The Just City Lab @HarvardGSD

Would we design better places if we put the values of equality, inclusion or equity first? If a community articulated what it stood for, what it believed in, what it aspired to be - as a city; as a neighborhood - would it have a better chance of creating and sustaining a more healthy, vibrant place with positive economic, health, civic, cultural and environmental conditions? Imagine that the issues of race, income, education and unemployment inequality, and the resulting segregation, isolation and fear, could be addressed by planning and designing for greater access, agency, ownership, beauty, diversity or empowerment. Now imagine the Just City - the cities, neighborhoods and public spaces that thrive using a value-based approach to urban stabilization, revitalization and transformation. Imagine a set of values that would define a community's aspiration for the Just City, and imagine that we can assign metrics to measure design's impact on justice, and imagine how we can use these findings to design interventions that minimize the conditions of injustice.

The Just City Lab investigates the definition of urban justice and the just city, and examines how design and planning contribute to the conditions of justice and injustice in cities, neighborhoods and the public realm. During the 2016 - 2017 academic year at the GSD, the Lab began the development of an index of urban justice principles and values. The index identifies 12 principles and defines 50 values that contribute to the realization of the Just City. The Lab recognizes that issues of injustice and justice are different for different contexts. As such, the index is intended to aid communities in developing a unique value proposition for their own Just City.