The Beats And Rhymes Of Hip-Hop Are Changing How We Design Our Cities (GOOD)

Hip Hop arch camps

From Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five rapping in their 1982 classic “New York New York” about “Staring at a skyscraper reaching into heaven / When over in the ghetto I’m livin’ in hell,” to Jay Z rhyming on 2017’s “Marcy Me” that “I’m from Marcy Houses, where the boys die by the thousand,” hip-hop has always had an intimate relationship with the architecture of cities. But what if the low-income youth of color who live in the ghettos and housing projects of Gotham — or Los Angeles or Detroit — had the technical know-how to redesign their hometowns and create buildings that serve their communities?

 Places and spaces determine our culture.

That’s the goal of Michael Ford, a Detroit-born architectural designer and founder of the Hip Hop Architecture Camp, “a one-week intensive experience, designed to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning, creative place making and economic development through the lens of hip-hop culture.”

This summer, the free camp, which is sponsored by software company Autodesk, is giving roughly 250 10- to 17-year-old students in six cities (Atlanta, Austin, the Bronx, Detroit, Houston, and Los Angeles) technically sound and culturally relevant lessons on architecture and urban planning.

Ultimately, places and spaces determine our culture, determine how we interact, how we live, and even our health conditions,” says Ford. “If we don’t have someone sitting at the table, advocating for black and brown communities, oftentimes they are overlooked.”

Like so many STEM fields, early exposure to specific software, hardware, and equipment can open the door to students continuing to study and thrive in a career. While the study of architecture typically still involves the use of physical models and pencil and paper drawings, mastering computer-aided design, or CAD, software is key. Ford says Autodesk’s Tinkercad software was the perfect fit for teaching kids at the camps because there is a very low learning curve.

The Beats And Rhymes Of Hip-Hop Are Changing How We Design Our Cities _ GOOD Education