem Carabí, Miquel Lacasta, Manuel Arenas, Ethel Baraona Pohl, César Reyes

The city is a mesh of contacts, interactions, regulations and communications, that is: relationships. This is the basis that weaves the rest of components that ultimately define any metropolis. Infrastructure, services, cityscape, mobility… are secondary issues compared to what is essential in the city: the interaction and relationship between people, groups and institutions that are the main agents carrying information within the city. These agents feed and regulate themselves, generating a system through the transmission of multiple information units. Thus urban systems could be also understood as ecosystems.

The research group Urban Relational Laboratory [URLab], aims to understand the intangible human connections that actively influence the development and growth of existing cities. This group formed by professors from the Faculty of Humanities and the School of Architecture at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya; posed as initial point of its investigations the possibility that the new challenges of cities, plural and intelligent, are not just working in conjunction with basic disciplinary aspects of urbanism, infrastructure, paths, patterns, but are also closely linked to energy balance criteria and thermodynamic models, theories involving dynamic urban systems, socio-cultural aspects related to the culture of networking and complex behaviours and the evidence that the town still has economic potential for develop an ecosystem-like economy.

In fact, the development the research group is currently carrying out, highlights the existence of a relational architecture, a relational urbanism thus generating a relational city. In this context architecture takes as its theoretical horizon the sphere of human interactions and its social context, rather than empowering symbolic, autonomous and private spaces. This approach proposes a radical change in aesthetic goals, cultural and political positions aligned with the modern movement.

The ultimate goal of the research group is to link urban planners, geographers, cultural managers, architects, journalists, environmental technicians, analysts, policy advisers, with the citizens as stakeholders of the urban phenomena. An advanced critic mass of human relations, that clear and convincingly generates a significant social transformation of the city for the 21th century.

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