Terreform is a suggestive variation on "Terraform" [Latin terra, earth + formare, to shape, fashion, build], originally coined by Jack Williamson in his 1942 science-fiction story, Collision Orbit, to describe the process of transforming the environments of other planets to enable them to support life.
Terreform is a non-profit 501(c)(3), urban research studio and advocacy group. Founded in 2005 by Michael Sorkin, its mission is to investigate the forms, policies, technologies, and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable, and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet.
Terreform works as a “friend of the court,” dedicated to raising urban expectations and to advocating innovative and progressive ideas as widely as possible. We undertake self-initiated investigations into both local and global issues and make research and design available to community and other organizations to support independent environmental and planning initiatives.
Terreform gained public attention and critical acclaim in 2006 with Project Loisaida 2106, a proposal for the History Channel’s City of the Future competition. Like much of Terreform’s work, it focused on New York City, our home and primary field of speculation. With a scheme imagining a post-automotive and resilient Lower East Side, Project Loisaida won the competition’s Infiniti Award.
New York City (Steady) State, our ongoing research project, is a comprehensive investigation into urban self-sufficiency. While centered on New York, it is intended to raise issues and propose solutions for cities around the world that seek to take radical measures to secure their respiration and autonomy and to achieve a more sustainably democratic polity, founded in the local. This start of this research was featured in the United States Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Biennale and will be published in a series of forthcoming volumes.
In 2016, Terreform launched its publishing imprint, UR (Urban Research). UR is a medium for disseminating our work and as a support structure for designers and researchers who share the project of a progressive and liberated urbanism.