The future is urban. This is a fact beyond statistical ambivalence. Society today is defined by the logics of concentrated urban regions. This is only proliferating in terms of speed and scale and is neither restricted by territorial borders nor limited to certain realms, may they be economic, technological, cultural or social. In parallel, issues such as unequal access to food, education, and welfare, insufficient housing standards, hazardous waste, etc., resulting from this trend are increasing for coming generations. While future urban scenarios are presumed to be increasingly assessable, we become biasedand find ourselves constrained when it comes to actually imagining them.
Numerous institutions, governmental bodies all over the globe, faculties and entire disciplines engage in studies related to the future of the urban and produce a throng of professionals with expertise in very particular fractions of the study matter: future energy sources together with environmental systems of sustainability and resilience, dependent forms of mobility of people, goods and data, renewable building materials, a new welfare capitalism, radical and complete connectivity and so forth.
However, within all this proliferating specialization it appears increasingly key to first share an understanding of our urban future in the first place, which would then allow us to specialise and implement our ideas within our various spheres of activity and with our distinct sets of skills. We should not only be concerned with creating links between various advances but also establish a common understanding as a starting point. Only a comprehensive consideration of our current and future issues will allow us to jointly move towards a sustainable and just urban future.
How can we establish such a shared understanding that serves as a base to intelligently create our urban future? It will require us to step out of our fields of expertise and jargons of our professions towards a more holistic and inclusive dialogue. It will challenge us to consider the multitudes, interdependences and contingencies of issues we are confronted within an urban society. The contradictory and fragmented realities of urban society cannot be dismissed, but rather, have to be a starting point in this approach that shall serve as a basis as well as a reference to move towards our urban future.
The aim of this project is to create a platform for such dialogues, and to inspire and initiate a holistic imagination of urban futures. We are called upon to think not only in an interdisciplinary way but also beyond conceptions of individual professions about the fundamental parameters of the urban condition. Spanning across various realms of the urban, such as political practice, planning, art, education, research, communication, energy, housing and healthcare Thinking Urban Futures. Dialogues on the future or urban society is initiating a dialogue with people involved in different aspects of conceptualizing and the shaping of the urban condition.
With that I hope to actuate possible starting points for everyone to think and engage in the future of the urban. We shall not be intimidated by complex correlations, which too easily lead to inadequate simplifications of urban processes at an early stage but remind ourselves of our capacity to think multidimensionally across time and space. People who are part of this initial stage of the project offer a wide range of perspectives on how the thinking of urban futures is possible and is translated into practice. They are acclaimed in their realm of practice and have a certain public exposure. This makes them not only key figures in the formation of opinions but also in the shaping of tomorrow’s action. Their collected thoughts shall contribute to the creation of a platform and reference for thinking urban futures.