Moss has survived longer than nearly any other plant on earth (some 350 million years) not because of its ability to beat its competitors for resources but because of its habit of sharing them. By forming reciprocal bonds with their hosts—on top of and in the cracks of rocks, logs, and stumps—mosses give back more than they take: building soil, purifying water, and ultimately creating the conditions for other species to live and thrive alongside them. Urban Moss seeks a new form of development in a similar manner to these natural processes: bottom-up infrastructure built in the interstices of cities living in reciprocity with their neighbors and inhabitants.
Modern city design has primarily been characterized by the development of massive plans implemented rapidly by a few individuals imposing their ideals from the top-down. A view of growth antithetical to natural and biological systems of maturation. Conversely, Urban Moss looks at city design from the point of view of the individual, arguing that change is not something that is “planned” at all, but rather something that germinates over time from which those overlooked and ubiquitous spaces emerge into a vibrant public realm.
This research explored hybrid digital/analog media as a means to investigate the potentials of micro-interventions throughout the urban fabric. Just as moss—a plant known for its reciprocal benefits—creates the conditions for other species to live and thrive alongside it, this research investigates bottom-up infrastructure built in the interstices of cities to create an emergent and vibrant public realm. Students utilized traditional methods of city analysis, such as sketching and personal observation, and combined them with advanced digital techniques to document the imaginative potentials of overlooked and ubiquitous urban spaces. Students explored the possibilities of pixel-based editing software to mediate between physical and digital mediums while compiling a hybrid digital/analog “workbook.”