Each conference’s book divides itself into panels of 4 individual and varied presenters. In a text format reminiscent of the now ubiquitous TED talks, each presenter gives a synopsis of their field of expertise and a statement of belief in what they see as crucial themes of the future of urban design along with case studies.
“The future of urbanism will look nothing like it did in the past.”
Infrastructure, however, is monstrously complicated. It’s use, scale, lifespan, and location are all subject to political forces and, in America, public opinion. Henk Ovink of Rebuild by Design (RBD) makes the case that though a simple solution is always sought, “if we simplify reality, it will quickly catch up to use and make all our efforts… utterly meaningless.” He believes the embracing complexity allows us to craft solutions that are meaningful. This means changing the status quo, government process of identifying a need, filtering down the program, and then at the end reaching out to designers. He believes that shifting the trajectory of planning will require embracing research by design as a political tool.
“Collaboration through alliances is key.”
In this volume, Moderator Brent Ryan focused on the decline of cities and the fundamental issue surrounding loss of population. Ryan explains that the increasing mobility of capital and the trend of prosperous people having less children and higher rates of relocation creates a difficult problem that is in contrast to the usual focus on the increasing needs of growing cities.
Sonja Beeck of Chezweitz asserts that “90 percent of our cities are built. The task we have now is change management.” She shows that Germans, dealing with population decline in various areas due to loss of industry, focused a variety of approaches of revitalizing those regions to better adapt to the future. By implementing more flexible approaches, stable systems can be developed more easily over time.
Challenging the questions of our urban future is a crucial exercise that is taken head on in these two conferences and accompanying manuscripts. New challenges arise with each passing day and designers must meet them with innovative, thoughtful, and implementable solutions. These companions books a wealth of ideas applied to the spectrum of urbanity’s issues.
Infrastructural Monument and Scaling Infrastructure were published by Princeton Architectural Press on January 26th, 2016.