No 17 - The City of Dreams, 15th of May, 2014
How will our cities look in 2050? Is Eindhoven still the most innovative city and what is the role of design in shaping the city and its identity? With the title City of the Future the Dutch Flemish house deBuren organised a series of debates to sketch future city scenarios.
In Eindhoven we will specifically discuss the role of innovation and design based on 3 future scenarios presented by leading experts in the field. The debate will also challenge the audience to sketch future scenarios and interact with the audience in a designerly way.
A report by
Debate, the Dream City
The discussion kicks off with moderator Nathan de Groot presenting utopian and dystopian ideas from the past. Already a century ago people dreamed of flying cities, indoor cities and they questioned the role of architects, by visualising an automatic building process.
“What is clear, is that we overestimated the power of machines at that time”, mentions De Groot. At this debate we will present future scenario’s, looking at 2050 with a team of acknowledged experts that each will speculate about the future.
The first scenario is presented by Ulf Hackauf, architect at the Why Factory,
a research group, think tank for urban futures at the faculty of architecture at Delft University. De Why Factory is linked to the architecture agency MVRDV.
Hackauf explains that in the 70ths a lot of people were envisioning the future, specifically focussing on the year 2000. “Now, having passed that magic number, we have seen that we are not able to predict the future. Though designing Utopia’s or working with what if proposals for the future that doesn’t necessarily need to come true, are very essential to feed the discussion.”
In the Why Factory students work side by side with professionals on what if scenario’s, looking at the role of technology or societal trends like bottom up initiatives. To exemplify this approach, Ulf Hackauf brings up the Anarcity project that questions when we need our neighbour? In the project students questioned how autonomous people could live and when they needed neighbours to collaborate. Another project that Hackauf brings up is the Barbapapa city, inspired on ambient technology. What would happen if the environment would react to you; if it would be shaped around you like a Barbapapa figure that can be shaped around almost anything.? What if you apply this to architecture? Hackauf presents an impressive movie that visualises how a shower can be shaped into a pool and where houses are constantly changing according to the realm of individuals. What will this mean for future cities? Will we face constantly changing cities where the distinction between city and nature will be completely blurred?
Will architects disappear?
For the audience, alumni Nick questions: Do you fear for your job as an architect? Will architects be disappearing? According to Hackauf the classical role of an architect is changing. “We are faced with the fact that we have to cleverly reuse materials, the period that you could draw a masterplan and develop it according to your own ideas is over. It doesn’t mean that the profession is disappearing, but you have to be able to moderate a discussion.”
IKEA CITY, New alliances?
The next presentation is by Marijntje Denters, researcher at VPRO Tegenlicht (Backlight), She questions how much impact corporate institutes like Philips, Siemens and IKEA can have on the city? Denters shows parts of the documentary that the VPRO made on this topic where they follow IKEA that bought a huge piece of land in East of London. In the documentary it is clearly expressed that IKEA wants to have long term involvement and engagement in the project and aims to built new partnerships between the public and private sector. “My first idea was, this is very scaring especially because of the long term engagement,” explains Denters. “They wanted to built a gated community with someone overlooking the neighbourhood. That is a scaring scenario, but if you compare it to the Philips city of the past, it might not be too bad. In fact people felt very save and comfortable in it. I think we should be a little bit more open on what they can bring in especially in a period of crises. Maybe we should look at collective public private partnerships, new hybrid forms and new alliances. “
Koen Verhaert gives a presentation on DIY city planning, or the democratisation of urbanism as he frames it. Verhaert who was born in Antwerp has the Dutch nationally and reflects on the differences between Belgium and the Netherlands. “In Belgian building your house is a very individual thing. It’s a co- creation process between yourself and an architect. Besides they love stand- a -lone houses.
In the Netherlands the crises is related to the housing policy, in Belgium there is no crises.”
As for Verhaert we see a democratisation of innovation, more and more people get involved in the innovation process. That certainly has an impact on cities.
Verhaert therefore stresses the importance of leadership in the city; if there is no one overlooking the process we will and up with unfinished products. “That is not fruitful for a city.”
SELF REGULATING CITIES
After the presentation there is a forum discussion on the question if you can design a self regulating system that prevents that bottom up initiatives in cities become a sprawl?
How far can you go without leadership? As for Hackauf, you don’t need a specific leader, it can be based on products. As for Marijntje Denters it requires a specific leader as Benjamin Barber pointed out in his book If Mayors ruled the world , mayors can have a huge impact on city planning. Take for instance the impact Bloomberg had in New York or George Ferguson, mayor of Bristol, who forced collaboration with the transition town movement. These leaders can really mean something. Being independent (standing above the political parties) and speaking the right language can be a very powerful tool for future cities.”
About the speakers
Nathan de Groot
Koen Verhaert is sinds 1997 actief binnen VERHAERT. Dit bedrijf helpt ondernemingen zoals Stryker, Coca Cola en Ab-Inbev bij productinnovatieproces; van strategie tot uitvoering.Koen Verhaert doceerthet Master-na-master programma Innovatie en Entrepreneurship aan de AMS (Antwerpen Management School). Hij is tevens auteur van het boek Het verhaal achter nieuwe producten.
Marijntje Denters is researcher voor verschillende programma's van de VPRO, waaronder Tegenlicht en Zomergasten. Voor Tegenlicht deed ze onderzoek naar mogelijke toekomstscenario's voor de stad, wat resulteerde in Making Cities: de stad van de toekomst.
Nathan de Groot is urbanist/journalist/optimist. Nathan nam in 2012/13 deel aan de post-graduate opleiding van het Strelka Instituut voor Media, Architectuur & Design in Moskou. Hij schreef voor The Pop-Up City en won met een internationaal team de Vision Competition van de Tallinn Architecture Biennale met een toekomstvisie voor stadsdeel Väike-Õismäe.
Ulf Hackauf is a teacher and researcher at the Delft University of Technology. He is also is a member of the Why Factory (T?F) : a global think-tank and research institute, run by MVRDV and Delft University of Technology and led by professor Winy Maas. It explores possibilities for the development of our cities by focusing on the production of models and visualisations for cities of the future.