Technological Change Laboratory (TCLab)

Research Labs + Centers

Fall 2012 + Spring 2013

Smita Srinivas, director, May Yu, coordinator, Sean Ansanelli, coordinator, Deepa Mehta, researcher

The Technological Change Laboratory (TCLab), www.tc-lab.org, is a research and advisory program associated with the Urban Planning program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. TCLab’s mission is to better connect economic theory with development planning practice on issues of technological change. How are technology and industry embedded in specific cities and countries? Can employment or products be made more efficient and equitable? We want to know more about how institutional change occurs in particular places. TCLab programs and scholars work across several industrial sectors and technologies.

TCLab’s mission has attracted substantial global interest at a time of rising spread of technological innovations, and rising debates of technological learning, knowledge and planning. While learning and knowledge opportunities may be at the heart of economic growth, cities across the world are struggling to generate employment and better quality learning opportunities. Even when urban infrastructure investments are rising, they are rarely well connected to learning and skills opportunities. For many developing countries youth populations are rapidly rising and so are the political challenges of unemployment and underemployment. In 2012-2013 TCLab continued to contribute to debates on technology, innovation, institutions and development, and especially this past year, on labour institutions within cities. TCLab also rounded out perspectives on development by a closer look at healthcare technologies and narratives on health.

The 2013 TCLab UP Bangalore studio was focused on the conditions under which employment, apprenticeship systems, and learning opportunities could be redesigned and structured into urban infrastructure projects to boost economic and social opportunities for low-income workers.

TCLab develops new frameworks for understanding the complex dynamics of knowledge and technology transfer at different scales of development.  Besides conventional industry analysis and economic techniques, TClab projects experiment with new techniques to critically examine national policies for industrialization and innovation, enable local community health and labor advocates to act within the context of multi-national supply chains, and draw upon technical drawings, procurement contracts, narratives and visual culture to express the real-world implications of technology development decisions. TCLab studios also offer M.S. and Ph.D. students a professional setting in which to develop their skills on issues of technology and policy-either through the study of the growth of specific urban industry plans (TCLab UP Studio 2012) or by analyzing how labour institutions can accommodate viable technical skills and new forms of knowledge (TCLab UP Studio 2013). By working with real clients and partner organizations, TCLab aims to foster a viable economic analysis for real cities and institutional design, In 2013 spring, the Technological Change Lab (TCLab) UP Studio helped client LabourNet, in reconsidering  how informal construction workers and their relationship to public infrastructure projects might best be restructured. A team of 8 Columbia students and a TA visited construction sites, witnessed construction training programs, and spoke to several stakeholders in Bangalore, India.

Building from the 2013 Columbia India studio, TCLab has also begun to more critically examine the conditions under which employment, apprenticeship systems and learning opportunities could be redesigned and structured into urban infrastructure projects to boost economic and social opportunities for low-income workers. The studio has led to an ongoing effort to develop new programs at TCLab around technology and informal urban employment worldwide.

TCLab UP Bangalore Studio A
TCLab B
“Narrate: Complexity and Narrative in Health,” Smita Srinivas C
“Narrate: Complexity and Narrative in Health,” Patricia Thomas D