April 2014 / ongoing: Preparations for MoMa exhibition on "Uneven growth: tactical urbanisms for expanding megacities"
Apr 20, 2014
Under the directorship of curator Pedro Gadanho, the MoMa's Department of Architecture and Design is currently preparing an exhibition on Uneven Growth, dealing with the design and infrastructural challenges faced by mega-cities around the world, to be launched in Fall 2014. The exhibition will feature research and design proposals by six interdisciplinary architectural teams on several major metropolitan regions, including Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York and Rio de Janeiro.
A preparatory workshop was held at the MoMa's PS1 this past October, in which the design teams presented their initial ideas for the exhibition. Critical commentaries and reactions were solicited by a panel of interdisciplinary urbanists, architects and designers, including Neil Brenner of the Urban Theory Lab-GSD. A video of the event has just been posted, which contains the team's presentations and the full panel of reactions (Neil Brenner's comments begin at: 2:38:18).
It is extremely exciting to see the MoMa engaging with questions of contemporary urbanism and design from a critical and global perspective. We eagerly look forward to the exhibition this Fall, to the accompanying book publication, and to the many discussions they will provoke about the contemporary urban conditon.
Mar 17, 2015
The Urban Theory Lab recently opened their exhibition "Operational Landscapes" at the Melbourne School of Design (MSD). The exhibition asks: In what sense do we today live in an "urban age"? Frequently invoked by scholars, policy-makers, planners, designers, and architects, usually with reference to the proposition that more than 50 percent of the world's population now lives within cities, such a question provokes further questioning: Can the nature of our urban world be understood and mapped exclusively with reference to the growth of cities and their populations?
The exhibition turns this proposition upside-down and inside-out by speculating on a radically alternative mapping of contemporary planetary urbanization. What happens to our cognitive map of the global urban condition if we focus not on the global cities or megacities of the world, but on the wide-ranging sociospatial and environmental transformations that are currently unfolding in supposedly "remote" or "wilderness" regions such as the Amazon, the Arctic, the Gobi desert steppe, the Himalayas, the Pacific Ocean, the Sahara desert, and Siberia, and even the earth's atmosphere? To what degree are such zones now being integrated within a worldwide fabric of urbanization? How are they being restructured and enclosed to support the energy, water, material, food and logistics needs of major cities?
Through speculative cartographies of these emergent "operational landscapes," the exhibition aims to illuminate the radical transformations of land-use, infrastructure, and ecology far beyond the city limits that have made the contemporary formation of planetary urbanization possible.
With support from: Office of the Dean, Melbourne School of Design; Office of the Dean, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; Milton Fund, Harvard University Medical School
‘AND THE URBAN EXPLODED’: LOUISE DORIGNON REVIEWS UTL EXHIBITION FOR ‘SOCIETY AND SPACE’ + ‘URBANITÉS’
Sep 27, 2015
Urban geographer Louise Dorignon of the Université Lumière Lyon II has published a detailed review of the Urban Theory Lab's exhibition on Operational Landscapes at the Melbourne School of Design from Spring 2015. The review appeared in English on the website of Society & Space, and in French in an issue of the journal Urbanités. It offers a very thoughtful, systematic discussion of our recent exhibition in Melbourne, at once in relation to the UTL's ongoing research program, and in relation to the framework presented in our book, Implosions/Explosions (Berlin: Jovis, 2014). Many thanks to Louise Dorignon for such a precise, detailed and thoughtful engagement with our work. We also thank our colleagues at Urbanités for kindly permitting the essay’s translation into English.
'EXIT', BY UTL RESEARCHER / ASSISTANT PROFESSOR ROBERT G. PIETRUSKO, AT PALAIS DE TOKYO MUSEUM, PARIS.
Dec 03, 2015
The piece, “Exit” is a 45-minute piece composed of data-generated animated maps that investigate human migrations today and their leading causes, including the impacts of climate change. Its complete 2015 update has been planned to coincide with the pivotal Paris-based United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). A crucial opportunity to limit global warming, the COP21 provides a powerful context in which to consider the issues at the heart of Exit: "It’s almost as though the sky, and the clouds in it and the pollution of it, were making their entry into history. Not the history of the seasons, summer, autumn, winter, but of population flows, of zones now uninhabitable for reasons that aren’t just to do with desertification, but with disappearance, with submersion of land. This is the future." (Paul Virilio, 2009)
Based on a prompt and on-going dialog with French philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio, this experimental work was created in collaboration with architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Columbia University associate professor Laura Kurgan, and a core team of scientists and geographers.
“EXIT” was originally commissioned in 2008 by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain for the exhibition “Native Land/Stop Eject,” and is now part of their permanent collection.
Jan 11, 2016
In collaboration with Christian Schmid and Milica Topalovic of the ETH Zurich and the Future Cities Lab (FCL) Singapore, the UTL contributed to an exhibition on "Cartographies of Planetary Urbanization" at the Shenzhen Biennale. The agenda is summarized below:
Today, urbanization has become planetary. The boundaries of the urban have been exploded to encompass vast territories far beyond the limits of even the largest mega-city regions. Meanwhile, novel patterns of urbanization are crystallising that challenge inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded, universal settlement type. This exhibit proposes a radical rethinking of inherited cartographies of the urban. The popular claim that we now live in an 'urban age' because the world's majority population lives in ‘cities’ is a deeply misleading basis for understanding the contemporary “urban revolution” theorised by Henri Lefebvre. Cities are not isolated manifestations or universally replicated expressions of the urban condition, but are embedded within wider, territorially uneven and restlessly evolving processes of urbanization at all spatial scales, encompassing both built and unbuilt spaces, across earth, water, sea and atmosphere. In this exhibit, interdisciplinary research teams from the ETH Zürich, ETH Future Cities Laboratory Singapore and the Urban Theory Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design present new frameworks for understanding and representing contemporary forms of urbanization.
The exhibition highlights the interplay between (a) the search for new theoretical concepts, (b) territorially grounded studies of specific patterns and pathways of urbanization and (c) the use of cartography to decipher new geographies of urbanization for which we currently lack an adequate analytical or representational vocabulary.