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Community Impact

Oct 04, 2019

Teens Design for the Autonomous Block

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Student Design Workshop: Design for an Autonomous Block

Images courtesy of BSA Staff

Students from around the city came together for Student Design Workshop: Design for an Autonomous Block to explore a future for Boston city streets. As part of Balancing Act: Urbanism & Emerging technologies, curated by CBT Architects, the design workshop focused on the Urbanistic Imaginations section of the exhibition, which imagines digital and physical shifts to our urban environments in the twenty-first century.


CBT presented their speculative urban project, Autonomous Block, a utopia where new technologies can come together to solve environmental and social challenges of today—increasing urbanization, emerging sharing economies, and changing climates—by providing transformative urban spaces in tomorrow’s streets. With several generations of students and designers from the BSA and CBT Cares volunteers in the room, the group discussed how our streets and technologies have evolved in just a lifetime. Reflecting on these changes, students discussed what they wanted to see in the future of their urban spaces and offered up ideas about the types of storefronts and street furniture that they would envision as part of a typical urban walk—such as shared lounge areas, charging stations, and scooter docks.

Students brought their ideas to paper, sketching ideas on a typical Boston block. Thinking at the urban scale, groups of students worked together to identify and map out important connections on the street for people based on a specific times during a day of the week. Considering how people would use the street on a weekday afternoon or a weekend night, they coupled program pieces such as social lounge and study areas with coffee shops or food markets and restaurants with entertainment spaces. Then each student modeled a section of the street, designing their program pieces and street furniture in more detail.


To close the afternoon, students shared their work in a charrette-like format and received feedback from designers of the BSA and CBT. Seeing their modeled street designs, the group could clearly visualize how our once stagnant streets could be enriched by streetscapes flexibility for changing program pieces that mix and match to meet the needs of our changing society.

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