Studio Introduction: Unforeseen Urbanity

As a NuVu community, we spend our days in an urban ecosystem -- an ecology shared by humans,  plants and animals of all scales -- in the context of a human city. While humans in Cambridge have created and adopted objects, substances, and structures to enable us to move, travel, work, eat, study, sleep, socialize, and play in new ways, the products of our actions, both behavioral and physical, have led other species to change to accommodate us. Humans haven't predicted the ways our creations would be used by other species, or the ways our lifestyles would impact other kinds of life, but we can cultivate this radical new kind of understanding.

What would we notice if we examined coexistence as it occurs right here in our neighborhood? What would we see if we looked at the impact of pollution on species on our own NuVu block instead of the world stage? How have the habitats and habits of other species responded to our human priorities here in Cambridge? How might our sense of ourselves change - as individuals and communities - if we connect more deeply, listen more often, and look closer at the unforeseen local ecosystem we’ve shaped?

This studio explores these ideas and more using the lens of “Externality” to look at unforeseen human impacts. 


  1. economics:
    A side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved, such as the pollination of surrounding crops by bees kept for honey.
  2. philosophy:
    The fact of existing outside the perceiving subject.

In the context of this studio, the concept of externality will help us more understand our hyper-local ecosystem. Through reading, research, and discussion we will begin to understand which life forms and processes are bystanders to human events and interventions, which have instead influenced our behavior, which benefit or suffer because of our actions, and which seemingly resist or embrace the human city. 

Human behavior is  having many unintentional effects on our surrounding environment and ecosystems - some delightful and some devastating. In this studio, we will design devices or interventions that call attention to, remediate, or amplify human externalities in our local  Cambridge ecosystem.


Andrew Todd Marcus