What would a city designed by Hip-Hop look like? Sekou Cooke, Assistant Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture wants to find out, and he’s exploring that concept in his new exhibit at New York’s Center for Architecture titled, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture. With a cross-section of work by students, academics, and practitioners of architecture, Close to the Edge imagines and executes environments that embody the spirit of the multicultural movement started by the Black and Latinx youth of 1970s New York.
As explained on Sekou’s website, Hip-Hop architecture is a theoretical movement that seeks to create an impact on the built environment and give voice to those underrepresented in the world of design. According to Data USA, the architecture field is still greatly lacking in diversity, not just by race and ethnicity, but gender as well. This gigantic gap continues to lessen every year, but there is still a long way to go.
Bigger issues aside, we could imagine what a city influenced by hip-hop culture would look like all day. Geography has a tendency to dictate the sound of hip-hop — with the sample-based palette of east coast rap, the chill west-coast sprawl of g-funk, and the bass-rattling boom of southern legends like OutKast — so it’s interesting to fantasize about how sound might influence physical design. And it’s not a far-fetched idea, either. Plenty of mediums have reflected a shared aesthetic throughout history. Consider the geometric simplicity of modernism and how it reflects the cold rigidity of early electronic music, or the ornate stylings of the Baroque era and how it permeated through different mediums of design.
Point being, this is an exciting concept and definitely worth investigating if you’re in NYC. The exhibit hall features work by legendary graffiti artist Chino, as well as graphic design by design studio WeShouldDoItAll.