Urban Future Lab
The Future is now! Located in San Antonio, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, we are a living laboratory that explores the rapidly changing dynamics of urban futures and how they relate to local currencies. Led by Dr. Antonio Petrov the Urban Future Lab, an interdisciplinary think tank and research and teaching lab at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), calls for action through design research, citizen agency, and public interest design to address challenges of contemporary urbanization reshaping the future of our cities.
Framed as, “On the Edge of Future: Narratives in the Making of a City,” our mission is to increase the scope of design and leverage social and cultural currencies to more directly engage in the processes of spatial production and economic development. Dialogue is our primarily means to explore how visions and ideas lay the groundwork and, in fact, activate inactive assets to become contributions in nurturing the needs of communities, culture, and the geographies they are part of. We constantly explore new forms of engagement and outside-the-box thinking, and ways to increase citizen agency, activate new alliances and constituencies, and develop inclusive environments in which we can discuss, ask questions, and instrumentalize knowledge.
Bearing “the responsibility of being the future” we exist at the intersection of the physical and human environment addressing the challenges of the rapidly changing dynamics of urbanization in Texas. Our aim is to forecast and shape impactful societal engagement, shared urban economies, and cultures through design, bringing climate change, the environment, planetary urbanization, critical preservation, infrastructures and information technology –– all fundamentally reshaping the city –– into focus to strategically reconceptualize the relationships between the city and the environment.
We are at a fantastic place being able to not only examine a wide range of methodologies but also how these translate into new models exemplifying how every generation strives for new definitions of the future. The challenges facing the future are significant. Moving forward, however, the future is not just about visions, speculation, and radical experiments; we risk being side-lined in not addressing pressing issues. While it is critical to developing a shared vision for social, political, economic, ecological, material, and technological agencies we as architects can produce within the built environment, it is also vital to accomplishing representations of equality for those unable to sit at the table where decisions are made.
At the Urban Future Lab, we believe it is about how we translate visions into values, responsibilities, and collective aspirations to catalyze new inquiries and the mechanisms necessary to deliver them. We are passionate about these opportunities and how they thrive at the intersection of the university and its local and global communities.
We have produced an abundance of cultural and pedagogical experiments striving to explore new horizons and question preexisting domains. Beyond disciplinary, ideological, and geographic boundaries, our creative activities are devoted to articulating alternative platforms for dialogue and collaboration with the goal to think about ways through which architecture advances the development of culture and society. Framed as, “On the Edge of Future: Narratives in the Making of a City,” our mission is to provide, promote, and energize the relationships between local and global communities.
A proposal envisioning a future for the UNESCO World Heritage site, San Antonio and adjacent communities.
Dr. Antonio Petrov