Local Global

Ila Berman / Mona El Khafif


URBANbuild Local Global—is primarily a documentation of the work of URBANbuild—a comprehensive program launched as a unique multi-scaled laboratory for city research as well as a vehicle to generate innovative design strategies and site-specific interventions to aid in the New Orleans’s revitalization and future urban development. The program primarily focused its investigations on culturally significant neighborhoods central to the core of the city that had been severely damaged, not only by Hurricane Katrina, but also by a long history of neglect and urban decay.  

The program tactically operated across a wide range of distinct scales: from the macro-scale of the city and its constituent districts and neighborhoods, to the micro-scales of individuated buildings acting as architectural components inserted within the urban field. “URBANbuild” signifies the compression of this broad spectrum, referring to a progression that spans from urban design to design-build while alluding to the complex enfolding of design research with material practices—the interweaving of analytical urban investigations and speculative architectural design research concurrent with the construction of real built artifacts. URBANbuild’s multi-layered nature emerges as a method for collaborative cross-disciplinary dialog, as a resistance to either overly local and ad hoc, or overly global and generic solutions for the city’s future.


8 x 12" Portrait
Hardcover, Trade Cloth
Publication date: 
November 2009
1.57kg / 3.5lb
Rights world: 

URBANbuild: local_global is, quite literally, a double-sided book. It simultaneously look inward toward the city of New Orleans, and outward toward a larger global context to reconnect local research, analysis and design with a broader framework that embraces external knowledge and experience. One side of the book reveals the local operations of URBANbuild, divided into seven distinct sections that move from city datascapes and urban cartographies to megablock housing, portable and mobile infill strategies and design-build prototypes. On the other side of the book unfolds a compilation of global research divided into an additional seven sections containing mega-scaled metropolitan statistical data, urban morphologies, and an analytical inventory of architectural precedents drawn from a network of comparable world watercities, that collectively inform and contextualize local URBANbuild research and practice.  The creation of this local-global matrix mines the intellectual capital of other watercities challenged by related issues and establishes an inventory of linked models at multiple scales to aid in the rehabilitation of development of global cities in low lying regions.


Book/Design Awards:

AIGA Design Award, Top 50 books/50 Covers award for URBANbuild local global (2009)

Award of Excellence, 51st Annual Design Exhibition, Communication Arts (2010)


Website: Electronic Book


About the author: 

Ila Berman

Ila Berman, Principal of Scaleshift design and the O’Donovan Director of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, is an architect, theorist, and curator of architecture and urbanism whose research investigates the relationship between culture and the evolution of contemporary material and spatial practices. Dr. Berman’s design work and publications on architectural and urban territories include her forthcoming book on art and architectural installation: Expanded Field: Architectural Installation Beyond Art, New Constellations New Ecologies, Sustainable Skyscrapers: Vertical Ecologies and Urban Ecosystems, “Amphibious Territories” in AD: Territory: Architecture Beyond Environmentand “Fluid Cartographies” in New Orleans: Strategies for a City in Soft Land in addition to writings in NEXT AEDS, Praxis, APPENDX, GAM.07 Zero Landscape, and the Cornell Journal of Architecture among others. Her work has been widely exhibited including installations at the Contemporary Art Center, the Ogden Museum, the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art and the International Architectural Biennale in Venice, Italy.


Mona El Khafif

Mona El Khafif, a partner of Scaleshift design in Toronto and Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Waterloo, is an architect and urban designer whose research operates at multiple scales, examining the interdisciplinary aspects of urban regeneration strategies and urban ecologies. Dr. El Khafif’s recent research projects and publications include: Staged Urbanism: Urban Spaces for Art, Culture and Consumption in the Age of Leisure Society, Transformative Land: Envisioning Baylink Pier 70, Jerusalem: Divided City/Common Ground; Made in China_ Rapid Urban Prototyping; and Landscape Tectonics_Urban Strategies developed for the areas hit by the Tohoku Tsunami 2011, along with the exhibitions: 10x10 Cities: Green Facts Challenges, Futures(OP)space—an installation designed for the re-activation of empty storefronts presented at the 2010 ZERO1 San Jose Biennial, and iLOUNGE an interactive installation presented at the ZERO1 Biennial and Northern Sparks in Minneapolis in 2012.