Sustainable Systems


With sustainability and social engagement at the heart of The New School mission, Sustainable Systems is a class all First Year students take, which seeks to provide a foundational understanding of environmental issues, introductory field research and complex systems — crucial points for future designers and design strategists. Sustainable Systems brings students across the various programs of study together, from Fashion, Art, Media & Technology, and Strategic Design & Management. This semester the course taught by Anne Attali was divided into 4 sections : Water, Materials, Energy and Climate. It is also an opportunity to dig into another side of Paris.


Each section includes fields trips and guest lecturers as a way to open new perspectives and get first hand experience, such as rooftop gardening, in the heart of Paris. The Energy section is focused around food and urban farming. Every semester the class visits green rooftops in Paris, and this semester the class went to the EDRF (French energy supplier) rooftop on Rue d’Aboukir (10 minutes from school), managed by Veni Verdi, an association supporting urban gardens. Emilie, the garden supervisor, welcomed the students and presented the work of her association and more specifically the story of this particular garden. She then  divided the students into groups and assigned different tasks, including: building special structures from pallets to grow strawberries, watering the plants, weeding, hunting for slugs (this was actually quite fun and one of the most popular activities!).


The plants are grown in “bags” for practical reasons but it will soon be changed to “open ground”. The building’s employees helped carried the soil up to the rooftop. Once a week, Emilie sells the garden’s produce in the hallway of the building.


Brainstorming for the best way to design the vertical growing structure.


Hunting for slugs.


Kelly found an enormous slug and was very proud of her catch.

The Sustainable Systems class at Parsons Paris was developed in collaboration with Anne Attali, Kathryn Frost, and Bridget O’Rourke (program director). Don’t miss the Patch Project created in the Sustainable Practices class.

Photos: Anne Attali