MAS.552 Settlements Without Course, Fall Term 2019


Bernhard Lang

Bernhard Lang

Kent Larson, Professor of the Practice
Wednesdays 1 to 4pm
E15-341 unless otherwise noted
View on Canvas


Norman Foster
Kent Larson 

Course Description:

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Of that 70%, 3.5 billion people will likely live in informal settlements without proper access to power, sanitation, clean water, housing, and mobility. Cost, complexity, and political impediments make it inconceivable that they will ever be served by conventional infrastructure and buildings. The scale and pace of urbanization calls for integrated, flexible, and dynamic solutions that preserve the vibrancy and social ties found in these communities. Can we conceive of Settlements WITHOUT Infrastructure by using emerging technology, materials, and design strategies to create high-performance autonomous communities? Can we develop solutions that scale to serve the need of the different communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America? Through a series of guest-invited lectures, discussions, and student-led discovery, we will explore cost-efficient and lightweight infrastructure systems to serve the needs of an increasingly urbanized world.


Settlements without is open to dedicated students who commit to active attendance, the necessary independent research and personally doing something substantive to transform the world for the better. The class looks into a diverse group of people with a background in biomedical engineering, genetically modified organisms, new technologies, design, engineering, new materials, economics, architecture, and/or social issues.

To guaranteed the most diverse group, students will be selected according to CV + 1 min video (informal self-introduction and interests). Send it to, due by Sept 5th. 

Featured Speakers:

Guest speakers include researchers and entrepreneurs from academia and industry. Speakers will give one hour lecture every even week. They will present material intended to inform the development of student projects and to inspire new ideas.

Anticipated guest speakers are Lord Norman Foster, Foster + Partners; Don E. Ingber, Harvard Wyss Institute; Mitchell Joachim, Terreform*; Dava Newman, NASA,  MIT Professor*; Kate Krueger, New Harvest; Leslie Dewan, Transatomic Power, MIT, and more.

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