[OCL] Open Cities Laboratory

Urban Regeneration

“The challenge for urban design in its second half-century, as the authors in this issue recognize, is not to establish a canon for the discipline based on a particular idea about what a city ought to be. It is to come to terms intellectually with the diversity of urban dwellers’ needs and desires: to develop a sophisticated awareness of the environment and one’s impact upon it; to be more civil and responsive towards others; to not simply express concern for those less fortunate but to act on their behalf; to use technological advances for more equitable distribution of resources, not only for increasing personal wealth; and to tolerate less waste and redundancy. Different “urbanisms” should flourish in a still urbanizing world, including places where cappuccino may be happily consumed…”
– Professor Alex Kreiger, Professor in Practice of Urban Design, Emeritus Harvard GSD

The Open Cities Laboratory (OCL) cluster is our center for research on the social, spatial and environmental complexities of the 21st century city. Cities are humankind’s nature. They offer opportunities not only for innovation and economic growth but for a positive impact on the environment. Through our courses, internships & programs in the OCL cluster, you will study the historic growth and transformation of the city, the challenges it has repeatedly faced over time, and those it faces today. You will learn to reflect on questions such as how Rome proposes dealing with its changing climate.

Study Sustainable Urban Design and Architecture in Rome

Courses from the OCL Catalog

  • OCL 210 Sustainable Rome
  • OCL 200 Sustainable Roman Urbanism and Agriculture 
  • OCL 302 Urban Regeneration and Preservation 
  • INT 101 Academic Internship

Internship Spotlight in Architecture, Urban Systems, and Landscape Design

Students may take part in workshops and field experience involving placemaking, architectural design, tactical urbanism, urban policy and planning and community development. Our internships are curricular, followed closely by our faculty who coordinate public symposia and publications. Students may take part in workshops and field experience involving placemaking, architectural design, tactical urbanism, urban policy and planning and community development. Our internships are curricular, followed closely by our faculty who coordinate public symposia and publications.

With the Open Cities Lab, you could intern with an architecture and landscape design studio founded in the early 2000s and based in Rome. This studio operates in a transversal way in the disciplines of landscape, architecture and city design, thanks to the complementary contributions of the various professionals who are part of it: architects specializing in the building project and in the definition of urban systems and landscape architects. Through the project, the studio aims to achieve a profound integration between the various components of the habitat: buildings and urban phenomena, internal and external spaces, characteristics and vocations of the place and behavior of the inhabitants.

Students interested in enrolling in an academic internship while abroad will receive individual advising as our staff works to find the best customized internship placements for our students. As part of the Open Cities Laboratory, you could have the chance to intern with an organic farm and historical initiative of sustainable urban agriculture. This community partner has been active in Rome since the 1970s and began as a project to recover abandoned public lands and to actively promote sustainable and alternative ways of living and active citizenship.

Meet the Director

Borromini Institute Director Tom Rankin is an architect residing in Rome, where he is actively involved in design research, practice, and teaching. He completed his Master’s degree in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Princeton University and a “Laurea” in Architecture from “Sapienza” University of Rome.
His focus lies in studying the historical and emerging aspects of the city and landscape as a foundation for sustainable urbanism and architecture.

OCL Cluster NEWS

  • Sustainable Service Learning

    Sustainable Service Learning

    Our students love to get involved in environmental projects in their adopted city, Rome. Whether this be helping fight climate change through conscientious shopping and recycling, joining in with Retake Rome to clean up public areas, or participating in internships supporting urban agricultural or welcoming immigrants, there are always ways for the study abroad student…

  • Open House Roma

    Open House Roma

    It’s always a thrill to be in Rome when Open House comes around. This non-profit organization has been opening up special sites and properties to the public for over a decade and has become a true annual institution. A wide range of destinations, from tiny modern apartments to huge churches and archaeological sites make up…

  • L’orologio – Fall 23

    L’orologio – Fall 23

    The new edition of L’Orologio – the Borromini Institute’s quarterly publication – is out!